Both Valerie and I like to look around cemeteries. They can be quiet and peaceful with just the occasional person tending a grave or just standing remembering. We like reading the names on headstones and tombs which are often interesting in design and texture with changes in style over the years; social history recorded in stone. Lavender Hill cemetery is lovely to walk around with its meandering paths and trees. Valerie being born in Enfield has relatives and friends interred here which is another reason to visit.
We parked in newly metalled Cooks Hole Road over looking Hilly Fields Park.
It used to be a favourite parking place for courting couples. Not sure if that this still happens or not. Our dog, Merlin, liked staying at the kennels at the end of the road. He always greeted any kennel maids we met in the park.
He was a Durham lurcher and used to love running around here. He would tease other dogs by letting them catch him up and, just as they were going to nip his tail, he would streak away. He died some years a go but I always think of him when visiting Hilly Fields.
There is a back gate into the cemetery which is fun to use.
The cherub marks the grave of a boy who died in 1954 when I was just 11. Seeing children’s graves always makes me sad.
A couple more images:
The one on the right has houses from the 1930s in the background. The one below shows high-rise flats built in the late 60s early 70s. Valerie lived there for a while and tells me that the view was magnificent especially when mist started to fill the hollows.
The next weekend we decided to park again in Cooks Hole Road and walk along by Maidens Brook to Fourteen Arches which is a wonderful brick-built viaduct on the Hertford railway loop. I have subsequently discovered that it proper name is the Rendleshem Viaduct though I have not been able to find out who Rendleshem was. We were amazed to discover how the meanders of Maidens Brook ( I prefer this name to the other used, Turkey Brook) have become even more pronounced. It is about 40 years since we were last there.
And the path was very overgrown and we almost couldn’t get through! When we did, to our dismay, we found the viaduct to be fenced off! We had been looking forward to standing underneath them to admire the brick work and shout at the echoes.
A close up view.
The way back was easier as the road to the Strayfield part of the cemetery ran by here.
Valerie told me the story of how, before the war, her father had found a suicide hanging from the trees in front of the viaduct. He and his friend were looking at the row of straight-trunked trees when they noticed one swaying. They went to investigate and found a man hanging from a branch. It must have been a terrible experience for them. This inspired a poem which I give below. Writing the blog called for a poem so it is an early draft and will change as I re-write and edit.
Properly Known as Rendleshem Viaduct
The distant trees were once straight, not unruly and tangled
as they are today but the two boys could see that one swayed.
They found a body hanging from a branch; suicide.
I was never told who he was or why he struggled to loop a rope
from a high limb, or what pain he suffered, eighty years ago
that was greater than that of a hangman’s noose.
Forty years ago I could stand under the arches, shout at the echo.
Now access is denied by a neat, green and steel palisade.
I went to see them today, searching for the memory of that slim
bushy-bearded man that was me; now grey-bearded, plump.
I could only catch a shadow, see the viaduct through trees,
listen to the trains pass but not the rumble heard from under
the great and beautiful arches, brick-built over Maidens Brook,
to serve the Hertford loop, more than one hundred years ago.
© Anthony Fisher January 2019
New Southgate Cemetery is huge, 64 acres! We were first there for the funeral of a neighbour who was here when we first moved in and I miss her. She was Hindu and, though a sad occasion, I was interested in the nature of the service and the wake. We could see that the cemetery was an interesting mix of age and styles so planned to re-visit.
The sheer size is staggering. Here are a couple of images that give some idea of how it stretches into the distance.
The cemetery is roughly circular and laid out in sections for different groups. There is a map which shows this. One small area is Italian with a long mausoleum with crypts looking like drawers in a chest. I saw these near Sienna in Tuscany well over 5o years ago.
One section is beautifully overgrown.
It looks as if cowled monks are rising from their tombs,
and here an angel is weeping at the neglect and desolation.
Just a couple more:
and this is a section which must be Victorian graves when the cemetery was first opened In 1856 probably as a result of a series of the 19th century Acts governing burials.
On the way home we stopped in Winchmore Hill so I could photograph a tree laden with mistletoe. I can remember how amazed I was to see just one bunch; look at it now! The mistletoe website, see link, suggests that it is spreading as continental black caps are overwintering in England now and they are very efficient at spreading mistletoe seeds. Whatever the reason it is great to see.