A visit to Bunhill Fields
July 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Since deciding that I wanted to visit London, I was tasked with figuring out what I wanted to actually do in London. I hadn’t actually looked at a map of London until I had bought my ticket (which was very last minute given the cost of traveling across the globe) and was surprised by just how big it was. None of the streets were on the familiar friendly grid system the way they are in Seattle. There weren’t huge swathes of trees with a few squiggly gravel roads the way it is in my native West Virginia either. I was a bit lost.
None the less, I was in good hands so I needn’t worry to much about how to get from A-Z (or “zed” as it’s pronounced by the British). Since my friends L. & M. were to have their post-wedding picnic there, the first place to visit was the resting place of artist/poet William Blake.
William Blake (1757 -1827) was a wonderful person; a brilliant poet who wrote “Songs of Innocence & Experience“, a painter, and professional engraver. If you haven’t seen his work or made to read his poems, please do (although you’ve probably read “The Tyger” and have forgotten). Bunhill Fields, the cemetery where William is buried, is a “nonconformist” graveyard for people who didn’t conform to the views of their time. Like many grave yards in London, Bunhill Fields is small – less than 4 hectares (1 acre) but contains the remains of nearly 200,000 people.
Very few of those 200,000 people have markers or grave stones. Instead, they are memorialized with cobble stones, large old trees, fat pigeons and a field. Bunhill is green and cool and lovely; there is a fig tree to the right of William’s marker that children play in on their way to school and lots of people stroll enjoying the sanctuary from the harsh London streets. So while having a wedding picnic in a cemetery may seem odd at first thought, really I couldn’t think of anywhere lovelier.