UK Government set to close ‘failing’ Tottenham Park Cemetery

The UK’s largest burial ground for British Turks, Tottenham Park Cemetery, is set to close after owners were found to have “repeatedly failed to make necessary improvements to ensure the safety of burials.”

The decision to close the privately-owned North London cemetery was announced today by the Ministry of Justice after the site failed two government-ordered inspections.

The Ministry said it now intended “to apply to the Privy Council for an order requiring burials be stopped”, adding that, “This would mean no new burials would be permitted, except where plots have previously been reserved.”

The development comes after years of neglect and poor practices at Tottenham Park Cemetery, resulting in hundreds of complaints from bereaved families.

One of the biggest concerns centred on the overuse of the 2.4 hectare site in Edmonton, with some plots believed to have as any as seven bodies in them. Newly dug graves have ended up disturbing the remains of those already buried there.

Justice Minister Mike Freer said, “the repeated disturbance of their remains is not only illegal but a breach of trust.”

Some relatives were distraught to visit the cemetery only to find the grave of their loved one had disappeared entirely with no prior notice and despite them holding a long lease for these plots. Others said the owners had failed to issue them with burial deeds, creating uncertainty about their rights.

The Tottenham Park Cemetery Action Group (TPCAG) was formed to protect the rights and dignity of the people buried at the cemetery and their relatives. Led by Liberal Democrat politician Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece, the group have gathered evidence of the poor state of the cemetery, and lobbied tirelessly, urging relatives and supporters to contact their MPs to put pressure on Enfield Council and the Minister of Justice to intervene. Their efforts have finally paid off.

Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece speaks at protest about state of Tottenham Park Cemetery, 3 Nov. 2018. Photo © Halil Yetkinlioglu


The site was closed for several months in 2018 by the Health and Safety Executive over concerns to “a threat to life”, after the spire of a derelict chapel in the middle of the site was left dangling and other storm-damaged trees were left in a precarious state .

Since then, there have been two government-ordered inspections in 2018 and 2022, both resulting in damning reports, where, among other things, evidence was found that the remains of those buried at the cemetery were being repeatedly and unlawfully disturbed during the burial process.

Multiple recommendations were made in the two reports, including that no new plots should be excavated or sold, and that record keeping should be improved. Inspectors also ordered a survey be undertaken to identify existing burials. None of these requirements were met by the previous or current owners.

Justice Minister Mike Freer

Justice Minister Mike Freer said: “The people buried in this cemetery were laid to rest and the repeated disturbance of their remains is not only illegal but a breach of trust.

“I believe it is necessary to seek this closure to ensure that Tottenham Park Cemetery can safely serve its community in future.”

For the government to stop burials at private cemeteries legally it requires an Order in Council. Those are considered by the Privy Council Office and signed by the King.

The prevention of future burials would not impact the opening of the site for the public to visit their loved ones’ graves.

The Ministry of Justice said it will “continue to work with the cemetery’s owners, Enfield Council and other interested parties to ensure the reserved graves continue to be managed.”