Cemetery Days


London is almost fifty per cent green, an astounding statistic for a city that is home to some nine million people (or the metropolitan élite if you prefer). we have an abundance of parks, small public gardens, private gardens, churchyards and cemeteries. The cemetery Celia and I visited on Sunday was not one of the Magnificent Seven. It was Camberwell New Cemetery. Situated next door to Camberwell Old Cemetery. Since generations of my father’s side of the family lived in Camberwell, I half expected to spot the name of one of my ancestors on a grave stone.

I didn’t.

But I did see a lot of graves. Hardly surprising. There are obviously fashions in monumental masonry as in everything else. When I was making arrangements for Aunt’s headstone I wanted something made from local stone. I was thrilled to find the monumental mason was of the same mind, and we spent a happy quarter of an hour agreeing that black marble headstones are an abomination in this country. Evidently not everyone shares our sensibilities. But despite the fact that I was supposed to be looking at plants, I couldn’t help but wonder what the story was behind this grave with its VW ornament.

Camper Van Grave

Although I want an unmarked green burial, I do like the way that some memorials are personalised in a way that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. Similarly funerals. The difference between what we felt we could do at my father’s funeral in 1991 and what we could at my mother’s in 2013 was huge.

Back to the plants. I am going to keep an eye out for this one. I know we have it in our lawn, mixing with the dandelions, not proud. It’s called Plantain Something, or Something Plantain, and is said to be good to stop bleeding. Thinking about it, I should have looked for some this afternoon when I met an insanely gorgeous English bull terrier, just six months old, who decide to mouth my hand when I stopped fussing him to talk to his owner. No pictures though. What was I thinking? Only when I left them I realised my thumb was bleeding. A clean paper tissue stemmed the flow, but the Plantain might have worked better.

Plantain Something or Another

This plant is Robert Something, or Something Robert. You can tell I learned a lot.

Something Robert Something

I think I weeded it out of a planter not long ago.

I’m not going to attempt to name the trees. They were beautiful. If you are any where near south east London over the next few days and the sun is shining get thee hence!

Celia is a big fan of lichen and fungi. I didn’t find any lichen, bit I did find this fungi. I am still waiting for the identification.

Unidentified Fungi Until Celia Looks at Her Book

We were both surprised and concerned to learn that the part of the cemetery the Friends wanted to be a green burial area, and not only the Friends, also most people in the consultation, had been overruled as the local undertakers and monumental masons objected.

Still more work to do in our green and pleasant city.



7 thoughts on “Cemetery Days

    • Thanks Ann. Do you know about the plantain? Our lawn is made up of a variety of plants. It even includes some grass. I can identify the daisies and dandelions, but little else.

  1. Pingback: In October-November People often too busy with death and the dead | From guestwriters

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