Freelance writer and wanderer always on the lookout for quirky activities that take you off the beaten track.
Published December 6th 2011
Throughout history humans have shared a special bond with domestic animals. From the St. Bernard hero of the Beethoven film series, to Skippy the Kangaroo of television fame and the Garfield comics, this love has been well documented and often a family is not complete without at least a goldfish or two.
This same respect and affection is shown in the passing of our animal companions, by the writing of heartfelt epitaphs and creating cemeteries and memorials especially for pets. Hyde Park Pet Cemetery is one of the most famous and one of the oldest of these haunting, yet somewhat endearing burial grounds.
Founded in 1880 and now largely hidden behind tangled undergrowth, Hyde Park's Pet Cemetery is no longer open to visitors. But don't let that stop you. If you can navigate yourself to the well-hidden area then peering through the thick scrubs and iron gates will prove a worthwhile experience, if only to enjoy the looming Stephen King-esque scene.
As the home to over 300 deceased pets including dogs, cats, birds and even a monkey, the Hyde Park Pet Cemetery is accordingly filled with an impressive array of miniature tombstones. The best part however, is the wonderfully lovable and often hilarious names that the Victorians and Edwardians have given to their cherished pets. Cherry is a Maltese terrier who died of natural causes and was the first to be buried on the site. Then there is Pupsey, Chin Chin, Smut, Bobbit, Tally-Ho, Freeky and Scum among many, many more. Craning your neck to read the inscriptions will provide you with both fits of laughter and sighs of sorrow for the once much-loved mutts.
It has been said that curious visitors can book an appointment to view the cemetery through the Hyde Park police or rangers, but I was unable to find proof of this and the place itself is completely unsigned so it may take some investigative research to uncover the possibility of going on a more thorough visit.
Most people are not aware of Hyde Park's Pet Cemetery, nestled within the bushes of Victoria's Gate Lodge garden but this only adds to its it is enchanting and mysterious charm. The place that George Orwell once pronounced as perhaps the most horrible spectacle in Britain, it is an unusual and intriguing stopover if ever visiting the beauty and green vastness that is Hyde Park. But blink and you will miss it entirely.