Though it might seem morbid to encourage people to visit cemeteries, a visit to some of London's old cemeteries is more than worth it for the daffodils, wildlife and peace.
The daffodils are out in full force in London right now (end of March) and you can't turn a corner without seeing a dazzling array of daffodils. I had a hard time narrowing down specific areas to feature, but after visiting a number of cemeteries (for walks, not for funerals!), I wanted to share how some of the 'dead centres of town' are also the 'daffodil centres of town.'
Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
When the cemeteries in the City of London were bursting at the seems, seven cemeteries, the 'Magnificent Seven,' were built from 1832-1841 to accommodate the dead. Tower Hamlets Cemetery was opened in 1841 and closed as a cemetery in 1966. There are over 350,000 graves over 27 acres and offers a woodland retreat to the local East End area.
I loved walking through the wooded paths, saying hi to the happy doggos galloping off leash and admiring the daffodils and summer snowflakes. The Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is a local charity that works to protect, preserve and care for the Cemetery Park. While usually offered in person, over lockdown they've been offering online gardening and foraging workshops. Their Instagram page has information about upcoming events. You can forage here, but you need to first apply for permission.
Bunfields Fields Cemetery Garden
Bunhill Fields is tucked down a side street near Old Street. It's a 4 acre plot of land that was used as a burial ground from 1665-1854 with around 123,000 internmnents having taken place here. I found another blog that has a great history of the grounds, including explaining the origin of the name 'Bunhill' - cartloads of bones from St Paul's were transported out of the city and dumped to form a literal hill of bones. Notable residents include William Blake, Daniel Defoe and the grandfather of JRR Tolkein.
If the macabre leaves you feeling a bit blue, the yellow daffodils should cheer you up. And if not, you are just around the corner from Tayer + Elementary, one of my two favourite bars in London, and #5 of the World's 50 Best Bars. Throughout lockdown they've been offering bottled versions of their singature cocktails and I've been seeing many a weekend in with them.
It was neat being in this little quiet pocket of daffodils and headstones surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Old Street.
St John's Wood Church Ground
The St John's Wood area is undeniably posh. Home of the famed Abbey Road Studio and Lord's Cricket Ground (widely referred to as the Home of Cricket), notable human residents also presently include Sir Paul McArtney and formerly included Rihanna. The Church Grounds are across the road from Lord's and is a disused graveyard that was turned into a public park in 1886. The Grounds include formal gardens, but the real gem is the wildlife area, which has a meadow and woodland, interspersed with gravestones.
The Church Grounds are just around the corner from the St John's Wood High Street, which is FULL of cute boutiques, shops, restaurants and cafes. The coffee from The Good Life Eatery is so high octane it makes my vision go a bit blurry. I love it. Panzer's Delicatessen is an independent food emporium stocking premium ingredients and take-away meals from around the world. The prices are a bit steep, but considering the quality, I'd say it's worth it.
During the day, the old cemeteries in and around London are lovely and peaceful places to visit at all times of year, not just spring. If you like what you see here, the other cemeteries that make up the 'Magnificent Seven,' include Highgate Cemetery (where Karl Marx is buried), Nunhead, Kensal Green, Brompton, West Norwood, and Abney Park and are all worth exploring.
Please tag me (@audsbitsnbobs) if you use this guide, I'd love to see your pictures!
The yellow flower icons indicate daffodil locations. For a full breakdown of all the icons, check out my first blog on The Best Spots for Blossoms, Blooms and Beverages in and Around London.