Topic: A History of Linwood Cemetery

Topic type:

A living history of Linwood Cemetery, updated as new information is discovered.

See also the time line - Key Historical Dates.

(We have made approximate conversions of the costs at the time as a rough guide to the current equivalent.)

In the 1880s it was believed, both by the medical fraternity and the masses, that ‘it is not advisable on sanitary grounds that cemeteries should be situated in towns’. In September 1883 Dr. Courtney NEDWILL, the City's Medical Officer,  advised the Christchurch City Council that ‘after a convenient period the further disposal of the dead should not be permitted in the city’.  Negotiations were completed with the Linwood Town Board and Heathcote Road Board and an 18-acre burial reserve outside municipal boundaries dedicated. A Cemetery Committee researched the idea, reporting to the Council meeting of 26th November 1883 that:

Your committee inspected Reserve Nos 210 and 211 and found them in every way suitable for cemetery purposes, but commends the Council to set apart Reserve No 210, as being preferable for immediate use, and to have it gazetted as a cemetery for the City of Christchurch.  That the City Surveyor be instructed to draw a general plan of the ground, and invite tenders for letting of the plots, and forming of the paths and fencing the reserve.  That the City Surveyor estimate the cost of forming and metalling a road one chain wide, from the Canal reserve {Linwood Avenue} to the said Reserve.  Also, estimate the cost of a light tramway from Cathedral Square to the said reserve. (The Lyttleton Times 27 November 1883, p6)

It only took a couple of weeks for the City Surveyor, Mr C WALKDEN,  to report back:

I have prepared a large-scale plan of {the} cemetery reserve, also a plan showing different roads from Christchurch to the reserve.  I have surveyed all the roads, and I find the one most suitable to be down Cashel Street to Canal reserve, and across Mr Attwood's land to reserve No 210, this route is coloured red on the plan.  The approximate cost of road and tramway (as good as already laid in Christchurch) would be as follows:- forming road from Ollivers Road to City Council 67 chains at 3 pounds, 201 pounds; shingling road 67 chains at 3 pounds, 201 pounds; 181 chains of tramway at 23 pounds per chain, 4163 pounds; fencing on side of the reserve, 47 chains at 3 pounds, 141 pounds; total 4,706 pounds. (The Lyttleton Times, 11 December 1883, p6)

The Council approved the surveyors plan and estimate without discussion.

Surveying of the boundaries happened sometime between then and 24 January 1884, because tender for the building of gates and fencing was awarded to Messrs Ogilvie & Co at a cost of £90 (NZ$16,257) and they were due to start immediately.  (The Lyttleton Times, 24 January 1884, p4)

Linwood Cemetery is on sandy soil and originally was known as ‘the Sandhills’, then the ‘Corporation’ and then Linwood Cemetery.  Its address was originally Buckley's Road (Wises Directory, 1906), then by 1906 - Cemetery Road.  Cemetery Road became Butterfield Avenue in 1934 (Press, 9 Oct 1934, Wise's Directory, 1936, p.236) the name changed at the request of the street's residents supposedly in acknowledgement of Thomas Henry BUTTERFIELD (1879?-1951) a local Councillor.   (See also the film 'A Grave Subject, 1999 - copy to be added to this site soon.)

Christchurch, the centre of colonisation by the Canterbury Association in 1850, was founded on the principles of the Church of England; the Anglican or Episcopalian church.  The Anglican cathedral in Cathedral Square was to be at the 'heart' of the City.   This is why the route to the cemetery had to go from the Council offices - then situated near Cathedral Square.

By 7th October 1884 the cemetery was well laid out and the Mayor and Councillors of the Cemetery Committee visited to inspect the work. The 18 acres of the reserve had been fenced with a post and cap-rail fence with barbed wire below the cap rails. Some ten acres had been levelled and laid in grass. The Sexton’s  Lodge and mourning kiosk had been completed, there was a public toilet and the Sexton was in residence.  Wellingtonias and Pinus insignis had been planted with a belt of macrocarpas planted all around the cemetery a few feet from the fence. (Click here for more about the Sextons of Linwood Cemetery.)

