Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
The monuments and gasometers of Kensal Green
Of all the London cemeteries, Kensal Green, in Paddington, is, I think, the most mel-
ancholy. A visit, therefore, is essential to those in search of the more unusual nuances
of London. The cemetery was opened in 1833, a product of the movement in favour of
something less grotesque and more hygienic than the old churchyards. These churchyards
were fat with over-burying, and were the haunt of resurrection men - hence the building of
Watch Houses, as at Rotherhithe. Kensal Green is approached by a kind of triumphal arch,
and gains a fantastic, extra-depressing quality by the gasworks in the background. When
I went there to make a drawing, a wrestling poster on a near-by wall announced a certain
'Doctor Death' (a hooded figure like a member of the Ku Klux Klan) 'undefeated in a
hundred contests'. From the acres of filled-up ground, it is evident that another and more
frightening Doctor Death has been undefeated for a much greater number of contests …
It is a sort of Père Lachaise, a necropolis where the noise of the railway and the gasworks
drowns the song of the birds who hop about the obelisks and mausolea. There are areas
of rank grass surrounding graves which remain untended as the families have died out,
and old tombs of white stone and pink marble. There is the vast Gothic mausoleum of the
Molyneux family, 1866, all marble and carving and most depressing. Here lies Sir William
Casement under a canopied tomb, supported by turbaned figures, all in a Greco-Egyptian
style; ferns grow out of the cracks, and the chains surrounding the tomb are rusting away.
Not far from him is William Mulready, the early Victorian painter, and John Philip, an-
other Royal Academician. Among the tombs of Kensal Green can be traced the decay of
Search WWH ::

Custom Search