Today I finished visiting all of London’s “Magnificent Seven” cemeteries. I don’t know if that’s something to be proud of or not; who goes sightseeing in a GRAVEYARD, never mind seven of them???? Still, I had to do it, and I think I can sping my visits into a fairly interesting chapter in my book, once I get around to writing it!
This past Sunday, I went to Tower Hamlets Cemetery. It was pretty nondescript. It wasn’t artistic or pretty, and it just wasn’t as interesting as some of the others. That’s all I have to say about that! 😛
Yesterday, I went to Kensal Green Cemetery and West Brompton Cemetery. Kensal Green just didn’t sit right with me, for some reason; I just felt icky when I was there. There are plenty of old monuments and things, but it’s not woodsy at all. Plus, a good percentage of the place is more modern than historic. Remember…it’s only the OLD cemeteries I like. 🙂 Kensal Green did feature this grave, however:
No disrespect to the dead, but I SO wish the husband’s name had been Donald! 😛
West Brompton was next, as I said. It’s the most well-laid out of all the Magnificent Seven; it’s shaped like a perfect rectangle, with straight paths running the length and width of it. Like Kensal Green, it’s not THAT wooded, but it feels a bit older and wilder (it’s actually not older). West Brompton is also the cemetery that feels the most like a park; there were plenty of people out walking themselves and their dogs. This isn’t surprising; it’s actually a pretty place:
I visited the last two cemeteries today. They were a bit more of a challenge; neither one is accessible by Tube. That meant taking actual trains that are NOT part of the Underground network. The good news? Most rail services that fall within the TFL zones are covered by my Oyster Card. 🙂 All of the stations that I had to use today were within the first four zones, which are covered by my monthly pass, which means no extra money out of my pocket! Nunhead Cemetery (south of London) was my first stop. It’s definitely the most overgrown of the seven, and is now a nature reserve. The only graves and monuments visible were the ones that lined the paths. It felt like I was taking a walk in the woods more than a graveyard, which I didn’t hate. The woods are my favorite natural environment. 🙂 There was also a ruined chapel in the middle, but unlike the one from Abney Park, it was well kept and therefore did NOT give me the creeps:
The paths were pleaseant and winding, and I basically had the place to myself. That was due in large part to the fact that it was POURING rain. I even heard thunder at one point. So basically…I was wandering around alone in a graveyard during a storm. The only thing that could have made it more awesome was if it had also been a full moon on Halloween. 😀
My last and final stop was West Norwood. The rain had stopped, and the sun had come out, making it a fraction less cold. This one felt the most modern to me, which is funny because it’s the second oldest. I think that’s because it seemed to have more modern, lawn-style graves rather than the old-fashioned monuments that I like. Plus, it’s very well-kept. There were hardly any overgrown spaces and gravestones that had been swallowed up by nature.
I got several reminders during my visits that these places aren’t just there for nice walks and history. They’re still working cemeteries; Kensal Green, West Brompton, and West Norwood were all playing host to some sort of funeral or memorial service while I was there. The one at West Brompton was a particularly big deal. The departed was….ummm…delivered to the site in a carriage drawn by matching black horses. Now THAT is a classy way to go out! 😀
Today marks the beginning of my final week in London. It still looks like I won’t be getting into St. Paul’s; they’re talking about opening it up again by Friday, by the dome will still be closed. Since that’s a big part of the reason why I wanted to do the tourist thing in there, I think I’ll probably have to skip it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to sneak in one last service, though; their boys’ choir is the best I’ve heard at ANY evensong service anywhere. 🙂