All towns contain cemeteries. These can vary in size from 1 to 50 ha and in age from the second quarter of the nineteenth century to modern. In general, the earlier a cemetery was established the better it is for wildlife today. The very best originated as private commercial ventures, and most cities have a ‘Victorian cemetery’ which falls into this category. In the last few years cemeteries have become a major source of interest to architects, social historians and latterly urban ecologists. One reason for their popularity undoubtedly lies in two books written by James Curl, The Victorian Celebration of Death (1972) and A Celebration of Death (1980). These vividly describe the history of cemetery design, the rarefied pleasures of funerary architecture and the strange melancholy of investigating old graveyards. Urgency is added to his revelations by the fact that many of the examples he describes are being deliberately destroyed in the interests of administrative convenience and current fashion. As a reaction to this official vandalism, increasing numbers are being surveyed by voluntary groups with a view to formulating management plans which safeguard their special features. One reason for this conflict of interests lies in the steep rise in crematoria burials which has taken place since 1940. Today, two-thirds of the population choose this method of disposal, so the traditional concept of burial grounds is of declining relevance, as crematoria increasingly get priority funding at the expense of traditional cemeteries.
KeywordsEvergreen Shrub Horse Chestnut Burial Ground Norway Maple Japanese Knotweed
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