The Sexton's Lodge

On 1st April 1884, plans for the Lodge were reported as being prepared and "as soon as they are completed, the work of pegging out the cemetery allotments, paths, and plantations will be proceeded with...." (Cemetery Committee Minutes; 1st April 1884).  Three weeks later, it was put forward that tenders "...were invited for the erection of a Lodge near the entrance and a rotunda for a shelter, the Lodge to be connected with the Telephone Exchange, the total cost not to exceed £500." (Cemetery Committee ;22 April 1884); the equivalent in today's money of  approximately NZ$87,700.

The tender for the Lodge went to Goring & Parker and the drilling of an artesian well to Armitage & Unwin (Cemetery Committee Minutes; 5th May 1884) and, at the same meeting, the Works Committee was given permission to sign the contracts for the work. Building of the Lodge started  at the beginning of June and was reported as completed on 7th October 1884 along with all the other buildings. It was described both as "A caretaker's house of architectural fitness... (ref) and "A neat cottage" (Star, 11 Oct 1884). William FREEMAN (B31P90) (widowed in July) and his three teenage children had moved in.  He probably lived there until his retirement 18 years later.

The Lodge was built of weatherboard timber as is remembered as having lead light windows.  It had a separate wash house and was surrounded by a wooden fence.  Those who can still remember the Lodge recall it was

"a large building of white weatherboard.  The burial registers were kept in an outhouse that was also the wash house.  They weren't in a cupboard or anything that protected them.  I remembered being concerned about the damp in there and them getting damaged and that's before I knew anything about conservation.  I remember phoning the Sexton at his home to see if I could consult the books.  We made a time to come.  When I arrived he showed us to the wash house and I was just left in there to look at the big leather bound books on my own.  I guess the wash house probably doubled in function as the Sexton's office." (Recollections of Alison O'Neill, local resident and genealogist, May 2011.)

Known as the 'Sexton's Lodge', 'Sexton's House' , 'Caretaker's House' but also referred to as the 'Sexton's Cottage', this property was demolished around 1983/4.  Ray PALERMO, the last Sexton to live on-site, finished working there in 1984 (from an interview by Trustees in 2005).  Following an interview in 2013 with Eddie BIEHER (Sexton 1984-1999) he produced 13 photographs of the Lodge taken in July 1982 and January 1983 and said the Lodge was demolished not long after.  We are very grateful to Eddie for letting us make copies of his photos and allowing us to reproduce them here.


© E Bieher (1982,1983) Not to be reproduced without permission

Today, there is still a gap in the boundary fence near where the house was located and a tap on the site which probably formed the water source for the Lodge.  Outside the perimeter fence is a white capped off pipe which is probably the waste water outlet.

The area of the house has some of the oldest trees in the cemetery - a macrocarpa and a cypress - and is protected as an heritage area; any changes needing special permission and Resource Consent.  Still-born children were also buried in bushes on the boundary of the Sexton's Lodge.  Some of these are noted on the CCC Cemetery Database as being in Block 0 Plot 0.

The Kiosk

"There was a small kiosk at the cemetery which was of a simple functional design. It had a front door and a small window at the side. It was located near Block 22 to the left of the large pine tree. The ministers performing burials used to change in the kiosk and the sexton kept tools in it. Inside there were hooks along the wall for the minister to hang clothing on." (Section 2.1.6 p16 CCC Linwood Cemetery Conservation Plan, recollections of Ray Palermo (16/11/2005), former Sexton of Linwood Cemetery)

Up until recently, there were foundation pegs visible in Block 22 by the large pine.  Judy McCaw, our Head Gardener has verified this. These may have been a later version of the Kiosk or the foundations of a tram building because since the publication of the Conservation Plan for Linwood Cemetery (2006), we now know that the original Kiosk was built in the area of  Block 11 Plots 14-28.

[singlepic id=457 w=320 h=240 float=none]


Looking at the reports of the Cemetery Committee involved in the planning of Linwood Cemetery, the Kiosk was commissioned to be built at the same time as the Shed containing toilets.  It was built by Mr TWYNEMAN between 15th July 1884 when the tender was approved, and 7th October 1884, when all the buildings were reported as complete. The Kiosk and Shed together cost £204 (NZ$18,550).

The design of the Kiosk was drawn up ready for the tendering process, in June:

"A octagonal kiosk for the accommodation of those who may wish to pay a visit to the place, is about to be erected on an elevated piece of ground at the new cemetery.  The building is to be substantially constructed of finished timber, and completed in a manner which will give it an attractive as well as comfortable appearance.  Windows after the Gothic style of architecture are to be placed in seven of the sides, and doors in the eighth.  The interior will be furnished with seats and other conveniences, and the roof, which is pyramidal in its shape, wil be covered with painted shingles, the whole being surrounded by a finial." (The Press, 28 June 1884)


© full image and credit can be seen here.

Once you know the location of the Kiosk, the aerial map clearly shows where it was placed (see above). It also explains the odd shapes of the current Block 13 and Block 11. Block 11 is 'up the hill', a long walk from the main gate, but not so far from the turning circle at the end of the old tram line. It is in the Church of England section.  There is a good view of most of the cemetery including the site of the Sexton's Lodge.   The foot entrance opposite 140 McGregors Road would have given convenient access the Kiosk from the road. There are other foot entrances near by; one out through Blocks 1 and 2 onto Hay Street and one on the opposite side of 'the hill' between Blocks 8 and 6, giving access to Butterfield Avenue and Jollie Street. There is a closed off vehicle entrance opposite 126 McGregors Rd and the bus stop is opposite 130 McGregors Rd. Whether these were incorporated into the original layout of the cemetery or are later additions still needs to be confirmed by locating the original plans of the cemetery.

By working out which graves were put on the land formerly supporting the Kiosk, we can work out when the Kiosk was removed. There are 15 grave plots on the site of the Kiosk in three rows of 5 plots (CCC Cemetery Database) (Plots 14-28).The first people to be interred in this piece of land were laid to rest in September 1920. This implies that the land was cleared sometime during or before August 1920. So the Kiosk would have been standing for about 36 years before its demise. There may be reference to the removal of the Kiosk in Council meeting records or local papers of the time - this requires further research.

The first person to be buried on the site was in Plot 18; the top east corner. Louisa BRENTON, 89 years old of Salisbury St. She died on the 2nd September and was buried on the 4th. The next two burials in this area were on the 8th of September; Plot 17 - Mabel McGIFFERT(next to Louisa) and Plot 22 - Lydia CLARKSON; the top west corner of the site. On 20th September in Plot 16 (middle of the top row), George Ernest BLANCH age 56, was buried. He had been in NZ for 6 years for most of which he had been headmaster at Christ's College.


Bishop JULIUS's wife, (the Bishop who is also buried in this plot, dying in 1938 at the of  of 90 is also connected to Christ's College) had died in 1918 and is buried in Block 11 Plot 4, just to the side of the Kiosk. Whether this is why Mr BLANCH was buried on the site of the Kiosk would need further investigation. The middle row (Plots 19-23) were 'occupied' first in 1920, 1926 and 1927. Internments in the front row (Plots 24-28) start in 1926 but 3 of the 5 are much later.

The Cemetery and Religion

The majority of plots in Linwood Cemetery were designated for members of the congregation of the Church of England, but when immigration by the Epsicopalian English was not as forthcoming as originally expected, the religious diversity of Christchurch was extended.  This could be seen to be reflected in the size of the areas in the cemetery assigned to a particular faith which was determined according to representation per head of population.

Church of England (aka Episcopalian Church / Anglican Church)

The main Anglican area is to the south of the cemetery; Blocks 1-16A ('up the hill'), 17, 18, 20-22, 24-26.  This strange numbering is because the areas are vertical 'slices'.  On the north side (Bromley Park) Blocks 46 and 47 are also Church of England.  In addition to these areas, Blocks 23 and 23A form the Church of England Free area and Blocks 47 and 48 include the Sisters of the Anglican Community of the Sacred Name (see below). Rows are laid in a north to south direction.  There are over 9000 Anglican plots in the cemetery.

