Moving away from this picturesque church, our next destination is St. Andrew's, in Totteridge. Apart from the fact, that it is a pretty, small graveyard, it has a very old yew tree, which makes it more remarkable. Yew trees are not rare in English churchyards as they symbolize eternal life (partly due to their long life-span), but this one is said to be between a thousand and two thousand years old (closer to two millennia, according to the scientists). Standing next to it, we can't help ourselves thinking that this tree was already here when London was only a small city, or even before Londinium even existed, when many nations haven't even settled to their current locations in Europe. This tree has seen hundreds of seasons changing, has seen medieval women and men in their only clean clothes going to the church which existed in the place of the present building, has seen many mourning parents burying their newborn babies when nature has taken its toll, it has seen ladies in exquisite baroque dresses listening to the words of the preacher and then has seen falling bombs and whizzing aeroplanes up until the moment we are standing next to it. And the tree just absorbs our presence and adds us to its story to tell for the later generations...

It is said that in 1722, a baby, Henry Totteridge (named after the place of discovery) was left under this old yew. He could well have been named Henry Yew. . .

The church has some connections with the Pepys family (through the famous diarist, Samuel Pepys'  great-great uncle) and one governor of the Bank of England is also buried in the church.  

  Leaving Totteridge, the next location will take us to Northeast London, along the Central line.

  Here I'm going to introduce briefly three churchyards, namely All Saints Chingford Mount, St Mary`s Chigwell and St John the Evangelist at Leytonstone.

  I've found out about the existence of the Chingford Mount old church on one of my summer daytrip, as originally I was planning to visit Queen Elizabeth`s Hunting Lodge near Chingford and Chigwell church. It was a hot August day, and I climbed uphill but this tiny island of peace was worth it. The lawn was less green and rather burnt brown from the strong sun but under a short and Mediterranean-looking tree I found a bit of a rest. It has a small, so called Rose garden of remembrance, surrounded by the silent old graves. The church was closed, and the whole place had a sort of timeless feeling, up on this mount, nobody really paying any attention to this graveyard and to me, wandering in it, thus keeping it a perfect place for meditation.

Then, on the same day I visited St Mary's church in Chigwell which is just a 10 minute walk from Chigwell Tube station. It is also a pretty little country-feeling church but the main reason I mention it because Charles Dickens described it as the “finest place in the world”. He liked also spending time in the pub opposite the church called “Ye Olde King's Head”.

Right around the church are the oldest gravestones, a bit further a more modern extension and further away a third, much larger extension which has the contemporary burials.



My third and for the time being last churchyard in the North-east area is St John the Evangelist in Leytonstone.

  I discovered this church also by chance, as I saw its tall tower from the Underground, so I got off the train to see it with my eyes.

  It has a wide open area, where once the graves stood, but, as a bomb hit it in the Second World War, many of the graves have been destroyed and the field cleared up. But it's still a pleasant place to walk around, especially because it is a wildlife conservation area. Standing in the middle of the churchyard, we can almost imagine what it might have looked like, when the bomb fell, disturbing the eternal sleep of many of the graveyard's inhabitants...  

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