Earlier this week, I wrote an article called Visiting Kensal Green Cemetery in London for The Traveler’s Way. As often happens, researching an article renews my interest in the site, and makes me want to visit again! I always end up learning way more information than the article’s word count can fit, and when using my own photos, I wind up with extras that I wish I could have shared. This time around, I figured, “Hey, why not post a few of those extra photos on my blog?” So here you go, gentle reader.
The Magnificent Seven
Kensal Green Cemetery first opened in 1832. It was the first of London’s for-profit cemeteries, a group which came to be known as the “Magnificent Seven.” There was a great need for these new burial grounds, since the public cemeteries were out of space. Fortunately, the city of London has decreed that this beautiful garden-style cemetery shall continue as a memorial park once it runs out of room.
Just as in nature, you don’t find a lot of right angles at Kensal Green Cemetery, and it’s quite overgrown in places. This is one reason I don’t find old graveyards depressing; they provide such a haven for the living as well as the deceased. Kensal Green Cemetery is a great spot for bird-watching and taking photos, so bring your binoculars as well as your camera. If you’re lucky, you might even see a fox!
On certain Sundays, a volunteer group called the Friends of Kensal Green lead tours of the cemetery as well as the catacombs beneath the Anglican Chapel. These are some of the only catacombs in London, by the way. The tours last two hours and end with biscuits and tea. How very British, eh?
The Friends of Kensal Green are quite passionate about the history here and will even arrange tours related to your specific interests (poetry, architecture, cirsus performers – you name it!) if you contact them in advance.
As you can see from the photo above, Kensal Green Cemetery is very lush. The tree-lined path in the photo leads to the Anglican Chapel in the center of the graveyard, and is where the tour groups meet up.
As an aside, I first visited Kensal Green Cemetery on April 19th, 2011. Some of you may recognize this as the date for which some people had predicted The Rapture would occur. This was a complete coincidence on my part, but I remember joking that while a cemetery was the perfect place to be on such an occasion, we were going to miss all the action, since the place closes at dusk, and that’s when the dead were supposed to rise from their graves. On our way home my son-in-law wryly noted that, “We must all be sinners,” since it was past the predicted Rapture time and we were all very much still in London.
No matter when you visit London, I highly recommend spending a day wandering through Kensal Green Cemetery. It’s a fascinating place.
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