Grave matters

Historian article

By Diana Laffin, published 4th December 2020

What the landscape and architecture of Britain’s largest cemetery might tell us about Victorian values

Diana Laffin considers what study of the styles, planning and planting of Brookwood cemetery reveals about nineteenth century mindsets.

Graves are serious sources for historians. There is nothing casual about the choices made at death: the size and design of the monument, the text on the stone, even the location of the grave plot. These stone monuments powerfully reflect the values of those who commissioned them. Victorian cemeteries with their chapels, layout and planting were also meticulously planned. Cemetery designers were ambitious in their aims. J. C. Loudon, the leading British exponent of the garden cemetery movement, stated...

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