Death in the city: the grisly problem of dealing with Victorian London's dead.
The Guardian published an abridged extract online back in 2015 taken from Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth, by Lee Jackson – published by Yale University Press 2014 (RRP £20), and available from the Guardian Bookshop for £16. It is of interest to family history researchers when considering the social history of the times that our forebears lived.
The book considers the challenges posed by waste and pollution in 19th-century London and, in particular, why the Victorians left their capital notoriously filthy. At this time churchyards were becoming full as burial was still the norm for our British ancestors. With an ever increasing number of corpses to cater for, as the city's population grew, coffins were stacked one on top of the other.
The extract explains: "For the middle- and upper-classes, one answer was to remove their dead to commercial “garden cemeteries”, spacious parks built in the semi-rural suburbs, such as Kensal Green (opened in 1832) and Highgate (1839). Such places, however, were well beyond the means of the urban poor."
Highgate Cemetery from TheGenealogist's Image Archive