Lavender Hill Cemetery is beautiful: perhaps one of the nicest suburban Victorian cemeteries I've visited. The site certainly helps, rolling down a hill and up the other side, with two chapels looking over a woodland view. The great and the good of Victorian Enfield congregate around the top of the hill. Further afield things are not quite so nice: curb surround graves looking like mousetraps from the twentieth century blanket the opposite hillside, and newer marble slabs have been tucked in neat rows into any remaining spaces. Still, Enfield must be congratulated on the excellent condition of this lovely little cemetery.
West Drayton Cemetery looks at first glance like another rather dull suburban ground with rows of older kerbed plots and newer upright slabs. But go a little further in, because this cemetery has perhaps the most spectacular collection of modern monuments anywhere in the capital. The McCarthy and Doyle family memorials are worthy of anything the Victorians created in Kensal Green, and stones to children, with lettering picked out in pink or pale blue, are deeply moving.
Harmondsworth Burial Ground is really an extention of the churchyard in this pretty little village. The memorials are not so pretty as their surroundings: the modest Victorian tombs of the churchyard have been annexed to a field of rows of marble slabs. Still, see this one while you can: if the proposed extension to Heathrow Airport goes ahead, the churchyard will be lost.
Cherry Lane Cemetery is certainly very tidy, but could do with a good deal more landscaping than it currently has. Trees are strictly relegated to the perimeter, and though one main path does manage a curve, nothing else really deviates from a rather obvious grid pattern. Row upon row upon row of mousetrap-style kerb surrounds at the front give way to row upon row upon row of polished granite slabs towards the middle, and the olling empty space up the hill proclaims there's room for plenty more yet.
It's with the more recent graves that Cherry Lane really comes into its own. Floral tributes abound on the newer graves, large sculptures in carnations are the favourites, including a television screen with a picture of John Wayne. It was all rather fun. And a flock of grazing Canada geese seemed to love it.
Victoria Lane Burial Ground is a tiny plot of fewer than a hundred graves tucked away at the end of a cul de sac. Though the roar of the M4 motorway is ever-present, a thick shrubbery screens it from view and makes this feel a most cosy resting place.
The ground was opened in 1871 as an extension of the churchyard of St. Peter and St. Paul's Parish Church, Harlington, and is now closed to new burials. It is maintained by Hillingdon Borough Council, to whom I'm grateful for information regarding this lovely site.