The Tower Hamlets cemetery is one of the seven ‘magnificent’ Victorian resting places remaining in London. They were created to settle the dangerously overcrowded parish cemeteries. Dracula was filmed at Highgate Cemetery.
My local, the The Tower Hamlets cemetery, is located in the back streets of the heart of the Eastend between Mile End and Bow Station. It has certainly gone to sleep and woken up to the sound of the Bow Bells for many years. Not surprisingly for an Eastend lock-in, it is open 24 hours a day.
In the past I have attended art events and film festivals, including the Shuffle festival curated by Danny Boyle. My visit recently was made in search of a contemplating walking space away from the hectic pace of a Monday mid morning and in search of clean air and quietness.
What I like about this cemetery is it’s capacity to disorient you and draw you off track between the thick growing foliage, and fallen gravestones.
I love how the place smells fresh in contrast to the rest of the wonderfully diverse smells in the Eastend. I love how it is equally shared by hooded youth, trendy dog walkers, old cockneys and the odd walker, like myself, just taking the green goth-icky scenery in.
The cemetery is now a nature reserve looked after by a friendly society, looking out for the wildlife residing in the woods. They hold bat watching events in true Gothic style.
This reminds me of references of the tours at Highgate cemetery, that coincidentally I discovered that on occasions were run by well acclaimed author Audrey Niffernegger who’s one familiar book is Her Fearful Symmetry, a ghost story, is also based in the cemetery surrounding area. Ghostly enough, only two weeks after learning that she gives site seeing trips around the cemetery, one if her books found its way in front of me on a very rare visit to an Eastend charity shop. Good enough reason to write this, right?
There is an uncanny beauty in the ‘Magnificent Seven’. I have not heard of other cities’ stories of overflowing burials, to the extend of contaminating water and grounds.
Victorian Eastend couldn’t have been a happy place, non-the-less for the very unpleasant presence of many evil and opportunist men, without forgetting Jack the Ripper, who roamed the streets freely only a mile or so down the road.
Being able to walk through a place that hosted so much pain once, to soothe the pain of city living in the 21st century is a gift that I rest assured was not planned originally.
I can’t say enough, thank you.