The Magnificent Seven

Well as it is Halloween…

Earlier this year, I finally got round to finishing my tour around London’s seven private Victorian cemeteries.

They were established over a decade, starting with Kensal Green in 1832 and culminating in Tower Hamlets in 1841. Before then, most of London’s dead were buried in overcrowded church yards, causing a massive health problem as corpses were piled one on top of another, leaking into the water system.

George Frederick Carden (1798- 1874) was an English barrister, magazine editor and businessman, and was credited with the development of these ‘garden cemeteries’ after visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris (which is the place that first got me interested in the subject).

Being run as profit making concerns, they ran into a problem – People paid a one-off burial fee and the company was left with the costs of upkeep. Eventually they went bankrupt, the local councils were given them and they were neglected and largely ignored.

Around the 1960s, people began to appreciate the picturesque decay and although they are all still used as cemeteries, they have become tourist attractions.

Visiting Pere Lachaise was one of the main sources of photos for my exhibition ‘Memento Mori’, which was shown at Salford Museum and Art Gallery in 2007 to mark the 150th anniversary of Salford’s municipal cemeteries.

This is the video that went with the exhibiton:


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