Historian of Brookwood Cemetery
This page posts news and comments about my continuing research into Brookwood Cemetery and related topics.
90 Years of the Oakwood Press (March)
Woking Asian Business Forum has arranged a Zoom-
The seminar will provide an introduction to cemetery research, with emphasis on Victorian cemeteries, the early history and development of Brookwood Cemetery, and the particular role of minority burial grounds in contemporary cemetery landscapes.
Speakers will include:
Julie Rugg, leader of the Cemetery Research Group, University of York.
John Clarke, foremost authority on Brookwood Cemetery, and author of ‘London’s Necropolis: A guide to Brookwood Cemetery’. (Please note my presentation has since been added to The Brookwood Cemetery Society website.)
Avril Madderel, Reading University, leader of research project on ‘Deathscapes and diversity: Making space for death and remembrance in multicultural England and Wales’.
Susan Buckham, Kirkyard Consulting, specialist in the interpretation of cemetery landscapes
When: The seminar will take place on Saturday 23rd January 2021, 11:00-
Woking Borough Council has announced that Brookwood Cemetery has received a grant from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help meet the cost of ongoing repairs during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The fund -
Brookwood Cemetery has received £25,000 (the maximum grant) towards the ongoing restoration of the Columbarium. The full press release can be read here and you can read more on the restoration project here.
However it is disappointing that the Council alleges the Columbarium was “blocked up and closed off to the public” and fails to acknowledge the emergency restoration work to the roof undertaken by The Brookwood Cemetery Society in 2009. This was undertaken in collaboration with former owners of the cemetery who arranged the first of several security gates to be installed at the entrance, thus revealing the doorway for the first time in many years. These gates are still in place at the entrance. Further details of the Society’s restoration project can be read here.
90 Years of the Oakwood Press
Oakwood Press is celebrating an astonishing 90 years of specialist transport publishing. It remains the oldest publisher of its type still in business.
My first book was published by Roger Kidner, Oakwood’s founder and owner, just before he retired in 1984. The firm was sold to Jane Kennedy (ex-
I am fortunate indeed to have worked with all three owners. Happy 90th!
Coffins by Corpse Van
My article on corpse vans has recently been published in the April 2021 issue of Backtrack.
The article describes and illustrates a number of hearse vans used on Britain’s railway system.
It is good to see the fully repaired and restored monument over the St Magnus the Martyr plot at Brookwood. The human remains were removed on sanitary grounds to Brookwood in 1893-
All credit to the church and Skillingtons for undertaking this work.
The photograph is courtesy of Michael Cooper, Parish Clerk.
80 years ago tonight (16-
40 years ago (April 1981) my first substantial article on this railway funeral service appeared in the pages of "The South Western Circular", starting with the sentence, "1981 marks the fortieth anniversary of the cessation of traffic on the Necropolis branch."
The article in "The South Western Circular" was followed by my dissertation on the origins of Brookwood Cemetery (1982) and the first edition of what has become the standard history of this unique railway service (1983).
Just published (May 2021)
by Brian Parsons
Price £12 (paperback), including UK postage
94pp. with nearly 190 illustrations
Only available via www.brianparsons.org.uk
You can read my book review here.
I was fortunate to be invited to the official unveiling of the fully restored authentic replica bust & wreath on the memorial to Charles Bradlaugh in the North Cemetery. This project was jointly supported by the National Secular Society, the Brookwood Cemetery Society and Brookwood Cemetery. We owe them a great debt for making sure this iconoclastic Victorian politician’s grave was restored so magnificently. It should be admired and appreciated for years to come -