Britain’s 6 coolest crypts and cemeteries

Saturday 31 October 2015

From a landscaped Victorian burial ground to a skull collection by the sea, dare to explore some of Britain’s crypts and cemeteries...

1. Cafe in the Crypt, London

Arnos Vale garden cemetery with trees, and sun rays illuminating graves. Café in the Crypt © Marc Gascoigne

 

This Georgian crypt at St Martin-In-the-Fields church, Trafalgar Square, is an unusual spot for a break in the capital. Tuck into an English Afternoon Tea with tomb stones beneath your feet and vaulted ceilings above. Or night owls might prefer jazz night, every Wednesday.

2. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh

Stone skull with two cross bones on either side on a tomb at Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scotland. Greyfriars Kirkyard, photo by Olivia Rutherford/REX Shutterstock

 

For the lowdown on the many grisly goings-on in and around Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, take a walking tour. Your guide will lead you around the church’s eerie graveyard where the ‘Mackenzie Poltergeist’ is said to lurk in the Black Mausoleum. Enter at your own risk – an alarming number of people have reported cuts, bruises, burns and even loss of consciousness after venturing in!

3. St Leonards Church Crypt, Kent

Shelves full of skulls at St Leonard's Church. © St Leonard's Church, Hythe

 

See the largest and best-preserved collection of human bones and skulls in Britain at this macabre crypt in Kent, about 2 hours south east of London. It houses the remains of around 2,000 people who are thought to have died sometime in the 13th century. No one is sure why, with explanations suggesting they are bludgeoned soldiers from the Battle of Hastings or victims of the Black Death. More likely, they were locals who died of natural causes.

4. Abney Park, Stoke Newington, London

Grave stones in beautiful woodland, Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington. Abney Park Cemetery, photo by Barry Phillips/Evening Stand/REX Shutterstock

 

The photogenic spot, which dates back to 1840, even offers an open stunt grave for burial scenes. Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ video was filmed here.

5. Golders Green Crematorium and Mausoleum, London

Bram Stoker's urn at Golders Green Crematorium, London. © Dadamax, Creative Commons.

 

This crematorium, with its Italianate gardens, ponds and crocus lawn, was a pioneer of crematoriums - opened in 1901. At Halloween, however, it is most noted as the final resting place of Dracula creator Bram Stoker.

6. Arnos Vale, Bristol

Arnos Vale garden cemetery with trees, and sun rays illuminating graves. © Arnos Vale Cemetery

 

This Arcadian ‘garden cemetery’ was built in 1839 to accommodate the excess from Bristol’s burgeoning cemeteries, heralding in the era of the ‘good death’. Before this, due to cholera outbreaks and the fact cremation was not yet practised, bones and other nasties would protrude and seep from the earth as the dead were crammed on top of each other. The tranquil burial ground now hosts events to help bring the Victorian’s elaborate burial rituals to life, from twilight walks to atmospheric theatre tours and horror film screenings.

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