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MUSLIM BURIAL GROUND

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A former First World War Muslim military cemetery built 1915-1917, for burials of Muslim soldiers of the Indian Army. It is a rare example of an early purpose built Muslim structure in Britain. The cemetery is situated at Horsell Common. It was designed by T Hebert Winney, India Office Surveyor; built by a local firm, Ashby and Horner Ltd. It takes the form of a rectangular walled enclosure with an entrance pavilion or "chattri"/ "chhatri" to the western side. The walls feature a brick plinth and cut out arcade of ogee arches. The walls are divided into a number of bays using brick piers with Portland stone capitals and bases. The entrance pavilion is built of red brick on a square plan with an Islamic ogee profile archway. It features a deep overhanging eave called a "chujja" set on scrolled brackets, and a "beehive" style dome. Over a million troops from British-ruled India (also encompassing what is now Pakistan), including many Muslims, fought for Britain during the First World War. A number of these troops who were wounded in France were hospitalised in the south coast of England, mainly at Brighton; some that did not survive their wounds were buried at Woking. The burial ground was part of the British policy of giving burial rites according to the different religious practices of Indian troops. In particular the British Command felt the need to provide Muslim cemeteries in order to counter German propaganda that fallen Muslim troops were not being accorded the correct burial. Woking was chosen because of its existing links with the Muslim community through the Shah Jehan Mosque- then the only purpose built mosque in the country, its first Imam, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din visited the burial ground. By 1917, 19 soldiers were buried there; others were buried at another Woking cemetery, Brookwood. During the Second World War, 5 more soldiers were buried. In 1968 all the burials were transferred to Brookwood. A war memorial plaque was added prior to 2010.

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