Kensal Green habitants

 If you could choose the place silent and wistful, perfect for looking into yourself and sorting your mind, what would it be? Victorians loved to spend their afternoons in cemeteries. Many of graveyards were designed not just as resting places for the dead, but as parks. People had picnics there, taking their kids with them, sitting under the trees with books and filling their lungs with fresh and quiet air, thinking about their past and their future.

Some parts of Kensal Green in London are park-styled, too. Most of the cemetery (the Anglican part), though, has naturally formed paths with no benches in sight. But why would you need them if your goal is to see as much as possible? The Kensal Green's magnificent stillness, solemness and tragediennes keeps attracting modern visitors, giving them an opportunity to plunge deeply into the history and their own minds.

The Anglican Chapel (which is also the entrance to the catacombs) with the extending colonnade looks breathtaking, like an exquisite part of the Roman Pantheon. The view of it spectacularly opens to the eyes as you follow down the path from the main entrance (Harrow Road).

The neo-classic building, to which I will take you back later, is a perfect match to angelic figures towering above the ground sprinkled with leaves. The sun breaking out through the clouds lights up the spreading branches and finger-shaped leaves of chestnuts.

Their faces up, the angels are frozen in a mute prayer, waiting for eternity to come.

Between the sparse trees and bushes, you see the stones modestly covering their heads with ivy.

There're some unorthodox, extraordinary monuments, barely reminding of British. On some, you'll see only a flag as a reminder that you're indeed still in London.

Narrow, resonant empty corridor between the wall and the colonnade reveals the other stories, the meaning of which you can only guess. 

This dramatic monument, for example, depicts a young woman and a man, probably solacing her. Her face is crossed with hope and grief, and he's calm and wistful. You can imagine dozens of scenarios of what is happening between them, but this moment in which they both are stuck for the eternity is so powerful that you can barely hold your uneven breath.

Let's leave them in their peace.

Kensal Green is known not only for its graveyard, but also for many exotic spices of trees and plants. The memorial garden lushly blooms in spring and stays green until the very end of November.

In a part that is hidden from the sun under the dense crown, the lonely woman still stands above the grave of her beloved, mourning him for the second century.

Her beauty hasn't fade, and her curse of spending the rest of her existence leaning over the tombstone is still as strong as ever.

You will meet here so many different life stories and habitants: from wealthy and royal, who lived their lives by the book, to inventive builders of their fate, unfortunate actors and people who died in various absurd ways. 

Time embraced every each of them, soothing pain and taking in their families and friends.

Kensal Green is full of tragic stories of the eternal love and loyalty. This touching monument was erected by the inconsolable husband of a young and talented artist Emma Jones, who died, being pregnant, during the awful storm in London (probably her heart just didn't make it through the night). Her widower, Alexis Soyer, was so destroyed with the news that he almost stubbed himself. Later, he bought all of her ever sold paintings, as if bringing the part of his wife back. He now is happy, resting by her side.

You'll meet here a very different attitude to death. Someone wishes to be buried under a simple, inconspicuous stone and be unnoticed by the visitors coming down the path. Some people take with them guards, who watch over their eternity.

Somebody lived in a twirl of sound or dance, and their guardians don't mourn their passing: they celebrate the new beginning, sun rays animatedly playing between the folds of their clothings.

The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery help the visitors to recognise most of the famous tombs. They have a very intriguing 2-hour tour just for 7£, which you have to book on their website in advance. The guide will tell you the most fascinating stories of love, cheating, unfortunate death and fortunate marriages of the Kensal Green habitants. She will also show you the royal graves.

I remembered most a story of one man who died in agony. The gravestone master, Godfrey Sykes, even cut on the effigy his face with traces of torture. If you want you can try to climb on the step (like I did) and take a picture of it (it's the best you can actually do, because you won't see it without a camera). I later showed it to the group, because I was literally the one who dared to do this. I'm sorry, Mister William Mulready, I hope I wasn't too discourteous.

I assure you that the rest of the old part of the cemetery won't disappoint you. I haven't seen the new one, but it's definitely on my to do list.

I can't resist sharing with you a small part of the group that listened to the history of the cemetery with me that day. This baby girl was so cute (so were her parents) that I couldn't keep my camera off her. Please, please, please don't be mad at me, because I love this memory so much, and you made one of the most spectacular days in London even better. Thank you for this.

And let me just kindly remind those of you who's searching for some pictures in the Internet, that all of my photos are subjects of copyright and belong to me, so if you want to use them in your article, blog or for commercial purposes, please don't hesitate to contact me via email or . Thank you!


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