Hoop Lane Jewish Cemetery

The eastern half of Hoop Lane belongs to the Sephardi tradition, with flat slabs slightly raised from the ground. To be frank, I found the place completely overwhelming: the planting of hedges and trees that's traditional in English cemeteries might make the place pretty, but it also serves to stop you seeing too many graves at once. There's none of that at Hoop Lane: it's a wide, bleak ground filled with white monuments to the horizon.

The western half is more usual to English eyes, with upright gravestones. There's still - as normal in a Jewish cemetery - very little planting beyond a line of standard roses along the main path.

Posted in 20th Century Jewish London Cemeteries | 2 Comments

City of London Cemetery

The City of London Cemetery was opened in 1856 and is still used for burials and cremations. It's an absolutely stunning place: a mixture of sumptuous Victorian monuments, wonderful mature landscaping and modern burial areas.

Pictures from 2005.

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Gap Road Cemetery, Wimbledon

Pictures from 2005, taken with a Pentax MX and real film. Gap Road was opened in 1876 and is still open for burials. It's run by the London Borough of Merton, who do cemeteries well, and make the rather lovely statement on their website that "the cemetery is open to residents and non-residents". Indeed.

Posted in 20th Century London Cemeteries | 18 Comments

Bunhill Fields

Bunhill Fields is - today - a small garden to the north of the City of London, opened on the site of a burial ground used between the sixteenth and nineteenth century. As the ground was never consecrated, it became the favoured burial site for nonconformists, and now is the resting place for John Bunyan, William Blake, Daniel Defoe, several members of the Cromwell family (though not Oliver) and Susanna Wesley (mother of John & Charles), as well as John Benjamin Tolkien, grandfather of J. R. R. of that ilk.

It's often said that Bunhill Fields gives us a taste of what the old burial grounds in London were like before the nineteenth century. Frankly, this is nonsense: Bunhill today is cleaned up, grassed over, with the graves tidily put away behind railings. The coffins, bones and even bodies that nineteenth century writers record as protruding from graves are all gone: all that really remains are some of the gravestones, with epitaphs deteriorated beyond reading.

I also discovered the small Quaker Burial Ground which was once part of Bunhill Fields, but now is hidden away in the midst of a housing development. The founder of the Quaker movement, George Fox, has a tiny memorial beside the wall; the rest of the ground has been turned into a (frankly, not very attractive) garden.

Visiting: Old Street, Moorgate, Barbican and Liverpool Street tubes are all within walking distance. Lots of livings, many dog walkers and some other photographers. Many of the stones are behind fenced enclosures: visit early afternoon in the week or make an appointment if you want to get closer.

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Capel Manor gardens

I've spent hours of my life in Capel Manor's gardens. They're particularly good for photographers because what you see one month is completely different to what you'll see the next.

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