Foer those of you who wish to read more around the subject of cemeteries and the people buried within them, here are some excellent books/media to further your interest. Please support the authors who have spent tireless hours researching these histories for our benefit and historical knowledge.
THE book to have for any cemetery fan or researcher. Extensively covering the cemeteries of London from Highgate, Chadwell Heath and Woodgrange Park and more, historians Hugh Mellor and Brian Parsons reveal the history and formation of each cemetery as well as a few of the notable and interesting people buried in each one. Its fifth edition is due to be published in July 2021 updating existing entries and adding a few new places of rest – I was consulted on a few of the entries, which is nice!
Catherine Arnold’s book is what fanned the flames for interest into cemeteries and its written in a delightful, accessible way. Waterstones describes it as ‘archaeology, architecture and anecdote’ – and Arnold looks at death from pre-Roman to Victorian Britain, including the ghoulish aspects of bodysnatching to plagues.
Few books on cemeteries reveal the actions of the living in working and preserving these spaces for the benefit of the local community and Peter’s book is exceptional, from interviewing me as I co-ran Queerly Departed, an event in Brompton that looked at the queer dead buried there to death and the dead itself: Islamic funerals and the story of the ‘Stepney Amazon, Phoebe Hessel, who enlisted as a man.
Gloriously opinionated – Holmes herself would plump for cremation, when her time eventually came – but in the 1880s Isabella went all over London with her notebook to find London cemeteries – both in the past and present. Knocking on doors, part urban explorer, part journalist, venturing to parts of London you’d have thought wouldn’t have been particularly safe for a woman to be in on her own. Her book is an excellent and thorough read.