Sisters of the Anglican Community of the Sacred Name

The two large community plots of the Anglican Sisters of the Community of the Sacred Name (CSN) are next to each other where Block 47 joins Block 48 at the border with the Bromley Park playing field.   Block 47 Plots 245-250 and 319-324 are 12 borderless soil topped plots co-joined with a single border that contains a central monument dedicated to Mother Edith the foundress and life-long Sister In Charge of the Community. The perimeter of this area is clinker brick similar to that used in the construction of the CSN Deaconness House, a Victorian-gothic style building built in 1913 on the corner of Barbadoes Street and St Asaph St (sadly demolished following damage in the 2011 earthquakes).  Mounted on the brick surround are black granite carved plaques, one for each person in this Community's plot  There are 28 women buried in the area, three of whom were not Sisters and one plaque is a memorial to Sister Theodora who died overseas.   The first burial was that of  16 year old Sister Margaret (B47P324 Rose Elizabeth HARBOTT), whose ashes were buried there on 31 October 1917 a few days after her death.   The second burial was Sister Mary Alice MILLER (B47P245) on 10th August 1920.  The Foundess and Mother,  Sister Edith MELLISH (B47P248) was the third on 29 May 1922.  The last burial was Sister Margaret Mary TEMPERLEY (B47P249) who died  in 2004.  The Friends have planted perennials on the plot to keep weeds down, bind the sandy soil and provide Summer colour to the area.

Block 48 Plots 1a-8a and 1b-8b are 16 soil-topped plots co-joined with a simple concrete perimeter. The area is divided into two down the centre by a concrete berm on which, in a straight line are 8 small desked plinths.  Five have black granite plaques bearing the names of the five Sisters interred in there.  Eleven plots are empty.  The first burial in this Community plot in September 1977 was that of  Sister Agnes (B48P1a Alice Georgina Maude TERRELL) and the most recent is Sister Leona Ada FORD (B48P1b) in 2008.

We need to carry out further research to determine when the plots were purchased by, or allocated to, the Community.

Click here for more information about the Community of the Sacred Name.

The Community of the Sacred Name now operates out of Ashburton.

Catholic Burials

The Catholic portion begins half way up the hill on the Bromley Park side (nearest Buckleys Road) and extends to the tree line at the northern end.  (Blocks 37 -45).  Rows are laid out in a north to south direction. The Sexton's map of the western end of Block 38 has  six plots marked as set out for stillborn children and suicides.  This is a misnomer as it contains the remains of 3 people who appear to have died from unintentional causes and 2 children.  There are around 1160 plots in the Roman Catholic area.  Those in Block 42 appear to be mainly of Irish descent.  There are also Catholics of  Polish and other eastern European descent in this area.

Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions

There are two separate co-joined plots of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions' Ferry Road Convent.  One is in Block 42 and the other in Block 40.

The most obvious is at Block 42  Plots 112-114 & 134-16.  There are 12 nuns buried in the six co-joined plots there.  All except one died in the 1930s.  The first burial was that of Alice ROHAN (B42P113)  who died on 23 July 1910 aged 32 years.  The Sisters still work in Christchurch and throughout New Zealand.  Most would have taught at Sacred Heart College (now Catholic Cathedral College).  There are other more recent graves for the Sisters in Memorial Park Cemetery, near the Rudds Road end Cypress St entrance.

Tucked at the top of the catholic section and boundary of the cemetery is another large grave of four co-joined plots.  Labelled on the Sexton's Map for Block 40 as set aside for The Convent, the obituary of Mother St Esperance (Plot 102B CLEYET) tells us she is of the Sisters of Our Lady Missions, Ferry Road.  The first burial in the plot is that of  Bridget EAGAN (Plot 120E) who died on 6th July 1923 aged 63 years.  She had lived in New Zealand for 16 years. The rest of the burials occur almost annually with the last at the end of 1932.   This plot is in a very poor state of repair.

It requires further research to understand why there were two distinct plots with very different visability being used at much the same time and whether it is intentional that the restoration of the one in Block 40 has been left or just delayed.

Marist Priests of St Mary's Presbytery

In Block 42 there are also 4 co-joined plots where there are six Marist Catholic Priests buried in Plots 40-43.  The first burial was Father Michael Thomas MARNANE who died on 5th July 1908 aged 53, the others occurring in the 1930's.  This plot has recently been restored following earthquake damage, though the top of the cross remains (somewhat mysteriously to us) on the ground at the back of the plot.

