Magnificent Seven cemeteries
For hundreds of years, almost all London's dead were buried in small parish churchyards, which quickly became dangerously overcrowded. Architects such as Sir Christopher Wren and Sir John Vanbrugh both deplored this practice and wished to see suburban cemeteries established, but it was not until British visitors, including George Frederick Carden, were inspired by Paris's Père Lachaise cemetery that something similar was developed in London: at Kensal Green.
In the first 50 years of the 19th century the population of London more than doubled from 1 million to 2.3 million. Overcrowded graveyards also led to decaying matter getting into the water supply and causing epidemics. There were stories of graves being dug that already contained bodies, and bodies being flushed directly into the newly built sewer system.
In 1832 Parliament passed a bill encouraging the establishment of private cemeteries outside London, and later passed a bill to close all inner London churchyards to new deposits. Over the next decade seven cemeteries were established:
- Kensal Green Cemetery, 1832
- West Norwood Cemetery, 1837
- Highgate Cemetery, 1839
- Abney Park Cemetery, 1840
- Nunhead Cemetery, 1840
- Brompton Cemetery, 1840
- Tower Hamlets Cemetery, 1841
- Meller, Hugh (1981). London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer. Amersham: Avebury. ISBN 0-86127-003-7.
- Arnold, Catharine (2006). Necropolis: London and its dead. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781416502487.
- Lynne Walker (December 1983). "Review: London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer". The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 42 (4): 393–4.
- The National Federation of Cemetery Friends website
- Photographic studies of each one of London's Magnificent Seven Cemeteries