LONDON,
'MAGNIFICENT SEVEN' -
CEMETERIES

«SEP. 2014»

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

 

The 'Magnificent Seven' is an informal term applied to seven large cemeteries in London. They were established in the 19th century to alleviate overcrowding in existing parish burial grounds.
A newspaper article raised my interest and of course I had to visit all seven of them.
Kensal Green cemetery was the first one, within walking distance of our accommodation in Westminster.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

For hundreds of years, almost all London's dead were buried in small parish churchyards, which quickly became dangerously overcrowded. Not until British visitors were inspired by Paris's Père Lachaise cemetery that something similar was developed in London: at Kensal Green.

Founded by the barrister George Frederick Carden, Kensal Green Cemetery was opened in 1833 and comprises 72 acres of grounds, including two conservation areas, adjoining a canal.
Kensal Green Cemetery is home to at least 33 species of bird and other wildlife.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
To the memory of Jind Kaur, Maharani of the Punjab.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
From a distance it looked like this grave was tended to, but it is only another form of neglect.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
This distinctive cemetery has a host of different memorials ranging from large mausoleums housing the rich
and famous to many distinctive smaller graves and even includes special areas dedicated to the very young.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
A working cemetery but with the limited space it seems hard to find a spot.

Kensal Green Cemetery on Wikipedia


 
In the first 50 years of the 19th century the population of London more than doubled from 1 million to 2.3 million. Overcrowded graveyards also led to decaying matter getting into the water supply and causing epidemics.
There were stories of graves being dug that already contained bodies, and bodies being flushed directly into the newly built sewer system.
Next is Brompton cemetery.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Brompton Cemetery was established by Act of Parliament, it opened in 1840 and was originally known as 'the West of London and Westminster Cemetery'.
Consecrated by the Bishop of London in June 1840, it is one of Britain's oldest and most distinguished garden cemeteries. Some 35,000 monuments, from simple headstones to substantial mausolea, mark the resting place of more than 205,000 burials.
The site includes large plots for family mausolea, and common graves where coffins are piled deep into the earth, as well as a small columbarium.
Brompton was closed to burials between 1952 and 1996, but is once again a working cemetery.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
A modest presence of wildlife..

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
A working cemetery.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
Brompton Cemetery was designed by Benjamin Baud and has at its centre a modest domed chapel (in the style of the basilica of St. Peter's in Rome) at it southern end, reached by long colonnades, and flanked by catacombs.
The chapel is dated 1839. The site, previously market gardens, was bought from Lord Kensington and is 39 acres (160,000 m2) in area.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
'Accidentally killed 17-june-1915'. Remarks such as these raise questions without hope for an answer.
But then I received a link from Leo Spiessens, details about the death of Reginald Warneford were to be found
on Wikipedia. Reginald was nicknamed 'Wild Hawk'. His downing of an airship caused casualties on the ground,
in Belgium. He received a Victoria Cross, but was killed when the righthand wings collapsed in take off.
It reads like a W.E. Johns novel!

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
A quiet spot to read the paper.

Brompton Cemetery on Wikipedia


 
The grounds of West Norwood Cemetery are a mixture of historic monumental cemetery and modern lawn cemetery, but it also has catacombs, cremation plots and a columbarium for cinery ashes.
The cemetery's crematorium still operates, and cremation plots are still available, but all the conventional burial plots have been allocated and hence it is closed to new burials pending further agreement under current burial legislation.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
The site, with some of its neighbouring streets, forms part of a conservation area.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
Lambeth have recognised it as a site of nature conservation value within the Borough in addition to its
outstanding value as a site of national historic and cultural interest. English Heritage have placed it
on the 'National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens', describing it as the first cemetery to be
designed in the Gothic Revival style.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

West Norwood Cemetery on Wikipedia


 
Nunhead Cemetery is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries, but it has been said it is perhaps the least famous and celebrated of them. But I came to like it best.
The cemetery is located in the Nunhead area of southern London and was originally known as All Saints' Cemetery.
Nunhead Cemetery was consecrated in 1840 and opened by the London Necropolis Company.
It is a Local Nature Reserve and is more of a forest than a landscaped park. It was here in fact that I came face to face with a fox, at 17:00 in the afternoon - alas it was gone before I could consider taking a photograph!

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
The first grave in Nunhead was dug in October 1840. The average annual number of burials there over the last
ten years, has been 1685: 1350 in the consecrated, and 335 in the unconsecrated ground.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
It is now a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Metropolitan Importance for wildlife, populated with songbirds,
woodpeckers and tawny owls. A lack of care and cash surrendered the graves to the ravages of nature and vandalism,
but in the early 1980s the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery were formed to renovate and protect the cemetery.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
At 52 acres, it is the second largest of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries. Views across London include St Paul's Cathedral.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
Remains of the Anglican Chapel.

