Order for £12.95 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
31 London Cemeteries to Visit Before You Die, By Terry Philpot. Step Beach Press, £12.95
Tuesday 30 July 2013
Cemeteries have long been top of the city flâneur's agenda, with their promise of romantic neglect and architectural excess. Terry Philpot has produced an informed and stimulating guide to London's cemeteries, combining practical stuff about how to get there with commentary on state of repair and areas worth exploring.
Most of the "magnificent seven" (Kensal Rise, Highgate et al) were built in the early-Victorian era when fever and cholera – abetted by noxious-smelling shallow graves – led to the creation of large privately-run cemeteries outside the centre. Here the architectural battles between neo-classical and Gothic revival could commence – with bad taste often the winner.
Philpot notes the level of upkeep, from the neatness and levelling simplicity of the Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery at Hainault to the tangled charm of Tower Hamlets Cemetery. As well as the obvious attractions of Kensal Green and Highgate, he draws our attention to less well-known gems like Bunhill Fields, where William Blake is buried.
With most inner-city churchyards little more than tiny urban parks, headstones stacked like sheeting materials, the big cemeteries are where the dead still get buried, though they mostly double up as "cemetery parks". Philpot repeatedly notes the wildlife and quirky sights like the grave of a woman who "died of a heart attack when she stopped eating after having been upset at the abdication of Edward VIII".
His preference for prettifying these welcome urban wildernesses puts the author on a collision course with sniffy urban conservatives like Iain Sinclair, who attacked the "community miscreants" who tried to spruce up Abney Park in Stoke Newington. For the rest of us, this is a valuable guide to some inexhaustibly interesting London spaces.
Nicholas Murray's 'Acapulco: New and Selected Poems' is published by Melos Order for £12.95 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East