Victorian Arcadia: An Evening Lecture on the Victorian Garden Cemetery by Abney Park Trust


Sat 11 November 2017

19:00 – 20:30 GMT


Victorian mourning practices are famous for their dark beauty: elaborate mourning costumes, plumed horses drawing lacquered funerary carriages, and countless mourning ephemera housed in museums and private collections. However, one of the most enduring and culturally important aspects of Victorian mourning ritual was the creation of the garden cemetery.

These cemeteries were inspired by visions of Arcadia: “The tomb in the garden was a place where the living could weep moderate tears, recall the dead to mind, reflect, remember, and keep the departed ‘alive’ in some way in thought and spirit.” (Stevens Curl) Removing grief from the putrefying churchyards in the heart of London, to the beautiful outlying gardens of the ‘Magnificent Seven’, transformed the way Victorian Londoners interacted with their spaces of mourning.

For this evening lecture, we invite you to join cemetery historian Romany Reagan in the chapel to enjoy some complimentary mulled wine, hear updates on the HLF-funded Abney Unearthed project, and learn about Victorian mourning practices through the history and social importance of the garden cemetery in Victorian culture.

Guests are invited to arrive at 7pm in the chapel to view the Abney Unearthed project boards, and find a seat for a prompt 7:30pm start.

Note: The chapel is a partially rennovated structure. Please dress for comfort and warm yourself with mulled wine!

Romany Reagan is a final-year PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her thesis centres around the layers of meaning that coexist within a cemetery space. By way of an audio walking practice, artistic interpretations of outdoor archive, nonhuman networks, and mourning practices are explored in Abney Park cemetery. Areas of research encompass: psychogeography, mourning practices, ‘The Good Death’, anachronistic space, heterotopias, gothic sensibility, liminal spaces, the uncanny, and the Victorian ‘Cult of the Dead’. Her walk ‘Crossing Paths/Different Worlds in Abney Park Cemetery’ was published in Ways to Wander (Triarchy Press, 2015) Website: Twitter: @msromany; @abneyrambles

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