Hidden inside some London cemeteries there are some of the most splendid coffins of the Noble Victorian society, witnesses of a certain morbid aesthetic that used to be very much in fashion at that time.

After all, in a historical period where the gap between social classes was so deep and the suffering of the weaker so marked, the elite was meant to underline such differences by showing off their favoured position even in death.

Below: the coffins kept in the Brompton Cemetery

The over ostentation of such discrepancies between worthy and non-worthy people was showcased in those sumptuous funerals, exaggerated monuments, elegant and luxurious coffins, all with the same goal of being admired by the visitors. Many coffins were made out of refined wood, brass nails, suede or velvet lining and used to have inlay works, decoration and precious stones too.

Their value of these objects was so high to decide to introduce an entrance fee, action which provoked a decrease of visits even from the relatives of the deceased ones, who then started to neglect their remains.

The trend of rich burials terminated with the end of the Victorian period. With the arrival of the 20th century a new era of decay for the tombs began. They were now left to themselves and very often victims of acts of vandalism.

Many coffins of the Victorian nobility can still be found to the catacombs of those called the “Magnificent Seven Cemeteries”, the ones based in London built between the 1832 and the 1842 in order to resolve the urban crowding of the parish graveyards: Kensal Green, West Norwood, Highgate, Abney Park, Nunhead, Brompton e Tower Hamlets.

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Rachele Goracci

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