Historian of Brookwood Cemetery
The Victorian Cemetery
by Sarah Rutherford
Published by Shire Publications, 2008
This booklet follows the usual Shire format providing a clear, concise outline of the Victorian Cemetery. Shire has revamped its house style and the booklets are now perfect bound with flat (if thin) spines, rather than the more spartan stapled spines used in the past. Its 64 pages are packed with no less than 114 illustrations (74 of which are in colour) and a wealth of information.
Sarah Rutherford is a Kew-
Given the limitations of the Shire format an incredible amount of information (and illustrations) has been incorporated at a very reasonable price. The author draws on a wide range of examples from across the British Isles. However the same format means that many of the illustrations, including some panoramic views, are squeezed onto the page; yet others are expanded to fill the page. The font size used is small, presumably to fit the text into the 64 pages. It seems odd that over two pages are devoted to the use of railways (when only two cemeteries actually used them); whilst cremation covers just half a page, even though five crematoria are mentioned. There may have been scope to comment on the differences between the landscape of the cemetery and that of the crematorium, both being contrasting approaches to the Victorian management of the disposal of the dead. A few mistakes have crept into the text, such as Woking Crematorium being erected in 1889 (it was 1879); and that Brookwood includes ‘striking avenues of great monkey puzzles’, presumably an oversight for wellingtonias.
Overall I enjoyed reading this booklet. It is attractively produced and priced, and should encourage more people to become interested in the richness and variety of our Victorian cemeteries.
Copyright © 2009 by John M. Clarke All Rights Reserved