A beautiful illustration from The Pictorial Times in 1847, of the chapel in the West London Cemetery. The cemetery's better known today as Brompton. The picture is accompanied by a wonderful article about the miasmic theory of disease and how the new, hygienic cemetery will prevent bad air infecting the living. I'm missing the first part of the article, so as soon as I've been to Colindale to get it, I'll post the whole thing.
General Cemetery Company, Kensall-Green, Harrow Road. The Directors hereby inform the public, that the cemetery is now ready for interments. The ground has been surrounded by a lofty wall and duly consecrated by the Lord Bishop of London. A spacious catacomb has been constructed, with accomodation in separate chambers for families, or a depository for an individual as may be required, and mausoleums, vaults or common graves may be treated for at the office, on Great Russell street. A regular register will be kept, by which coffins deposited in the catacombs may be at any time visited or inspected by relatives of the deceased and the Directors offer the fullest security against exhumation or any other disturbance of the solemnity of the grave. The terms for the sale of the catacombs, as well as the vaults and graves will be found on enquiry to be considerably below the prices usually charged. All communications to be made at the office, 95 Great Russell street, Bloomsbury to Mr Bowman, the Clerk of the Company, who will give every information that may be required.
C B BOWMAN, Clerk of the Company, 95 Great Russell street, Bloomsbury
I can't help thinking there's mixed messaging here. It's secure and you can have your own chamber in the catacombs... but it's also cheap. If I'd been selling it, I'd've made it expensive, and exclusive, at least at launch: I wouldn't have mentioned common graves in that copy at all.
One of my favourite memorials anywhere: it's just stunning. It commemorates Lady Ann Henniker who died in 1792, and is made from Coade stone, a kind of ceramic which allowed the creation of large, detailed cast sculptures.
More importantly (for me right now), it's on my old hard drive, which also has all my old cemetery photographs on it, and has been restored to working order. All the old cem pictures are going back on this blog, so you'll see the post count increase dramatically over the next couple of days. I'm filing them under "2002" (the actual dates are between 2002 and 2005 but I don't know what they are... just the order in which I visited cemeteries), so they'll show up in the archives but not on the front page. The list of cemeteries has the full count.
I'm happy to say, I think I've become a much better photographer over the last few years. Starting from such a low base, I'm not convinced that's saying much...
As the workmen employed in clearing away the ground in St. Martin's-le-Grand, which is to form the site of the new Post-office, were a day or two ago removing the foundations of the old houses which stood in the rear of St. Leonard's-Fester lane, they discovered the roofs of some ancient vaults. As soon as the rubbish on the particular spot was removed, three vaults were discovered, each communicating with the other by a narrow passage or gallery; they are built chiefly of large square bricks, intermixed with stone and some flint, and the interstices filled with a yellow chalky earth. They are rather spacious, the height being nearly nine feet, the depth about eighteen and the breadth about six or seven. They appear to have been each originally divided into two compartments. In the back of one of the vaults was found a large quantity of human bones, thrown promiscuously together, as if collected from different graves. In one of them is a stone coffin, rather short in length, made in the shape of the ancient coffins, square in the head, and inclining in a tapering form towards the feet; a place is rather rudely shaped for the head of the body to rest upon, and the remains of a skull and some decayed bones are in the cavity. Adjoining, and in the same line with these arches, is a vaulted roof, supported by small and short stone shafts or pillars, from which spring semicircular arches, intersecting each other at equidistant points, and presenting to the eye the skeleton of a structure, at once simple, durable and beautiful. The subdivisions of the intercolumniation [sic] were evidently open when built, and so arranged as to admit a communication with other parts of a building. The floor of these vaults is about 29 feet below the pavement in Newgate-street, the loose ground on the same level bears all the appearance of having once been a cemetery, from the fragments and calcined parts of bones intermixed with soft earth which are observable in the vicinity. Continue reading →