Exploring West Norwood’s magnificent Greek Necropolis

The word “necropolis” is incredibly evocative – it is somehow a far more atmospheric term for a burial ground than “graveyard” or “cemetery.”  The word derives from the Ancient Greek term nekropolis (νεκρόπολις), which translates as “city of the dead.”  Rather fittingly, given the origins of the term necropolis, today we are visiting the Greek Necropolis, a small but dramatic section of West Norwood Cemetery in south London – a Greek Orthodox cemetery that contains the highest concentration of listed funerary monuments anywhere in Britain.

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The last ruins of Dunwich, Suffolk’s lost medieval town

The tiny village of Dunwich clings to the edge of the Suffolk coast and is in many ways a pretty but unremarkable place, a sleepy settlement a long way from any large towns.  There’s a beach, a place to buy ice cream, a little museum, a pleasant old pub that draws visitors from miles around.  But in the grounds of its Victorian church, and in a field on the edge of the villages, are ruins that suggest a more propserous past.  Two impressive archways welcome the motorist into Dunwich, a sign between them proclaiming that they are a part of Greyfriars, Dunwich’s medieval friary.  The ruins of this Franciscan friary are some of the final remaining relics of what was once a thriving and significant port – an ancient settlement that today is sometimes dubbed “Britain’s Atlantis” due to most of its medieval fabric now lying beneath the North Sea.

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Exploring the world’s first (and most famous) garden cemetery: Père Lachaise

This week Flickering Lamps is taking a break from the hidden, not so well known sites that often grace this site to explore probably the most famous cemetery in the world: Paris’ Père Lachaise.  Opened as the world’s first garden cemetery in 1804, Père Lachaise (or to give its original name, cimetière de l’Est – East Cemetery) was the inspiration for many other grand Victorian garden cemeteries, both in Europe and across the Atlantic in the Americas.  Situated on the edge of the city, Père Lachaise was opened to provide a dignified burial space for all of Paris’ citizens.  Around a million people have been laid to rest there since it opened in 1804, and today, around two million people visit the cemetery every year.

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Soldiers, adventurers and rumours of a time machine: tales from Brompton Cemetery

A few weeks ago, I went to Brompton Cemetery again.  I was with my friend Sharon, a fellow graveyard explorer, and I also had a new camera lens to put through its paces.  Since my last visit, a lot of the undergrowth that had swallowed up a good many gravestones had been cleared, and as a result we came across many graves that I’d never seen before.  Last time I wrote about Brompton, I felt that I’d not been able to do the place justice in just one article, so it seems like a good time to revisit the cemetery and look at more of its rich heritage.  Some of the graves featured this time around are grand and mysterious, others are modest and unassuming; yet all of them have their own fascinating stories to tell.

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Cimetière de Montmartre: an abandoned quarry transformed into a stunning necropolis

Cimetière de Montmartre, in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, did not have the most glamorous or auspicious of beginnings.  It was originally a gypsum quarry, situated outside of the city walls, and after the quarry was abandoned, a section of it was used as a mass grave during the turbulent years of the 1790s.  Yet this rather grim location was over time transformed, and it is now a peaceful haven where thousands of Parisians lie at rest beneath beautiful memorials.

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Hammersmith Bridge: tales of bombs, boat races and Bazalgette

Of the many bridges that span the River Thames in London, Hammersmith Bridge must certainly rank as one of the most picturesque.  Each year it is seen by spectators of the famous University Boat Race, which passes beneath it, and its striking design makes it a favourite with photographers.  The bridge has, however, had rather a dramatic history, ranging from alarming incidents of overcrowding to IRA bombs and daring rescues.

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Graves with a view: exploring the Isle of Mull’s picturesque burial grounds

The beautiful landscape of the Isle of Mull is dotted with tiny burial grounds, each of them with their own stories to tell.  We’ve already visited Pennygown, with its ruined chapel and graves ranging from the medieval period to the present day.  Some of these cemeteries are close to settlements, others seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  They are all in stunningly beautiful locations.  The words and symbols preserved on the gravestones offer us a glimpse into the history of the island, and of the lives of the people who have lived and died there over the centuries.

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