Literary London Reading Group

‘From flower to flower, from snow to snow’: Reading the 19th-Century Garden Cemetery

‘It appears in fact, that no arrangements can make it to cease to be an
evil to bring together the bodies of the dead where the living
inhabit and congregate.’1

tennyson-in-memoriam-imgHappy New Year! This January, we plan to alleviate some of the bleakness of the month with some jolly discussions surrounding Victorian cemeteries! Heather Scott (UCL) will be introducing the session which will be on 17th January, 6-7.30pm, Room 243 Senate House. Further details and reading (via our Dropbox) as below.

London’s churchyards had become little more than burial pits in the early decades of the nineteenth century. After a failed attempt in the 1820s to open the British Père La Chaise, George Frederick Carden re-ignited interest in the venture in the early 1830s to ‘relieve the metropolis from the inconveniences arising from the present system of interment of the Dead’.2 The General Cemetery Company was born as a solution to provide ample burial space, and the founders were primarily concerned with ‘providing places of Interment secure from violation, inoffensive to public health and decency, and ornamental to the metropolis’.3 In 1833, the Bishop of London, Charles Blomfield, consecrated Kensal Green, the first garden cemetery in London. However, this venture was never solely utilitarian; the remaining sources for the garden cemetery disclose the economic, social, religious, political, and hygienic themes that surround and plague the endeavor. It is these cultural dimensions that reveal the cemetery’s birth in London.

‘General Cemetery Company’, The Morning Chronicle
‘Kensall-Green Cemetery’, The Penny Magazine
Tennyson, In Memoriam, V
Tennyson, In Memoriam, XXII
Wordsworth, ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’

Optional Further Reading:
Wordsworth, ‘Essay Upon Epitaphs’

 Our speaker:
Heather Scott is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English Language and Literature at
University College London. Her research interests centre on literature and material culture,
and her PhD thesis examines the rise of the Victorian garden cemetery in London.

1 ‘Kensall-Green Cemetery’, The Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, 2
August 1834, 297–300 (p. 298).
2 ‘Advertisements & Notices’, The Examiner (London, England, 13 June 1830).
3 Ibid.


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This entry was posted on January 1, 2017 by .
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