i Assistant Editor's Letter: Fancy a family trip? Try the cemetery!


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The Independent Online


Having two small children, a significant chunk of my weekends is often spent finding various outdoor activities to keep young bodies and minds active. Saturdays normally involve nothing more exciting than trailing from park to park, weather permitting, so when we learnt of an open day at a local cemetery (no, that’s not a typo!) we were intrigued enough to pay a visit.

A cemetery doesn’t sound like the most appealing place to have an open day – when most people think of one images of rows of tombstones spring to mind, but, as I discovered, this was more nature reserve than formal burial ground.

Consecrated in 1840, Nunhead Cemetery was one of the Magnificent Seven Victorian cemeteries of London, established on a ring of what was the outskirts of the capital. Within its grounds can be found imposing monuments to eminent citizens of the 19th century, dotted among which are smaller simple headstones of public burials, hidden in the undergrowth along country lanes of a bygone era.

Doubtless it would make a fantastic location for the next blockbuster horror movie, but even under slightly murky skies it was the perfect setting to showcase local small businesses and charity groups, with stalls dotted among towering lime trees giving added character to the gothic gloom.

I hate the word, but the combination of the setting, the atmosphere and the history brought an overwhelming sense of “community”. To see the effort and the enjoyment in a local event held among the graves of 266 British servicemen who served in the First World War made for a poignant day.

So next weekend, when you’re at a loss with what to do with the kids, make that effort to support your local enterprises, be it a big event, or just paying the local butcher, greengrocer or baker a visit. There’s no excuse now that the football season has come to an end!

Twitter.com: @jonesrhodri