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In pictures: the magnificent cemeteries of London

Each year, 80,000 Londoners shuffle off this mortal coil. Here are some of the places where they're laid to rest

Abney Park Cemetery

Abney Park Cemetery

London's population reached a record high in 2015 – some 8.6 million people. But with so many lives, so come deaths.

[Photo: Fred Adams Photography]

An angel looks over Brompton Park Cemetery

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.

[Photo: Lisa]

A statue in Abney Park Cemetery

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]

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Graves and graves and graves

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

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

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]

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Catacombs at West Norwood Cemetery

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

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

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.

[Photo: DncnH]

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Spring blossom over Brompton Cemetery

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]

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Comments

3 comments
Aaron G

my friend's aunt makes $87 every hour on the computer . She has been without work for ten months but last month her check was $19437 just working on the computer for a few hours. try this 

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Kenneth S

Indeed, it is Art. What? The Art of Silence.

Kenneth G

Great article and some cracking photos. I would like to ask why the spectacular and award winning Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park isn't part if the article?