Necropolis: London and Its Dead

Necropolis: London and Its Dead Necropolis Is A Luminous, Oddly Beguiling Account Of How London Has Treated Its Dead, Ranging From Roman Burial Rites To The Horrors Of The Plague, From The Founding Of The Great Victorian Cemeteries To The Recent Trends Of Collective Grief And The Cult Of Mourning, Such As That Surrounding The Death Of Princess Diana Leaving No Headstone Unturned, Catherine Arnold Unearths One Of The Great Untold Histories Of The Nation S Capitol Skillfully Blending History, Architecture, Archaeology, And Anecdote, She Also Explores Phenomena Like Bodysnatching, Public Executions, And The Rise Of The Undertaking Trade Ghoulishly Entertaining And Full Of Fascinating Nuggets Of Information, Necropolis Is Destined To Become A Classic Work On The City

Catharine Arnold read English at Cambridge and holds a further degree in psychology A journalist, academic and popular historian, Catharine s previous books include the novel Lost Time , winner of a Betty Trask award Her London trilogy for Simon Schuster comprises of Necropolis London and Its Dead , Bedlam London and Its Mad and City of Sin London and Its Vices.

[BOOKS] ✯ Necropolis: London and Its Dead By Catharine Arnold – Stockbag.info
  • Hardcover
  • 304 pages
  • Necropolis: London and Its Dead
  • Catharine Arnold
  • English
  • 18 September 2019

10 thoughts on “Necropolis: London and Its Dead

  1. says:

    If you like reading history with a slightly macabre touch, you should find this book to be absolutely fascinating.Here is a brief overview of burial customs through the centuries, from the mass graves hurriedly dug for plague victims to the rising social acceptance of cremation Several chapters are devoted to the Victorians who elevated mourning and bereavement to an art form Much like the lavish wedding industry that exists today, funerals were BIG business Stores like Jay s London General Mourning Warehouse sprang up to serve the needs of the grieving, and social ostracism awaited those who could not afford the required black wardrobe, horses, a carriage and at least fifteen black ostrich feathers.Remember the kerfluffle of a few years back about a mismanaged cemetery and crematorium Now, imagine if THIS went on today It emerged that bodies were burned behind a brick enclosure, and gravestones moved about to give the appearance of emptiness in certain parts of the ground Spa Fields was designed to hold 1,000 bodies Walker calculated that by burning coffins, mutilating remains, and using vast quantities of quicklime, at least 80,000 corpses had been buried there.Is it any wonder gravediggers needed to be inebriated to make it through a day s work In addition to risking death due to constant exposure to human remains in a state of putrefaction, there were others horrors to be experienced when attempting to bury too many bodies in one area, as one young gravedigger s story would attest One day I was trying the length of a grave to see if it was long and wide enough, and while I was there, the ground gave way and a body turned right over, and the two arms came and clasped me around the neck Shiver Want Google grave wax I dare you.Like Mary Roach, Arnold manages to keep a light touch when telling even the darkest tales There are splashes of humor, black though they may be, splattered throughout the book.And so, to keep things nice and cheery, I ll finish with the story of the panic that struck in 1664 when a comet appeared in the skies above London In addition to the usual prognostications of imminent doom, citizens were treated to the sight of radical dissenter Solomon Eagle who ran naked through the streets with a pan of burning charcoal on his head, warning Londoners to repent their wicked ways.If only YouTube had been around then

  2. says:

    Necropolis is surprisingly compelling and readable Most of it isn t at all dry or dull at times the names and dates blur into each other, but most of it is fascinating It covers traditions of burial and mourning from the pre Roman period to or less the present, especially as concerns London It s kind of amazing how we take relatively recent burial traditions for granted for my family, the plot of land bought years ago, the simple headstones, a flowerbed over the grave, and an expectation that all that will remain ours and as it is until long after we ve died ourselves We expect the cemetary to be green and peaceful, kept tidy and the grass mown Yet this sort of thing couldn t be expected even in the Victorian period.Anyway, a fascinating book quite light reading, which might seem odd given the subject matter, but that s how it is.

  3. says:

    So much phenomenal information on London and its dead Catharine Arnold s Necriopolis London and Its Dead is a beautifully researched book on burial practices in London beginning with The Celts The Romans both pagan religions The first line in this book is High above London stands one of the city s oldest burial grounds This sentence refers to The Bronze Age tumulus on Parliament Hill Fields which is over 4000 years older than the Victorian cemeteries 1800s that were developed such as Kensel Green and Highgate because of the mass overcrowding of churchyards, burial grounds, and city cemeteries which had become a health problem Then add the Plague Pits also found in London, officials and residents had to solve this huge problem Just imagine all the natural death that is a fact of life that took place in London during this 4000 year span along with invasions by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and the Vikings who ultimately lived in and around London while engaging in war with The Britons and each other which added to the death rate plus The Black Death which made repeated appearances that would wipe out villages completely accompanying the deaths occurring in London Where to place all these bodies The authoring does a very thorough job explaining burial practices, Victorian mourning which became quite a business, and advocates who hoped to put into practice a healthier and efficient burial procedure My problem concerns my copy which was published by Pocket Books in 2007 This fabulous amount of info is in such small print it truly limited my interest as I had to put it down so often What a shame 3.25 stars.

