Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Christmas flowers, Golders Green Crematorium

London’s oldest crematorium, Golders Green Crematorium, in the London Borough of Barnet, opened in 1902, and its extensive grounds contain the ashes of many of the people cremated there.  The Crematorium currently holds an average of about 2,000 cremations a year (13 were scheduled for the 23 December 2021), and it is evident that the families and friends of those cremated value being able to commemorate people whose ashes remain in its memorial gardens and columbaria.

When the Crematorium was visited in December 2021 the first floral offerings to be seen were hundreds of Christmas wreaths attached to a wire fence in front of the main rose garden (image 1).  Many of the wreaths had Christmas cards attached, the wording in which seemed to suggest that those who had placed them there believed in an afterlife:

‘Wishing you a happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.’

Or, ‘So this comes with wishes, especially for you, for a season filled with happiness and joy in all you do; have a wonderful Christmas time.’

Nearby were displayed floral tributes from recent cremations, including that of Kim Fong Tey, who had been cremated on 22 December, and who in addition to four floral tributes had two bowls of fruit, one of kiwi fruit (Actinidia chinensis) and plums (Prunus cv.), the other of grapes (Vitis vinifera) and small citrus (Citrus cv.) fruits (image 2).

Flowers, including some elaborate bouquets are also abundant in the Chapel of Memory (images 3 & 4).

The pop singer Marc Bolan (1947-77) is probably the only person to have three memorials: two plaques, one placed by ‘the Official Marc Bolan Fan Club and fellow fans’, to mark the 25th anniversary of ‘his passing’, and a memorial bench.  On the day of the visit the bench had a bunch of chrysanthemums, and a small citrus fruit  left on it.  On the latter ‘Marc Bolan merry Chistmas 2021’ had been written using ball-point pen (image 5).

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