Jungly Nunhead Cemetery is a wild, overgrown fecund forest nourished on the bodies of the dead and littered with leaning gravestones. Also a charming nature reserve, couples, friends, dog walkers and families alike, stroll its narrow lanes and picnic among the dead on its 52 acres of wilderness inside London. Opened in 1840, it's the second largest of London's Magnificent Seven Victorian cemeteries. While it's not as famous as Highgate, it has an alluring, mysterious and haunting natural beauty all its own.
Off the main lanes are overgrown paths that lead to forgotten graves and jumbled headstones that have been strangled by vines and contorted by roots.
On top on the hill there's a stunning view of St. Paul's dome.
Headless, armless angels, overturned urns and broken crosses pepper the thick green wilderness. But I also managed to find these fine beauties intact.
We dined on the smooth stone of a family tomb and gave them our thanks. Lady bugs flew onto our arms, and into our hair and faces. The sun dappled the lanes and seeped through the branches to warm us. Yes, we had a rare autumn day: 10.10.10 in Nunhead was a 10 on all counts!
What I love about English graveyards are all the people who wander and stroll the grounds. I saw couples kissing under a canopy of dying leaves next to their dead countrymen and toddlers playing hide and seek amongst the tombs. Life and death mingled carelessly. This isn't only a place for goths and necrophiles, it's also a sanctuary for regular folk. In fact, the only people bedecked in black was me and my graveyard companion! Unlike Spain, cemeteries here are not just a place for the dead and forgotten, it's also a green refuge for the living to roam and play in. And that's a beautiful thing.