Waterborne Funerals

Starting at 4 a.m. this morning I watched the second day’s play of the second Test Match between India and England broadcast by Channel 4; and this afternoon ITV’s transmission of the Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and France.

Between these two events I scanned more cemetery colour slides from May 2008.

At 19 Kilburn Lane, Kensal Green you will find a splendidly atmospheric gastro pub serving excellent meals and beverages, rejoicing in the name of Paradise by way of Kensal Green. https://www.theparadise.co.uk/private-hire-paradise-by-way-of-kensal-green

Because of Covid restrictions the establishment is currently closed, but we are assured on its website that it will be back.

The name is taken from the final line of G.K.Chesterton’s poem

The Rolling English Road

Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.

His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.

My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.


The Kensal Green to which Chesterton refers is a specific section of this West London area.

This is Kensal Green Cemetery, the history and some residents of which are featured in my post “Where Is The Body?”

It is still a working cemetery. Some waterborne funerals still enter through this gate on the canalside.

Alongside the older sections lie the more recent memorials, some of which

bear tributes to loved ones of the deceased, such as Liverpool and Queens Park football clubs and the legendary Bob Marley. I know of no other burial grounds where such adornments would be permitted.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced spicy chicken tikka, plain parathas, and plentiful salad with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.


  1. What an early start!
    The Paradise looks a unique and vibrant place – amazingly imaginative decor, and just the sort of zingy style one would expect of a venue whose name is drawn from such a wonderful poem!
    Let’s hope that it can soon welcome happy groups again.

  2. I love the poem but it seems more probable that the rolling English road was made by bolshy landowners not allowing roads to impinge on their demesnes. Compare with the roads built by Napoleon’s engineers which went where they wanted.

  3. A beautiful poem, Derrick, and I love the photos of Kensal Green. That one unusual tree by the headstone seems to be in robe, officiating a ceremony, and standing with folded arms.

  4. I like that the cemetery allows interesting personal tributes, like the ? cheetah ? statue near the rose bush growing nest to the tree. My favorite line in the poem is: “For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen.”

  5. By the time I’d finished the first stanza of the poem, I was hooked. There was no question I’d read on. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing the cemetery, too. Cemeteries with such personal tributes are common here. Interestingly, they’re usually country cemeteries, or Hispanic. It’s amazing what can be found: everything from military plaques to ceramic frogs to Teddy Bears. To my mind, they’re ever so much more interesting than the ‘memorial gardens’ with their identical markers and single, identical vases which allow only this or that flower.

  6. Those intriguing photographs you have scanned back from their slides in slumber have been given an epic context by G K Chesterton’s poem. I am thrilled to witness Bob Marley in his final abode. Earlier, my imagination was challenged by ‘bottomless brunch’ and free flowing ‘pornstar martinis’. I will be keenly waiting for you to visit the establishment once it throws open its portals.

  7. I love the rose bushes – miss the chance to have them in my yard. They wouldn’t do well in our sub-zero temps here. Love that old gnarled tree, too. Thanks for sharing your photos, Derrick. A trip down memory lane with you always is rewarding. <3

  8. A powerful poem, and your photos are beautiful and heart-touching.
    I think family and friends creating such personal and lovely tributes/memorials at the graves are so wonderful and important. Can’t do that much in the newer cemeteries here. 🙁
    At places where people have passed…like in car accidents…they will let the family put up a memorial on the sides of the roads with notes, candles, stuffed animals, crosses, photos, etc., for a certain amount of time (usually 4-6 months) before they have to take them down.
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

    1. Thanks very much, Carolyn. We can’t have those personal tributes in graveyards now – but the roadside ones stay up for apparently limitless time. We have two in Hordle Lane just up the road – one cluster of soft toys has been attached to a tree for two or three years. 🙂

  9. Derrick, I loved the poem. I have a friend on Instagram who lives in Brighton (Eng…I live in Brighton, too, but New York State) and she is always walking and shooting pics of Beachy Head, Seven Sisters and Brighton area. How far are you from that area? By the way, a great poem.

  10. I’ve not attended a water funeral but I did attend a friend’s Harley Davidson one. The sidecar had been specially adapted to accommodate his coffin. It was an amazing sight.

  11. Fabulous photos, especially the black and white ones. I actually got up and checked the Russian translation of Chesterton’s poem in my World Library set; it is as excellent as I have remembered. I have enjoyed reading it in original – thank you, Derrick.

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