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  • The cemetery has a Muslim chapel or janazgah which opened in 1985 when it was the only one of its kind in Europe
  • The buildings and the cemetery grounds are Grade II listed as a place of special historical interest
  • Burial rituals and practices vary amongst religions and cultures; Saffron Lane Cemetery has been a leader in respecting and accommodating these different practises for many years

Post war building boom

Following the First World War there was a need for new housing and estates were starting to be developed to the south of Leicester. As part of this building programme it was identified that there was also a need for a new cemetery. In July 1924 the Corporation purchased 169 acres of land from Mrs Eyres Monsell of Dumbleton Hall, Evesham which was to be used for both housing and a new cemetery.

There were thirty-six designs submitted for the laying out of the cemetery and the chosen plan was by landscape architects Thomas Mawson & Son of Lancaster. Their plan was inspired by cemetery design from the USA with geometric paths and formal open spaces.

The first section of the cemetery to be consecrated for burials was the eastern section in September 1931. The cemetery was then formally opened one month later by the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Cllr H Carver JP.

1968 07 31 Cemeteries 001
Saffron Hill Cemetery in 1968

A multicultural cemetery for a diverse city

All religions and cultures have different practices for the internment of their dead which must be respected. This need to cater to a variety of beliefs is especially important in Leicester with its diverse population.

The cemetery contains the graves and final resting places of people from many different religions and beliefs with. The buildings within the grounds include The Chapel, East Lodge and the West Lodge which were completed in the late 1920s, catering to anyone who needs to use them.

Muslim burials have taken place at Saffron Hill since June 1963 with a special area opened as a Muslim burial ground in 1977. Saffron Hill contains the first purpose built Muslim chapel or janazgah in Western Europe which was opened on 27 July 1985 by His Excellency Ali Arshad, Ambassador for Pakistan.

Janazgah 2017
The janazgah (Muslim chapel) was the first of its kind in Western Europe

Muslim Burial Council of Leicester

MBCOL was initially set up as an organisation that could assist and advise about the details of burials and funerals for the Muslim community in Leicester. Today the organisation is an award winning adviser to people of all faiths on matters of funeral procedures, including legal advice and registrations.

The organisation has been at the forefront of expanding knowledge about faith based funeral procedures for over two decades and they are held up as a template across Europe for the success of their work. Councils from many countries have used the work MBCOL has done as a template for helping Muslims access the correct information and services in their own cities.

MBCOL were instrumental in the 2017 refurbishment of the janazgah (Muslim chapel) at Saffron Lane Cemetery which provides an appropriate space for Muslim funerals to take place. Suleman Nagdi, Chairman of MBCOL said at the time:

MBCOL has worked to share good practice with other faith communities for a long time and the facility marks many years of hard work to provide improved community facilities at Saffron Hill Cemetery.

Find out more about the work of MBCOL.

Find out how to visit Saffron Hill Cemetery.


Continue the story of

A City of Diversity

Faith in Roman Leicester

Leicester has been a place of diverse culture and faith for some 2,000 years. A confirmed Roman temple has been discovered and references to other temples have also been found.

Leicester Cathedral

Leicester Cathedral is at the physical heart of the Leicester, situated in Leicester’s Old Town. The Cathedral famously houses King Richard III’s tomb.

Great Meeting Unitarian Chapel

Built in 1708 as a “Meeting House of Protestant Dissenters”, the Great Meeting is the earliest example of a major brick building in Leicester.

Wesleyan Chapel

Today Bishop Street Methodist Church occupies a prime location in the city overlooking Town Hall Square. This area was used as a cattle market and the land around it was therefore cheap enough for the early Methodists to buy and build on.

Belvoir Street Chapel

Affectionately known as the “Pork Pie Chapel”, Belvoir Street Chapel was designed by Joseph Hansom, inventor of the horse–drawn cab.

Secular Hall

This is the only building in Britain that is entirely devoted to secularism. Secularists believe religion should have no privileged role in civil and state activities. It was a very controversial idea in Victorian times.

Highfield Street Synagogue

The Highfields Street Synagogue was mostly funded by donations from Israel Hart and other local Jewish business men, it opened in 1898.

Central Mosque

First established in 1968 by a group of Pakistani Sunni Muslims, the Islamic Centre would go on to expand from a side street in Highfields to the grand Central Mosque on Conduit Street. The original Islamic Centre is still on Sutherland Street, made up of converted residential buildings and is certainly one of the oldest Mosques in Leicester.

The Golden Mile

The story of the Golden Mile is one of resilience and enterprise. For many years the Belgrave Road was a thriving area with large companies such as Wolsey and the British United Shoe Machinery (BUSM) company sharing the nearby streets with many smaller workshops and businesses.

Diwali in Leicester

Diwali in Leicester is a huge, cultural celebration enjoyed by people who have come from far and wide to see the thousands of decorative Diwali lights along the city’s “Golden Mile”, enjoy spectacular firework displays and see homes, temples and gurdwaras all illuminated.

Jain Centre

What we know today as Leicester´s Jain Centre started life in 1863 as a Congregational Chapel (an independent church).

Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurdwara

Leicester's first Sikh gurdwara now occupies a building that used to be a knitwear factory.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Located on the corner of Catherine Street and Gypsy Lane is the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Mandir (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha), a white limestone Hindu temple. The mandir building is a former denim factory and it has now become one of the largest and most stunning mandirs in the Midlands.

Roman Leicester

(47- 500) A military fort was erected, attracting traders and a growing civilian community to Leicester (known as Ratae Corieltauvorum to the Romans). The town steadily grew throughout the reign of the Romans.

Tudor & Stuart Leicester

(1500 – 1700) The wool trade flourished in Leicester with one local, a former mayor named William Wigston, making his fortune. During the English Civil War a bloody battle was fought as the forces of King Charles I laid siege to the town.

Georgian Leicester

(1700 – 1837) The knitting industry had really stared to take hold and Leicester was fast becoming the main centre of hosiery manufacture in Britain. This new prosperity was reflected throughout the town with broader, paved streets lined with elegant brick buildings and genteel residences.

Victorian Leicester

(1837 – 1901) The industrial revolution had a huge effect on Leicester resulting in the population growing from 40,000 to 212,000 during this period. Many of Leicester's most iconic buildings were erected during this time as wealthy Victorians made their mark on the town.

Edwardian Leicester

(1901 – 1910) Electric trams came to the streets of Leicester and increased literacy among the citizens led to many becoming politicised. The famous 1905 ‘March of the Unemployed to London’ left from Leicester market when 30,000 people came to witness the historic event.

Modern Leicester

(1973 – present day) Industry was still thriving in the city during the 1970s, with the work opportunities attracting many immigrants from all over the world. While industry has declined in recent years, excellent transport links have made Leicester an attractive centre for many businesses. The City now has much to be proud of including its sporting achievements and the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity.

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