London is not just a city Australians temporarily live in, it turns out some of us want to stay even long after we’re dead.
With an amazing array of cemeteries on offer around London — from the tangled, overgrown wilderness of Abney Park to the manicured, well-maintained lawns of West Norwood Cemetery — there is something to suit everyone’s taste.
Here are the top five famous Australians who are buried in London, and where they chose as their final resting place.
Fifth prime minister of Australia
(1862 — 1928)
Andrew Fisher served as prime minister of Australia on three separate occasions, and is second only to Bob Hawke as Australia’s longest serving Labor prime minister. It was during his second term (1910-1913) that ‘Labour’ was changed to ‘Labor’, after his Minister for Home Affairs King O’Malley convinced the party the American spelling of ‘Labor’ was more modern.
Fisher resigned as prime minister, and from parliament, in 1915 after being absent from parliament without explanation for three sitting days. He went on to serve as Australia’s second High Commissioner to the UK until 1921. He lived in retirement in South Hill Park, Hampstead until he died of influenza in October 1928. Fisher is buried at Hampstead Cemetery on Fortune Green Road.
John McDouall Stuart
Explorer in Australia
Kensal Green Cemetery
Stuart is technically Scottish, having been born and raised as the youngest of nine children in Dysart, Fife, Scotland, before emigrating to the three-year-old frontier colony of South Australia at the age of 23.
After working as a surveyor, Stuart led the first successful expedition to traverse the Australian mainland from south (South Australia) to north and return, and did so without losing a single man. The main route from Port Augusta to Darwin is now known as the Stuart Highway in his honour.
Before his death he returned to Britain and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.
Actress and author
Highgate East Cemetery
Born to distinguished doctors in Queensland, Diane Cilento decided to pursue a career in the arts, moving to England in the early 1950s after winning a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Her early career included stage work, and numerous roles in British films. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Tom Jones in 1963. In 1962 Cilento married actor Sean Connery, the second of three husbands, and had a son, Jason Connery. She also had a daughter, Giovanna, with her first husband. She returned with her third husband, playwright Anthony Shaffer, to Queensland in 1975 where she continued working in films and television before building her own outdoor theatre in the tropical rainforest north of Cairns.
Cilento died in 2011 and is in Highgate East Cemetery where her husband Anthony Shaffer, who died in 2001, is also buried.
Sir Charles Cowper
Politician and Premier of NSW
Highgate West Cemetery
Sir Cowper was an Australian politician in the 1800’s who earned a reputation as a good politician, not a great one. His skill at political evasiveness earned him the nickname “Slippery Charley”. He served as Premier of New South Wales on five different occasions from 1856 to 1870. The electoral division of Cowper in NSW, created in 1900, is named after Sir Charles Cowper.
Sir Cowper headed for London following the end of his fifth turn at Premier at the end of 1870 to serve as Agent-General for New South Wales. He died in London on 19 October 1875 and was buried in Highgate West Cemetery.
General William Birdwood
ANZAC Commander WW1
(1865 — 1951)
Although English, General William Birdwood has earned an important place in Australian history, and should accordingly be acknowledged in the list.
During World War 1 General Birdwood was appointed Commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915. He led the landings onto the peninsula, followed by the evacuation later that year. The popular term ‘Digger’ originates from General Birdwood’s instruction to “dig, dig, dig, until you are safe”, directed to the ANZAC forces as they struggled to overcome Turkish resistance on the slopes of ANZAC Cove.
Following WW1 General Birdwood narrowly missed out on becoming Governor-General of Australia to Sir Isaac Isaacs. He died in England in 1951 and was buried in Twickenham Cemetery. The town of Birdwood in the Adelaide Hills is named after him.
TOP IMAGE: File photo of Australian grave with flag (Via hkhtt hj / Shutterstock.com)