This is the Graveyard, my old haunt, set into one corner of an agricultural field, alone and exposed yet contained and comfortable in its position, settled silently and solidly into the landscape with peaceful purpose. It does have a proper name – Bracklich (or Breachlich, or other variant spellings) Cemetery – but for my lifetime it has been known locally simply as the Graveyard.
All traces of the old church to which the graveyard was originally attached has long gone, with the church building itself going out of use in the late 17th Century due to the merger of this parish with a neighbouring parish, and whatever remained being in ruins by the late 18th Century. The current visible gravestones are dated from the mid 18th C to the late 20th C, but this has been a traditional burial place for centuries before that.
This is the view looking up across the field from my mum and dad’s front gate – we always used to joke about having really quiet neighbours. The trees have grown and been cut down and have grown again countless times, but their silhouetted outline softening the regular headstone shapes remain a constant presence against the night sky, and I can’t imagine any of it not being there.
Walking up the quiet single-track graveyard road and into the walled cemetery itself has been a fun adventure for three generations of my family – my brother and sister and I loved exploring and playing there when we were young, as did our children and now our grandchildren in turn. The mossy grass is so springy and soft underfoot, a safe surface for toddlers to practice walking outside and getting a feel for the naturally uneven ground beneath their feet.
Below is the view of the local landscape from inside the graveyard, looking down towards the village of Ardersier and out across the water to the Black Isle in the distance. This is a beautifully peaceful spot from which to watch the sun set over the undulating horizon in the summer months.
I love the way the two headstones at the top are leaning in towards each other like two gossipy ladies, and the two similar-but-different flower urns in the middle image give the feeling of longterm lovers reunited in death – and I just like the way the little pink flowers are sitting so protectively around the dark grey fallen stone…
Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Tombstones
I’ve always loved the weathered texture of this old gravestone – no idea who it belongs to, or how old it is, but as soon as I saw this week’s photo challenge prompt word of texture, this is what first came to mind…
History is often all around us, hidden beneath our feet, if only we know where to look…
Walking around the beautifully kept memorial rose gardens in the City of London Cemetery, you may come across a small circular plaque set in concrete in the grass verge by an access road. Around the edge it reads ‘City of London Cemetery Heritage Trail’ and in the middle ‘Mary Ann Nichols, Died 31st August 1888’. A little further along on the opposite side of the road lies an almost identical plaque, this time bearing the name ‘Catherine Eddowes, Died 30th September 1888’
And if you were to wander around St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Leytonstone you may find a small and rather plain grave with an almost constant supply of flowers. The current headstone reads ‘In loving memory of Marie Jeanette Kelly – None but the lonely hearts can know my sadness, love lives forever.’
None of these grave markers are original, and after all these years the actual grave sites are approximate, but all three of these unlucky women were murdered in Whitechapel in London’s East End by Jack the Ripper – Polly Nichols at the end of August, Catherine Eddowes at the end of September, and Mary Jane Kelly on 9th November 1888.
Jack the Ripper’s two other known victims were Annie Chapman (buried in Manor Park Cemetery) who was killed on 8th September 1888, and Liz Stride (buried in East London Cemetery) who like Catherine Eddowes was murdered on 30th September.
With all the myths and legends and conspiracy theories surrounding the mysterious identity of Jack the Ripper (who was never caught), it is all too easy to forget that the basic story is factually true. Almost 130 years ago in the space of a few short weeks five real living-and-breathing women were brutally murdered, and it is important that they are remembered with respect as more than just incidental bit-part-player prostitutes in some misogynist madman’s murder-fest…
Daily Prompt: History
These delicately designed doors to the catacombs and columbarium in the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium in East London are made of metal – a narrow-guage mesh layered diagonally behind a stamped-out patchwork pattern. I had to look up what a columbarium was – apparently whereas catacombs store coffins on cool, dark, underground shelf spaces, a columbarium stores funerary urns containing cremated remains, also underground.
There are two crematoria on site, a more traditional building (main door shown above) and a modern 1970s low-profile concrete design (not pictured).
As well as the two crematoria and catacombs, there is a purpose-built Anglican church and also a non-conformist (Dissenters) chapel on site for accommodating funeral services – these are the beautiful chapel doors (above).
The City of London Cemetery and Crematorium is the largest municipal burial ground in the UK, covering 200 acres and with seven miles of road throughout. It has been in use since the mid-19th Century, when London’s city churchyards were full beyond capacity and creating a health hazard – in fact, many old remains were re-intered here as the old parish graveyards were unconsecrated and repurposed, with large communal gravestones commemorating the occasion.
Additionally there are also beautiful and well-kept Memorial Gardens within the cemetery grounds, including formal rose gardens… not a picture of a door to end with, I know, but it certainly brightens up my otherwise rather sombre post! 🙂
See more images of doors on Norm’s Thursday Doors
Although it’s not unusual to find me wandering around a cemetery taking pictures of whatever captures my attention, this particular gravestone in East London is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before – it seems to be kind of like a stone four-poster (but with six posts) canopy-less ‘bed’ (designed for eternal rest, perhaps?) with both carved headstone and footstone and a strange kind of pillow-effect domed ‘cover’ between the two, like you might find in some fictional fantasy film 🙂
Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual
This old dilapidated gravestone always intrigues me. I don’t think its somewhat startling appearance is due to vandalism, as the cemetery is generally well cared for – I think it’s more an attempt to keep all the broken pieces of an old crumbling grave-marker together in some fashion, rather than have them scattered to the winds.
The cross has obviously come off from the top section of the headstone, and rather than leave it lying around I assume it has been carefully placed into the wide crack on the large covering stone to keep it reasonably upright. However, to me it looks just like someone has desperately driven the cross with huge force into the centuries old body below to be absolutely sure they’re not coming back…
Happy Halloween everybody! 🙂
Daily Prompt: Eerie
Whatever names and dates were originally carved onto the front face of this old gravestone, it’s long since eroded away leaving only the epitaph ‘R.I.P’ on the back. So perhaps the best way to guess how long it’s been there is to judge the potential age of the still-growing tree, which over the years has consumed one side of the gravestone to the extent that they now appear as one, a symbiotic siamese twin of living wood and corroding stone conjoined for eternity…
St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Leytonstone, East London
Weekly Photo Challenge: Transmogrify