Nunhead Cemetery on Wikipedia


 
Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is a closed, historic cemetery located in the East End of London. The cemetery opened in 1841 and closed for burials in 1966.
It is now a nature reserve, and other land has been added to the park, including 'Scrapyard Meadow'. It was originally named 'The City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery' but was called Bow Cemetery by locals.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
It was declared a Local Nature Reserve in May 2000.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Tower Hamlets Cemetery was very popular with people from the East End and by 1889 247.000 bodies had been interred (the cemetery remained open for another 77 years).
In the first two years 60% of the burials were in public graves and by 1851 this had increased to 80%.

Public graves were the property of the company and were used to bury those whose families could not afford to buy a plot. Several persons, entirely unrelated to each other, could be buried in the same grave within the space of a few weeks. There are stories of some graves being dug 40 feet deep and containing up to 30 bodies!

 

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

There are 279 Commonwealth service personnel of both World Wars buried here, the names of all being listed on bronze panels on a Screen Wall memorial, as are those of four Dutch merchant seamen.
Nine British merchant seamen are buried here who were killed when their ship, SS Bennevis, was hit by a bomb while berthed in the Pool of London during an air raid in World War II.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Tower Hamlets Cemetery on Wikipedia


 
Abney Park is a historic parkland, originally laid out in the early 18th century by Lady Mary Abney and Dr. Isaac Watts, and the neighbouring Hartopp family.
In 1840 it became a non-denominational garden cemetery, a semi-public park arboretum, and an educational institute, which was widely celebrated as an example of its time.
A total of 196,843 burials had taken place there as of the year 2000.
It is a Local Nature Reserve.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
I did not focus on celebrities while visiting these cemeteries, but some stand out all the same.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
Abney Park was included on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2009, as one of Britain's historic
parks and gardens at risk from neglect and decay.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
Abney Park Cemetery was the first to be laid out with "no invidious dividing lines" separating the
burial areas of one faith or religious group from any other.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
Isaac Watts (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748) was an English Christian hymnwriter, theologian and logician.
A prolific and popular hymn writer, his work was part of evangelization. He was recognized as the
'Father of English Hymnody', credited with some 750 hymns.
Many of his hymns remain in use today and have been translated into numerous languages.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
Abney Park Chapel

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
Under careful management the woodland is slowly becoming enriched through natural regeneration.
The northern areas are slowly returning to native oaks with a hornbeam and hawthorn understory.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London


 
Highgate Cemetery is designated Grade I on 'the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest' in England.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
It is divided into two parts, named the East and West cemetery. The latter was closed, only open for tours.
It was also the only cemetery of the Magnificent Seven where we had to pay an entrance fee (four pounds).
I liked it the least, too regulated.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
The cemetery in its original form – the northwestern wooded area – opened in 1839, as part of a plan to provide
seven large, modern cemeteries, known as the 'Magnificent Seven', around the outside of central London.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
Not on the list of celebrities buried here: artist Michael Howard. I am setting the record straight here.

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
The most famous burial in the East cemetery is arguably that of Karl Marx and it is celebrated
by a memorial (he was buried nearby but we could not find the grave).

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
Besides memorials and statues, there are also very modest graves; what could be the story of Maria Baker?

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
Highgate Cemetery was featured in the popular media from the 1960s to the late 1980s for its so-called occult past, particularly as being the alleged site of the 'Highgate Vampire'!

Magnificent Seven cemeteries, London
William Friese Greene, the inventor of Kinematography.

Cinematography (from Greek: κίνημα, kinema "movements" and γράφειν, graphein "to record") is the art or science of motion picture photography. It is the technique of film photography, including both the shooting and development of the film.
In the infancy of motion pictures, the cinematographer was usually also the director and the person physically handling the camera. As the art form and technology evolved, a separation between director and camera operator emerged.
Wikipedia: William Friese-Greene (b.07Sep1855 - d.05May1921, born William Edward Green) was a British portrait photographer and prolific inventor. He is principally known as a pioneer in the field of motion pictures and is credited by some as the "inventor" of cinematography, although his work post-dates that of Louis Le Prince, who successfully shot the world's first moving pictures in Leeds in 1888.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Friese_Greene

Highgate Cemetery on Wikipedia

The MAGNIFICENT SEVEN on WIKIPEDIA



 

 

Visit LONDON 2014