Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

The Catacombs & Lower Cemetery, Exeter, Devon

The Catacombs and Lower Cemetery were opened in 1837, five years after the cholera epidemic of 1832. That event and the growth of Exeter had stretched the city's burial resources, and it was decided to use the steep slopes of the Longbrook Valley below the then existing St Bartholemew's Yard (Upper) Cemetery.

The photo above was taken from on top of the catacombs, looking over the Lower Cemetery. Below are the Catacombs themselves.

Designed by  Thomas Whitaker, they were the first to be funded by public money. The catacombs, built to look like Ancient Egyptian tombs, were reserved for the wealthy. However, at a charge of 20 guineas, this proved to be too high and, despite lowering the price, only 16 interments occurred during the first year. 

The cemetery was eventually closed in 1949 and is now disused. The stepped and meandering paths are well maintained, its natural look and the abundance of mature trees making a delightful walk. The interior of the catacombs can be visited on specific tours by the city's tour guides.  

It's such a tranquil place. It was a soft, moist day when I took these photos, and the misty greens were a total delight.

Taken from the lower end, above. Below can be seen some of the gravestones; these particular ones have been taken out and ranged against the lower boundary wall.

More photos in the Photo Gallery album and a YouTube video of slideshow set to music has now been added to my links page. Interior shots will be added when available...I just need to get myself on one of those tours!

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