30 March 2010

Mort safes and cages

I occasionally come across mort safe’s to prevent body snatching, mainly in Scotland where there are still some great examples to be found. But here are some rarer mort cages from the UK midlands.
Top: Mort safes.
Bottom: Mort cages.

28 March 2010

San Francisco Presidio Pet Cemetery

Dating to around 1950 the San Francisco Presidio Pet Cemetery can be considered one of only two cemeteries left in San Francisco. The other is of course the San Francisco National Cemetery also located at the Presidio. The Pet Cemetery is the final resting place of the pets of many Army personnel that were stationed at the Presidio in and around the 1950's. It was featured on the news one night and I decided that I was going the next day to check it out because I had no idea it was there. Turns out that it's not only home to cats and dogs but hamsters, gold fish, lizards, you name it. Many of the markers bear the names of the owners who happened to rank as high as General in some cases. I personally like the animal cemeteries just for the names alone. Where else are you going to see a weiner dog named Woody? A bunch of construction is going on in close proximity to the cemetery which is probably why it made the news. I don't know what all the construction is about because I didn't listen to that part. I just knew I had to get to this little cemetery before they blocked off the road or something. It's an interesting little stop on a trip to San Francisco. Much more interesting than the uniform military cemetery that we call the National. Here are a few more pics that I took while I was there...

Here you see people (tourists) on one of the many sight seeing tours you can take around San Francisco. The building in the back is what I believe to be military barracks. The Presidio is huge and dates back to the late 1700's when the Spanish ran California...

Here is a wider view where you can see more of the size of things. The orange/brown fence in the back is where they're doing the construction...

Churchyard, Essex UK

I came across this in the small churchyard of an abandoned church near where I live. It dates to the late 1700s and the skulls are still visable.

25 March 2010

Woodbridge Suffolk UK

Woodbridge Suffolk has some lovely little churchyards with monuments dating back to around the mid to late 1700s including these rare skulls (most of which don't survive due to the elements.)

24 March 2010

Cemetery Eagles by Victoriana Lady - Lisa Lewis

For many of us, cemetery photography is pure joy. Personally I lose all track of time when visiting a 19th century cemetery or grave yard. Most of us looking for the next great photo are looking down, and rightly so in a cemetery, but the next time you visit a cemetery, don’t forget to look up. On a recent trip to visit my family I visited the Mt. Olive Cemetery in Eustis, Florida, reported to be haunted, in lake County. As I was walking through I spooked a bird out of a tree, and not just any bird, but a bald eagle. As I looked up and pointed my camera to the sky, I heard a woman’s voice calling to me. Over on the other side of the cemetery was another woman with a camera. (No she wasn't a ghost ) She said, “Come with me, I will show you the eagles nest, I live nearby and have been watching it for some time.” When I looked up into the tree and saw my first baby eagle in its nest, I was awestruck! Actually it was the first time I had ever seen a bald eagle, period. Both the parents were circling around the tree, watching us intently, no doubt. I went to the local Wildlife museum before I returned home to PA and learned some interesting facts about bald eagles. In 1782 the United States Congress selected the bald eagle as our national symbol, representing conquest, freedom and strength. More eagles nest in Florida than any other state except Alaska. Florida has a population of about 3,000-4,000 birds, however they are still a threatened species. They can be up to three feet in height and have a wing span of almost eight feet! Young eagles do not develop their characteristic plumage until they are about five years old, they are uniformly brown until then. Eagles are partners and mate for life. If a mate dies they will look for another. Their courtship is nothing short of amazing if you are ever privileged to witness it. They present spectacular aerial displays where the birds grasp each others’ feet high in the air and plummet towards the ground. Often cart wheeling with their wings and legs outstretched. Quite the dance I am sure!

Eagles nest in very tall trees with clear views, Florida eagles in late fall and early winter when food is in abundance. The nests can be as much as 20 feet thick and ten feet across, and they will occupy the nest for decades. One to four eggs are laid and incubated for 33 to 35 days when the first eaglet hatches. They weigh ¼ of a pound upon hatching , within three months they have about 7,000 feathers and gain up to 12 pounds. Young eaglets are the fastest growing birds of all birds in America and leave the nest at 10-12 weeks of age. Many Florida eagles are year round residents while others migrate north as far as Canada. Today the eagles are threatened by human disturbance, habitat loss, exposure to pesticides and collisions with vehicles. It was a privilege for me to witness this amazing site. I tried to zoom in and get the best possible shots with how far up the nest was and how high the parents were flying. At one point the sun was so bright in my eyes, I was simply pointing the camera in the air and randomly snapping. I was happy to get home and find that a few in flight pictures were captured. The photos were taken with a Canon Power Shot A540 camera.

