The Victorian Cemetery
By Sarah Rutherford
(Shire, Paperback, 9780747807018, 64pp.)
Publication Date: May 19, 2009
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The Victorian period has been described as the 'Great Age of Death'. The customs of death, notably burial and mourning, were taken very seriously and elaborate rituals of commemoration were part of everyone's lives. As demand grew for hygienic and dignified burial places, the humble parish graveyard - unable to cope - was joined by a newcomer to the landscape, the garden cemetery. Sarah Rutherford tells the story of Victorian cemeteries in their many guises, of the variation in their size, design, planting and monuments, and how most of them survive to this day. Some, having been neglected, taking on a gloomy Gothic character, while others remain an oasis of rest and contemplation. All are tangible reminders of the Victorian approach to death, and the author helps to remind us of the importance of their visual and architectural qualities.
Sarah Rutherford is a Kew-trained gardener with an MA in the conservation of historic parks and gardens from York University. She worked for English Heritage assessing sites across England for the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, becoming Head of the Register. During this time she researched and completed her doctoral thesis on the landscapes of nineteenth-century lunatic asylums. She is now an enthusiastic freelance consultant researching and writing conservation plans for parks and gardens. She lives in Buckinghamshire.