This Popular London Park Hides A Secret Pet Graveyard • Hyde Park Secret Pet Cemetery
Nestled within the bushes of Victoria Gate Lodge’s garden is the secret pet cemetery of Hyde Park. This pint-sized graveyard was the first of its kind in Britain and dates all the way back to the 1880s. Dogs, cats, birds and even monkeys were buried here. When it closed in 1903, around a thousand animals had been laid to rest, many marked by tiny headstones. And yet, many in London are unaware of its existence.
Rumour has it the cemetery is haunted by the spirits of the animals, many of which suffered extremely tragic deaths. In fact, several dogs were trampled to death by the horses that used the park carriageways, and some were even murdered. One tombstone reads ‘Remembering Fritz and Balu – poisoned by a cruel Swiss’.
Haunted or not, the graveyard is actually very quaint and somewhat peaceful. But it isn’t actually open to the general public. This is because the adjacent Victoria Lodge is now privately owned. Fortunately, the owners do allow The Royal Parks to operate occasional walking tours and viewings. These tours also take in Tyburn, the site of thousands of executions over the years, as well as other corners of Hyde Park with dark stories associated with them.
Wannabe cemetery roamers can book one of the next available tours, on May 19 and June 16. However, you can also easily peer through the iron railings on Bayswater Road to catch a glimpse of the space.
The Story of the Hyde Park Pet Cemetery
Back in the day the gatekeeper, Mr. Winbridge, allowed some of his friends to bury their beloved Maltese Terrier, Cherry, in the garden. Several Londoners caught wind of the burial and travelled far and wide to give their pets the send-off they truly deserved. It eventually became the unofficial graveyard for pets with Mr. Winbridge dedicating more and more land to the cause.
Inside the graveyard, you’ll come across dozens of sentimental messages engraved on the tombstones. They’re often as simple, yet devastating, as: ‘Darling Doll – my sunbeam, my consolation, my joy’ and ‘Alas! Poor Zoe’. You may also spot some interesting pet names including Bogie, Smut and even Scum. Sad though their deaths may be, their presence in the graveyard is a reminder of how loved they were.
Hyde Park Pet Cemetery
Tours cost £12.