Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Abney Park Cemetary

Today we think of London as being overcrowded with people.  Live and kicking people.  A couple of hundred years ago however, London was overcrowded with dead people.  The population increased but the small parish cemetaries remained the same size leading to overcrowding in the small Parish cemetaries (it will have been a bit like getting on the tube at rush-hour in the morning - dead faces squished up against each other).

This led to some rich folk opening up private cemetaries to appeal to the middle-classes - these cemetaries became known as 'The Magnificent 7'.

They really are magnificent.

The great thing about these cemetaries is they have become a haven for wildlife.  This week I was in Abney Park Cemetary in Stoke Newington wihch is stunning.  If you ever have American visitors you must take them to one of these cemetaries - with America being such a large new country they don't have overgrown graveyards dating back hundreds of years and they're always impressed.

In Abney Park, as part of the conservation of the cemetary, the conservationists have included facts about the various flora and fauna

Spotted Thorn

Horse Chesnut

The gravestones are up to 150 years old and are works of art.  I particularly like these ones that have been constructed to look like they have ivy trailing up them. 
 100 years on and most of the gravestones have real ivy climbing up them...

 The great thing about these cemetaries is that they are interesting during any season.  There's plenty to see in Autumn as masses of yellow leaves cover the ground and the Ferns and Ivy still cover the ground.

 Ferns and Ivy
 I don't want to show you too much of the cemetary as there's so much to discover but if you look around there's some interesting people buried here like the founders of the Salvation Army and Mr Frank C Bostock who it would appear was a Lion Tamer at the circus during the 19th Century and whose gravestone is a majestic sleeping Lion.
Let sleeping Lions lie.

In the middle of Abney Park cemetary is this beautiful old gothic chapel which was the first nondenominational chapel in Europe (not linked to any one particular subsection of Christianity)


This Chapel also forms the backdrop in Amy Winehouse's video for 'Back to Black', the Title Track of her hugely succesful second album.

Amy Winehouse 'Back to Black'

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