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Dark Destiny - London's Magnificent Seven

London's Magnificent Seven

In the 1800's the lack of burial space in Britain's Churchyards was reaching crisis point. Grave digger's would dig up partially decomposed corpses to make room for new interments.
 
The rich of the times would strive to be buried either in the church itself or in brick lined graves in the churchyard which would offer some security against being disturbed.
 
Evidence of this dire situation can still be seen today in the way that many churches appear to be sitting in a ground depression, but in reality it's the level of the surrounding graveyard that has risen due to the vast number of burials.
 
Thankfully in 1832 Parliament passed a bill encouraging the establishment of seven private cemeteries in a ring around outer London. The 'new' cemeteries were built to accommodate the growth of London and alleviate the scandal of overcrowded graveyards in the city.
 
The Magnificent Seven (Kensal Green, Highgate, West Norwood, Abney Park, Nunhead, Tower Hamlets and Brompton) appealed to the newly emerging middle class, keen to distance itself from the working class and to present to the public it's social status.
 
Graves were seen as a public extension to the family's property, and cemeteries provided a place for families to establish permanent monuments to themselves.
 
Today all of London's magnificent seven survive despite the grave robbers, vandals, world war two bombs and years of neglect. Many of them have "Friend" organizations who are dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the Chapels, Catacombs, Mausoleums and Monuments and even offer guided tours around the graves of the rich and famous as well as a wander around the deep dark depths of the catacombs.

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The Rolling English Road

Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.

His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.

My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

GK Chesterton