October 14, 2007
Chelsea & The Old Brompton Cemetery
Halloween is approaching, but not really so that you would notice it. Certain pubs are advertising “fancy dress balls” on the night. The
I don’t really know what position Halloween occupies in the British Isles, or how it is celebrated in the
Bobbi and I discovered the
This cemetery is one of the great Victorian burial grounds which ornament the outskirts of the metropolis. The most famous of all, of course, is Highgate Cemetery, setting for certain scenes in Dracula, and known in the 1970s for the scandal of the Highgate Vampire—Russell of NYCity Stories took in Highgate, and I suggest a visit to his blog if you want to learn more about this place.
Brompton is a less infamous, but is still a massive, and (forgive the pun) hauntingly beautiful cemetery.
I have to say, however, that for all the talking in the guide books about London’s claim to being “the most haunted city in the world”- the overwhelming feeling in Brompton is not one of supernatural menace, despite the incredibly gothic decorations of the mausoleums, crypts and tombstones, but rather one of extreme peace.
The cemetery is filled with wandering paths, and it is easy to stroll up and down the rows of monuments for hours. (An interesting fact, which I learned from Wikipedia, is that Beatrix Potter lived near Brompton, and that many of the names of her characters- Nutkin, McGregor, etc. all originated on the tombstones she saw here.)
Because I was so longing for the chill of Halloween, I tried my damnedest to make the place feel creepy, but I just couldn’t do it. The scenery was appropriate....
and the soot-black crows posed very obligingly on the tombstones….
but despite everyone’s best efforts, I could not summon up a single goose pimple here-
I never felt like anyone was watching me from beyond,
nor felt the icy hands of death clutching at my coat…
…or the squirrels?
We continued our walk down to
The open credits of the film run over some beautiful photography, representing the river Thames as it winds through rural farms, fields, and marshlands toward Sir Thomas Moore’s home in
A stature of James Whistler (looking a little less grim than his Mother) gazes out over the
Double Decker’s cross the