I managed to tick another of the “Magnificent Seven” off my list this month. For anyone that doesn’t know, this is a list of famous Victorian cemeteries that were built in London, scattered around what was then the city outskirts. I have been visiting these at a painfully slow pace over the last decade, and I have now managed to see four of them (the next one is tentatively scheduled in for some time around 2027).
Situated in Bow, East London, Tower Hamlets Cemetery – or to give it it’s full title, Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park – is far more low-key than the other graveyards that feature on the list (which is not necessarily a bad thing). Being located in in the trendy East End, I had feared this one might be a hipster hellhole, but thankfully this was not the case. The cemetery does feature a sort of community centre tacked on to the side to keep the arts-and-crafts brigade happy – which is a slightly annoying – but at least it keeps the local “yout” distracted from flinging acid about the place and making drill videos I suppose.
On the way in I noticed a sign stating that the place is open 24-hours and, confusingly, that foraging is permitted within reason, so if you fancy a spot of midnight graveyard fruit picking – Tower Hamlets Cemetery is the place for you.
Unlike Highgate or Norwood, there are no grand edifices or vaults to be found here, except for a few mini-obelisks dotted around the place. There are lots of very old gravestones, pleasingly leaning against each other; most of which have seen better days (much like the dead souls who lie buried beneath them). There is also much wildlife to be enjoyed. The place has a charming ambiance, which is not something you will hear me saying often to describe anywhere in East London.
I rounded the day off by visiting a few other haunts in the neighbouring vicinity; The Ten Bells (the pub where Jack the Ripper’s victims touted for business), The Blind Beggar (the boozer where Ronnie Kray murdered rival gangster, George Cornell), Spitalfields Market, Christ Church on the corner of Fournier Street (home to artists, Gilbert & George and Brick Lane. All of which ARE hipster hellholes.
Next on the list are Abney Park, West Brompton and Kensal Green. Memento mori!