If you’ve ever travelled east of Stratford on the London Underground’s Central Line, you’ve probably seen the vast graveyard of St Patrick as the train clatters between Leyton and Leytonstone. It is the final resting place of around 170,000 residents of East London. On a pleasant Saturday afternoon, I explored this fascinating cemetery with my friend and fellow graveyard enthusiast Sharon and we discovered so many stories about the people buried there – stories of war, of love, of immigration, of the faith that united all of those buried at St Patrick’s. Along with St Mary’s at Kensal Green, which Flickering Lamps visited earlier this year, St Patrick’s is one of only two cemeteries in London to cater exclusively to Catholics.
The Surrey Hills – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – isn’t the first place that you’d associate with heavy industry. Today, thousands of people are drawn to the picturesque hills and the lush green countryside. However, hidden away in the valley close to the village of Chilworth, near Guildford, are the ruins of an industry that dominated the area for almost 300 years – the manufacturing of gunpowder.
Many people walking past the wall of St Bartholomew’s Hospital on West Smithfield, close to the memorial to William Wallace, stop to look at a series of craters and marks on the wall that look as though they were caused by an explosion of some sort. These scars are from a devastating V2 rocket attack on the area during the Second World War, but this wasn’t the first aerial attack to bring death and destruction to this part of London. Bartholomew Close, not far from the scarred walls, was hit during one of the very first air raids on London, a terrifying Zeppelin raid in 1915.
Brompton Cemetery is particularly rich in grand memorials. In the centre of the cemetery, amongst the dark Victorian crosses and angels, stands a paler, more modern memorial. The face of a young man stares out from an impressive, well cared for headstone. Beneath the inscription is a dramatic image of a Zeppelin – one of the monstrous German airships of the First World War – falling to the ground in flames while a comparatively tiny aircraft flies to safety. The headstone, which occupies a prominent spot in the cemetery, commemorates the bravery of one of the British Armed Forces’ first heroes of aviation – Flight Sub-Lieutenant Reginald Alexander John Warneford. Continue reading