The population of Brighton expanded rapidly in the early nineteenth century and the St Nicholas Church burial ground with its extensions of 1824 and 1841 became severely overcrowded. In 1853 the Privy Council prohibited burials in or around the churches and chapels in Brighton, under the Burials Beyond the Metropolis Act 1853. The Vestry approached the Extra-Mural Company which had purchased land at Lewes Road as a private burial space which opened in 1851, hoping to purchase land for use by the parish, but the price named was too high. The Vestry was then offered – free of charge – 20 acres of land adjacent to the Extra-Mural Cemetery by the Marquess of Bristol in April 1856. The land had been let to William Hallett, the Mayor of Brighton, but he was prepared to surrender his lease to enable this gift and in 1856 a burial board was formed and the cemetery was laid out in 1857.
In 1902 the Parochial Cemetery became the Brighton Borough Cemetery when the corporation took over the functions of the Burial Board. The chapels were converted into a crematorium and opened in 1930 as the Brighton Borough Crematorium, the first crematorium in Sussex.
In 1955 the cemetery became known as Woodvale Cemetery. The site remains in use as a public cemetery and crematorium.