Abney Park Cemetery
London's population reached a record high in 2017 – some 8.8 million people. But with so many lives, so come deaths.
[Photo: Fred Adams Photography]
An angel looks over Brompton Park Cemetery
In London's earlier years, Londoners buried their dead in local churchyards scattered throughout the capital. But between 1800 and 1850, the population of London suddenly doubled from one million to two million.
A statue in Abney Park Cemetery
And more people meant, well, more corpses. And London's churchyards were full to bursting, while Industrial Revolution-era sanitation and overcrowding meant public health was an increasing concern.
[Photo: Andrew Ridley]
Graves and graves and graves
Throughout the early 1800s, the Government ordered seven huge cemeteries to be built on what were then the outskirts of the city: Kensal Green, West Norwood, Highgate, Abney Park, Nunhead, Brompton and Tower Hamlets.
[Photo: Loz Pycock]
Summer in Brompton Cemetery
Since then, these 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries have interred over 1.6 million Londoners who have shuffled off the proverbial mortal coil.
[Photo: Flamenco Sun]
Angel statues in Manor Park Cemetery
In each, there are large numbers of barely marked graves, interspersed with mighty mausoleams dedicated to the great and good of the Victorian era.
[Photo: Umbreen Hafeez, Real London Photos]
Catacombs at West Norwood Cemetery
In some cemeteries, such as Kensal Green and West Norwood, there are also catacombs.
[Photo: J Silver]
Graves engulfed by foliage at Abney Park Cemetery
Each cemetery has contended with overcrowding and commercial pressures. As a result, many have temporarily or permanently closed to new burials, and during times of insolvency, become wildly overgrown.
Trusts or 'Friends' groups now seek to maintain the cemeteries, but the eruption of greenery that took place during intervals of neglect remains, lending a gothic atmosphere to certain areas.
[Photo: Simon Hadleigh-Sparks]
Wilderness, Highgate Cemetery
These areas are also valued as natural urban habitats, home to a variety of bird species, foxes, and other animals grateful for a some decent undergrowth in the midst of the metropolis.
Spring blossom over Brompton Cemetery
In the warmer months, however, the plantlife can be quite colourful. Some areas are now used as general parks and even host events.
[Photo: Flamenco Sun]