Set In Stone

The ticking pulse to a bustling, cosmopolitan hub like London can sometimes be found in unexpected places…

Often overlooked, there is a good chance you may pass by one on your regular commute to work… on your way to grab your weekend coffee you may have momentarily gazed at itʼs gates. In a city that seems to be forever stacking blocks skyward, we city-siders seldom take a moment to absorb that which is beneath our feet.

Like a welcomed oasis for the weary traveller, Londonʼs cemeteries lay evenly spread throughout itʼs boroughs.

With most built in the early 19th century, nowadays they resemble nature reserves standing modest and resilient amongst a rapidly expanding urban sprawl. From the circular catacombs and ancient Egyptian inspired tombs in Highgate, to the famous non-conformists and dissenters buried in Stoke Newingtonʼs Abney Park, to the grandeur of the gothic gates down at West Norwood, indeed these Victorian cemeteries are like peering through a keyhole at a piece of history.

As well as worthy spots for birdwatchers and nature lovers, these cemeteries provide wonderful sources of inspiration for artists and creatives alike. Celebrated authors have volunteered their services to work on their grounds whilst pencilling ideas for their novels, music clips have been shot along the old paths that curl around the tombstones. More often than not you can observe those with sketchbooks and canvases, binoculars and cameras. These cemeteries seem to give back to those who take the time to pass through her quarters.

For those that regularly stroll through these vast resting places, most would agree that their fascination with these large woodlands of tangled vines and stone is more a celebration of the living rather than the morbid. Next time you decide to beat the pavement, consider making a detour through one of these unhindered wonderlands.

(Published for Le Bonbon UK, 19/7/2015)



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