Undercliffe Cemetery, Bradford: The Yorkshire cemetery which is a maze of Egyptian obelisks, Celtic crosses and Classical temples

When they died, wealthy Victorians wanted to be remembered by their flamboyant memorials as well as their achievements in life.

Generally speaking, the richer the deceased, the more ostentatious the monument. Nowhere in Yorkshire is this more evident than Bradford’s Undercliffe Cemetery.

After London’s Highgate Cemetery, this is the most famous last resting place of Victorians in Britain.

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It has become a popular tourist attraction complete with guided tours around the maze of avenues of Egyptian obelisks, Celtic crosses, Classical temples, shrines, giant urns and richly carved headstones.

Undercliffe CemeteryUndercliffe Cemetery
Undercliffe Cemetery

There are two sections: the eastern side is unconsecrated and was for Methodists and Baptists, while the western (larger) half – consecrated by the Bishop of Ripon in 1854 before a congregation of 4,000 people – was strictly for Church of England burials.

The central boulevard is the dramatic heart of Undercliffe. The great mill-owning Illingworths have a mausoleum like an Egyptian temple complete with two sphinxes.

Nearby, the tomb of textile industrialist Sir Isaac Holden and his family is a Graeco-Roman temple adorned with carved angels. Most imposing of all is the Gothic steeple erected following the death of one of Bradford’s most prominent wool barons, Swithen Anderton.

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It is actually a scaled-down replica of the Scott Monument which looms over Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

The 25-acre site has featured in many films and TV series and is maintained with the help of the Undercliffe Cemetery Friends charity.​​​​

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