The Garden Cemetery – Elysian Fields

I am always in awe of our garden cemeteries and the ways the Victorians sold the concept of Elysian Fields. Filling the demands of a promise that after death, they would remain to live a blessed and happy afterlife and indulge in whatever enjoyment they had enjoyed in life.

These garden cemeteries were of course a commercial activity that actively utilised every square inch of ground to make money from death, where even the poorest in society (there was a hell of a lot of poverty in Victorian England), had to pay one guinea for a line of text in a grave of up to 80 other burials. There were no paupers’ graves in Key Hill or Warstone, poverty is a best kept secret in an unequal society.

The intention of the garden cemetery was, once full, to turn the site into a garden park. Unfortunately, bankruptcy saved the day. The cemetery companies quickly disappeared to count the cash, leaving the local councils to pick up the maintenance costs. It was by the efforts of local people that these two cemeteries have seen a new lease of life. Teams of volunteers have maintained these sites that for years have been uncared for and for years unloved.

It was a volunteer open day today, so was able to grab a quick look around the catacombs.

These two cemeteries are slowly but surely becoming places of beauty as time and entropy changes the value of the landscape, allowing nature to slowly return and do its thing.


About Morturn

Historian – Photographer – Filmmaker Retired construction professional with a passion for public, social and industrial history. I believe in equality, dignity and integrity for all. Don’t like people who try to belittle the ambitions of others. I am of the opinion that my now life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.
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