Sometime in July….

… I plan to visit Kensal Green Cemetery again. Haven’t done so in over 25 years. The last time I did it, sometime in 1982, I didn’t get the chance to see all I wanted to. Some people have this real thing about cemeteries, I am not one of them. Until I discovered Kensal Green Cemetery, South Park Street Cemetery in Calcutta was the only one for me. It was close to where I was born, close to where I grew up, close to my school, close to my college, close to the people and things I cared about. There were many days when I went to visit friends “cutting through” the cemetery even though I didn’t need to, there was such a sense of history there.

Kensal Green Cemetery is in a different class. Here’s a sample of the people buried or cremated there:

Charles Babbage, the man behind the difference engine; Charles Blondin, acrobat and tightrope walker; Robert Brown (of Brownian motion fame); Isambard Kingdom Brunel; Wilkie Collins, of The Moonstone and The Woman In White; George Cruikshank, the Dickens illustrator; Leigh Hunt, the writer of Abou ben Adhem, whose tribe may increase; Freddie Mercury; Terence Rattigan of The Winslow Boy and Separate Tables; Howard Staunton, who gave us the Staunton chess pieces; William Makepeace Thackeray; Anthony Trollope, creator of Barsetshire.

And two other people. Thomas Daniell and his nephew William Daniell, the reasons why I went there in the first place. Here’s a sample of the Daniells’ output:

Calcutta used to be a City of Palaces. The Daniells were the ones that let me see what used to be, and what could be again, as I walked the streets in my youth. So I will go back to Kensal Green Cemetery sometime this month. And yes, I will be back at South Park Street as well, sometime in the next twelve months. Been too long.

12 thoughts on “Sometime in July….”

  1. hyperlink:new window–
    JP, I wonder if it is possible to set your hyperlinks to open in a new window or tab by default? At present, clicking on the link makes one lose track of your original post.

  2. Brompton Cemetary is my fave, I used to visit with my wife when we were waiting for pre-natal classes at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital:

    Also, under the category of hidden gems, there’s a wonderful old graveyard in Merton, near where I live. Many of the stones have long since been scrubbed clean of words by the elements, it’s incredibly quiet and quite creepy…

  3. Highgate cemetary is a great London place. You can say guten tag to Karl.

    I actually live on a corner opposite a cemetary – which I happily cycle through at night.

  4. There is an interesting cemetery in Stoke Newington near where I live – Abney Park Cemetery ( It was the the first wholly nondenominational Victorian garden cemetery in Europe. Amongst its residents are William and Catherine Booth, founders of the Salvation Army, and many prominent slavery emancipators. Recently, the graveyard scenes in the music video for the song Back to Black, by singer Amy Winehouse, were filmed at Abney Park Cemetery.

  5. JP

    This reminds of my (one-time) fav hobby in India – observing life inside a cemetery. Have you noticed the characteristics of a dog living in a cemetery as compared to normal domestic dogs?

  6. freddie mercury was cremated and his ashes scattered in secret, and only a few know where

    so he is not in that cemetry

    tough luck

    wrong again as per usual

    u really should get your substance more accurate, youre all presentation and bs whatever field you talk about arnt u

  7. Anonymouse (I have no choice but to call you that):

    What I actually said was: “Here’s a sample of the people buried or cremated there”. Every source I have found or seen says that Mercury was cremated at Kensal Green, there appears to be no dispute about that. I did not say he was buried there.

    As you say, there is dispute and even mystery about where his ashes were scattered. When I was in Montreux in 2001, the locals suggested that his ashes were scattered on the shores of Lake Geneva from near the Palace. But this is rumour.

    The cremation at Kensal Green is fact.

  8. JP, hello from The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery! Thank you for writing about us. On Saturday 13 June 2009, the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery celebrate our 20th birthday with a party, will you be able to join us? Do you fancy writing an article for our magazine on why you like it or what your favourite monument is, or your favourite personality? When you do come again to Kensal Green Cemetery do let us know. By the way our Open Day 2009 is on Saturday 4 July. Best wishes FoKGC

  9. Glenn, what a lovely idea. I’d love to come to the Open Day as well as to the 20th anniversary of the group. I shall do my best to protect the date. Thanks for stopping by.

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