I have been going to cemeteries since I was very young. There is one near where I grew up - a beautiful big garden cemetery, full of trees and plants and terribly old graves. In the autumn there were conkers to collect, and my Dad used to take me there because it was a great source of giant old Horse chestnuts trees. So I learned early on to make the connection between cemeteries and nature, and therefore between life and death. Nowadays I enjoy going for nature walks around cemeteries. They are always so peaceful, even those that are right in the middle of London (of which there are many - London is one giant graveyard). A few years ago I started a project with a fellow cemetery enthusiast, called Cemetery Club, and we began to visit the grand old Victorian cemeteries of London and blog about our adventures. This was a journey that started 5 years ago and in that time I have learnt to appreciate many facets of cemeteries that I had never given much thought to before. History, geography, architecture - the lives of those long gone, and of course, the idea that the term 'cemetery' is not limited to these traditional areas for the dead, the ones we immediately think of. There are many types of 'dead space' and each one implores us to remember the past. Once I started running with these themes, I couldn't stop - from those original cemeteries I began to visit more and more spaces for the dead, of all shapes and sizes, and documented these as part of the Cemetery Club project. Now it's time to branch out onto my own blog and continue the cemetery adventures.
Check back here on a regular basis for cemetery wanderings, dead space exploration, historical landmarks and stories, and cemetery photography, which is something I have always loved. In the mean time, here are a selection of my favourite posts from my days on Cemetery Club, to demonstrate the assortment of things I've taken an interest in over the past 5 years:-
Horror in the Dark: The Bethnal Green Tube Station Disaster - visit the touching memorial to this almost-forgotten World War 2 tragedy outside Bethnal Green Tube and learn about the disaster that caused the highest death count of any incident in wartime London.
The Prefab Museum - a visit to a set of prefabs in South London that are still occupied, to learn about how prefabs are soon to be extinct, along with the communities that live in them.
I Shot The Sheriff and Other Stories From the Wild West - a visit to the grave of Billy The Kid in rural New Mexico.
The Magnificent Seven: A Photographic Guide - having visited the seven grand Victorian garden cemeteries of London (Kensal Green, Brompton, Highgate, Abney Park, West Norwood, Nunhead and Tower Hamlets) in every season, I had accumulated a lot of photos of these beautiful places. Here they are, all together.
Cimetière du Père Lachaise - a visit to the most magnificent cemetery of all, and the inspiration for the beginning of garden cemeteries in London, as a response to the overcrowding of churchyards with graves. This beautiful cemetery in Paris is one of the most stunning sights I've ever seen, and home to Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison among others.
Grand Theft Gravestone - A Virtual Tour of a Cemetery in Grand Theft Auto Five, because not every adventure has to happen in the real world! This video game cemetery is based on Hollywood Forever cemetery in Los Angeles.
The Lost Cemetery of Prose - A Tribute to Open Diary - in 2014 an online diary site I had frequented to keep an extensive diary since 2001 shut down and disappeared forever, leaving an Online community distraught and without outlet. Here's a tribute post I wrote for that community.
The Town at the Edge of the Wood - a post all about Penge, my hometown, and it's rich history and memorials.
The correct word for a cemetery enthusiast is a 'taphophile' and I used to think I was the only one. Now I know that there are others out there who find cemeteries to be peaceful and fascinating places. This section of the blog is called 'The Cemetery Diaries' and it covers traditional cemeteries as well as dead spaces of all kinds, which are found everywhere, all the time. The past is never too far away, and these dead spaces are often more alive than you'd think. Check back here for a record of all things Cemetery and my adventures in finding life and blazing colour in the most unlikely of places.