Victoria Gate

Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show you a little gem of a building which you might have passed without noticing.

Victoria Gate Lodge is a Grade II listed building in the north-eastern part of Hyde Park that the thousands who pass by its front door barely give a second glance, hardly surprising for this simple three bedroomed building has none of the ornateness of the other lodges.

[D]ecimus Burton designed a lodge for this site, but the end result was more prosaic. Built to the drawings of William Crane in 1838, it is now occupied by the assistant manager if Hyde Park Gardens.

It is the garden behind the lodge that makes this little building so special – a pet cemetery dating from the late 19th century with hundreds of miniature, mildewed gravestones bearing the patina of old age.

Bobbit First came ‘Cherry’, a Maltese Terrier. Cherry belonged to the children of Mr. & Mrs. J Lewis Barned, who resided at 10 Cambridge Square. They frequently visited Hyde Park and made good acquaintance with the Gatekeeper at Victoria Lodge who also sold them lollypops and ginger beer. When Cherry died of old age there was much grievance in the family and they decided to approached Mr. Winbridge and his employer to ask if they could lay Cherry to rest in his back garden, which was seemingly appropriate since they had enjoyed such good times together in the Park.

Permission was granted and Cherry was laid to rest in a resplendent ceremony. A tombstone bearing the inscription “Poor Cherry. Died April 28. 1881,” was constructed in his memory.

From this simple act of kindness, this mostly canine necropolis gained popularity when in 1880 George, Duke of Cambridge – who had flouted royal convention by marrying an actress, Louisa Fairbrother – asked that his distraught wife’s favourite dog, Prince, who had been run over, be buried in the garden.

The Duke – who doubled as Chief Ranger of Hyde Park – persuaded the gate-keeper, Mr. Windbridge, to give the poor creature a proper burial in the back garden of his lodge.

By 1915, graves in Mr. Windbridge’s garden were so tightly packed that the cemetery was closed.

photo Over 300 animals are laid to rest here – dogs, cats, birds, and even a monkey are interned here.

Epitaphs that range from the touching to the maudlin; quotes from the Bible and Shakespearean couplets are sprinkled among personal tributes:

’To the memory of my dear Emma – faithful and sole companion of my otherwise rootless and desolate life’.

’Darling Dolly – my sunbeam, my consolation, my joy’.

’Prince. He asked for so little and gave so much’.

‘Alas Poor Zoe. Born October 1st. 1879. Died August 13th. 1892. As deeply mourned as ever dog was mourned, for friendship rare by her adorned’

’In memory of our darling little Bobbit. When our lonely lives are over and our spirits from this earth shall roam, we hope he’ll be there waiting to give us a welcome home’.

Some posh dogs even had bespoke coffins. One lady who buried her Pomeranian in a locked casket allegedly wore the keys around her neck until she went to her own grave.

This sad little spot received one last canine resident – also named Prince in 1967, when the Royal Marines were granted special permission to bury their 11-year-old mascot in the southern corner.

Today the cemetery is managed by the Royal Parks, and is only visible through fences. The place George Orwell called “perhaps the most horrible spectacle in Britain” can only be viewed by prior appointment, with a week’s notice.

On her blog London Insight Stephanie Wolff has written an excellent post of her visit to the pet cemetery.
Main picture of Victoria Lodge, Cherry’s story and Bobbit’s grave picture ©Stephanie Wolff Photography.

6 thoughts on “Victoria Gate”

  1. Me and my family lived there between 1968 – 71. I have some memories of living there but I was only 4 years old by the time we left to live in Buck Hill Lodge which is just around the corner in Kensington Gardens. My Father was the Police Constable of the Royal Parks hence the reason we lived there.
    My mother appeared in a documentary made by the BBC Man Alive program, which you can access via their website.
    Some lovely memories and thanks for bringing some of them back.


  2. Yes I remember cycling around the cemetery with my two brothers. I remember our rabbit hutch in the corner of the garden. Collecting conkers in a big bag which we stored under a tree. Falling down the iron stairs to the basement and watching my brothers throwing snowballs at the window as I wasn’t allowed outside 🙂


  3. Hey Gibson + Jon,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful post, Gibson, as well as your fond memories of this place, Jon. I’m a landscape architect interested in landscape history and must confess a fascination more so with the building and grounds than the graveyard itself.

    Jon you mentioned a basement with iron stairs, did those stairs lead down to that odd semi-circle structure in the back that the cemetery wraps around? Also there’s a gate in the back of the cemetery–does this lead to an old walking path around the property between Victoria Gate Lodge and Buck Hill Lodge? Found some old maps that around 1869 there were walking paths around Victoria Gate Lodge that go into that densely wooded spot between Victoria and Buck Hill, but that by the 1930s there was a wrought iron fence containing only the retired pet cemetery as Victoria Gate’s backyard. Most likely from there the grounds not bound by fence would have gone to seed if there was no maintenance, so am curious if any of those artefacts of the past still exist.

    Gibson, you mentioned that William Crane was the architect of this building despite the architect who reconfirgured Hyde Park at the time having submitted plans. With the incredibly odd nature of the building, was wondering if you had found any floor plans or any additional information about it–why he built the home as he did and if there was any additional purpose save as the park constable’s home. (Fun side note, since the building’s appearance on maps in the 1830s it’s always had that semi-circle drawn at the back of the home).

    Thank you for any time or help you may provide, and hope you are well!


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