During the last few years
since I have been living in England, I have visited countless
graveyards adjoining to small, old parish churches, and through
the years, my fascination with the them grew steadily.
But what makes them so attractive to
Surely, there is one element
of character. Certain melancholic characters simply feel the same
spiritual waves in a graveyard.
For me these places are the gardens of peace, tiny islands left of the
centuries sometimes right in the middle of a busy, bustling part of the
city. It is also a living book of history, as the people, who are buried
in there, were the people of whom history consisted, they were the ones,
whose decisions, deeds and lives made up the big jigsaw called history.
Walking among these age-old
graves also makes us think what did they feel, what were their daily
joy, sorrows, hopes, desires which now all rest in that soil which Emily
Brontė described as soft and mild?1 How did a young mother
feel when her newborn baby died at some point in the 1750s, and how did
then the very father of this baby feel when he had to face the death of
her young wife in childbirth? We can think of all these when we
see an inscription like this on a fractured, long-forgotten grave:
"...Geo.Harvest died Aged 7 month
Geo.Harvest died March Aged
We think of their turbulent
days; turbulent, just like ours, (the only difference is the stage
decoration which has changed since then and is changing constantly) and
we feel that now those days are gone and all the animosity, all anger
has come to an end. People, who litigated between each other, or had
differences in opinions, now might sleep peacefully in an adjacent grave
to each other.
Yes, they do sleep, as the word cemetery originally comes from the Greek
word `koimeterion`, which means dormitory.
Yes, all these cemeteries are bigger or smaller dormitories
with people inside who has come to terms with this world, finding out
the final truth lying there with their body and soaring above with their
In this article I'm going to shortly introduce some
North London churchyards I have visited. Of course, it's only a
selection of them, and there are still many which I haven't set foot on.
I'm not going to provide much detail about the churches as buildings, as
we would be lost in details, and otherwise, all that information can be
found on the particular church's website or upon calling in to the
church. So join me in this journey where I'll lead you through
some culturally important churchyards which are at the same time
beautiful parts of our historic and cultural heritage.
In East Barnet, I have
visited St Mary the Virgin church on a nice April day, which has really
a country church feeling. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon, no one to
the end of my visit, even the sun came out and peeped through the
branches of the trees, right onto the fresh daffodils and to the dry
leaves left of last autumn, and I was very much tempted to sit around a
bit more on the bench, but life was demanding me back, so I left, but
this time again with a poem in my pocket.
The churchyard has quite many fine old 18th century
gravestones among the 19th and 20th century ones
and the church`s wall at one section is painted in a bit unusual white,
with a few tiny windows in the wall. It has a strange row of five,
long, identical gravestones next to each other which turned out to be
the graves of some vicars who served the church.