MoJ decision means Tottenham Park Cemetery can finally be turned into a garden of remembrance

The Government has announced its intention to ban new burials at Tottenham Park Cemetery, except for previously reserved graves.

Tottenham Park Cemetery is full. Two Ministry of Justice reports have now confirmed this. From having an original capacity of 6,500 in 1912, when the cemetery was first opened, to now having almost 50,000 people buried there speaks for itself.

We genuinely feel that for the vast majority of not just our community, but also everyone else who uses Tottenham Park Cemetery, the news emerging from the Ministry of Justice on Thursday was incredibly welcome. There has been far too much controversy attached to this cemetery ever since we can remember. We as volunteers in the Action Group, have received hundreds of complaints from often distressed families over many years.

There is no doubt that this is also a historic moment and one of significant legacy for the Tottenham Park Cemetery Action Group.

The ongoing campaign has captured the hearts of everyone and this was evidenced by the fact that diverse civil society groups from across the entire community spectrum embraced our campaign and helped to ensure hundreds upon hundreds of letters went to people’s MPs highlighting a variety of concerns all linked to the cemetery.

There is a wider point about privately-owned cemeteries that the UK Government also needs to address. A law that was made in 1865 is clearly not fit for purpose in 2024 and beyond.

But, for now, many of us can look forward to a future where our loved ones buried at Tottenham Park Cemetery can finally be treated with dignity in death, which, sadly, has not always been the case, as outlined in the Ministry of Justice reports of 2019 and 2023.

This campaign has had to challenge three different sets of private owners in the past four years, all of whom demonstrated short-term commercial aims.

One of our primary goals as activists was to stop the desecration of existing graves. The Ministry of Justice decision provides vital safeguards that prevents this by ruling that no new burials will be permitted at the cemetery save for reserved plots.

This significant intervention by the Government means we can now re-focus our attention on turning this cemetery, which holds so much history and cultural heritage for British Turks and other communities, into a permanent garden of remembrance.

We look forward to working with the relevant authorities and stakeholders, including community groups and relatives, in this transition phase to create a dignified and sustainable final resting place for our ancestors.


This article is by Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece OBE and Fevzi Hussein on behalf of the Tottenham Park Cemetery Action Group (TPCAG)

The main photo, top, is of Tottenham Park Cemetery in Nov. 2018. Photo ©  Halil Yetkinlioğlu, Nov. 2018