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City of London Cemetery - Tree Trail and Memorials
On 25 September 2005, the Ferndale Area Residents Association went for a ramble through Wanstead Flats (part of Epping Forest) to the City of London Cemetery, where we picked out some trees from their extensive Tree Trail, and looked at the memorials. The photos are a mixture of both greenery and granite.

It's a beautiful cemetery, very large and full of fascinating trees. It has various areas - from traditional graves to a rose garden full of dedications, and from a modern mediterranean style columbarium, to a natural woodland burial area.

Famous residents include two of Jack the Ripper's victims, and Bobby Moore.

If you want to follow the tree trail, just ask as you enter the grounds for a booklet, they are full of photos and descriptions and amazingly are given out for free.

There are 68 photos, so please be patient while they load!


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Firstly, the well-trimmed yew near the entrance.

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Then a Coast Redwood - we had to clamber among the undergrowth to see its bright, spongey bark.

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Looking up... and up...

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The most lavish of all memorials is this huge marble tribute to a sailor who died in Mombasa at the age of 20.

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Covered urns are a popular theme among the memorials...

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...as are obelisks, and broken columns, which represent life snapped off too soon.

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A general view through the graveyard.

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Our second tree, the Causcasian Wing Nut. Unfortunately the "wingnut" dangling seeds were not photographed clearly.

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An Oriental Plane. The more durable and commonly seen London Plane is a hybrid of this, and the Occidental Plane.

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A Deodar. There were quite a cluster of trees so it wasn't possible to photograph it from further away.

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A glorious purple beech.

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Looking down an avenue of graves.

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There are many different avenues each featuring a different tree.

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At the bottom of the grounds stands this oak, estimated to be between 800 and 1000 years old. See how it dwarfs the bench beneath it!

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In fact its trunk is as wide as a bench for three people!

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Five of the FARA members - Mike, Joyce, Liz, Will and Jennifer.

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View of the oak from behind. What an amazing tree, and looking so healthy! It was a little early for acorns - unfortunately all of last year's were turned into knopper galls by wasps. I'd love to grow a baby version.

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Another part of the grounds contains this memorial wall, for those who lost their lives in the Second World War, specifically at Bethnal Green (where there was a huge loss of life at the tube station) and Stepney. One panel is for the police officers who died.

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The memorial wall is surrounded by pendulate trees, known as "weeping" varieties - a nice touch which is very resonant with mourning.

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A weeping birch and pendulate variegated yellow holly. I seem to remember being told it was called Jacob's Holly but can't find anything online to support this.

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One of my favourite trees - a Brewer's Weeping Spruce. The photo doesn't do it justice because the light was wrong.

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Seeing how the branches hang down. They were heavy, like thick curtains.

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One of the long cones which grow near the top of the tree.

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There was a section of modern tributes to children. This one stood out for its unusual shape. I dislike its style, but I suppose it's appropriate.

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I noticed a ladybird climbing over a rock...

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Then I stepped back to look at the rock...

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It was a very interesting, and tactile, tribute.

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I like the simplicity of these headstones from the 1860s, among the oldest in the cemetery. If you read them, you will see that the families are related.

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I thought this angel stood out - then I walked a few feet further forward and found another just like it! It seemed that different monuments were in vogue at different times.

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Back to the trees - here's a Catalpa, commonly known as Indian Bean Tree. Up close, you could soon see why, with the "beans" hanging from it.

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Jane breaks open a fallen pod (while clutching the glossy tree trail brochure!)

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Jennifer shows the small seeds inside.

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Close up of the beans, how unusual!

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General view, looking across from under the Catalpa.

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Another general view - with FARA members walking between the trees.

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I love these small sculpted trees. They remind me of extras from Doctor Who!

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We discovered this large pond...

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...which had turtles swimming in it!

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Just one water lily was blooming.

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The fish were as big as the turtles.

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We went to the rose gardens, in search of Bobby Moore's memorial. Apparently on match days it is marked by flags and so on. But it wasn't a match day, so we didn't find him amid all the names on plaques at ground level.

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Meep - a wasps' nest in the roof of a shelter. We didn't stay there long!

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Another area of the rose garden. I was using a scooter to get around, so this provided a slalom!

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A child's drawing for his late father. I felt that I had invaded a private moment.

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What a fantastic false acacia! It really caught your eye as you passed.

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Another general tree shot.

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Squirrel on the ground under a Blue Atlas Cedar.

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The ladies investigate this feathery shrub.

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I preferred this Japanese Maple.

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The cemetery and crematorium are still in use, and so there is an area where floral tributes are laid out after a funeral.

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Another shady avenue.

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This small stone caught my eye. The person named died in 1916 aged 39, which was during the First World War. I liked the simplicity of the tribute.

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The modern columbarium, with space to put the urn behind the nameplate. Some of the front plates bore photos, which felt a bit too creepy for my liking!

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Many gorgeous memorials like this one were attacked by green triangles.

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As you can see, the older and unvisited graves are being targetted for reclamation so the land can be reused.

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Some of the graves had fallen into disrepair but many still bore attractive and striking monuments.

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How sad to think that all of these graves, over 100 years old, will soon be reclaimed, reused and their older occupants forgotten.

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Looking down the road to the church.

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Another lovely yew, allowed to maintain its natural shape. Yews are often found in graveyards and churchyards as they represent eternal life. They were also used by archers as wood for their bows.

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From a distance I spotted this tree. I'm guessing it's a cherry.

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Some of the new memorials being erected, which jar with the older gravestones remaining behind them. I can understand the need to reuse the land, but surely it should be done in keeping with the style of the existing tributes. For goodness sake, a stone guitar? And gold on a black heart?

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A Monkey Puzzle Tree, spotted as we made our way back to the entrance. We also saw a green woodpecker flying past, but I couldn't get a photo.

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Two young Liquidambars, coming into their autumn colour.

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Everyone (bar me) back at the entrance, after nearly three hours of wandering! We definitely earned that cuppa!




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