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Published: October 6th 2009
Situated just off Lewes Road, these are in my opinion the most magnificent cemeteries in Brighton. First established around 1850, they comprise seventy acres of Victorian burial grounds, still in use as both graveyard and crematorium. There are also some amazing chapels and mausoleums, as well as lots of trees and a rich wildlife area where you can walk round guided trails. The staff are always incredibly helpful, and no matter what time of year you visit, there is always something new to see. I regularly go there to take photographs and find out more about Brightons history, so picking just a few to use for this blog was very hard indeed.
The list of famous people buried at Woodvale is just too lengthy to include in its fullness here, but a few notable examples are; Rev Arthur Wagner who built St Barts Church, Thomas Hughes author of Tom Browns Schooldays, William Moon inventor of a type of embossed writing for the blind, The Bevans of Barclays, Smith Hannington founder of Hanningtons stores, Mary Elizabeth Alder writer, and the list goes on and on.
The wildlife that can be seen within the grounds, flora and fauna, include; kestrels, jays, woodpeckers, blackbirds,
thrushes, a variety of tits and finches as well as wrens, sparrows and Britains smallest breeding bird, the Gold Crest. Also badgers, foxes, hedgehogs, bats and squirrels. Dragonflies, damselflies, and a huge variety of butterflies and moths. I have also seen a large variety of spiders of different shapes and colours here. Oaks, beech, rowan, holly, thyme, salad burnett, wildflowers, celandine, many yew trees and much much more. The area is so large, you couldn’t possibly explore it all in just one visit. There is a picnic area a couple of hundred yards inside the extra mural entrance, so bringing sandwiches and making a day of it is a great idea, though the gates do shut at 4.30pm in the winter months.
Just a little way up the hill inside the entrance by the Gladstone pub, is the visitor centre where you can pick up information leaflets and trail guides. Follow this path right on to the end and you come to the chapels and cremation area. Enter by the gate near the top of Bear Road, just before the crematorium entrance and you will soon come to the scented garden tucked away at the back of the cemetery.
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