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London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 Apr 2008
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The cemeteries of Greater London have been a neglected area of the capital's history. They are filled not only with the remains of recent generations but also with a wealth of architectural and social history that is described here in an entertaining and eloquent narrative full of picturesque melancholy. The book is divided in two. Part one records the origins of London's cemeteries and includes introductory chapters on cemetery history, planning, architecture, epitaphs and natural history. Part Two is a gazetteer with descriptions of all the cemeteries in Greater London, together with short biographies of the celebrated people buried in them. There are two indexes, one listing the names of those in the gazetteer, and a second naming the architects, landscapers and sculptors whose work is represented in the cemeteries. The text is illustrated throughout with contemporary photographs and a wide range of rarely seen archive images."London Cemeteries" is an important source for biographical and genealogical research, and a compendium of material for the architectural historian. Social and local historians will also find much of interest here.This fourth edition of a classic work incorporates much new research, as well as twelve more cemeteries - making it the most comprehensive survey of the subject ever published. This is the fourth edition of a classic book published in 1981. It is completely revised text and brand new illustrations. It is only work of reference that includes all London cemeteries: twelve more added in this new edition
About the Author
Hugh Mellor has just retired, having been Curator for the National Trust in Devon for twenty-six years, and architectural adviser to the Victorian Society.Brian Parsons is the editor of Funeral Service Journal and author of The London Way of Death.
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This must be in no small part due to Hugh Meller's book 'London Cemeteries'. First published in 1981, it provided not only a history of burial practices in London, but a comprehensive guide to burial grounds, leading visitors not only to the famous Victorian sites like Highgate and Kensal Green, but also to the quirky and sometimes very personal monuments to be found in more out-of-the-way places.
Fourteen years after its last update, Meller's seminal work was due for a revision, and Brian Parsons has done a superb job. The text has been completely revised, taking more recent developments into account. The most important addition is that of dozens more photographs and illustrations, in many cases showing memorials which have been lost, stolen or vandalised and so can no longer be seen. The twelve new cemeteries added are mostly newer ones, and therefore perhaps not the most interesting when compared to the high Victorian delights of their forebears, but it is useful to have them listed for the sake of completeness.
This frankness about the more mundane elements of twentieth-century cemeteries was one of the things I loved most about Meller's original text: "There is little to be said for poor Eastcote Lane, it is small, modest and dull" and "[Chiswick New] is not one of London's most appealing cemeteries and must be the noisiest, set down in a water meadow sandwiched between an arterial road and a suburban railway line." Parsons continues this dryly humorous tradition, with such gems as Hatton Cemetery which occupies "a flat site beyond some enormous greenhouses", and Hillside which is "not a cemetery worth a detour".
If I have a complaint, it is about the physical book itself, which is quite incredibly heavy (my hardback copy is over 1.2kg). This is not a book to tuck into your pocket as you go exploring (get Darren Beach's guide for that), but it is a superb and complete encyclopaedia which no lover of cemeteries, London or history should be without.
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