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Kensal Green Cemetery

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John Coutts delves into the undergrowth of Victorian life and death in North London.

 Whilst a number of small cemeteries existed in London in the early part of the nineteenth century, it was not until 1832 that London's first 'modern' cemetery opened. Contrary to widely held belief this was not at Highgate, which opened five years later, but at Kensal Green, and it was twenty times bigger than anything that had previously existed in London.

Conditions in London's graveyards before 1832 (and for many years afterwards) were scandalous. Many had been in continuous use since the Middle Ages and overcrowding was endemic.


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