Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery

The site is situated in the London borough of Lewisham. The nearest stations are either Crofton Park or Ladywell. There are plenty of buses around that area also.

The cemeteries were opened within one month of each other in 1858.

Jane Clouson: Murdered girl with a monument paid for by public donations

Ernest Dowson: Poet and decadent movement artist

Sir George Grove: First director of the royal college of music

Sir John Gilbert: Illustrator

Fernando Tarrida Del Marmol: Cuban anarchist writer

Horatio Henry Couldery: One of the best known Victorian painters of animals

David Jones: War poet and artist

Ladywell cemetery was formally known as Lewisham cemetery and Brockley cemetery was formally known as Deptford cemetery.

The site is about 37 acres.

When you first walk into the site, taking it for granted that you go through the Ladywell entrance; you are greeted by large, black rot iron gates. This cemetery is one of the first of new wave Victorian graveyards so it definitely has a very old vibe to it. On your left you have the lodge; I assume this to be used by the grounds keeper. In front of you lies a cobbled path and on either side you have trees and a number of graves, some hidden. When you follow the path, you come to a huge white marble statue of a cross in the center of a circle. The statue is a war memorial. From the path, there are paths leading off in the shape of a cross which actually makes it easy to explore and remember where you are.

On the left of the memorial is the cemeteries chapel. This was refurbished in 2004 along with the lodge. To my knowledge, it is still being used although, every time I see it, it seems to be all chained up! It’s not the biggest chapel you will find but it is very lovely with its dark stone work. A lot of the grass around the chapel is very overgrown, I would usually moan about this but it actually gives it that very old American look to it. A bit past the chapel you have even more shrubbery. I don’t think that the site is a nature reserve but it sure does look like one.

Further up is the most interesting part in my opinion, it really is very beautiful. There were tall trees everywhere and moss covered path ways. Across from that is a bit of land where all the graves are really clustered together. This has to be my least favourite part as it seems slightly impersonal. I also think that that part was the Roman Catholic part which seems really out of place as I expected it to be grander. You will find the grave of Jane Clouson on your travels. She was a young girl who was brutally murdered and the public bought a memorial for her. I heard about this story years ago so it was a bit sad and surreal to see her grave.

On the walk back, I came across this weird little spot that almost resembled a campsite. There were about 4 very old broken logs in somewhat of a circle shape. There was even a woman relaxing there reading! Wish I had known about it as I would have done the same! There was also a weird broken wall that went right through the cemetery (I was to later learn that the graveyard is actually 2 graveyards in one and the wall was what once separated them). There were plenty of little hidden pathways that kept me completely occupied until it was time for me to leave.

I never caught any ghosts this time on my walkabout; however, I was not disappointed as it was one of the most spiritually active sites that I had been to in a long time. It is situated in quite a quiet spot. This really helps when you are trying to get a feeling of the place. It really is very serene, especially when you get to the grave of Jane. Although you feel sorrow, you also feel at peace. I would certainly lie to come back here and maybe do a night time investigation if possible.  

I absolutely loved this place. I had been here before once whilst doing a photo-shoot and I was determined that I was coming back to investigate it. It may sound silly but, I really feel like I am in another world when I come here. I can hear no traffic and there is plenty of wildlife and nature for me to look at. Also if you give it enough attention, you will be surprised with how much history you could actually learn. Don’t let the fact that it’s 2 cemeteries put you off as you really can’t tell. I never knew until after I had been there! This really is one that needs to be given more attention by the public.

“Respect those who are not physically here, you can’t see them but they can see you, and disrespect is something they don’t want to see”

RATING: 4/5 – I only wish that there was more of this place. It is very beautiful and has a lot more history than what I bargained for. This is one to certainly check out.



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