The East section of the cemetery is very different- more modern and with many famous 'residents', such as Karl Marx, Elgar, George Elliot and so on, and open to visit and wander around.
There is a looming nationwide burial crisis as churchyards are filling up and many now are closed already. Our own churchyard at Stubbings is still open as is the 'new' section at Littlewick Green, but Hurley has been closed for some time now for burials. Ashes can be interred at all three sites.
It's lovely to have peaceful country churchyards to visit loved ones and they are places where people find time to reflect and remember.
There are of course churchyard regulations issued by the Diocese which have to be followed and these include eligibility to be buried there, details of types and size of memorials and wording so that all churchyards are places of peace and beauty and form an appropriate setting for the church.
I often like to wander around the churchyards and bring to mind the familiar names of the people I have buried there. They all live on in our memory and we are thankful that they were part of our parish community.
All burial grounds are special and should be cared for. Whether it is churches, local councils or larger organisations such as The Common wealth War Graves Commission, care and respect for the dead reflects a civilised society.
Enjoy the Autumn colours
FINAL RESTING PLACES by Rev Dilys
At home we have a list of visits we would like to make, compiled from articles in magazines, newspapers and the like. We're slowly working our way down the list but we keep adding to it so it never gets any shorter! They are all intentionally not too far from home, some easier to get to than others.
One that we have been meaning to do for some time now was the tour of Highgate Cemetery - the West section with guided visits only - which we managed to do a few weeks ago.
It's one of seven private garden cemeteries, built around London in the 1830-40s, to relieve the pressure of burials on the inner city church graveyards. There were outbreaks of cholera and typhoid which triggered the 'burial crisis'.
It was an absolutely fascinating place, with a wealth of social history hidden there amongst the stones. The funereal architecture has to be seen and ranges from simple graves to gothic monuments, underground catacombs, mausoleums and every thing in between. It is a haven for wildlife and ancient tree specimens.
It had become unprofitable in the 20th century and fell into decline until the charity, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust, rescued it from decay and ruin. Even today it still exudes an atmosphere of romantic decay.
My vivid imagination was in overdrive as I heard the bizarre story of relatives who would visit their loved ones and take tea with them in the underground mausoleums. Our visit was on a warm sunny day in August, but a wet late afternoon, in the fading light of a December day, might just be a different experience!