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Crystal Palace Connections


Price: £7.00


by Bob Flanagan, Chairman, Friends of West Norwood Cemetery

The 1851 Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations was organized by Prince Albert, Henry Cole, Francis Henry, George Wallis, Charles Dilke and other members of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce as a celebration of modern industrial technology and design. It was the first international exhibition of manufactured products and was enormously influential on the development of many aspects of society including art and design, education, international trade and relations, and tourism. It was held in a purpose-built temporary structure in Hyde Park designed by Joseph Paxton and erected under the supervision of Sir William Cubitt, then President of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Douglas Jerrold writing as 'Mrs Amelia Mouser' in Punch on 13 July 1850 used the phrase 'the palace of very crystal' to describe the building, thus coining the name by which it is remembered today.

The subsequent purchase of the building and its re­opening at Sydenham in enlarged form in 1854, and the coming of the railway to serve it in 1856, brought massive development to Upper Norwood and the surrounding area. We have identified 74 people with connections to the Crystal Palace either at Hyde Park, or at its final home in South London who are buried or otherwise commemorated at Norwood. These include not only Sir William Cubitt and Douglas Jerrold, but also Thomas Cub­itt, a guarantor of the exhibition, William Wyon, designer of the Exhibition Medals, George

Jenn­ings, who made a vital contribution lo the success of the exhibition by providing the public toilets, Thomas Newman Farquhar, one of the businessmen who arranged the move to Sydenham, and William Frederick Woodington, sculptor of the monumental head of Paxton that remains in Crystal Palace Park. In all no less than 51 of those featured in this new booklet are commemorated by entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Indeed, given the loss of the building itself, it can be argued that the cemetery has more tangible reminders of those who helped create the Palace than anywhere else.

The booklet, the product of many hours of research, runs to 96 pages and is printed in full colour throughout. There are brief biographies and where possible portraits of those featured, and 134 photographs. There is also a map that gives the location in the cemetery of all the graves discussed hence the booklet can form the basis of a self-guided tour.