Walks in North London churchyards  
Sophie Marton

During the last few years since I have been living in England, I have visited countless  graveyards adjoining to small, old parish churches, and through the years, my fascination with the them grew steadily.
But what makes them so attractive to certain people?

  Surely, there is one element of character. Certain melancholic characters simply feel the same spiritual waves in a graveyard.
For me these places are the gardens of peace, tiny islands left of the centuries sometimes right in the middle of a busy, bustling part of the city. It is also a living book of history, as the people, who are buried in there, were the people of whom history consisted, they were the ones, whose decisions, deeds and lives made up the big jigsaw called history.  

  Walking among these age-old graves also makes us think what did they feel, what were their daily joy, sorrows, hopes, desires which now all rest in that soil which Emily Brontė described as soft and mild?1 How did a young mother feel when her newborn baby died at some point in the 1750s, and how did then the very father of this baby feel when he had to face the death of her young wife in childbirth?  We can think of all these when we see an inscription like this on a fractured, long-forgotten grave:

                                   "...Geo.Harvest died Aged 7 month
                                     Geo.Harvest died March Aged 12 month" 

  We think of their turbulent days; turbulent, just like ours, (the only difference is the stage decoration which has changed since then and is changing constantly) and we feel that now those days are gone and all the animosity, all anger has come to an end. People, who litigated between each other, or had differences in opinions, now might sleep peacefully in an adjacent grave to each other.
   Yes, they do sleep, as the word cemetery originally comes from the Greek word `koimeterion`, which means dormitory.
   Yes, all these cemeteries are bigger or smaller dormitories with people inside who has come to terms with this world, finding out the final truth lying there with their body and soaring above with their spirits.

    In this article I'm going to shortly introduce some North London churchyards I have visited. Of course, it's only a selection of them, and there are still many which I haven't set foot on. I'm not going to provide much detail about the churches as buildings, as we would be lost in details, and otherwise, all that information can be found on the particular church's website or upon calling in to the church.  So join me in this journey where I'll lead you through some culturally important churchyards which are at the same time beautiful parts of our historic and cultural heritage.  

In East Barnet, I have visited St Mary the Virgin church on a nice April day, which has really a country church feeling. It was a quiet Saturday afternoon, no one to be seen.
The churchyard has quite many fine old 18th century gravestones among the 19th and 20th century ones and the church`s wall at one section is painted in a bit unusual white, with a few tiny windows in the wall.  It has a strange row of five, long, identical gravestones next to each other which turned out to be the graves of some vicars who served the church.

At the end of my visit, even the sun came out and peeped through the branches of the trees, right onto the fresh daffodils and to the dry leaves left of last autumn, and I was very much tempted to sit around a bit more on the bench, but life was demanding me back, so I left, but this time again with a poem in my pocket.

 

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