The next churchyard I'm going to introduce briefly is St Mary's in Hendon. Hidden just in the midst of unimportant looking buildings, this little old church which I visited on a warm summer day has welcome me with bees humming about us all around.

  Behind the church, there is a little garden of remembrance where we can peacefully sit and listen to the singing of the birds, as I did on that day. One of the graves is in this churchyard (of Philip Roundel's) is said to be the model of Kingston churchyard in Bram Stoker's Dracula. One of the Arsenal managers (Herbert Chapman) is also buried in this graveyard.

 

 
  Our next stop is St John the Evangelist church in Stanmore, which is not just an old church with a graveyard (and a modern extension) but it is home of the finest ruin in Middlesex2, in the form of an old brick church, which served as the main church before this present building came into existence. The red brick church ruin dates back to 1632 and was closed after the opening of the new building in 1850, which followed the partial demolition of the brick church, including the roof and the south wall, though some parts were still used for burials. The building was Grade II listed in 1951, and later on English Heritage provided financial and professional support to save and maintain this old ruin. During the excavation works in the vaults, they discovered the coffin of George Hamilton Gordon, fourth Earl of Aberdeen, who was Prime Minister between 1852 and 1855.Many of the memorials from the old brick church were removed to the present building but there are still some tablets remaining in the brick church, which is open to the public between April and the end of September, every Saturday for four hours. When I was visiting the brick church during its opening hours, I was the only visitor. I remember quite well, it was a showery day with dark clouds and hard rains with some sun painting the whole scene more eerie I remember when I looked at the gravestones-some of which was from the beginning of the 17th century-I thought, how many things have changed since the person who rests under that grave lived at about 1609! Then the rain started again and I gazed out on the glassless windows of  the ruins, and the other gravestones (those of the churchyard) with the deep green grass, just freshly watered by the rain, really gave me a gothic-romantic impression.

  We also had a chance to have a look inside the tower, but just a look, as for safety reasons it is not allowed for anyone to climb those ladders. Well, I don't think that many of us would want to try with those steep steps. . .

  Outside on the wall of the brick church, there are a few white memorial plaques from the early 18th century onwards to a local family called Snoxell, which stones with their sheer whiteness attract the eyes from the distance.

  In the churchyard, adjoining the modern church building, is buried W. S. Gilbert, the famous 19th century English poet and librettist. His grave can be found near to the present church, in the form of a white angel.




Next page