Brighton General Cemetery is one of Melbourne’s oldest and most significant cemeteries.
With a growth of population south of the Yarra River, 11.75 hectares (29 acres) of land were reserved for cemetery use in 1853, and the first members were appointed to the Cemetery Trust in December 1854. It is considered the oldest continuous Cemetery Trust in Melbourne.
Brighton General Cemetery was designed in the garden style, with such park-like characteristics as curved pathways, plantings and a gate lodge. The first recorded burial of 10-month-old Johanna Manson occurred on 14 October 1855 in the Methodist section. Since then there have been over 70,000 interments. The cemetery is surrounded by an impressive high brick wall built in 1924. It is 1.6 kilometres (one mile) in length and the internal brick roads and footpaths measure 112.6 kilometres (70 miles).
During the early years specific areas were allocated for different religious denominations: Church of England, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist (Wesleyan), Independent, Baptist and Other Denominations. The Jewish section was a later addition.
The lodge was built as a residence in 1892, and an office was added in 1929. Until 1902 when the Springvale Necropolis opened, Brighton General Cemetery was the largest cemetery in south-east Melbourne. In its heyday in the 1920s, the Brighton General Cemetery averaged 1,350 burials each year. From the 1930s cremation became a more popular form of interment. The non-denominational lawn cemetery was established in 1958.
Notable interments include:
- Sir John Monash – Engineer and military leader
- Sir Thomas Bent – Premier
- Adam Lindsay Gordon – Poet
- Joseph Leslie Theodore (Squizzy) Taylor – Infamous criminal
- Thomas Alexander Browne (Rolf Boldrewood) – Writer
- Ada Cambridge – Writer
- Dame Marie Breen – First female senator for Victoria
- Frederick McCubbin – Artist
- Arthur Boyd – Artist (as well as other members of the Boyd family of artists)
- William Guilfoyle – Landscape gardener and botanist