Book report : Permanent Londoners

Subtitled An Illustrated Biographical Guide to the Cemeteries of London, in fact this book is a guide to some of the more spectacular burial and memorial sites in London. Westminster Abbey is covered in four separate chapters, grouped according to the life and works of the subjects. St. Pauls', Windsor Castle and the Tower too have their own chapters, as do the parish churches of St. John at Hampstead and St. Nicholas, Chiswick. The cemeteries covered are Highgate, Kensal Green, Brompton, Bunhill Fields, Hampstead, Putney Vale, Golders Green and St Marylebone: certainly amongst the more interesting burial grounds, and the most visited.

The formula for each tour remains pretty much the same; a brief history of the place, followed by a guide around its notable monuments, with short biographies of those memorialised. These last are not terribly inspired, and stylistically seem to have been culled from many different sources without much editing.

My main complaint about this book, however, is what it *doesn't* cover: where are Nunhead, West Norwood, Abney Park? It's tempting to see the omission of City of London as just laziness, on the part of either authors or readers, for not wanting the trek 'up east' to see it.

If you're visiting the capital, or only want to see the most exciting monuments in the most touristy places, then this certainly a most valuable book. However, if you really do want to explore the cemeteries of London, you'd do much better with Hugh Meller and Darren Beach.

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