It is impossible to understand nineteenth-century England without an appreciation of the Victorian attitude to death. In a sense, the nineteenth century celebrated death as a part of human experience in the same way that the twentieth century celebrated sex.
The most distinctive memorials to this fascinating aspect of Victorian culture are the great company cemeteries of the 1830s and 1840s, laid out at great expense in London and the major industrial cities, thickly populated with extravagant monuments, intended as a solution to an ecological crisis, and now themselves a significant environmental problem.
At last recognised as repositories not only of human remains but of some of the most evocative and moving examples of Victorian architecture, landscaping, statuary and other monumental art, the great necropoles of British cities document beliefs, attitudes and taste as well as lives.
This lecture covers the major provincial and London company-cemeteries of the early-Victorian period, and also includes a selection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century cemeteries in Europe, the United States and Australia.
It can be extended to two one-hour sessions to show a wider range of examples across the UK and the rest of the world.
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