The Lubbock family have a long and enduring relationship with Farnborough, through the purchase of the High Elms estate in the early nineteenth century, and its subsequent expansion and development.

During early Victorian times, the family were regular church attenders at St Mary the Virgin in Downe. Members of the family are buried there up until 1879. Then the vicar there preached a rather fiery and fundamentalist sermon against Darwinist ideas in general, and Charles Darwin and John Lubbock were alluded to personally. After that, a cooling of relations followed, eventually resulting in a switch of allegiance to St Giles church Farnborough where the local vicar was much more liberal (with a small “l”).

With the purchase of Church Field in the nineteenth century, the Lubbocks and St Giles became neighbours. Several Lubbock gravestones can be seen today in the churchyard. There are also some burials and memorials in the family graveyard at High Elms , including Eric Lubbock, well known as the former MP for Orpington, who died in 2016

Family Burial Ground

The Lubbock family burial ground was initiated in 1916 when Alice Lubbock decided to create a more elaborate memorial to her husband John. She had his body exhumed from St. Giles churchyard, where it had been buried three years earlier, and transferred together with the stone cross to a newly consecrated plot in family owned woodlands about 100 yards from St Giles churchyard.

Between then and 1980, a number of family members were buried there, although not everyone who has their name on a monument actually is interred on the site (for example Harold and Eric are buried in British war cemeteries near where they were killed). From the 1930s no new graves were created. Instead, deceased family members were buried within existing tombs – most often under the Celtic cross which was John Lubbock’s grave. Their presence was marked by inscription on the sides and base of the cross. These can still be viewed today.

The former burial ground  The site today (see below) 

The shape of the burial ground was hexagonal as shown in the photo, and the below diagram. Surrounding it was a chain link fence with 12 white wooden posts. At the north and south end were two wrought iron gates. A path led to the graveyard from the field just south of St Giles and another led from it going down towards the gatehouse lodge in Shire Lane.

By the 1960s the cemetery had become a place of peaceful contemplation. The ground was grassed over and well-kept. At one side there was a small bench where one could sit looking inwards. 

The layout of the ground is illustrated here Key to Monuments

Removal of the Cross

In 1986, or thereabouts, Bromley Council decided to move some of the memorials into the main St Giles churchyard. It is understood that they were concerned that they were hard to maintain and keep from vandalism where they stood.

Graves 2, 3 and 6 on the diagram were moved into the St Giles churchyard. Bromley Council sold off 5 (the aeroplane monument) to a stone mason’s yard in Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire.

The base remains of 1 and 4 are still on the site although the blocks have been broken up. The top of 4 lies in two pieces embedded in the ground just north of the base.
Gravestone remains still in High Elms woodland   The Cross now in St. Giles churchyard   

The process by which this transfer took place is rather opaque – obscured by history one might say.  Bromley claim to have lost all correspondence relating to the matter and no one in the Lubbock family had any knowledge that it was happening at the time.

What has emerged since (in 2014) is that the Lubbock family still own the cemetery, a fact that at the time was not known to them.

The London Borough of Bromley have since tidied up the site. They have converted one of the graves into a rectangular railed off spot marking the approximate centre of the cemetery.

There were moves to create some more elaborate markers together with more detailed signage but these were eventually shelved – presumably for lack of funds.

Burial Ground Refurbishment

The photographs below were taken in May 2019 and show the monuments to Eric and Susan together with the new seating and other improvements.

Click Photos to enlarge



Return of the Aeroplane

Twenty plus years after its removal from High Elms it was possible, at some expense, to recover the stone aeroplane. This has now been placed in the walled BEECHE centre at High Elms to allow it to be better protected.

The Rev Matthew Hughes of St. Giles church Farnborough performed a rededication ceremony which cemented the return of the tomb in the minds of the family.

Now the family are considering whether the site can be improved. Consultations with Bromley, St Giles, the wider family etc. are underway and any parishioners who have thoughts on the matter would be welcome to have their say - via the church.    

Lyulph Lubbock


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