Robert Bard and Adrian Miles
Amberley Publishing, £14.99
Review Edward Biddulph
Asked to think about catacombs, our minds might initially turn to the grand subterranean ossuaries of, say, Rome or Paris. However, London is not without its own underground burial places. In this brief but enjoyable book, authors Robert Bard and Adrian Miles take readers on a tour of former and extant catacombs and other hidden structures within and below some of the best-known cemeteries in the capital.
Some of the burial places, the crypt of Westminster Abbey, for example, are literally fit for kings. Others, such as the City of London cemetery in Ilford, admitted a much wider cross-section of the public. While many structures are inaccessible, others, notably the crypt of St Martin-in-the- Field, found secondary lives and can still be visited today.
Readers looking for detailed descriptions of the architecture, the history, and the people of London’s catacombs and crypts will have to seek other references. The book is perhaps also over-reliant on lengthy quotations from past accounts. As an introduction to these fascinating structures, however, it is well worth a read.