When I lived in Boston, my dog and I would go for walks around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. Our new place does not have a reservoir right across the street. However, I have found a new place to go for walks. On the second day in our new apartment in London, we went out to explore. During our wanderings we met two people at different times that suggested going for walks in the Brompton Cemetery. At first I thought this was odd. I’ve always loved visiting old cemeteries, but I never wandered through one on a daily basis with my dog. However, one of the individuals told us that not only was it beautiful, but it was home to many famous people including Emmeline Pankhurst, an important suffragette in Britain. As a history nerd I was instantly intrigued. I soon found out, that many of the residents in the area love to walk, jog, cycle, and meander through the cemetery.
Brompton Cemetery opened in 1840 and it is one of the seven cemeteries that started in the mid-1800s by private companies. These cemeteries are referred to as the Magnificent Seven. Benjamin Baud designed the cemetery. At the center is a small domed chapel, which was constructed in 1839. The basilica of St Peter’s in Rome was the influence for the chapel.
Before the land became a cemetery the area consisted of market gardens. Lord Kensington sold 39 acres to the founders of Brompton Cemetery. The cemetery is designed to give the visitor the feel that they are in an open air cathedral and is rectangular in shape.
The directors of the cemetery constructed high walls around it to give reassurance to the loved ones that the coffins would not be disturbed by grave robbers. At the time, grave robbers would steal bodies and sell them to medical students. The directors also hired watchmen to wander the cemetery at night with lanterns.
Beatrix Potter lived near the cemetery and it is reported that she named many of her characters from the names she found on tombstones. These names include, Mr. McGregor, Mr. Nutkins, Jeremiah Fisher, and of course Peter Rabbett. I’ll do my best to locate these tombstones. But as you can see from the photos, there are many to explore.
The cemetery has been featured in many movies, including Sherlock Holmes (2009), Crush, Finding Neverland, and Johnny English.
I am ecstatic to find such a lovely place to go for walks with my dog. Also, I am excited to explore, to locate and learn about many of the famous residents. It will be a great way to learn about the history of England and its people.
If you are in the area and would like to visit the cemetery, the address is Old Brompton Road in West Brompton, SW10 in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The main gate is by the junction with Kempsford Gardens. There is another entrance on Fulham Road by the intersection with Hortensia Road.