Thursday, August 25, 2011
While on my walk near Earls Court on Monday I made a fascinating discovery -- Brompton Cemetery. I was utterly unaware of this huge graveyard, where tangled tall grasses, sweet peas and wildflowers grow over and around more than 35,000 headstones. Many of the stones date from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, and feature sculptures and detailed epitaphs about the people buried there.
Many people think of cemeteries as morbid, depressing places. In the U.S. they tend to be vast, carefully tended lawns, empty of activity. But this one is more like a park -- in fact, it's operated by The Royal Parks and there were people walking dogs, sitting on benches, reading, jogging and lounging in the sun. It was interesting to see so much activity in a cemetery.
A few small animals were out and about. The big blackbirds seemed Poe-ish and a bit creepy, and I saw several squirrels lying with their bellies against the cool gravestones, like this one. I suppose it must be comfortable. (Not sure where that squirrel got his peanut -- I suspect someone fed him, but it wasn't me.)
Aside from rows and rows of headstones, there are a large chapel with twin colonnades and many mausoleums on the property, some of them quite ornate. Supposedly many well-known Londoners are buried here, but the only name I recognized was that of Blanche Roosevelt, an American author and opera singer.
It's an amazing place to wander, especially with a camera. I was already on my way home when I found it, and I wound up spending an hour there!