Saving Grave Space: Room For Another?

By Lindsey Last edited 113 months ago
Saving Grave Space: Room For Another?

Vigiland Tomb at City of London Cemetery by Fin Fahey
While you may think London is crowded with living people, congestion underground - and we don't mean the tube - is also a big problem. Victorian opinions on hygiene dictated that graves should not be reused hence the jam packed nature of large parts of the 'Magnificent 7'. Now we're running out of space to lay our residents to rest. In the same way that we've got used to being in close proximity to strangers on public transport, out shopping, in queues and piled one on top of the other in our blocks of flats and mansion conversions, so we'll be sharing our final resting places.

City of London Cemetery is innovating to maximise its grave capacity. While it is illegal to reuse graves in the UK (blame those prudish Victorians) a legal loophole means that plots with space remaining can be opened up to new tenants. So, a family plot from the last century that never received the remains of all its intended occupants could be made available to you and yours, possibly bringing with it the benefit of a fancy old monument tombstone at a fraction of the cost of a new one, assuming there's space to chisel some new names in.

The cemetery is also implementing 'double-decking' graves - reburying original coffin deeper and allowing fresh burials on top. It's clear that bodies are buried many deep beneath the streets anyway, given that excavations around town throw up human remains from all periods of history, so who could really object to stacking corpses in the designated places?

Would you buy a pre-used graves? Would you care to be eased into an established old tomb or does it make you feel a bit - well - ew? What if it gave you the opportunity to be buried in a beautiful old place like Abney Park or Highgate? We're donating our bodies to medical research in the hope that bits of us get left on our favourite bus but let us know what you think.

Last Updated 29 October 2009