Bring a blanket and picnic among the tombstones… Victorian Style!
By the 19th century, church graveyards had a worse reputation than you might expect. In addition to their general doom and gloom, they were rife with body snatching, gambling, and prostitution. Add to that the fact that they were literally overflowing, sending decaying matter into water supplies and causing deadly epidemics, and you’ve got a real problem on your hands.
At the same time, social attitudes towards death were shifting. While before, the church graveyard was meant to be a memento mori—a reminder that you, too, would meet your maker someday and so you’d better shape up—in the Victorian era when men, women, children, and the elderly were dying at an unprecedented rate, people didn’t want to be reminded of death and damnation when they buried their dead. They wanted to mourn in peace.
The architect Sir Islington Wren had introduced the idea of a garden-like cemetery on the edge of town as early as 1711, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that rural cemeteries caught on. When they did though, everything about death changed.
Read the entire article (with beautiful photographs) about ten of the world’s most beautiful rural cemeteries at Atlas Obscura!