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After years of negotiation between the British government and the municipal authorities in Madrid, the British Cemetery was founded in 1854 in Carabanchel in the street now known as Calle del Comandante Fontanes. The aim was to create a place where non-Roman Catholics could be buried because they were not admitted to other cemeteries existing at the time. As then, it is now run by a committee of dedicated British residents from the growing foreign community who had come to Madrid for business, trade and other interests needed by Spain at that time.

As time went by, non-British nationals were buried at the Cemetery, including Lutherans, members of the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches, and Jewish people who also needed burial facilities which were not provided for under Spanish law. Even after the Spanish authorities allowed burials in Cementerios Civiles, foreign non-Roman Catholic communities still continued to choose the British Cemetery with its conspicuously English-style layout, headstones and air of rural peace, features which still mark this small Cemetery as a place evocative of gardens and English tradition. 

The records and memorials of the British Cemetery include the founder of the Circo Price, the founder of Restaurante Lhardy, the Loewe family (leather goods and accessories), the Brooking family (jewellery), well-known industrialists such as Boetticher and Girod and the Bagration dynasty (ruling house of Georgia), the Bauer banking family and the pioneer photographer, Charles Clifford. The British Cemetery in Madrid is only one of a number of British Cemeteries in Spain and indeed there are also British Cemeteries all over the world, each steeped in local history and the links Britain has with that region. The British Cemetery in Madrid has survived the turbulence of nineteenth century Spain, the Spanish Civil War and two World Wars.

Burials are now carried out only rarely but space allows for the laying of ashes. The Committee, chaired by the British Consul-General, Madrid prepares occasional events to raise awareness among the British community and others who are interested in the social history and development of Madrid in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  A major aim has to be fund-raising for the continuance and improvement of the Cemetery. Many of the founding families have died out or are no longer represented in Madrid and not a source of contributions for maintenance. 

With links to so many different denominations, the Committee aims to keep in touch with Church leaders of the various non-Roman Catholic faiths represented in the Cemetery.
The Committee is always interested in receiving impressions, news items, historical references and all other information on the British Cemetery in Madrid sothat these may be discussed and assessed at their meetings which take place approximately six times a year.

David Butler M.B.E, member of the British Cemetery Committee