This blog is run by me, Bob Davenport.
For nearly thirty years I’ve lived in East Finchley about ten minutes away from London’s biggest cemetery: St Pancras & Islington Cemetery, as it used often to be called, though in fact it is two separate cemeteries, St Pancras Cemetery and Islington Cemetery, managed since 2004 by Islington & Camden Cemetery Services. Previously I spent fourteen years living a similar distance away from the better-known Highgate Cemetery, at a time, initially at least, when one could go freely in and out of it. It was probably curiosity about the grave of Highgate’s best-known ‘resident’, Karl Marx, that first drew me there and led me to wander around and discover that I found the present-day atmosphere of a Victorian cemetery to be a very congenial one, in which a wide variety of monuments – some imposing, some touching, some quirky – offer a fascinating insight into social history while being constantly challenged by nature.
For some people, of course, cemeteries contain not just social history but personal history, and may not be the cheeriest of places. For me, though, they are celebrations of human affection and individuality, and the only depressing feature is the handiwork of vandals who seem unable to imagine feeling affection for anyone or anything.