Sisters of  Mercy

Near to the Priests are the six plots of the Sisters of Mercy (Plots 26 - 31) who were based in Colombo Street. A Marist Order sent directly from St Xavier’s Convent, Ennis, County Clare, Ireland in 1878, the first nuns arrived in Christchurch in 1894 after first serving in Hokitika. The first of the 8 nuns to be buried in the co-joined plot was Edith BRADY (Plot 31) who died on 5th June 1908 aged 31 years.  Angela O'KEEFE (Plot 31) died 10 years later on 17th June 1918. The  Mother Superior for the Christchurch Sisters; Margaret BOLAND (Plot 27) died on 8th February 1928 aged 82 years old and the rest died between 1930 and 1939.

The Little Company of  Mary

The Sexton's Map for Block 45 Plots 196-199 labels this group of 4 co-joined plots as set aside for Lewisham Hospital. There are 8 nuns buried in the newly restored plot. The first buried was Catherine FOX (Plot 197) who died on 16th July 1918 aged 52 years she was followed by Agnes REYNOLDS (Plot196) on 29th November 1918 aged 32 years.  This may have been due to the influenza epidemic, something we would need to confirm.  The rest of the burials occured between 1928 and 1941.

The Little Company of Mary, originally a nursing order, established Lewisham Hospital in Christchurch  in 1914. It later became the Calvary Hospital and then the Mary Potter Hospital.   As time has gone on Sisters are involved in ministries other than nursing or have retired.  The order is now a small group of consecrated women whose primary Mission is constant prayer for the suffering and dying of our world and pastoral work through the ministries of visiting the elderly, home care and support for families, social/community work with new migrants, school health care and counseling.  Following the closure of the Mary Potter Hospital, the Sisters decided to extend their existing sheltered retirement accommodation at Mary Potter Courts. The extension was completed in 2006 and the Mary Potter Community Centre, Durham Street North, St Albans, Christchurch was completed in 2007 "to provide activities for Residents and others in the community who would benefit from the friendship and social interaction of others."

Methodist Burials

The Methodist (or Wesleyan) area is a 'slice' from Butterfield Avenue to McGregors Road (Blocks 31, 31A, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36 and 36A).  The rows are laid in a north to south direction.  Most of Block 31A and 34 and the top two rows of Block 32 appear to have been free, that is probably paid for by the congregation as an act of charity.  Unfortunately, we don't have the original Sexton's maps for Blocks 35, 36 and 36A which may identify other free areas. There are nearly 5,000 plots in the Wesleyan area.  Some of these Blocks are laid out in confusing ways see Locating an Ancestor for more help with this.

Chinese Burials

Block 34 also contains three headstones with Chinese script on them; Block 34 Plot 204A YEE, Wah Sing, Block 34 Plot 244A SHUE, George (Leun Sui Tai) and a third mentioned in the NZSG transcript 2980 as being of YOUNG, Ching.  This doesn't appear to be on the CCC Cemeteries database or on our photographic record so it could be memorial that has gone missing since 1979. When having the headstones translated by the NZ China Friendship Society ( we are told one is of SHAO Gongtai who was born in 1898 and died on 22nd March 1951. He came from Zeng Cheng.  The other is of Zhaoli YU who was born in 20th of the 8th Month of the tenth year of Emperor Tongzhi reign and died aged 83 on 4th January of the 39th year of the Emperor Minguo's reign (1950), aged 83. He came from Taishan. Both places are in Guangdong province which is in the south of China and adjoins Hong Kong. Formerly known as Canton, it was where most of the Chinese gold miners came from. If anyone has any more information about these two men please contact us. We anticipate there are more people of Chinese descent buried in the cemetery who will reveal themselves during further research.

Scottish Presbyterians

Next to the Methodist area, is a slightly smaller Scottish area  (Blocks 28, 29 and 30) containing just over 2100 plots.  Block 29 is a mixture of purchased and free ground - where the cost of the plots was covered by the Presbyterian Church.  It is believed that the prevalence of graves with no markers in this area are pauper's graves.

