>I went for a long walk today through Brompton Cemetery, which is very close to my house. Cemeteries here in London are so lovely – they are more like parks and in a city where there is a lot of brick and concrete – you appreciate green a lot.
For those of you too lazy to click the link and check out what Wikipedia has to say about Brompton Cemetery, it opened in 1840 and is one of London’s “Magnificent Seven” (seven cemeteries opened outside the city limits in the mid-19th century when there were so many people dying that it was no longer sanitary to continue to bury them in local churchyards). One cool story about the Brompton Cemetery is that it is where Beatrix Potter got many of her character names from – Mr. Nutkins, Mr. MacGregor, Tod, Jeremiah Fisher, Tommy Brock and even a Peter Rabbett are all buried there.
For some reason, I really like cemeteries, and I’ve been trying to sort out why. I’m not a particularly morbid person. I don’t think that now that I’m in my 30’s I’ve decided to become an Emo Kid. I’m not drawn to them out of depression. I haven’t been contemplating my own death. Perhaps I find them interesting because for all the people I’ve lost through death, there isn’t a marker for any of them. Those that do have a final resting place, I’ve never been. But I don’t feel as though that is what it is.
I think I enjoy being there because it is peaceful and full of love. Granted, I’m sure that there has been a lot of sorrow associated with those stones, but over all it feels like a very restful place. Many of the markers use the phrase “went to sleep” to indicate the date someone died, and many invite the dead to “rest”. And it is a place of love; the markers are testament to that. They are eternal pledges, carved in stone, to never forget the person that has died. “Has left our home, but not our hearts”, as one stated it.
I also enjoy it because there are so many stories. A reminder of how many lives there have been that I’ve never known, and can only guess at based on a few lines of text chiseled in marble. A reminder to live our own lives so that it will be remembered. A reminder that after all is said an done, your life story told in only a handful of words really distills what is most important. Most of the markers indicated very little as to hobbies and interests, few mentioned a career and few mentioned where a person lived and what they did. Almost all, however, mentioned people’s relationships to the living and to the already departed. Mother. Daughter. Sister. Wife. Father. Son. Brother. Husband. Friend. Perhaps that should serve as an indication as to where we should put our energies in life, as after we are gone we will most likely be remembered for who we were for someone, not what we did for a company.
Finally, I enjoy it because I like taking pictures of shapes and textures. And a cemetery is a great place for shapes and textures. I took over 150 pictures today (which I will add to Flickr today, along with a few others). The pictures may not be very good, but the cemetery is beautiful. I feel more relaxed right now than I have in a week.
Holly wrote (on 03/07/08):
check out highgate cemetery – there are two parts, one’s free and the other you pay for a tour.