Josephine Wall 2014

University of Birmingham, UK

Death rites of the rich and famous: exploring the effect of influential burials on garden cemetery development between 1800-1915, initial findings and research avenues

My undergraduate dissertation focused on the use of landscape and monuments in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, between 1804 and 1915. It also examined the effect that monuments to significant or famous individuals had on cemetery development. My PhD thesis aims to build on this work by comparing the patterns seen at Père Lachaise to British garden cemeteries. The principal case studies for this comparative analysis are Highgate Cemetery (London), Glasgow Necropolis, Cathays Cemetery (Cardiff) and Key Hill Cemetery (Birmingham). This paper will review my findings at Père Lachaise and suggest ways in which the fieldwork there could be expanded upon and improved for the future. It details some of my attempts to do so during the recording I have so far undertaken for my PhD. I am an archaeologist by training and so much of my approach is based upon traditional landscape archaeology, applying methods more typically associated with pre-historic sacred landscapes to these 19th century ones. However, this paper also explores how an inter-disciplinary approach can be valuable to this project, and suggests some avenues for interpretation and analysis. My thesis is at an early stage but this paper hopes to show the how interesting and beneficial I hope this research will prove to be to our understanding of garden cemeteries.


The Cemetery Research Group runs two events a year: in May and in November. Follow the links and send in an abstract