Getting back to the reason for my visit to the cemetery, I also photographed an interesting part of American history, several grave stones marked with signs that read, “Former Slave.” I mean no disrespect by posting these photos. The loved ones of the deceased show honor to their ancestors and their heritage, and I have the highest respect for that homage. I hope you will enjoy seeing these photos as much as I did shooting them.

Avid Taphophile and Victorian Mourning historian, Victoriana Lady Lisa Lewis. You can find more of my cemetery visits at www.VictorianaLady.com on my Taphophilia page.

Tower Hamlets cemetery.

A man a boy and their dog in a rainy Tower Hamlets cemetery.

18 March 2010

Bunhill Fields, London.

Bunhill Fields in London was originally a plague pit. It’s now a quiet oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle with some very old graves circa late 1700s early 1800s, wild flowers and an abundance of squirrels!

14 March 2010

Chingford Mount cemetery Essex UK

I took this on a visit to Chingford Mount cemetery earlier today. Certain details caught my eye, the fact it was beautifully carved, so intricate and also that it had survived well. It shows clasped hands but you can clearly see they are a male and female. The woman’s hand even has a bracelet. I also loved the roses and the (real) snail living in it!

Tombstone Tales: Something Terrible Might Happen

#13 in color
Central Graveyard Vienna / onkel_wart

How beautiful she was –
like a woman rising
from a tomb, like
a dead woman looking
for me.

Like a little princess
with tiny white doves
for feet – one might fancy
she was dancing –
and wearing a yellow veil.

I never had seen her that pale,
as if she was a shadow
of  the shadow
of a white rose in a mirror
of silver.

I couldn’t keep from looking at her
while I knew it was dangerous
to look at dead people
in such way:

Something terrible might happen.

This poem was inspired by the first scene of Salome, the play written by Oscar Wilde.
More Tombstone Tales by Patrick Bernauw: Ghost Writings.

12 March 2010

Lancaster Angel, East Sheen, London

Memorial to George William Lancaster, in bronze, East Sheen cemetery London. It’s a magnificent mourning angel with a truly exquisite face……..and incredibly ugly feet! My photographs of her have been used as book and CD covers, she lends herself so well to them!

11 March 2010

That Thing Thursday

So me and this little guy had a standoff the other day. We were trying to figure out who was going to make the first move and who was going to stay there and look like a chicken. I have to say that if he charged me I would have had to run. I can't have a squirrel giving me rabies or something especially when my whole life my mom scared me to death with the threat of 20 shots to the stomach from a big needle. I don't know if that's true or not but it sure doesn't sound appealing. And why the stomach? Anyway he/she ended up ignoring me for the most part as it was probably used to people walking around the cemetery. Sacramento City Cemetery is one of the busier ones I go to and being wide open it seems a good place for people to walk or just have a nice quiet outdoor place to sit. So I decided to follow it around a little bit to see what it was doing.
It kept a good distance as long as I was moving and then ignored me once I stopped. It would stop now and then to chew on a nut and then move on to doing some digging. I think I became more interested in the squirrel than it was in me. I'm pretty sick minded sometimes and for some reason I always drift to these ideas of having to survive during a disaster or something. I figured given that type of situation I wonder what squirrel tastes like? Not that I had planned on eating this little thing but just hypothetically. It seemed to have some meat on it and I've heard of country people eating them all the time. I prefer to stick to what I know which is mainly cows and chickens but after those were all gone I figured if I could get that close to a squirrel they'd be on my list after all the regular things were gone.

And now I realize I must be very tired this morning because I just spent 20 minutes writing about a squirrel and how I'd probably eat it if I had to. Looking at this picture I may have to opt for something else. Squirrels may just be safe based on cuteness alone. And now I'm rambling about a squirrel. My job has made me absolutely crazy...

Passy, Paris.

Armand Cahan, Passy cemetery Paris. I believe he was a solider. I liked his memorial because of the brilliant colours of the stained glass canopy.

08 March 2010

Lambeth London.

A Boy Scout leader and an angel. This unique monument is in Lambeth Cemetery in London. I have never seen another like it.