The Jewish Section

Click here for more information about this area

Linwood Cemetery opened with a section set aside for Jewish graves which runs from the foot to part way up the hill at the eastern end of the cemetery (Blocks 16 and 19).  Jewish graves are laid out in row east to west near the rise of the hill.   There are currently people buried in 318 plots in these two Blocks.

Block 19  still has land available for burial.

Many members of the Hebrew Congregation buried in Linwood Cemetery contributed widely to the City of Christchurch.

The Canterbury Hebrew Congregation continue to control the Jewish part of the Linwood Cemetery.   The current Board of the Canterbury Hebrew Congregation ( is open to discussions about any issues including repairs and restoration in this area and should be contacted in the first instance to discuss what is being proposed.

Jewish history is not widely represented in Christchurch so Linwood Cemetery is an important heritage site for the Hebrew community.

Non-denominational and new graves

Close to the car park and to the left of the path that leads parallel to Buckleys Road and Bromley Park, is Block A.  These quarter plots were set aside for people who did not want to, or could not be, buried in an area designated by faith.  This area also contains newer graves as the cemetery is still an active one.  The style and prevalence of offerings clearly shows this. There are currently just over 350 quarter-plots being used.

The First Burial at Linwood Cemetery

Sarah Anne FREEMAN died of tuberculosis on 8 July 1884, and was interred two days later on the hill at the east end of the graveyard (Block 2, Plot 1).

"The first interment in the cemetery ... took place yesterday, and the Mayor and members of the City Council attended on the occasion. There was something peculiar about this funeral from the fact that it was that of the wife of the Sexton.

.... The ground, it may be noted, is very good indeed for the purpose, and a great deal has already been done in the matter of improving the cemetery by means of planting &c. The caretaker’s cottage has been erected and is all but complete, and a kiosk, to be placed on one of the eminences, is the next work to be carried out. The cemetery is connected with the Telephone Exchange, and ere long it is hoped a tramway will be constructed to it."

If there was ever a memorial to the unfortunate Mrs FREEMAN, it no longer exists. The Friends of Linwood Cemetery installed a small memorial to mark the plot in July 2012.

People of cultures other than those of British descent

Christchurch was multi-cultural from the start of its expansion by colonists.  We are currently researching people of this range of cultures buried in Linwood Cemetery and will expand this section soon.

The Marshland Poles - see Polish History in New Zealand

The Tramway

Read more about the Tramway here

Installing a light tramway from the city centre to Linwood Cemetery was included in the plan from the outset (ref; The Lyttleton Times, 27 Nov 1886, p. 6.).  In March 1884, the Council had approved the construction of a tramway to the cemetery.  It was mooted that the tramway would start from the corner of Cashel and High Streets and then turn eastward to the new cemetery.

A tram-line, the ‘Corporation line’, or ‘cemetery tramway’, was about 5km (over 3 miles) long, the line began at the Council's Yard in Oxford Terrace (now the site of the Scott statue) and went up the length of Worcester St - via the north side of Cathedral Square - to Canal Reserve (now Linwood Avenue) along Buckleys Rd and into Cemetery Rd (now Butterfield Ave) terminating in Linwood Cemetery. Evidence of the old tram lines can still be seen in the undulating surface of the tar-sealed road that leads north through the cemetery from the Butterfield Avenue car park.

The original tramlines showing through the main metalled road in the cemetery (April 2010)

Later, the New Brighton Tramway Company utilised the line, extending it through the sand hills where Pages Road is now located, and on to the seaside. Many Cantabrians have told us how they remember visiting the graves of their ancestors by a tram that drove into the cemetery grounds, or glancing at their family monument from the tram on their way to New Brighton, until trams were replaced by buses around1954.

A necessary form of transportation  at the end of the 19th century when the alternatives were mainly walking, bicycling and, for the more wealthy horse and cart.

We believe Linwood Cemetery is the only cemetery in the world to have a tram line running into it.


Very occasionally people have been disinterred and moved to another cemetery.  Disinterment is shown on the Sexton's maps and these will be listed here in the future.

