The Victorian celebration of death can’t help but catch our imagination; images of widows in trailing black veils, huge monuments to death, plumed horses and impossibly expensive mourning jewels offer a morbid beauty our contemporary existence lacks.
In many areas of modern society, we are taught that funerals need to be quick affairs, that mourning is excessive and that dwelling on one’s grief is morbid and self-indulgent; a state to be cured, rather than embellished.
However, the greater part of the 19th century begged to differ. The era of the Victorian celebration of death was an excess like no other. Newspapers nationwide advertised the latest mourning fashions alongside adverts for tonics and black-framed stationary while ladies’ magazines laid out strict rules for funeral behaviour and which brooches would best convey one’s suffering. From investments in burial clubs to wearing the hair of the deceased, one’s expiration was intertwined within all areas of life. This all-encompassing death business has been unrivalled since, but may well have something to teach us today about death acceptance and celebration.
Humans have always grieved, but the Victorians transformed this process into not just an industry, but an art.
This lighthearted journey through death will be accompanied by a vast array of authentic props, original mourning clothing, jewellery and a whole host of oddities.
Kate Cherrell is a PhD candidate at the University of Lincoln specialising in 19th Century Gothic. From this, her research has expanded through to 19th century death care, celebration and mourning practice. Her thesis focuses on the role of young, unmarried women within 19th Century Spiritualism and the wider influence of their written experiences on modern literature and genre fiction.
She is a freelance writer and editor and holds a keen interest in cemeteries, memorials and folklore which she explores in her blog www.burialsandbeyond.com .
Visiting Arnos Vale
We have free parking on site, and cycle racks available. There is an accessible parking space outside each chapel. Further information can be found on our Visiting Arnos Vale page. If you are a Blue Badge holder please email in advance to reserve a parking space (firstname.lastname@example.org). The local streets in Arnos Vale are for resident parking ONLY.
The event is held in the Anglican Chapel which is a short walk from the toilets and bar.
Tickets are issued via email upon booking. No need to print them out; you can show them to a team member on your electronic device. We regret that we cannot exchange, refund or transfer tickets unless the event in question has been cancelled or rescheduled by Arnos Vale. If the event is cancelled you will be notified by email.