Greenspaces: Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries

There’s you, and then there’s not you: and you are faced with the question of how you are going to spend that time. It’s so much more profound than any hypothesis about some pathetic garden with unicorns and hugs that goes forever. People don’t even know how to spend their Saturday afternoons. What do I want with eternity?
- Tim Minchin

The conjoined cemeteries (entrance at the corner of Ivy Road and Brockley Road), created in 1858 and covering 37 acres, lack the scale and Gothic grandeur of Nunhead cemetery but the shadow play of its most overgrown parts evokes magic and menace.
The pathways through the trees, dotted with Ozymandian tributes, are beautiful and humbling. Some of the more open parts are more like a funereal version of Cargiant.

The cemeteries are also an important habitat for wildlife, including butterflies, sparrowhawks and stag beetles.

Click here for the Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries website.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

After Doctor Who, are you still willing to walk through cemeteries with angels in them?

Molewife said...

There are parts of the cemetery where you can't even see gravestones - it just seems like woodland. I love it.

Sue Luxton said...

Probably my favourite local green space, and excellent for blackberry picking.

BrockleyCross said...

Love them - my son calls them "the squirrel woods"

Tamsin said...

It's a real shame that there was too much red-tape and admin. involved for the Remembrance Day events to continue - they were so moving and an awesome use of the space.

To shamelessly hi-jack this conversation to promote another green space - Friends of Telegraph Hill Park meeting this evening at 7.30 in the Craft Room of the Telegraph Hill Centre (entrance from St. Catherine's Drive).

Anonymous said...

A sad example of what rampant green ideology combined with penny pinching does to our heritage. Sycamore trees are weeds in my book, to see them growing out of graves is disturbing. At least the Service Men's graves are looked after, but the rest of the place is increasingly depressing and unloved, despite the efforts of volunteers. It is a microcosm of what the greens would like to do to our cities I suppose.

Pete said...

I actually sort of agree with the previous comment. These graves were built as memorials to people by their families. Why do we feel it's ok or even a good thing to let them become so overgrown?

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 11.05

The volunteers at FoLBC are working ahrd to remove sycamore from some of the graves, but it takes time when there are only a few dedicated people willing to help....

6ft Under said...

How long back should future generations pay for the upkeep of graves of those dead so long ago? Nothing to do with 'rampant green ideology' the cemeteries have not been maintained for generations, long before any 'green' sensibilities so thats argument can be disposed of. In fact most victorian cemetries were private affairs, my parents are planted in one in N London. £3k each please, for 95 years then your 'removed'

Penny pincing? perhaps, priorities are not aequal. Id rather we spend money on the current and future generations, gentle decline and management seems a fine to me. I supposed you could gut grannies meals on wheels, ironically it may hasten her demise.

Anonymous said...

£3k for 95 years is excellent rent for the conservation area, even if the price per foot might be a little high.

Sue Luxton said...

@Anon 11.05 A sad example of more lazy stereotyping.

I think this is more about the cemetery team budget being cut every year and not about green ideology. Certainly the ex-Green cllrs in Ladywell have all been active in helping to cut down self-seeded sycamores springing up in the middle of graves, not rushing to hug and protect them. Too many self-seeded saplings threaten the grassland, which is the reason the cemeteries are a site of nature conservation interest for the borough.

I would also like to see the cemeteries team tackle the Japanese knotweed plantation in the middle of the cemetery with serious quantities of carefully-applied glyphosphate or similar strong weedkiller.

The cemeteries team face a difficult juggling act to please all the different groups of people with interests in the cemetery and are never going to keep everyone happy.

There is a debate to be had in this country about how many years graves are maintained for, and who pays for that when families have long since left an area or forgotten graves. I think it is right for the council to maintain the footpaths and war memorials, but I don't think they should be expected to maintain every grave - just ensure they're not a hazard.

6ft Under said...

Agree with that, my folks wanted to be burried in that particular cemetry and left funds to do that. Their plot is secure for 95 years and in my heirs want to extend that in 95 years time they can otherwise the space will be freed up when required.

It was there choice, personally I want to be cremated and have my ashes stuck in a firework - once all the spare bits have been claimed. totally ludicrous to expect graves to be maintained in perpetuity. If you want that then fiond away of funding it out of your own resources.

Anonymous said...

I wish to be minced, rolled up into a kebab block and have slices shaved off me on Friday and Saturday nights and sold as honest fare.

Shirley Porter said...

get rid of the graves near the roadside and put a great big Tesco in its place

Brockley Nick said...

It's a matter of opinion of course, but if one of my family were buried there, I'd much rather their grave lay among the trees than was stuck out in the open. The secluded bits are much more beautiful and poignant than the open air bits. We're all worm food - why not feed a tree?

Anonymous said...

The irony being that you might just end up becoming honest fare yourself. Unless you elect to being pan fried before lowering.

Anonymous said...

Sue Luxton is right. The cemetery is an amazing place for wildlife and it is great that it is left 'wild'.

Many of the graves that are covered are very old and nobody has visited them for ages. If someone decides to trace their ancestors and find their way back to the L&B cemetery than that grave is cleared.

War graves are always kept clear when they are found and rightly so.

The Friends do regular walks on the site, so maybe @anon 11.05 could join one and learn something – or maybe join the Friends and help out? Now there’s a thought!

Instead of moaning under anon - do something about it....

pip said...

It is a stunningly beautiful place, and there are points where you can almost forget you are in a city. Well done to the people who look after it.

I have seen what I presume is evidence of dogfighting in there - significant quantities of fur spread across a small area (though it's been a while since I last saw this). Has anyone else noticed this? Is there another explanation?

Anonymous said...

@pip

I live behind the cemetery, this could explain why my cat came back badly beaten up the other week.

curious said...

There is a curious section of the cemetery I came across some time ago which I wonder if anyone can shed some light on. In this area there are a number of headstones in a row, but unmarked. They look relatively recent. I thought they might be the graves of unfortunate people who couldn't be identified after death, but there seem rather too many for that. If anyone can give me some information I would be interested to find out.
Thanks

marian said...

The local council has never maintained any of the graves in Ladywell or Brockley cemetery as that has always been up to the owners of the grave but they should cut the grass in between the graves and upkeep the footpaths
They have now started to tackle the Japanese knotweed and tidy up the cemetery.

Six Feet Under said...

Always thought the massive cemetery on Brockley Road should be turned into a park, would open it up like Kennington Park and increase footfall activity near the shops

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