A report of the Society’s visit to the City of London Cemetery & Crematorium

banner1 A report of the Societys visit to the City of London Cemetery & Crematorium

group 300x225 A report of the Societys visit to the City of London Cemetery & CrematoriumOn 11 May a small but very keen group was taken around the Grade II listed City of London Cemetery and Crematorium by the Superintendent & Registrar, Gary Burks.  The 1200 acres located on the edge of Epping Forest and across from Wansted Flats and originally farmland,  was originally purchased by the City Corporation in 1853 to provide more space for the already overcrowded burial grounds in the City. The cemetery design was laid out by the well-known City Surveyor, William Haywood, and opened in 1856.

Gary gave us a very thorough background history of the cemetery before  the tour and we were also able to briefly view the burial registers. As the registers are in date order, anyone wanting to have a search done would need to know the approximate date of death in order to find someone in the registers. Searches can be done for a fee, contact the City of London Cemetery for further details. The registers are currently being digitised and the Corporation of London hopes to make them available on the internet in the near future. regsiters 300x223 A report of the Societys visit to the City of London Cemetery & Crematorium

ronGary 300x201 A report of the Societys visit to the City of London Cemetery & CrematoriumWithin the cemetery are 7 miles of roads, 600,000 internments, not including the re-interred remains from the burial grounds of 38 historic City Churches . The grounds are very well kept, with extensive gardens, including a 600-bed rose garden, which require 10 staff to maintain.

As the cemetery is becoming full, Gary explained the cemetery’s policy of reusing graves for modern burial. Families are contacted about existing graves (which are known to have depth for at least two more burials). For example, some of the older graves were dug to accomodate around twelve bodies, but may only have two bodies interred and this leaves space for modern burials. A marker is left on the existing grave to notify the public of the intention for planning further burials. On one gravestone we saw, the stone had been reversed in the ground, and the back side (now facing forward) was used to inscribe the name of the newer, additional occupant of the grave.

vigiland 209x300 A report of the Societys visit to the City of London Cemetery & Crematorium

Surprisingly, the cemetery also has a small cafe on the premises where one can have lunch or a cup of tea after a long trek around the grounds, something which our group happily took advantage of.

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Walk: In the Shadow of St Pauls – Cemeteries & Burial Grounds 7 October 2011

This new addition to the Society’s popular ‘Cemeteries & Burial Grounds’ walks, will take place on Friday, 7 October 2011 starting at 2pm. The walk will last approximately two hours and our group  will meet our walk leader, Alec Tritton, at Postman’s Park, behind St. Botolph Aldersgate. Book early as places are limited.

The walk MUST be pre-booked, price £10.00 (£8.00 SoG members). To book a space, visit our secure website or telephone the events department: 020 7553 3290. Do you have a question? email the events department

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Nunhead Cemetery Open Day – 21 May 2011

 The Society will be present at the Nunhead Cemetery Open Day again this year.  We will be manning a small stall, with leaflets and a selection of Society publications.

The Open Day runs from 11a.m. to 5p.m. and admission is free.  There will be guided tours of the cemetery and visits to the chapel and crypt (which are not normally open), as well as various stalls, plant sales, refreshments and a choir in the chapel (!)  See the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery website for further details (www.fonc.org.uk).  If you have not been to Nunhead Cemetery before, it is well worth a visit.  We look forward to seeing you there!

 

 

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Did your ancestor have a gravestone?

If so you may well find the inscription carved onto it has been preserved in the Society of Genealogists’ family history library, which has the largest collection of such inscriptions in the country. They are a much underused resource, particularly as they can throw light onto the relationship between people buried in a grave.

Now the Society has started to make its collection more widely available by adding some of them to the Members’ Area of its website.

Amongst the first inscriptions to be included are those recorded by the professional genealogist L Haydon Whitehead and donated to the Society in 1985 after his death. They are part of a much larger collection of material compiled by Whitehead that included transcripts of wills, Hearth Tax returns, parish registers, Bishop’s Transcripts etc many of which can be found on the county shelves in the library.

1945 John Elizabeths grave in Preston Cemetery 300x200 Did your ancestor have a gravestone?

The Whitehead collection of gravestone inscriptions focuses on East Anglia, and the greatest number of recordings are for Essex (31,000) and Cambridgeshire (12,000). However there are entries for many other English counties (Derbyshire, for example, has more than 6,000). Some of the stones recorded by Whitehead are no longer legible, making the collection particularly important for family historians.

At present the Members’ Area includes only an index to the Whitehead MIs. The index entries show the name, place, church and year of burial. The full, and often more detailed, inscriptions can be consulted on cards in the Upper Library, or photocopies ordered through the Society’s ‘Search and Copy’ Service. However the cards have recently been scanned and it is hoped to include the full images of them on the Members’ Area in due course.

A basic search of the Members’ Area can be done here by entering the surname you are searching for in the ‘Quick search’ box, but to view the full record you will need to be a member.

To find out if the Society holds the gravestone inscriptions (MIs) for your ancestor’s parish just go to the library catalogue.

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P1010160 Will You be Buried, Cremated or “Flushed down the Loo” Well not quite – but………………..

According to an article in the Daily Telegraph “Belgian undertakers have drawn up plans to dissolve the corpses of the dead in caustic solutions and flush them into the sewage system”

Legislation has already been passed in six States in America to allow this process to go ahead but in Belgium they want to go one step further and flush the remains into the sewage system.

These proposals are currently being studied by the European Union and if approved could be used anywhere in Europe.

Although we think otherwise, the dearly departed have always been treated in a very callous way. one only has to read George Walker’s “Gatherings from Graveyards” to understand  the gruesome burial practices in London in the 18th & 19th Century. The Cholera epidemics of the 19th Century woke the populace up to the idea that the dead and the living don’t mix well together and led to the growth of cemeteries. These of course have in many cases been left to rack and ruin such as Abney Park in London where in many cases gravestones are so overgrown that it would be impossible to find an ancestor without a full blown jungle expedition! (Warning – do not visit Abney Park on your own – there are a lot of “strange” living people in the undergrowth)

This century brought the Crematorium with the 30 minute (if you are lucky) service – with in many cases their rank commercialism (move along time for the next ceremony) – Want to remember your loved ones? – £300 for a ten year lease on a plaque…

So now we move on to become total waste material. I have heard it said that “in every glass of water we drink a molecule of Oliver Cromwell’s pee” so soon it will  be a pot pourri of everybody…

Click here to read the full article from the Daily Telegraph

What do you say? Please leave your comments

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