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Life and Death in Exile

On Tuesday 19 June, as part of Refugee Week 2007, a ‘day of exploration’ was held at Kensal Green Cemetery, to look at issues relating to life and death in exile. People gathered to listen to a fascinating range of presentations in the Dissenters Chapel. After lunch, they went on a guided tour, visiting the graves of different people born abroad and going into the catacombs.

The report of the day
Read an account of the different talks, and learn more about the speakers and the books some of them have written.
Life and Death in Exile: A day of exploration (download the report: 346 KB Word file)

Leonie Kellaher, author, The Secret CemeteryA bridge between two worlds
A presentation by Leonie Kellaher (pictured right), from Cities Institute, London Metropolitan University, and author of The Secret Cemetery (download the powerpoint presentation: 878 KB ppt file)

Why life and death in exile?
Death in exile is a cause of sorrow, but it is also an opportunity to celebrate life rescued from persecution. Cemeteries are important places of tolerance where the contribution of those living and dead can be acknowledged.

Death in another country has particular meanings. We wanted to explore this neglected are through learning about the different refugees and migrants buried at Kensal Green, the history of immigration and exile in the UK and local area, and the role of cemeteries in the lives of newcomers and settlers.

Why Kensal Green Cemetery?
Kensal Green Cemetery is one of Britain's oldest and most beautiful public burial grounds. It includes the graves of people from many different countries, from 1833 on.

Who is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery?
Find out about some of the people from overseas buried at the cemetery (and at the neighbouring Catholic cemetery, where Mary Seacole is buried). Born abroad, buried at Kensal Green Cemetery

Photos of the day
Pictures taken during the guided tour with Henry Vivien-Neal.

Outside the Dissenters Chapel with tour guide Henry Vivien-NealTour of the cemetry

Visit the cemetery
Visit the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery website for directions to the cemetery. Contact the Friends to arrange your own guided group tour of the graves of exiles and immigrants (Chief Guiding Supervisor: 07951 631001).

The organisers
The one day event was organised by:

The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery

Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum

Predrag Pajdic


For more information
Contact Ruth Wilson at tandem.

Refugee Week logoRefugee Week
For more information about Refugee Week, visit: www.refugeeweek.org.uk




Born abroad, buried at Kensal Green Cemetery

These are just some of the many people buried at Kensal Green who were born in other countries. To find their graves, please consult the maps available from Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery. If you can, visit the neighbouring St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery as well, where pioneering nurse Mary Seacole is buried (see below).

Marc Brunel (1769 – 1840)
French exile, engineering genius, and father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Gravestone of Marc Brunel

Kelso Cochrane (1927- 1959)
Carpenter, victim of still unsolved racist murder in Notting Hill.

Grave of Kelso Cochrane

Philmore Gordon Davidson (‘Boots’) (1928 –1993)
Highly talented steel band musician from Trinidad.

 The grave of Caribean  musician 'Boots'

Erich Fried (1921 – 1988)
Austrian poet, pacifist and social activist.

Jean Francois Gravelot (1824 – 1897)
The great Blondin, extraordinary French-born acrobat and tight-rope walker.

Halina Korn (1902 – 1978)
Polish artist in exile, greatly admired for her skilled composition and color, and ‘the combination of familiarity and mystery’ in her work.

Ras Andargachew Messai (1902 1981)
Ethiopian refugee, businessman and senior politician.

Grave of Ras Andargashew Messai

Emidio Recchioni (1864 – 1934)
Italian anarchist who ran a wine and pasta store in London.

Alexis Benoit Soyer
'The greatest chef of the 19th century'.

Dwarkanath Tagore (1794 –1846)
Eminent Bengali business man and philanthropist, founder of the Tagore family that included poet Rabindranath Tagore.

Grave of Dwarkanauth Tagore

Tsehafe T’izaz Wolde-Giyorgis Wolde-Yohannes (1901 – 1984)
Emperor Haile Sellassie’s Private Secretary prior to the Fascist invasion and during the exile in Britain, later a Minister. Died in exile in the UK.

Gustavus George Zerffi
Hungarian journalist, revolutionist and spy.

Some others:
Giovanni Battista Falcieri (1798 – 1874) Devoted manservant of Lord Byron
Jean Pierr Ginnett (died 1861) circus performer and French prisoner of war.
Carlo Giuliano (1831 – 1895) great art jeweller
Rev Ridley Haim Herschell (1807 – 1864) Dissenting minister
Sir Patrick O’Brien (1823 – 1895) Irish member of parliament and traveller
Emil Reich (1854 – 1910) Hungarian born historian
Oscar Rejlander (1813 – 1875) Swedish photographer
Tibor Szamuely (1925 – 1972) Writer and journalist
Friedrck Martin Josef Welwitsch (1806 – 1872) Austrian botanist.
Lady Jane Fancisca Wilde (1821 – 1896) Poet and mother of Oscar Wilde

St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery

Josef Jakobs (1898 – 1941)
The last man in England to be executed as a spy at the Tower of London (unmarked grave).

Mary Seacole (1805 – 1881)
Pioneering and courageous nurse, who worked with cholera victims in London and treated the wounded on the battlefield in the Crimean War. Despite her skills and achievements, she faced both racism and poverty. Born in Jamaica.

To find her grave: walk into the Catholic Cemetery, carry on until you reach the chapel (on the right), turn left at the  chapel and follow the path to the first crossroad, then turn right and walk a small way (look for graves numbered around 6829)  and Mary's grave is over to the right - it stands out from many of the others as it has a renovated headstone. 

Necropolis: London and Its Dead

Necropolis book cover hardbackNecropolis book coverCatharine Arnold author of Necropolis

Catharine Arnold (pictured), author of Necropolis: London and Its Dead, took part in the day. Find out more about the book Necropolis.

Last Landscapes by Ken WorpoleKen Worpole author of Last Landscapes: The Architecture of the Cemetery in the West also took part in the day. Find out more about Last Landscapes





Our thanks also go to DH Communications for their help.




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