  4. says:

    I do not think I actually want to know how many of my reviews on here touch on the subject of the soul of place, of genius loci It s a fair few, and I doubt that number will be a static one And so it goes I have to wonder whether studying the spirit of a city like London, a city which has a distinct personality, one that has aged and matured like a person might, whether such a course might aid me in detecting the spirit of smaller places, towns and cities less venerable Maybe, maybe not This book definitely slots into my study of London and its history quite well It is a decent overview of how London has dealt with its deceased throughout it s long history It does open with prehistoric burials and quickly covers the Romans as well It does so briefly, but in enough depth to get an idea of their funerary practices The section on the medieval concept of death was well done, and I discovered an unfortunate gap in my knowledge in the process That gap would be the personification of Death as Doctor Machabre Now that is a good villain sobriquet I may use it From 1500 until the early 1800 s in fairly brief, as there were few changes, and most of what is covered is the history of the graveyards themselves Then we get to the meat of the book the Victorian Way of Death So many things were covered here, and so many tantalizing references that were not pursued Like the fact that there was a definite undercurrent of eroticism to portrayals of a woman in mourning Or the idea of the Good Death versus the Bad Death Finally there is a look at how World War One affected English funerary practices Quite an enjoyable book, I must say.

  5. says:

    A fascinating look at how London has dealt with its dead through the ages, taking us from the Pagans and Romans, through the Middle Ages and the Victorians, up until modern times, and taking in numerous plagues and epidemics, a few fires and two World Wars, the death of Lady Di and the London bombings, while moving from outside the city, into its heart and then back out again Informative, astonishing, gruesome and revealing, this book nearly managed to outdo my record of how many times I could turn to Nik with a Listen to this I think he was being bothered at least once a page although he d probably say it felt like He was trying to watch football, after all.Whether it be the charnel houses with their decorative skeletal chandeliers, the boisterous medieval graveyards and their town centre on a Saturday night atmosphere complete with heavy drinking, fighting and regular deaths , the putrescent Victorian burial yards that actually killed the living, the drunken gravediggers, the exploding coffins and the showers of remains, the embalmed wives on display in living rooms, or the brides making grave clothes for their potential future children, each page was bursting with jaw dropping and frequently stomach turning facts.Gladstone is quoted within Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead, and I will measure with mathematical exactness, the tender mercies of its people, their loyalty to high ideals, and their regard for the laws of the land In that case, Arnold shows us here that we don t have an awful lot to be proud of Also posted at Randomly Reading and Ranting

  6. says:

    Started off well but got very dry and boring after a while The cover says Catharine Arnold romps across the cemeteries but it s much of a trudge with an occasional trip over a grave to give a story about someone buried, but the actually interesting stories seem to be just hinted at and left behind The early sections were good, though so little of burials pre Roman times unfortunately, but once it hits the Victorian era she gets bogged down in details of who bought what cemetery and for how much and what they built and how much it cost and it just seems to get bogged down in dry facts I was hoping for as I loved her Underworld London.

  7. says:

    An interesting book that, although focusing on London, I found answered questions about British people s relationship with death and the disposal of bodies how that has changed and why it has needed to population growth, disease and war amongst things that have forced the method of perceiving death and disposing of bodies differently The book was a bit bottom heavy, detail about recent time compared with Roman times, but that is to be expected as there is far documented about the plague, the blitz than ancient times I found the whole book extremely interesting, learnt a lot and would be keen to read of this author s writings.

  8. says:

    Very well documented, nicely written, with relevant examples and black and white images Recommended.

  9. says:

    Reading Peter Ackroyd s London The Biography a few years ago, I was struck as Ackroyd intended by the idea of genius loci the soul of a place Every single person, every single building, every single atom of London has been replaced several times over and yet the places remain, the names remain, the ghosts remain Which is very much where Necropolis lives Dealing with both the logistics and the emotions surrounding death in a large city that has to make room for both living and dead, it s at once a very knowledgeable history of funereal practices in London as they mirror shifting attitudes towards life, death, mourning and remembrance, and an almost giddily morbid collection of anecdotes about all the different ways people die and stay dead from plagues and bombing campaigns wiping out thousands per day, to individual deaths and funerals If the minutiae of legal disputes over cemetery locations and investment schemes bore you, just flip a page and there ll be a story of Jeremy Bentham s head being used in a football match.The one real complaint I can think of is that at least going by the paperback edition there are a few too many occasions where Arnold goes on at length about the design of a particular memorial, or the image of an overflowing churchyard in the 18th century, where I find myself having to put the book down and google for illustrations I wish were in the book One of the points the book makes is that even long after they ve become wormfood, the dead make up an indelible part of the cultural and physical landscape actually showing that landscape wouldn t have hurt For the most part, though, Arnold is a good enough writer that I can imagine it myself, and I know what I ll be doing next time I m in London.

  10. says:

    Why does the tube make those weird turns between Knightsbridge and South Kensington Why do we wear the colour black for mourning Why was King James I not allowed to enter London for days after the death of Queen Elisabeth I Questions like these are answered in this entertaining and informative book, and the answers all have to do with funerals As a former gravedigger I have a professional interest in cemeteries, but I m generally interested in funerals.Also, since London has been my chosen home for many years I m obviously also interested in its history London is so big and so old that you re literally standing on historic ground wherever you are in the city Beginning with bronze age burial mounds, via medieaval mass graves for plague victims all the way to the state funeral for Lady Di this books tells the story of London s dead with many historical details and entertaining anecdotes.I recommend this to any Londoner interested in the history of their city.

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