Established in 1840, Brompton Cemetery is managed and maintained by The Royal Parks and is one of the oldest cemeteries in Britain. It is mostly overgrown and largely gothic in design, making it feel its age.
I walk through the 39 acres of headstones every day on my way to and from work and I've seen some wonderful things there. The graveyard is so full of life (considering it's mostly occupied by dead people), with parents teaching their children to ride bikes, teenagers sitting in clusters reading, separately but together, regular dog walkers getting to know each other, picnics, the occasional barbeque, and a few too many old men with their tops off. There is a feeling of community to the place that is rare in this beautiful city where everyone tends to ignore each other.
The chapel's design was inspired by the basilica of St. Peter's in Rome
Some exciting, less-than-everyday things happen there too. Sometimes the cemetery is used for filming (Robert Downy Jr. filmed a couple of scenes of Sherlock Holmes where the teenagers were doing their reading, Johnny Depp visited for Finding Neverland, and there have been countless period dramas), and nomadic cinema companies pop up from time to time to show screenings of horror films with added creepy atmosphere.
Interestingly, Beatrix Potter was also a fan of the cemetery and apparently named her characters after the names she found on tombstones.
Mostly though, it's morbidly fascinating. That's probably a more accurate term than romantic, although there is a certain romance to the history and quiet beauty of the place. I love looking at the headstones and seeing who was buried there hundreds of years ago, thinking about how they might have lived and how important they were based on the impressiveness of their burial place. I'm not the only one either. I've passed by several people taking rubbings of the headstones.
Although London is spilling over with exciting things to do and discover, finding a place as tranquil and interesting as this amongst all the hubbub is rare and special. It's like walking through a wild garden and an art gallery at the same time and although it's probably not an ideal spot for a first date (unless you're a vampire) it's definitely worth a visit.