April 5th, 2012

me: wrong side of the mirror

The Magnificent Seven: #6, West Norwood Cemetery

This was the cemetery that was furthest afield for me, since I typically arrive into north-central London from Cambridge. Getting there was no mean feat, not least because it required the use of Southern trains, proudly providing the fourth-worst service in the country. To be fair, it is easier to leave West Norwood than it was to leave Nunhead. Trains run to London Victoria every 15 minutes, as opposed to every 30 from Nunhead. This was good for me because I was more anxious to get away from West Norwood than I was from Nunhead.

West Norwood has a crematorium and is still in use as a burial ground. It is very well kept. Ivy has been severely cut back and few graves are inaccessible or invisible. The modern graves are interspersed everywhere with the Victorian monuments of which I’m particularly fond. This is a sharp contrast to the other Magnificent Seven, which are either no longer in use (e.g. Abney Park and Tower Hamlets) or have areas sectioned off for new burials (e.g. Highgate and Nunhead). Many of the new graves at West Norwood seem to be for babies or children and are clearly being regularly visited. In the other cemeteries, it is possible to walk around the old, overgrown and forgotten graves without experiencing the raw pain of recent loss unsoftened by the passage of time. In West Norwood, you cannot do this. I wouldn’t recommend visiting if you are in an emotionally fragile state.

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