Janine Marriott 2018

Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust/University of Hertfordshire

A Victorian cemetery as a visitor space

Cemeteries and graveyards traditionally had one main role, however during the last 40 years many have evolved from burial space to visitor space. It is now possible to watch a film, view art, take a tour or watch theatre in a place of the dead. How and why did this transition occur? Is the presence of the human remains part of the draw to these sites, or a hinderance to their new uses? Drawing from experiences working in heritage sites and current doctoral research this presentation will share one case study that shows how the change can take place. Arnos Vale Cemetery is the first Garden Cemetery in the South West and was built in 1839. It is the last resting place of over 200,000 people, a listed landscape, a Site of Conservation Interest (SCI) and continues to be a working cemetery. Over the last 10 years, it has developed into a heritage site by offering a range of interpretation and public programming. Much of the interpretation at Arnos Vale is based around the stories of the lives of those remembered there but the public programmes also allow for challenging and sensitive issues to be examined. This paper seeks to explore the tensions between the visitors using the site for remembrance, tourists on a day trip, and local residents using the green spaces for leisure and local history.


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