The British Cemetery in Lisbon is to be found adjacent to St George’s Church in Rua São Jorge.Part of the Treaty of 1654 negotiated between Cromwell and King João IV of Portugal stipulated that English subjects living in Portugal should have a plot allotted to them “fit for the burial of their dead” in the Lisbon area.
Due to opposition from the Inquisition, nothing was done about this until the early eighteenth century and it was only in 1717 that Consul Poyntz was able to report back to London that he had leased a suitable plot near the City “for the burial of our dead”. It became known as St. George’s Cemetery. From those early beginnings until the present day non- Roman Catholic British Nationals have had a traditional privilege of burial at St. George’s; practising Roman Catholics are now also admitted.
It is an historic site for many reasons and an interesting one too. Probably the most famous British person buried there is the novelist Henry Fielding; he came to Lisbon to try to recover from health problems but actually died on 8th October 1754. No-one knows exactly where he was buried, but a monument to him in the form of a raised tomb was erected by public subscription in 1830. Later on in the Peninsular War Portuguese soldiers acting under orders from Marshal Beresford forced open the door in order to inter the remains of Brigadier General Coleman; legend has it that many other British soldiers were buried there during this period but have no marked graves. From the twentieth century there are rows of Commonwealth War Graves, commemorating servicemen who happened to die in the Lisbon area during World War II.
These are but three examples, a wander round confirms that the remains of many interesting people from all walks of life and different nationalities have been interred at St. George’s for almost three hundred years.In the second half of the nineteenth century many trees and shrubs were planted in the cemetery, some of which survive to this day. It makes it a peaceful, verdant spot, a walled oasis covering several acres in the middle of Portugal’s busy capital.
I recently visited this beautiful little cemetery and it is well worth a visit…………..