ABSTRACT

This chapter is concerned with early Victorian attitudes towards burial practice. I have primarily used two early Victorian examples, which, in their own way, exemplify a paradox in the Victorian approach to death. Both Highgate Cemetery (1839) in north London and the Necropolis Railway and Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey (1852) were, in part, introduced to relieve the chronic and insanitary conditions of the churchyards and cemeteries in London. Within this chapter, I wish to explore the way in which attitudes towards bourgeois and commoner burial practice were applied at Highgate and Brookwood cemeteries. Although serving similar needs, both cemeteries appear to represent particular strands within Victorian society.They also reveal a contradiction in terms of how the dead are disposed of and how they were represented in the after-life, especially through the role of iconography and the way the deceased were treated.This chapter will also outline the cultural and secular influences of the day, as well as discussing the social, economic and political constraints which would have controlled and manipulated burial practice during this brief period in Victorian history.