We come to the last (but not least) part of our Magnificent Seven Victorian Cemeteries series.
In 1840 this cemetery was laid out as an expansive A-Z aboretum. If you’re an avid tree-spotter (and really, who isn’t these days?), you’ll find 2,500 different species of tree residing here. The cemetery is now a woodland memorial park, and has been a nature reserve since 1993.
If you’re not all that big on tree-spotting, then the Abney Park Trust has a particularly active visitor’s lodge to put your average visitor’s lodge to shame. The Trust put on stone and woodcraft carving workshops, and there’s a children’s garden for inspecting flora and fauna. Past events put on by the trust have included poetry readings and shadow puppetry- keep an eye on their twitter page for upcoming events, although they seem to be more active during the summer months: https://twitter.com/AbneyParkN16
Current opening times: 8-4pm
Forget celebrity graves, Brompton has earned its own celebrity status,
starring in no less than eight films, including Pierce Brosnan’s
first Bond appearance: GoldenEye. That being said, leading suffragette
Emmeline Pankhurst is buried in the cemetery, and she’s a whole good
reason to visit in herself, if only so you can dramatically say
“I knelt at the grave of feminism today…” to your friends.
Fun Fact: Beatrix Potter is said to have found the names for many of her
characters whilst reading the tombstones in the cemetery. Bet you “Peter Rabett” and “Mr Nutkin” had no idea they would become immortalized as children’s furry friends forevermore.
Current opening times: 8-4pm
Tower Hamlets has been closed as a cemetery since 1966 due to disrepair. It was bombed a whopping five times during World War Two, so it’s pretty remarkable that the cemetery is as well-preserved as it is.
The Friends of Tower Hamlets hold many events and volunteer days giving the public the opportunity to help preserve and encourage the biodiversity and continuing growth of the natural woodland park. Keep an eye on their website for open days, conservation events and beastie watching.
Current opening times: 8am-9pm
Although there are signs telling you to keep to the paths in Nunhead cemetery, I like to think of these as just kind advice to avoid getting muddy shoes, rather than a direct order. For it’s when you stray from the meandering paths and plunge bravely into the undergrowth that you find the quirks that make Nunhead the exciting and mysterious experience it is.
Clearly, nobody’s ever really taken the time to plan out Nunhead cemetery, but it’s definitely all the better for it. The cemetery still takes new burials, and when tramping through undergrowth following some vague path-that-isn’t-really-a-path, you’ll suddenly find yourself in a little clearing, with one headstone and a shrine of flowers and plastic figurines. And there’s something so special about the fact that someone chose this secluded spot, in all of the cemetery, with no apparent reason, to bury their loved one.
Added to that, you’ll often see parakeets flying and squawking around, fighting with squirrels and being all tropical and green. And really, what more could you want from a cemetery?
Current opening times: 8:30am-4pm
Let us know which is your favourite cemetery in London, and of any curious bits we missed that you’ve found on your own intrepid adventures…
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