Warriston Cemetery was designed by David Cousin in 1842 in response to wealthy Victorian’s demands for well-kept burial grounds in which they could reflect their status by way of lavish monuments, large family tombs and ornate stones. David Cousin ensured this by providing vast spaces, all set in carefully landscaped gardens and walkways.
Decades of neglect however have resulted in nature completely taking over, and such wonderful marks of respect and remembrance being swamped with ivy, Japanese knotweed, Himalayan Balsam, etc. Also, unsavoury activities of various kinds had become prevalent in the cemetery.
Friends of Warriston was instigated by Edinburgh genealogist Caroline Gerard and an Arts lecturer from Philadelphia, Bob Reinhardt, both of whom adore Warriston and regularly visit the site. Like Bob and Caroline, I found it heart-breaking to see these loving and ornate resting places swamped by ivy and other obscuring growth.
Upon hearing of the group I joined. I have found it quite moving at times, but also inspirational uncovering the gravestones and urns placed in remembrance of such prominent and successful people and their families. After all, as my wife said, who is going to care for her father’s resting place 100 years from now?
The objectives of Friends of Warriston are to gently peel back the vegetation which is suffocating this Victorian necropolis, and allow it’s grandeur to breathe once again for future generations to enjoy.
Volunteers are fully aware of wildlife, nests and plants, ensuring no harm comes to them, as we respect and appreciate that biodiversity must be maintained in any regeneration of Warriston cemetery.
With hard work and care, this grade A listed cemetery of magnificent beauty and peace will once again become an appealing place for locals and tourists alike to marvel at and appreciate for what it truly is, a Victorian masterpiece.
If you wish to become a member of Friends of Warriston membership is only £6 per annum. Please visit here The group has regular work sessions in the cemetery, usually 10am to 1pm approximately, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. As a volunteer, feel free to turn up at these sessions when you like, and for as long as you like. Here is a short video of our work. Stay with it, it quickens up and I think it’s fantastic! I hope you do also.
In my next article I will tell you more of both prominent and fascinating people who are at rest in Warriston, and their remarkable stories.