Last weekend some friends and I took a stroll around one of the largest graveyards in Nottingham. Church Cemetery (known locally as Rock Cemetery) is a Victorian burial ground on the northern edge of the city centre. It's a wonderfully rugged place where the graves nestle in the rising and falling ground. At the highest points there are stunning views northwards over the newer estates.
Nottingham has an extensive cave network, and some of the lowest regions of the cemetery have entrances to the caverns. In recent years these (and other portals like them across the city) have been blocked up to prevent public access. The gated holes yawn ominously and their iron railings remind visitors of closed portcullises.
The funerary architecture is quite impressive, with the most ornate stones at the crest of the hill, and then buried in one of the deepest dells. I was reminded of the Monmartre cemetery in Paris, where the mausoleums climb the sides of steep cuttings and tower over visitors. Some of the stones are rather gaudy while others are excellent examples of the Gothic
revival style. There are also some amazingly beautiful bits of
Local legend has it that the place is haunted by one or two ghosts. A Victorian Woman and what is described simply as an 'old woman' are specters said to linger in the graveyard. We didn't see any on the crisp autumnal morning we chose to visit, but it's not hard to imagine that certain things might quietly creep through the bars and out of the caverns on dank, dark nights.