Nature-ist: Margravine Cemetery, Hammersmith

Exploring London’s lesser known gardens and parks.

What is it?
Margravine Cemetery began accepting tenants in 1869 — an outbreak of cholera in the area had drummed home the need for burial space in a rapidly expanding part of the city. Two large war memorials are well-placed in gardens that were bombed three times during the Second World War. After the war, with the cemetery in a state of disrepair, Hammersmith Council embarked on a project to create the superb Garden of Rest we see today. A margravine, incidentally, is the wife of a margrave, an antiquated chivalric rank.

Where is it?
Roughly where Hammersmith meets Fulham. The northernmost entrance is on Margravine Gardens, just a few yards from Barons Court tube station. The main entrance is at the western end of the cemetary on Margravine Road, where you will also find one of the gardens’ impressive war memorials.

Why has it tickled our fancy?
A beautiful and peaceful oasis of tranquility in a heavily built-up area, a stroll through Margravine Cemetery of a lunchtime can wash away the stress of the most fiendish office job. People can be found lounging around on the grass among the remaining graves; the manner in which this particular cemetery allows the living and the deceased to cohabit in such a carefree setting is a testament to the work of those who look after this marvellous place. And it’s worth a visit just to see some of the eccentric and uniquely designed tombstones.

Nature notes
All manner of trees relax in the Margravine gardens, from poplars, beeches and whitebeams to the ubiquitous sycamore. The odd rose bush is cultivated among the grasses; a particularly nice feature of the gardens is that nearly half of the grassland has been purposely left to grow long to attract bees, butterflies and various other small creatures. Unusually for London, pigeons seem to have not yet taken the park over — a variety of small British birds make home here, such as thrushes, martins and tits.

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