Posts Tagged ‘Necropolis’

It is known as The Necropolis, located close to Lidcombe Station in Sydney, Australia. Around a million souls are at rest in the Victorian Cemetery and ‘Friends of Rookwood Inc’ campaign to raise the awareness of its cultural significance and to ensure its preservation.

1st January 1868 the non-denominational burial ground was opened. By the end of the 1890’s they had buildings including a chapel and cottages for employees. The garden cemetery was a popular place for Victorian’s as a visiting spot and it was in it’s height a major employee for the area.

One of the most famous graves is that of Harry Houdini, the magician. It is also the burial place of one of the more infamous Davenport Brothers and they are said to haunt the cemetery. They toured the world and displayed ‘Spirit Phenomena’s’. One of the brothers died 1st July 1877 when they were on tour in Australia and he was buried there.

Houdini visited it in 1910 to find it somewhat neglected, he and two magicians placed flowers there and Houdini paid for the stonework to be repaired. The surviving brother was so moved by the kindness he revealed the secret of their trick (although it seems quite viable this was already known to a fair few).

Rookwood’s haunted reputation probably stems from the sheer fact that it is a cemetery. There are victims of wars, sickness and those who were stillborn all located there. As far as cemeteries go it seems a fair example of those from the time and worth a visit for it’s historical value alone.

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The Hypogeum of Paolo, Malta is a subterranean structure from 3000-2500 BC. It may originally have been a sanctuary but became a necropolis and the remains of some 7,000 and more individuals have been found.

In 1980 the World Heritage List was updated to contain the Hypogeum, after restoration in the 1990’s the site has since re-opened and allows for entry for 60 people a day.

The structure was discovered in 1902 by accident when building workers broke through into the roof of the complex.

If you want to go and see this piece of history when you are in the area it is suggested that you book your tickets well in advance.

Photo_Ellis_Hal_Salflieni
Photo Ellis Hal Salflieni” by Richard Ellis décédé en 1924 – domaine public. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Dead Drunk

“Spirits served here” was the message above the cemetery stations of the London Necropolis Company (LNC), the sign was to show the mourners that they could have alcoholic beverages. I’d suggest it was also a good bit of comedy for permanent residents of Brookwood.

Drunken behaviour was reported but not specific to the stations, on one occasion in the 1850’s a caretaker refused to allow two mourners to board as they were too intoxicated. On another a ticket collector found a group of passengers were so drunk they were dancing around their carriage on the return journey.

12th January 1867 a Necropolis train driver had a liquid lunch at the local whilst waiting and when he returned was clearly incapable of driving. The fireman took over until they reached Waterloo and the driver was handed his notice.

The company said that they would supply all future train crews with a ploughman’s and beer for lunch. I think that’s a lunch many of us could agree too.

Other London funeral Trains

There were rival trains that ran between King’s Cross and the Great Northern Cemetery at New Southgate, started in 1861 that carried on for at least six years. The service ran from Rufford Street, N1 which is not demolished. It had the advantage of being only a fifteen minute journey.

Just like the LNC the King’s Cross terminus had it’s own mortuary facilities. The funeral trains there ended some time between the years of 1867 – 1873. The station at the cemetery end was then demolished In 1904.

South Station Chapel

The station chapel has been carefully restored by St Edward Brotherhood, who are an orthodox order of monks. They worship at the chapel and maintain a shrine there containing the bones of St Edward the Martyr.