Civic Officials

Although "Almost everyman who attained particular prominence in political, professional or civic life was at some time or other a member of the provincial assemblies..." (reference unknown), (and even the mayor had to wear clothes) it is important to acknowledge the contribution of those who took a leading role in the civic affairs of the City of Christchurch and indeed, New Zealand who are buried in Linwood Cemetery.

One of the Trust's early identification projects was the "Mayoral Project".  It was drawn to our attention by a descendant of Charles Partridge HULBERT (Block 3 Plot 1) that information from Richard Greenaway's Linwood Cemetery Tour Guide and the Interpretation Board at the "bottom of the hill" omitted the mayor who, in 1883-84 made Linwood Cemetery and other key local services such as St John's Ambulance, stone buildings and bridges happen.

Find out more about those who held Civic Office here.

How the cemetery used to look

More photographic evidence to show us what the cemetery used to look like has been given to us recently.  Public opinion of our elder citizens is that it is looking much better since the Friends took to tidying the land about 12 years ago.  The gates to the cemetery had gone and a few years ago the Friends encouraged the Council to reinstate new gates, designed as close to the old ones as possible, but more durable.  The last Sexton to live on-site was interviewed and drew a sketch of the gates.  The gates were made and then, as often happens, someone  (Mrs K Fraser) produced a photograph of the old gates.  We weren't too far out!  The gates are powder coated metal but give the appearance of solid wood.  The white picket fence has been replaced with block and cable fencing.




old-gates-in-background       with thanks to Mrs K Fraser   open-gates-picture

Recently Sarndra LEES came across an archive photo of the B32P146&167 BOWBYES grave plot.   It is clear from the picture that not only this grave plot but others are likely to have had china floral tributes on them.  Sadly, only one or two of these remain in the cemetery today.


Similar tributes have fared better in Bromley Cemetery where examples of these permanent posies give splashes of colour on the mottled grey monuments.  We can see the whiteness of the new stone from the BOWBYES picture.  Imagine how that grave plot and other new ones around it must have looked dotted with colour.


Linwood Cemetery Today

Confusion still reigns over the name of the cemetery; one of five cemeteries in close proximity in the area.

Linwood Cemetery has had many names including the New Cemetery, Corporation Cemetery, Sandihills, Sandilands and finally Linwood Cemetery as the land was originally under the jurisdiction of Linwood Town Board.

Linwood Cemetery is in Bromley, next to Bromley Park which is very confusing when the later Bromley Cemetery (1918) borders Linwood Avenue.

Further confusion arises with Bromley Cemetery having Canterbury Crematorium opposite it's main gates with Woodlawn Memorial Gardens for ashes behind it.

This has led to a colloquial mix up of names; Bromley Cemetery being referred to as 'the old Linwood Cemetery'; Canterbury Crematorium as 'Linwood Crematorium'; Woodlawn Memorial Gardens as (the new) Linwood Cemetery and Linwood Cemetery as Bromley Cemetery.

Linwood Cemetery is still open for burials (under certain conditions) and there are around 20,000 people buried in there.  It is estimated that there are just under 18,000 plots and over 1,400 still born children in unmarked graves.  It's approximately 1.5km to walk the parameter of the cemetery.

We also estimate that 1 in 5 headstones have been damaged (many more since the 22 February 2011 earthquake), graffiti and deliberate destruction still occurring often.  Nevertheless, it is still a wonderful space to walk, sit, even play and picnic and very hard to walk through without stopping at at least one plot and wondering about the person resting there.

 February 2010


Greenaway,  Richard L. N; Linwood Cemetery Tour; June 2007

Wises Directories

Christchurch City Council - The Origin of Christchurch Street Names

On the Move: Christchurch Transport through the years.  3. Rails in the Roads, the Steam and Horse Tram Era in Christchurch, pub: Christchurch Transport Board, Tramway Historical Society , undated

Plot locations, illustrations and excerpts from Linwood Cemetery Conservation Plan (February 2006) and additional research added by Alexandra Gilbert.

Christchurch City Council - Cemetery Committee Minutes

© Friends of Linwood Cemetery Charitable Trust

Reviewed 25 April 2014 by Alexandra.  Updated 25 August 2018 by Alexandra.

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A History of Linwood Cemetery

Previous name :Corporation Cemetery
Suburb :Bromley