In the mid 19th century, the graveyards of the six parishes in central Oxford became full, so Merton College made some of its land available to form the cemetery in 1847.
The cemetery was established along with Osney Cemetery and St Sepulchre's Cemetery. In 1855, new burials were forbidden at all Oxford city churches, apart from in existing vaults.
The cemetery is now a wildlife refuge with many birds (including pheasants that nest there) and butterflies, as well as small and larger mammals, including Muntjac deer and foxes. Hedgehogs are also known to live there.
Notable interments and memorialsEdit
"In Memoriam Bullard" memorial stone in Holywell Cemetery
A number of well-known people are buried in the cemetery, including:
^ abR. S. Simpson, Francis Llewellyn Griffith (1862–1934) – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) – Oxford University Press – Published in print: 23 September 2004 Published online: 23 September 2004
^ abVogeler, Martha S. (2004). "Woods , Margaret Louisa (1855–1945)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
^"Gazetteer". Balliol College Archives & Manuscripts. Balliol College, Oxford. Retrieved 9 August 2012.