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inclosure, of competent breadth for a mile in length, might have served for an universal cemetery to all the parishes, distinguished by the like separations, and with ample walks of trees—the walks adorned with monuments, inscriptions, and titles, apt for contemplation and memory of the defunct, and that wise and excellent law of the twelve tables * restored and renewed.”
Evelyn's provident suggestions have at length a fair prospect of being realised.
of being realised. The cemeteries, which are at present established in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, constitute by far its most useful ornaments, when viewed as a means of protecting the health of the living from the infection of the dead, by the removal of the latter to properly-adapted places of sepulture—and yet not separating the dead from the living. The beautiful places in which the departed may now be laid to their rest, associated as they are with the attractions of nature and art, have the effect, and that it is a salutary one will not be disputed, of inviting to their retired and shady scenes the bereaved and the meditative; and are thus rendered auxiliary to some of the best purposes of religious and social duty.
The cemeteries at Kensal Green and Highgate on the north and north-west—that of Norwood on the south-and the Westminster
* The law which prohibited bodies being burned or buried within the city.
Cemetery on the west side of London-afford ample proof, by the degree of patronage which they have received, of the increasing interest with which the subject of cemetery interment is viewed by the public in general, and the growing distaste for intra-mural burials. A determination has, I believe, been expressed by influential members of both Houses of Parliament, to introduce a general measure in prohibition of the old system, as soon as the cemetery projects now in operation shall have been made sufficiently extensive and properly adapted to meet the necessity.
It was until recently a matter both of surprise and of just complaint, that the city of London and its eastern suburbs should have been wholly unprovided with a large and ornamental cemetery—a quarter of the metropolis in which it was, perhaps, the most needed—if density of population, and overfilled churchyards and burial-grounds have any share in constituting such necessity.
The suburban churchyards also have become densely occupied. This has been occasioned in some measure by the disgusting and sickening scenes which are so often exhibited in the “city burial-places,” by the improving taste of the public mind seeking to commit the dust of kindred to the dust of earth, in quiet and ornamental cemeteries and by the almost universal practice of all classes of merchants, professional men, and superior tradesmen, keeping their domestic establishments in the suburbs of the metropolis.
Invalids and the aged also, are in the general habit of seeking the retirement and quiet of the country; and are seldom brought back to the town, even for burial, unless they have some family vault or mausoleum there, in which they might have wished to be interred.
All these causes co-operate to effect the partial discontinuance of town burials ; but one result is, that the poor, whose funereal arrangements are of course the most objectionable in a sanatory point of view, are left, like the tree, to lie where they fall, and it was for this immense mass of the population, (no less than for the higher classes,) who are prevented by the distance of the other cemeteries from having access to them, that some adequate provision was needed.
To satisfy this necessity, the Abney Park Cemetery was projected and established, and its general plan is best described in the opening sentence of the original prospectus issued at its formation: “ The object of this Company, is the establishment of a General Cemetery for the City of London and its eastern and north-eastern suburbs, which shall be open to all classes of the community and to all denominations of Christians without restraint in forms." The site has been dedicated to its future purposes with such solemn services as were considered appropriate ; and it will be faithfully preserved as a place of burial without desecration or change of purpose. It was, however, established as a principle, sine qua non, that every portion of this cemetery shall be accessi
ble to all parties, without distinction or preference, and that no invidious separating line, either open to view, or for reasons of policy concealed from it, shall be allowed to divide this peaceful abode of the dead.
In devoting a chapter to the description of the cemetery at Abney Park, it will be my purpose to enter rather minutely into such details as I trust will be found to contain matter of interest both for the general reader, and more particularly for those who are either the proprietors of, or have friends interred in, the cemetery
For the sake of arrangement, this chapter will be divided into the following heads :
1. The situation of Abney Park and its preeminent advantages as a place of interment.
2. Its historical associations and particular description.
3. The constitution of the Company and the solemn dedication of the Cemetery.
4. A detailed catalogue of the Arboretum.
SITUATION AND ADVANTAGES.
Abney Park occupies about thirty acres of land, in the pleasant suburban village of Stoke Newinton. The records of this village abound with interesting historical associations; and it has been honoured as the residence of many men eminent in history, and for learning and piety.
In ancient records the village is called Newton, or Neweton, or the New Town. The prefix of “ Stoke” was probably used by way of discrimination, and is, I believe, derived from the Saxon word, “ Stoc,” which signifies a wood. This appellation appears, by the records of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, to have belonged to it as early as the fifteenth century; and Newcourt states, that it was also called “Neweton Canonicorum," a by-name which it might have derived from the circumstance of its being part of the demesnes of the canons of St. Paul's Cathedral—and one of the prebends of that wealthy ecclesiastical body has, with the exception of an interval during the subversions of the Commonwealth, always possessed an interest in it. Amongst the eminent ecclesiastics who have held this valuable piece of church preferinent, may be mentioned William Dudley, Bishop of Durham, (in 1471,) Bishop Stillingfleet, (1672,) and Archbishop Tillotson.
Amongst the eminent lay proprietors by whom the manor has been held, may also be named Thomas Sutton, the founder of the Charter House, who enjoyed his interest in right of his wife, Ann, the widow of John Dudley, Esq., and after their deaths it passed, by the marriage of their daughter, Ann, into the family of Sir Francis Popham, whose son, Alexander, purchased the fee-simple of the manorial estate, when the church lands were sold in 1649. After the Restoration, it again reverted to the church, and the lease was purchased by Thomas Gunston, Esq., at the close of the seventeenth