John and Sarah in Nunhead

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September 1, 2013 by auntkatefirmin

John Firmin was buried in Nunhead Cemetery in 1850, ten years after it opened.  It would have been rather costly and I believe it is a sign of his notion of being a gentleman. According to Cassell’s Household Guide of 1869, a private brick grave cost between £8 10s 6d (first class location) to £5 7s 6d (second class area) or £2 2s (third class).

This aerial photo gives a sense of the size of the cemetery (52 acres) and the location on rising ground which would have provided lovely vistas before the trees matured. When the cemetery was nearly full, its maintenance was abandoned and portions of the grounds are now impassible.  As a result it has been transformed into a nature reserve.

Nunhead Cemetery from the air

© Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

The family plot is centrally located to the northwest of the chapel – at a guess I would say this would have been a more desirable location.  While I have the grave number, I do not know if there are any headstones or just where in the larger square the graves are located. Unless the plot is quite close to the path, it may not be safe to search for the gravesite.

Nunhead Cemetery in 1864.

Nunhead Cemetery from Stanford’s map of 1864.
Square 110 in a lighter shade of green.
Map courtesy of mapco.net

Regardless of whether the grave is marked, or even accessible, Nunhead is definitely on my must see list when I have the opportunity to visit England!

More information and photos can be found at:

Friends of Nunhead a great deal of information
Dark Destiny Victorian cemeteries & burial information
World of Badger a London blogger/photographer
1856 map of London waterworks a topographic map that includes the area of Nunhead
The pen, the brush, and the needle lovely, atmospheric black and white photos of the cemetery
SE London Cemetery walking tour includes nearby cemeteries

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