Camberwell Old Cemetery

Camberwell Old Cemetery seems like its getting a lot more care than it was when I last visited 7 years ago. It certainly has an awful lot more new graves: caring for a cemetery and earning income from it are a virtuous or viscious circle; stop one and you'll stop the other; step up one, and you'll step up the other too.

And there are some spectacular new graves in Camberwell, not least the ones with the attached granite benches, kerbstones ordering visitors to "kneel and pray".

But my favourite find was an old one, the fallen soldier which once topped the grave of George Brydges Harley Dennett, 7th Baron Rodney, who died in 1909. The 3rd edition of Meller said that all trace of this memorial was gone, and I've never been able to find it. And then I spotted it in a video, and found that Brian Parsons had also put a photograph in the 4th edition of Meller... and there he was! I wept a little tear for him, I must say, and can't help hoping his head turns up one day too.

Lord Rodney is typical of so many of Camberwell's older graves. Despite the grass being cut and the flowers being planted, the older memorials aren't being cared for. They're fallen and lying in the grass, or taken down and laid unceremoniously on top of the flat part of the memorial. The northern part of the cemetery is no longer being maintained at all, and is completely overgrown (more so even than Abney Park) except for a single looping path. It's all rather sad.

Visiting: Honor Oak Park station is about a mile away. 63 bus stops outside the cemetery gates. No one bats an eyelid at photographers: met a young couple out cemeterying, and a nice dog named Molly.

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Filed under: London Cemeteries .