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Showing posts from October, 2018

Hallowe'en 2018: Remembering the Souls of Our Ancestors

Now the clocks have gone back and our evenings are darker earlier, the mood is set for Hallowe'en, which falls today on 31 October 2018
For the past few weeks, my local supermarket has been filled with ghoulish chocolates and plastic orange buckets, the nearby bakery has almond macaroon monster fingers, and tonight the streets will be filled with children (and adults) in spooky costumes. But behind the commercialisations and pranks, lies a serious tradition dating back centuries. Hallowe'en - or All Hallows' Even(ing) - held great meaning for many of our ancestors. Different regions had unique ways of counting the hours until the Christian feast of All Saints' Day (All Hallows or Hallowmas) on the 1st November.

The origins of the festival appear to be non-Christian, coming from the ancient Celtic night of Samhain. In common with other autumn festivals, Samhain celebrated the harvest and marked the beginning of the dark half of the year by lighting fires. The Celts belie…

Highgate Cemetery News

Modern burial ideas are drawing on experiences of the past

On 16 October 2018, the Chief Executive of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery's Dr Ian Dungavell was interviewed on BBC Radio London's Vanessa Feltz programme to discuss ideas to create more burial space. The programme discussed how to find room for future generations of Londoners while maintaining all that is special about the cemetery.

Surprisingly, this is not a new concept. Before the 19th century, particularly during the medieval period, social norms allowed for old graves to be exhumed in order that space would be freed for new burials. The remains were transferred to charnel houses (bone stores). Examples of these can be found across the country, such as in Spitalfields, London

The news was also reported in The Telegraph with a warning that there will be no space for full-sized graves (and thus coffin burials) by 2024. Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust have completed a consultation on plans to reclaim empty plots…