How Newham’s past is buried around us

Author has produced new an ‘exhaustive’ book on cemeteries

Some people may find cemeteries depressing but for Brian Parsons they are a fascinating historical record of an area and the people who have lived and died there.

Brian, who lives in Holborn, is the co-author of the fifth edition of London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer.

The 46-year-old, who is editor of The Funeral Service Journal, said: “Cemeteries are all different.

“They reflect the composition and wealth of the local area.

“They have all developed at different times.

“Their memorials express the lives of the people who have passed away, which makes them unique.”

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The new expanded edition of the book, which includes Newham’s eight cemeteries, is summed up by Brian as an “exhaustive” guide to London’s burial places.

Brian described Newham’s cemeteries as well maintained as a whole with the exception of Woodgrange Park in Forest Gate, which has fallen into decline under its private management in recent years.

The author singled out West Ham in Forest Gate as a particularly fine example of a typical Victorian cemetery with a chapel, substantial lodge and boundary fence.

Not surprisingly, City of London in Manor Park, which is one of the largest municipal cemeteries in the country, features prominently within the guide.

“City of London is a living and working cemetery,” said Brian.

“It is a showcase for the City of London and is kept in immaculate condition.

“It has unique buildings with a very fine landscape and is very well run.”

The author said the cemetery was at the forefront of trying to provide burial space in the future for London, which he described as a big problem facing the capital.

London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazeteer is published by The History Press.

* London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazeteer is published by The History Press.