Oct 12, 2010

A Photo Tour of the Haunting and Gothic Nunhead Cemetery.

Nunhead Cemetery 1~ gravestones

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.

Nunhead Cemetery 2~ gravestones

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.

Nunhead Cemetery 3~ gravestones
Nunhead Cemetery 4~ gravestones
Nunhead Cemetery 5~ gravestones
Nunhead Cemetery 6~ gravestones
Nunhead Cemetery 7~ gravestones

On top on the hill there's a stunning view of St. Paul's dome.

Nunhead Cemetery ~ View of St. Paul

Headless, armless angels, overturned urns and broken crosses pepper the thick green wilderness. But I also managed to find these fine beauties intact.

Nunhead Cemetery 8 ~ Angel
Nunhead Cemetery 9 ~ Angel
Nunhead Cemetery 10 ~ Angel
Nunhead Cemetery 11 ~ Angel
Nunhead Cemetery 12 ~ Angel
Nunhead Cemetery 13 ~ Angel
Nunhead Cemetery 14 ~ Angel
Nunhead Cemetery 15  ~ mausoleum plaque

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.

All photography by Shehani Kay. Nunhead Cemetery, in the London Borough of Southwark, SE15. See the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery Website more info.


Te said...

Beautiful photos, I love wandering cemeteries, and Europe really has some of the most stunning. The lighting in these making them less...eerie than they would be, inviting I guess. When I was a kid I was always obsessed with finding the oldest gravestone in the cemetery...not that old in Australia.

Shehani said...

Hey Te! Thanks! Yeah this cemetery is beautifully overgrown and I was obsessed with playing with the light that day. So, yeah, less eerie, more romantic Goth.

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