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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Cemeteries and crematoria

Information about cemetery and crematorium records in Durham County Record Office and elsewhere.

Cemetery and crematorium records in the Record Office are on microfilm. Please  and book a microfilm reader to see these records.

About cemeteries and cemetery records

Until the nineteenth century, most people were buried in parish churchyards. The Society of Friends (Quakers) maintained their own burial grounds but few other nonconformists did so.

With the increase of population and the growth of large towns in the nineteenth century, the Church of England churchyards could no longer provide enough space for burials. Ancient churchyards that were overcrowded were closed on public health grounds, and alternative provision had to be made.

In the early nineteenth century many private cemeteries were opened by private act of parliament. However, most public cemeteries were opened under various Burial Acts from 1852 to 1906 and were run by local authorities, in most cases a burial board. Later acts allowed parish councils and district councils to take over the powers of the burial boards.

With many new cemeteries opening in the second half of the nineteenth century, you will find correspondingly fewer burial entries in parish registers after that date. This is particularly noticeable in urban areas. In a few cases burials may have continued in the churchyard until the present day.

Most registers of burials and registers of grave spaces in municipal and other cemeteries are still in the custody of either the unitary, district or parish council which operates the cemetery.

Some of these records have been microfilmed and are made available in the Record Office

Our free information guide Monumental Inscriptions, Cemetery and Crematorium Registers (PDF, 139kb) includes details of the cemetery registers we have on microfilm.

Guide to Cemeteries in County Durham

We sell a guide to Cemeteries in County Durham.

This includes a list of the local authority cemeteries and crematoria in the area of the historic county of Durham (the area covered by the present County Durham boundary plus the city of Sunderland, the boroughs of Darlington, Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees, and the metropolitan boroughs of Gateshead and South Tyneside).

Our guide gives cemetery names and locations, opening dates and the location of the cemetery records, either in Durham County Record Office or elsewhere.

We also have a free information guide about the grave plans we keep: 

Grave Plans (PDF, 167kb) 

Cemetery registers online

These are the cemetery and crematorium registers you can search online:

Durham Crematorium
The Durham Crematorium website includes an online search facility.

You can search the Duncombe Cemetery indexes (1904 to present) on the Ferryhill Town Council website.

Index (1898-2017) on the Spennymoor Town Council cemeteries website.

Index (1893-2016) on the Spennymoor Town Council cemeteries website.

Cemeteries operated by Durham County Council

To search burial records for cemeteries operated by Durham County Council please apply to Bereavement Services.

Contact details are on the search burial records page.

Who to contact

If you are unable to find details of the relevant cemetery or crematorium in our guide, please contact us.

You can also contact Durham County Council's Bereavement Services to search burial registers for cemeteries within the current County Durham boundary area.