Zoom Talk: Gin Warren

The tomb of Thomas and Ann Drummond in the Rosary Cemetery, Norwich

Thursday 18 November 2021 7:30pm-8:30pm

Joining details will be sent out during the week of 15 November.

Title Ghastly Churchyards and Brave Men

Abstract This online talk will be about the setting up of two unconsecrated, Nonconformist cemeteries in East Anglia during the first half of the 19th century.

At this time, death – like life – was more straightforward if you were well off, rural and a member of the Church of England. But if you were Nonconformist, the church and state placed constraints on your way of life and how and where you were buried. Most urban churchyards were grossly overcrowded and mismanaged. If you were condemned by penury to live downwind of one and obliged to use its parish pump, even Baldrick wouldn’t swop places with you. The water from one Norwich parish pump was described as “almost pure essence of churchyard”.

Step in the determined and philanthropic Unitarian minister Thomas Drummond, and the convention-defying Bishop of Norwich Henry Bathurst. These men saw a need to allow Nonconformists to be buried using their own services, in their own cemeteries, and for these places to be gardens, not horror shows.

The 1821 unconsecrated Rosary Cemetery in Norwich is testament to their forward-thinking approach, and an early example of a garden cemetery compatible with Sir Christopher Wren’s widely disregarded suggestions of a century before.

Forward two decades, shift to Cambridge and cross paths with the phenomenal J C Loudon. Brought up Presbyterian in a Scottish tenant farming family, he was a social reformer who gave practical expression to his philosophical and political views through garden and landscape design and practice, architecture and education. As well as publishing prodigiously on these topics, this remarkable man made a fortune and lost it, married a science fiction writer, and coped with severe ill health and an amputation.

When Cambridge Nonconformists wanted their own cemetery, it was apt that they should commission him – and utterly typical that he should make Histon Road Cemetery a centrepiece exemplar of his 1843 book On the Laying Out, Planting, and Managing of Cemeteries and on the Improvement of Churchyards

Our Speaker Gin Warren not only qualified from Addenbrooke’s and worked as a doctor in East Anglia and London but she has also gained her Garden History Diploma from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, thereby developing into a J C Loudon enthusiast. She enjoys researching and writing about any and all topics, experimenting in her garden (not pretty, but survives the consequences of a claimed lack of green fingers), observing nature while walking her dog, and being a grandmother. Gin is a member of the CGT Council of Management.

Members of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk Gardens Trusts, the Nonconformist congregations of Norwich and Cambridge, and Friends of the two cemeteries are invited to attend. CGT members will be circulated with Zoom joining details automatically. Other guests are invited to register for the talk by email to admin.

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Published by cgtwebmaster

Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust Newsletter Editor and Web-Apprentice

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