Downturned torches, a garland of roses and a pair of Aladdin lamps – creating a Symbols app in Brompton Cemetery

Closer view of the small boat on the Mccaig monument.
©Carole Tyrrell

It was a, shall we say, bracing February day in Brompton Cemetery.  The snowdrops were clinging together for warmth along the main avenue and a drift of daffodils near the soon to be completed café thought better of coming out in bloom. But I, and the apps designer, local GP Simon Edwards, didn’t let this spoil our fun.  We had previously worked with together on the Brompton animals app and it was good to have another pair of eyes with me.

Our aim was to devise an app that gave a good selection of symbols within the cemetery, both common ones that can also be found in other cemeteries and others that were perhaps unique to Brompton. There would be a brief comment on each one by yours truly and there was also the opportunity to see me in person. You’ll have to make up your own mind about whether I’m attempting fruitlessly to hide behind a Celtic Cross or draping myself elegantly around it.

Brompton opened in 1840 and, due to the 19th century anti-Papist movement. crosses, Christ statues or angels were not popular. Instead other cultures and civilisations and other older cultures and influences were used as inspiration.  These included Classicism from ancient Greece and Rome, the Celtic and Egyptian Revivals, Biblical quotations and references, the language of flowers as well as animals and insects.

Stylised Viking inspired animals and a Celtic knot on a Celtic Cross.
©Carole Tyrrell

Simon was also looking for additional images for the Brompton animals app and soon found a group at the top of the Stevenson Celtic cross. These are supposedly based on Viking animal images but although, when we looked more closely, it was difficult to make out exactly what kind of animals they were.  Brompton’s Celtic crosses are very interesting due to the variety of decoration on them from spirals, traditional Celtic strapwork, flowers and even a cat.  I will be writing about them in next month’s Symbol of the Month.

But soon we were exploring the alpha and omega, the Chi Rho, shaking hands, downturned torches, and flowers amongst others.

Among Brompton’s more unusual symbols are the two Aladdin style lamps on the Cornwell headstone, the polar and cub on the Hills one in the modern burials section and the small stone boat tied up at the base of the cross on the McCaig monument.

So if you feel like taking a self guided Symbols tour around Brompton Cemetery then please click on this link:

https://ticl.me/West-Brompton/headlines/13447/view

Have fun and let us know what you think of it!

©Text and photos Carole Tyrrell unless otherwise stated

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