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The Rise of the Garden Cemetery in Victorian London

Scott, Heather Jane; (2021) The Rise of the Garden Cemetery in Victorian London. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Late eighteenth-century industrialisation and urbanisation forever changed the face of Britain’s burial-places, as the overcrowded sites of inhumation in industrial cities were no longer able to meet the demand for hygienic interment: the garden cemetery was born. It offered a solution to the sanitation problems of Britain’s swollen cities, and discouraged the prevalence of bodysnatching, creating a park-like leisure space. Other factors lay behind the rise of the garden cemetery: the rise of a new middle class, with greater discretionary financial resources than ever before; the unprecedented expansion of cities, and simultaneous rise of vast cemeteries, which may be considered necropolises; and a deeply entrenched pastoral tradition of dealing with death in a separate sphere—the natural world. In Paris, Père Lachaise Cemetery opened for burial in 1804. London followed suit between 1832 and 1841 with the development of its own garden cemeteries, which have become colloquially known as the ‘Magnificent Seven’ in the late twentieth century: Kensal Green, West Norwood, Highgate, Abney Park, Brompton, Nunhead, and Tower Hamlets. This thesis examines the ‘Magnificent Seven’ Victorian cemeteries in London and presents them in terms of their genesis, their cultural associations, and as texts. This investigative perspective considers Victorian epitaphs as a part of Victorian literature, thereby suggesting a relationship between headstone and literary texts. The thesis also explores the economic, political, and social concerns of the time. The garden cemetery is, in many ways, a reaction to industrialisation and a growing population. The creation of a natural space counteracts the forward movement of economic progress; however, the garden cemetery is both pastoral and modern, as the cemetery seeks to preserve a pastoral space even as large capitalist enterprises were called upon to manage them. The Victorians, today, dwell within the walls of these carefully constructed gardens of the dead.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Rise of the Garden Cemetery in Victorian London
Event: University College London
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of English Lang and Literature
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135230
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