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Category Archives: 21st Century
Lambeth Cemetery is either a tragedy, or a triumph of practicality, depending on your point of view. Opened in 1854, few of the original Victorian monuments survive, due to a "lawn conversion" carried out between 1969 and 1991, which removed all but the most interesting Victorian graves, freeing up new space for burials. Thus the visitor to Lambeth today sees an unusual admixture of twenty-first century granite and Victorian, lichen-covered angels. It feels very strange.
At least the pair of super-sized Gothic chapels have survived, though only one is in use and the other has been fenced off, apparently derelict. The original lodge is also still in existence. At the other end of this long, thin cemetery is the modern crematorium opened in 1969. This is typically utilitarian in design, and surrounded on one side by numbered rose beds, and on the other by sunken paths bearing memorial tablets.
Visiting: Very busy, with new graves and hence livings throughout. Numerous cars parked all over the place: is it just me who finds people driving up to the actual gravesite rather distasteful? But has toilets. 493 bus stops right outside, or visit Streatham Cemetery at the same time and walk from there.
Wandsworth Cemetery is crammed into a wedge-shaped space between a residential street and the railway. Opened in 1878, it was extended in 1898, and further room for new burials was created in the 1980s by banking up earth along the western edge beside the railway. Nevertheless, Wandsworth is now nearly full.
It's a beautifully-maintained cemetery, with plenty of healthy trees, and the original buildings: a pair of Gothic chapels (only one is still in use), another building now in private ownership, and the brick-built lodge. There are, it must be said, not so many interesting monuments, though a few stand out: Emma Cook's granite edifice and Jurgan and Emily Pfeiffer's arched gable are both to be found to the north of the chapels.
Visiting: Earlsfield station is just around the corner (train down from Clapham Junction). Has toilets! A few livings about but no one batted an eyelid at photography.
In the side streets around Southall, there are two small cemeteries. They're both very typical of west London suburban cemeteries: well-maintained now by the London Borough of Ealing, but with signs of the neglect in their past. The older, Havelock Cemetery on Havelock Road, opened in 1885 and is now closed to new burials. Havelock's most interesting monument is the small pipe organ for William Harry Martin, who died in 1933.
Round the corner, Hortus Cemetery was opened in 1944. It's a large, rectangular piece of ground; there's little planting apart from the hedged rose garden at the front. Nonetheless, it's been popular and now has almost run out of space, particularly in the Muslim section in the north-west corner.
Visiting: Both cemeteries are walking distance from Southall train station. Both are quiet: Havelock was empty on Saturday lunchtime, apart from two lads trying to teach their dog to jump over the wall. Hortus had more visitors, but no one seemed to object to my brief photography exercise.
Most of the photos that I - and other people - take in Kensal Green are all about the old graves, the Victorian craziness and the pompous monuments. It's easy to forget that this is still a working cemetery, and has new graves popping up all the time, sometimes in the western part, but also amongst the older graves. Here are some photographs of newer monuments in Kensal Green.
With apologies to Leonard Cohen for the title.
New Southgate is a big old Victorian cemetery, but if you go there expecting acres of angels and other sumptuous nineteenth century monuments, you're going to be disappointed: Victoriana is a bit lacking. But there's plenty more to see.
Perhaps the most unusual monument in the cemetery is the eagle-topped pillar for Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, who died on a visit to London in 1957. He was buried in London as his religion required that burial be not further than one hour's journey from the place of death. Many Bahá'í are also buried in this part of the cemetery.
Elsewhere, the many cultures of this part of north London are well-represented at Southgate, with Afro-Caribbean, Greek Orthodox, Jewish and Roman Catholic sections. The interest here is in the variety and vivacity of the memorials left to the dead.
Visiting: Arnos Grove tube or New Southgate rail stations, and then bus 382, which stops outside the main gate.