St Kilda Cemetery was laid out in 1851 by Robert Hoddle’s assistant surveyor HB Foot, and Crown land was reserved for the cemetery in 1853.
It was officially opened on 9 June 1855. It is one of the oldest suburban cemeteries in Melbourne. The first burial took place on 1 May 1855, it was that of a young girl Charlotte Green who was interred in the Baptist section. The gate lodge was built in about 1857, and the rotundas in 1860. By 1860 St Kilda was the preferred suburb of wealthy residents and there were three unsuccessful attempts by local landowners to have the cemetery closed. The external brick wall was built in about 1883.
In 1900 the cemetery was closed except to holders of burial rights and re-opened later, in 1923 to allow the sale of a small number of allotments and 1928 when a further 250 graves were offered for sale. The Necropolis Springvale commenced administration of the cemetery in February 1968. Two nineteenth-century brick, slate-roofed gate lodge and office buildings were demolished in the early 1970s. A lawn cemetery was established on the site of the gate lodge in 1970. The total site covers 7 hectares (18 acres). Approximately 53,000 burials have occurred. There are about 20 burials per annum.
Notable interments include:
- Alfred Deakin, three times Prime Minister
- Baron Sir Ferdinand von Mueller – botanist
- Albert Jacka – Victoria Cross recipient
- William Pitt – architect
- Sir Frederick Sargood – Merchant and senator
- Premiers Sir Bryan O’Loghlen, George Kerferd, Sir James Munro, Sir George Turner
- Christina MacPherson – music contributor to Banjo Patterson’s ‘Waltzing Mathilda’
- Caroline Hodgson, better known as the notorious Madame Brussels, proprietor of a brothel
- ‘Glen Huntley’ pioneers memorial (emigrants who died from typhoid fever in 1840)
- Matilda ‘Tilly’ Ashton, the blind woman who started the Braille Library in Melbourne.