St Paul’s Five Miles Away

This afternoon Jackie shopped at Lidl. My contribution was to read while she carried out the task; then to load and unload the car.

Later I scanned the last batch of slides from my visit to

Nunhead Cemetery in September 2008.

These two angelic scenes are different shots, the second converted to black and white. I would be interested in readers’ preferences.

This small classical temple, standing at a major pathway junction, is a ‘Monument for Vincent Figgins (1767-1844). c.1844. Designer: William Pettit Griffith. Portland stone. Vincent Figgins was a “City of London typefounder who worked his way up from apprentice. On his retirement in 1836 he handed over to James and his elder brother Vincent II. . . . James took an interest in City affairs and became MP for Shrewsbury from 1868 to 1874.” ‘

This mausoleum was constructed by Doulton of Lambeth, ‘for Mrs Laura Stearns of Twickenham who died in 1900. Her father, William Chillingworth, a wine merchant, is buried next to her in his own sepulchre. They were the owners of Radnor House in Twickenham, known locally as Pope’s Villa because it was built on the site of Alexander Pope’s original house, which still stands and is now an independent school.’

This, the most expensive tomb in the cemetery, is ‘Monument for John Allan (1790-1865). 1867. Sculptor: Matthew Noble. Nunhead Cemetery, Linden Grove, London SE15. According to a cemetery plaque, “His son and partner, Col. Jon Harrison Allan was an amateur archeologist. It was probably he who designed the massive family tomb based on the Payava tomb at Xanthos.” ‘

These 1914-1918 Commonwealth War Graves carry headstones to servicemen from Canada, South Africa’ and New Zealand.

At the time of my visit with John Turpin, volunteers had cleared a viewing spot at High Point in order to open up the vista of St Paul’s Cathedral, 5 miles away.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s delicious cottage pie meal, followed by apple and blackberry pie and custard, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank water.


Scanning the dull granite skies did not look promising today, so I scanned the next half dozen of Charles Keeping’s sinuous line illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, followed by colour slides of a visit to Nunhead Cemetery on a much brighter day in September 2008.

‘An anxious shade came upon his contented face when his glance encountered the dull brow of his companion’

‘I am the most miserable man in the world’

‘Fresh horses came and went and came again’

‘In the throats and maws of dark no-thoroughfares near Todgers’s’ gives the artist an opportunity to display his perfectly receding perspective in an accurate presentation of a cramped warehouse scene of the period.

‘Down they came directly, singing as they came’

‘Cuffey fell back into a dark corner’

Nunhead Cemetery is one of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and managed by the local authority, Southwark Borough Council.

My post ‘Council Housing’ describes the policies of the 1980s that led to the transfer of the

West Lodge to private ownership. When Southwark Council bought the cemetery for £1 in 1976 both East and West Lodges were derelict. The West one was refurbished to provide council accommodation. The tenant bought the property at a reduced price under the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme, and subsequently sold it at its true market value.

Refurbishment of the octagonal chapel was also required. At the time of my visit with writer John Turpin

the gate, for example, had been renewed, but it was still without a roof.

A sensitively sculpted angel was garlanded with ivy.

The afternoon, although still cool and breezy, brightened considerably. Jackie attended to water features while I cleared up clippings and took them to the compost bins.

Later we dined on the Culinary Queen’s spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Hardy’s Endeavour Cabernet Shiraz 2020