I first visited this cemetery a long time ago, I don’t remember exactly when but I think I was at university… I don’t even what to think about how long ago that was! In a post wedding fair haze (we decided to call yesterday (Saturday) something like ‘many weddings and a funeral’ but couldn’t settle on a title.. ‘many wedding dresses and a cemetery’ I think we finally ended with but it doesn’t quite sound right) Laura D and I wandered through Kensington to West Brompton and took a little stroll through the cemetery there.
Brompton Cemetery opened in 1940, and today it sits in between Earls Court and Chelsea as a grand, sprawling array of funerary monuments alongside a middle avenue and culminating with a chapel at one end in the style of St. Peter’s Basilica (cleverly noticed by Laura!). Much like Kensal Green, it is mostly a mass of graves and monuments sandwiched in together in a surprising fashion. Some stand out because of their grand angels or the odd proud mausoleum but largely they are similar height crosses all stood side by side. People of note buried here include Emmeline Pankhurst, the famous suffragette leader which is in appropriate nod to the recent anniversary of 100 years since the first women were given the vote in the UK.
Crowded gravestones at Brompton Cemetery
Brompton also has the privilege of being a Royal Park and through this has been granted a Lottery grant to make repairs to the cemetery, restoration of the major monuments and construction of a visitors centre. This is interesting to me because, as discussed previously in relation to Kensal Green, I am fascinated by whether or not these sites should be ‘tourist’ attractions as such. I believe it is true that many of these sites are visited by many people either by events, organised tours or by people just wandering through. I am unsure of how and to what extent this should become ‘tourism’ as such. I think I am torn between my desire for death positivity in this country to become more prominent, and also wanting to preserve the respect and dignity of those laid to rest in these locations. I’m sure that in these plans for restoration and visitors this is all considered, and I think this is a very exciting prospect for Brompton as a whole however!
Hey there Mr. Squirrel!
While we were there, there were a large number of people also walking through unlike at Kensal Green. A lot of these were joggers and dog walkers who were clearly taking advantage of the quiet, green space in the city. It was also a very sunny day so it made for a really pleasant walk. As we started at the North end, we walked towards the chapel at the South end and it is very impressive. You walk up towards the colonnades, past the (locked) doors for the catacombs and then into the round basilica-like area in front of the chapel. It was serene in the sunlight and a lovely place to be. If you are ever nearby do take a little walk through, it won’t take you long and there’s a Carluccio’s waiting for you along the main road.
The walk up towards the North end chapel
The doors to the catacombs below…
Next up in the Magnificent Seven for us I think is probably Highgate. I’ve been there before while at university also so it will be interesting to see how much I remember. I know I do remember where Douglas Adams is buried however, and will be sure to make a visit as a fan. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch as always, and thank you for reading. Two down and five to go!