Skip to content

Bluebells At Bow Cemetery

April 17, 2022
by the gentle author

With a few bluebells in flower in my garden in Spitalfields, I was inspired make a visit to Bow Cemetery and view the display of bluebells sprouting under the tall forest canopy that has grown over the graves of the numberless East Enders buried there. In each season of the the year, this hallowed ground offers me an arcadian refuge from the city streets and my spirits always lift as I pass between the ancient brick walls that enclose it, setting out to lose myself among the winding paths, lined by tombstones and overarched with trees.

Equivocal weather rendered the timing of my trip as a gamble, and I was at the mercy of chance whether I should get there and back in sunshine. Yet I tried to hedge my bets by setting out after a shower and walking quickly down the Whitechapel Rd beneath a blue sky of small fast-moving clouds – though, even as I reached Mile End, a dark thunderhead came eastwards from the City casting gloom upon the land. It was too late to retrace my steps and instead I unfurled my umbrella in the cemetery as the first raindrops fell, taking shelter under a horse chestnut, newly in leaf, as the shower became a downpour.

Standing beneath the dripping tree in the half-light of the storm, I took a survey of the wildflowers around me, primroses spangling the green, the white star-like stitchwort adorning graves, a scattering of palest pink ladies smock highlighting the ground cover, yellow celandines sharp and bright against the dark green leaves, violets and wild strawberries nestling close to the earth and may blossom and cherry blossom up above – and, of course, the bluebells’ hazy azure mist shimmering between the lines of stones tilting at irregular angles. Alone beneath the umbrella under the tree in the heart of the vast graveyard, I waited. It was the place of death, but all around me there was new growth.

Once the rain relented sufficiently for me to leave my shelter, I turned towards the entrance in acceptance that my visit was curtailed. The pungent aroma of wild garlic filled the damp air. But then – demonstrating the quick-changing weather that is characteristic of April – the clouds were gone and dazzling sunshine descended in shafts through the forest canopy turning the wet leaves into a million tiny mirrors, reflecting light in a vision of phantasmagoric luminosity. Each fresh leaf and petal and branch glowed with intense colour after the rain. I stood still and cast my eyes around to absorb every detail in this sacred place. It was a moment of recognition that has recurred throughout my life, the awe-inspiring rush of growth of plant life in England in spring.

You may also like to read about

At Bow Cemetery

Snowfall at Bow Cemetery

Spring Bulbs at Bow Cemetery

Find out more at

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Bob Beadman permalink
    April 17, 2022

    What an incredibly moving and beautiful place to lie at rest.

  2. Andy permalink
    April 17, 2022

    I really like this.

  3. Jane permalink
    April 17, 2022

    Such a beautiful graveyard, also a lovely article and photographs distilling spring. How much lovelier a graveyard is when ‘overgrown’ and tumbling like this rather than ‘tidy’ and shorn – and bound to be much kinder to wildlife too.

  4. Stella Caston permalink
    April 17, 2022

    A lovely start to my day. Having lived all my life in a village I find London busy so it is bliss to enter the gates. This morning a reminder to visit again.
    The records from the cemetery have helped me so much with my family history. Over 30 found so far and I have learnt so much about my family. Most in bought graves and I have many death certificates. It was heartbreaking to find out how many children died and what they died from. How my own family survived for me to tell the story is a miracle!
    Thank you for your wonderful posts.

  5. Annie S permalink
    April 17, 2022

    I paid my first visit to the cemetery a few weeks ago as part of a guided walk and was amazed how spacious it was, compared to others like Highgate and Abney Park.
    I will definitely visit again for a proper walk around.

  6. April 17, 2022

    +++ HAPPY EASTER 2022 ! +++

    Very lovely described impressions of a stay in a cemetery in springtime. I experienced something similar at the Jewish Cemetery in Kassel:

    Love & Peace

  7. Saba permalink
    April 17, 2022

    Happy Easter, GA and GRs! Blessings to all GRs of all religions!

    The tiny print on one of the gravestones must have taken some crafts person a week to compose.

  8. Deborah Keaveney permalink
    April 17, 2022

    So uplifting and consoling. An inspired piece that has finished off my Easter weekend with a sense of peaceful acceptance of Life and Death and the eternal circle of existence. Thank you writer!

  9. Christine Saunders permalink
    April 17, 2022

    Happy Easter one and all

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS