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The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

21st September 2017

As Halloween approaches, soak up the spooky atmosphere of a cemetery.

The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

21st September 2017

The Green Parent

By The Green Parent

21st September 2017

Britain’s burial grounds range from Anglo-Saxon burial mounds and ivy-twined gothic graveyards to modern, green parks, more like nature reserves. They’re a fun-but-thought-provoking free day out for families, so it’s worth having a quiet talk with boisterous kids beforehand to discuss behaving in a respectful manner around graves.

1 TOWER HAMLETS CEMETERY PARK (pictured)
Created as one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ London cemeteries built for a growing metropolis, Tower Hamlets Cemetery was closed to burials in 1966, and became a designated park. The other six cemeteries around the capital are also fantastic days out, but this is a lesser known gem, and one of our particular favourites. Not only are there gloriously gothic tombstones to explore, and elaborate carvings to uncover, but it’s home to a thriving nature reserve. Most of the reserve is woodland, but there’s a smattering of meadows and wildlife ponds stuffed with frogs, butterflies, birds, newts and bees. There are regular events held at the park, including a Saturday morning kids wildlife club, forest school, and guided walks. It’s a real sanctuary in the urban sprawl, a place to breathe fresh air in the city, and connect with nature. fothcp.org

2 SUN RISING
Nudging the edge of the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sun Rising Burial ground is a thoroughly modern, environmentally-sound burial ground. As well as a wonderfully green place to end up six feet under, it’s an inspiring place to visit while you’re still able to enjoy its meadows and trees. Take a picnic and wander its pathways, pick blackberries, or just enjoy the peace and tranquility. There are regular events dotted through the year - help out with tree planting, go on a nature watch or listen to carols in December. sunrisingburialground.co.uk

3 ST MARY’S CEMETERY, WHITBY
One of the most dramatic graveyards in the UK, St Mary’s Cemetery lies in the shadow of the ruined Whitby Abbey, high on a cliff above the town made famous by Bram Stoker in Dracula. Stoker used the churchyard as a setting in the book, ‘It seemed to me as though something dark stood behind the seat where the white figure shone, and bent over it. What it was, whether man or beast, I could not tell.’ More recently, cliff erosion has meant that bones interred in the ground have been exposed and had to be reburied. All good, ghoulish stuff that will thrill and chill in the lead up to Halloween. See if you can find the nursery rhyme tombstones that include an egg-shaped gravestone for Humpty Dumpty. Afterwards, go for fish and chips at one of the many fantastic fryers in town (Robertson’s fry in vegetable oil rather than beef dripping). whitbymuseum.org.uk/whist/mary.htm

4 GREYFRIARS KIRKYARD
Get genuinely spooked at this Edinburgh burial ground that’s steeped in history. Not only was it a haunt of grave robbers, but it’s the final resting place of Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful dog who slept on the final resting place of his owner John Gray for 13 years – visit the kirk’s museum to find out the real story behind the man and his dog and to view the classic oil painting of the hound by John MacLeod. Back in the yard, there’s also the grave of George ‘Bloody’ Mackenzie, long associated with ghost stories and tales of poltergeists – if you take one of the regular ghost tours that roam the cemetery you may even get to enter his domed mausoleum. Harry Potter fans will get excited by the tomb of Thomas Riddell, a name borrowed by J.K. Rowling for the birth name (Tom Riddle) of Lord Voldemort. Soak up enough of the history floating around the place and, who knows, perhaps one of your little ones might be inspired to write their own book! greyfriarskirk.com

5 GLASGOW NECROPOLIS
Who wouldn’t want to visit somewhere called a ‘Necropolis’? Laid out as an informal park, and studded with 3,500 monuments, many of them dramatic and gothic, this cemetery is soaked in history and wonderful to explore. Look for the tomb of actor-manager John Henry Alexander of the Theatre Royal, complete with a stage and ‘Comedy’ and ‘Tragedy’ masks. Or the huge, octagonal mausoleum dedicated to Major Archibald Monteath. On a grey day, the pointed graves make an eerie foreground to the views across the city, great for sparking imaginative play and inspiring chilling ghost stories before bedtime. glasgownecropolis.org

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