Southern Cemetery, Manchester

Last week I visited the University of Winchester to talk to a lecturer about my masters degree. I was worried that my teaching degree might not be accepted as an adequate "related subject" for an MA in death. Luckily, the lecturer was really positive, recommending some summer reading and even said "I'll see you in September" so that sounds promising! The next day, I was travelling to my brother's in Manchester and happened to drive past Southern Cemetery. Well, you know me. I couldn't resist! It's research for my degree, I swear!
Southern Cemetery Manchester
Covering almost 100 hectares, Southern Cemetery holds claim to the UK's largest cemetery (even though Brookwood Cemetery is twice the size) and is one of the Victorian necropolises that I love so much, opening in 1879. Tree branch headstone
Manchester log headstone
I've never seen these tree branch-style headstones before but they are in abundance here. I can't find any information about them but I'd love to find out more.

Ronald Skill headstone
 Tree lined avenue cemetery
Like Brookwood and other large cemeteries such as Pere Lachaise, the cemetery has named avenues running through it, which makes it easy to locate specific graves. Some of notable burials here include the artist Lowry and John Rylands, whose library I visited last time I was in Manchester.
Florence Nightingale gravestone
No, not that Florence Nightingale! 
Fallen celtic cross headstone
Henry Rudge Grave
Carpenter headstone
Red stained tree
This tree is stained red. Creepy, right?
white headstone
Damaged headstone
I found this really sad. The yellow card and sticker warn that the headstone is unstable and the owner of the grave is responsible for the upkeep. As the most recent burial was 1936, I wonder if there is anybody who still visits. The unused space for future names is poignant too. 
Harry Loseby grave
In fact, there were a lot of monuments with unfilled space. I usually see a couple when I'm exploring but here they seemed to be everywhere. Harry Loseby died aged 44 in 1933 and the memorial is dedicated to "my darling husband". I wonder what happened to Mrs Loseby.
Cemetery at sunset
The website unhelpfully lists the opening hours as "dawn until dusk" so I had no idea what time the cemetery would be locked. As it's so huge, there was a real danger that I would be locked in as the sun began to set but it looked so pretty! 
Headstones at sunset
Victorian cemetery
Headstone RIP
You don't see many good old-fashioned R.I.P.s
Celtic cross headstone
Manchester Southern Cemetery
What I found really interesting about Southern Cemetery is that, unlike other Victorian cemeteries, most of the headstones are very simple. Back in the late 19th century, it was generally expected that you would memorialise your loved ones with the most extravagant monument possible so it's interesting that there are so few statues and obelisks here.
Little girl headstone
Cherub headstone
Headstones facing east
Another incongruity of Southern Cemetery is that the headstones all face different directions. Contrary to the tradition of Christian graves facing east, the memorials here seem to follow no set pattern. There is a "block" of graves facing the same direction, but across the avenue, they're facing the complete opposite way. What's more, those graves that line the avenues face inwards, towards you as you walk down them. Southern Cemetery is non-denominational so perhaps this is why but I need to explore further and see if I can find out. 
Bird hand headstone carving
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord
 Finally, I leave you with this. I like to think it's a message to God.
Thy will be done, Dick
It's a shame I didn't get enough time to explore Southern Cemetery properly. Next time I head up to Manchester, I'll devote a good couple of hours to it!

7 comments:

  1. Absolutely love this post, I'm obsessed with gravestones and cemeteries too! Your MA sounds super interesting 😊 Xx

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  2. So fascinating and creepy at the same time! I live in Manchester and drive past Southern Cemetery when I go home to see my parents... I've always been intrigued but have never explored. It's so overwhelming to imagine that every person buried there was a living, breathing, walking person with their own energy... I just can't get my head around death! x

    Polly Cat Contemplates

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  3. I love old cemeteries, and the fact that you have several posts showing us some graveyard porn :) The way the trees and tombs filter and/or reflect the sun is just beautiful, in a Tim Burton-esque way.

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  4. Oh I really love those branch style ones! Whilst I like looking at this kind of stuff, it's not something I actively research myself, so it's really interesting reading all the little facts that you mention throughout!

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  5. There's something quite exquisite about cemeteries isn't there! Your MA sounds very intriguing; I'd love to do something similar :)
    Life inside the Locket

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  6. I love cemeteries, they're so interesting! I could spend hours exploring them.
    Definitely laughed out loud at that last photo!!

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

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  7. That is a gorgeous cemetery. And I love the branch style headstones - I've never seen anything like them before either! x www.aimeeraindropwrites.co.uk x

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