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Visit Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

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by David Dragonetti (subscribe)
I love politics (I do realize that there aren't many people like me) and a history buff who also likes nothing better than watching a live comedy.
Published August 22nd 2012
A cemetery is not where most people would think to go on a short day trip, but tucked along side the busy Fenchurch street railway Line and within walking distance of Bow Church and Mile end, is a place of final rest that has a quite wonderful beauty.

Established during the early years of Queen Victoria's reign, the Tower Hamlets Cemetery was in an area of such deprivation, that during its first 40 years most of the 247 000 people buried were in public graves. These were essentially mass graves (some graves are rumoured to be 40 feet deep and contain 30 bodies) of people buried together who though might not be related, were none the less from the same areas of dire poverty and thus could not afford to buy their own plot.

Bombed five times during World War Two, it was reported to be falling into a rather unkempt state as early as 55 years after its first opening in 1841 and in 1966 was finally closed for burials. When it was declared a local nature reserve in May 2000, Tower Hamlets Council decided to simply leave the cemetery as it was, to allow nature take its course and just let it evolve into something quite special.

Walking now along uneven gravel paths, amid the tall imposing Victorian columns belonging to some of the wealthier graves, one can see how the winds of time have consumed ornate headstones with grasses and twine until these one day will become dust and return to the earth from whence we came.

There is something lovely in a graveyard where lawns are no longer mowed and hedgerow is no longer snipped and pruned.

The touch of man has gone and nature has moved back in to
create peace and serenity that is often sought in a city like London but sometimes never found.

In such a place full of people sleeping for eternity, we are confronted with our own mortality, that our time is short and we are just passing through. Birth, death and then returned to mother nature, and as such graveyards aren't sad places but just somewhere where we are humbled and where we take stock and ponder on simply how we live our lives before we too inevitably reach our end.

For opening times/ travel information and Location, please check website.
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Why? A place of final rest that has a quite wonderful beauty
Where: Southern Grove London E3 4PX, United Kingdom
Your Comment
Very nice article David! Cemetaries are such peaceful places and this one seems particularly relaxing. Thanks for sharing.
by ThomasB (score: 1|11) 3435 days ago
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