Surprising things you see on a walk #2: a graveyard

Published 8 March 2015

Overgrown graves at Old Barnes Cemetery

So it’s “surprising things you see on a walk” month, for no particular reason other than that it allows me to use up a collection of rather random photographs, in this feature.

This week, it’s gravestones!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that what’s unexpected about gravestones? Lots of walks go via churches, or through church yards. But they’re obvious.

But what if you weren’t expecting to come across a cemetery? Like, because the cemetery has been closed for decades and mostly forgotten about?

There’s one such place on a London trail called the Beverley Brook Walk; an eight mile trail which follows a tributary of the Thames called the Beverley Brook. And as it gets close to the Thames, the trail passes by Barnes Old Cemetery.

The cemetery was first established in 1854, and in 1966 was purchased by the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames. Initially the council had plans to renovate the area and keep using it. As part of their plans the chapel and lodge were demolished, and the boundary railings removed. But the plans never came to fruition and the place has been effectively abandoned ever since.

The place is now hopelessly overgrown, and unmarked. The Beverley Brook Walk passes by it but from the path you can just see brambles, unless you have sharp eyes and wonder why there’s a statue standing there, overgrown with hawthorn.

Wandering through it is a curious feeling. Indeed if you ever want to know what London would be like if it was abandoned and nature left to take hold, this will give you a great idea. One thing is for sure. It’s not the average thing you see whilst out hiking.

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