07 March 2010

Fort Ross Cemetery - Fort Ross, CA

I decided to take my girlfriend with me on a job inspection the other day that was about 4 hours away from my house. It was up the California coast and instead of being bored by myself for 4 hours I figured why not have some company? So I brought my girlfriend along for the trip. As we were on our way up the windy coastal road she's looking at the scenery left and right and says "Hey did you see that cross over there?" I was trying not to drive off the cliff so I didn't see what she was talking about right away. As I got a little further down up the hill I saw an old cemetery on the side of the road. I had been up here a few times and never noticed it...mostly because I was driving. On our way back we decided to see if we could figure out how to get in. Driving slowly by it we saw a spot to pull off the side of the road and from there it was just a matter of walking right in. There was not much to see except for a number of Russian Orthodox crosses in the ground. It wasn't until I got home and looked it up that I realized what we had seen.

Fort Ross was the southernmost establishment of Russia between 1812 and 1841. In 1809 Ivan Kuskov sailed into what we call Bodega Bay and returned with beaver skins and over 1000 otter pelts. It was then ordered that an establishment be made in this area. It's name derives from the Russian "Rus" but much like every other foreign word that enters the English language we assumed they were saying Ross. The fort was also used as a central hub between Alta California and Alaska to get supplies to smaller bases along the coast to Alaska . The colony consisted of Russians, Aleuts and what they called Creoles (the product of Russian men and Alaskan or other Native women).

The cemetery was excavated in the early 90's as a research project to determine how well Russian Orthodox customs could be followed given the multiple ethnicities and beliefs that were found to be active there at the time. They also discovered that there were 131 graves. This is about 80 more than previously thought. Many of the crosses had likely deteriorated over the years and could not be accounted for. Although there are accounts of some Europeans being buried with a box over their grave none of these exist. The only think still standing are several of the Russian Orthodox crosses and a large one seen in the picture at the head of the cemetery. All of the graves face east as dictated by the Russian Orthodox canon.

Sometimes I feel like I get more out of a cemetery like this than the ones on a grand scale. The scenery and the history sometimes outweigh the art. Just over the hill to the right the Pacific Ocean beats against the rocks. Although there was not much to see here I could have stayed their all day listening to the waves beating the shore and feeling the cool ocean breeze...

06 March 2010

Greyfriar's Bobby, Edinburgh Scotland.

Greyfriars cemetery Edinburgh Scotland is situated in the middle of the old town and is a very popular tourist destination. It is best known for the story of Greyfriar's Bobby, the dog who mourned his master (John Gray, 1858) and was immortalised by a Disney film. The table stones beside the monument are said to have afforded Bobby shelter from harsh weather during the faithful dog's 14 year vigil.

04 March 2010

Van Ness - Parsons Egyptian Revival Tomb

Egyptian Revival architecture was a popular style of memorialization during the mid 19th Century. This fashionable trend made a resurgence in the 1920’s presumably because of the 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb.

Albert Ross Parsons (1847-1933), a composer, musician, author and pyramid expert published The New Light from the Pyramids in 1893. Fittingly, this Egyptologist is entombed along with a number of family members in this pyramid-shaped mausoleum which combines Christian religious statuary and Egyptian symbolism,

An archival shot of this Egyptian Revival mausoleum appears in my book Green-Wood Cemetery by Alexandra Kathryn Mosca. Published in 2008, by Arcadia Publishing as part of its Images of America Series, the book chronicles many of Green-Wood's notables through words and photos.


George Wombwell a managerist, Highgate cemetery London. Wombwell began his menagerie by exhibiting two boa constrictor snakes which he wheeled around various pubs in London in Victorian times. His monument is of one of his lions Nero. A rival managerist also has a lion monument which is slightly smaller in Abney Park cemetery London (bottom photo.)

01 March 2010


This is what happens to pedestrians in Kensal Green cemetery!

The watch from the City of London cemetery is the only one I have ever seen on a grave. I guess time runs out bit love doesn’t.

The abandoned bear is also from City of London; it was on the grave of a young girl and caught my eye. It was hardened due to the elements and a bit unstuffed but really tugged at the heart strings.

All the above are featured in my new book (out today) called Curiosities. Although this one isn’t a cemetery photography book (I began it whilst seeing odd things on my travels en route to cemeteries) it does contain some cemetery shots…..they just sort of creep in….!!

A photo book for the magpie within – bright shiny things, weird, wonderful or just downright funny, brought to you by the keen eyes and lens of photographer Jeane Trend-Hill. Compiled over a two year period, it contains 150 images of architecture, graffiti, fair grounds, classic cars and much more. A delightful book you’ll want to dip into again and again.

Available from:
Price £9.99.


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