The Hamilton East Cemetery was developed in 1863 - 1866 in a simple symmetrical layout, and falls into the category of the Symmetrical Rural Park Cemetery, in the English style.
Some of the first settlers of Hamilton are buried here. Many of them are also remembered in landmarks around the city; for example, in Steele Park, Tristram Street, Innes Common and Howden Road.
The Hamilton East Cemetery shows an early influence of John Loudon (1943 - 1843) in the symmetrical layout and use of evergreen trees. Developments from later in the 19th century show an influence of the more relaxed and natural American cemeteries with an introduction of deciduous trees, flowers and a less formal layout.
More recently the 'Lawn Cemetery' section was developed and the Returned Servicemen's area, influenced by the War Graves tradition - both typical additions to Park Cemeteries.
The Rural Park Cemetery movement, of the early 19th Century, offered a place beyond the city limits that allowed family burial plots, interspersed with trees, shrubs, and flowers in a woodland or landscape garden. These Park Cemeteries were significant in the development of the first public parks, with a movement away from the rigid, structured traditional cemeteries, with their formal plots and lots of iron railings and masonry. There were parallel Cemetery movements throughout Europe, as the belief burgeoned that providing natural park settings would improve social behavior and morals. The Victorians especially supported this view, and also developed a floral code and symbolism of plants relating to death. Trees such as cypress, yew, willow and laurel were associated with sorrow and loss.
Download the Hamilton East Cemetery Heritage Walk brochure.