St Kilda Cemetery was opened in 1855 and covers an area of twenty acres. The area surveyed included four acres each for the Church of England and the Catholic denominations, and two acres each for the Presbyterians, Wesleyans, Baptists and Independents. There was also a further four acres reserved for extensions. Part of this reserve became the Hebrew section and the rest was left for other denominations, not specifically named. The specified capacity of the cemetery was 20,000 graves.
In June 1855, the cemetery was officially opened, although the burial registers indicate that a young girl, Charlotte Green, had been interred in the Baptist section in May that year.
The management of the cemetery was provided by the St Kilda Cemetery Trust. Eventually there were eleven trustees, two representing each of the local municipalities of Prahran and St Kilda, and one each representing the various denominations.
By 1899, the government declared that all available grave lots had been exhausted, and that the cemetery was to be closed. Up until that time there had been over 20,000 burials. The closure meant that there were to be no more burials except for those who already held a right of burial.
Closure of the cemetery was varied in 1923 to allow the sale of a small number of allotments, and in 1928 when a further 250 became available. Over the years since then, the Trustees had sought variations of the closure order, and this allowed an increase in burials to reach 50,869, in 1965.
In 1967, the management of the cemetery passed to the Springvale Necropolis. A lawn cemetery was established on the site of the old lodge in 1970.
A short chronological history follows and further information can be found in a special issue of the newsletter Cemetery Conversations prepared by the Friends for the 150th anniversary of the cemetery in 2005. This special newsletter (Issue No 18 – June 2005) may be purchased at a cost of $8.00 (plus postage).
|1835||Port Phillip District settled.|
|1837||Old Melbourne Cemetery established.|
|1851||Robert Hoddle surveys proposed site of St Kilda Cemetery.|
|1853||Melbourne General Cemetery established.
Crown land reserved for a cemetery at St Kilda.
First burial, Charlotte Green, in May.
Cemetery opened in June.
|1858||Prahran Council joins cemetery Trust.|
St Kilda Council joins cemetery Trust.
|1861||Purchase of trees and shrubs.|
|1865||Attempts to close cemetery fail.|
|1868||Complaints from residents seeking closure.|
|1873||Cemetery infested with snakes.|
|1877||First Jewish burial.|
|1878||First Jewish trustee appointed.
Land at Springvale bought for a new metropolitan cemetery.
|1883||Charles Truelove appointed secretary-manager.|
|c1883||External brick wall constructed.|
|1890||Residents petition for closure.|
|c1893||Plant nursery established.|
|1895||Trust ordered to close cemetery.|
|1896||Board of inquiry sought.|
|1897||Libel action brought against Charles Truelove.|
|1901||Sales of graves continue.|
|1905||Charles Truelove dismissed.
|1906||Variation to discontinuance order to approve illegal burials.|
|1907||Board of Inquiry held into the administration of the cemetery.|
|1913||Variation to discontinuance order.
Alleged trafficking in graves by undertakers.
|1928||Two releases of additional graves (140 graves plus a further 250).|
|1930||Conference held to discuss future of cemetery.|
|1931||Sustenance relief sought to clean-up cemetery.|
|1932||Cemetery Lodge converted into flats.|
|1935||Overselling of graves prompts further investigation.
Selling of new graves allowed to continue.
|1941||Plan to erect a crematorium.|
|1962||Government assistance sought.
Review by Health Department.
|1963||St Kilda Council declines management of cemetery.
Prahran Council withdraws from Trust.
|1966||Trustees threaten to resign.
St Kilda Council approached to run cemetery but declines.
|1967||Necropolis appointed temporary managers.|
|1968||Passing of legislation and Necropolis appointed as Trustees.|
|1970||Cemetery Lodge demolished.
Michaelis lawn and garden established.
|1983||Formal closing order.|
|1998||Friends of St Kilda Cemetery formed.|
|2004||Redevelopment of main entrance.|
|2005||Celebration of 150th anniversary.
Release of new gravesites.