Recording the oral history of Brompton Cemetery

The Royal Parks and On The Record invited a group of amateurs to train as oral historians – focused on recording and documenting the history and narratives that combine and fold into each other at Brompton Cemetery in West London.

Our mission was to find incredible oral stories from the Londoners who work, love, and dream among the gravestones.

Here, in the resulting radio documentary, you’ll meet a “gilded vagrant in velvet”, a man who drilled a hole in his own head, a famous pop-artist, a funeral celebrant, an expectant mother and a rich assortment of other city-dwellers who use the space in very different ways.

What distinguishes Brompton Cemetery’s “field of stories” is that people flutter from one state of being into another, a bit like the butterflies and the broken angels around them. This graveyard is a green fuse for transformations – DIY brain surgery, LGBTQ+ history, life-after-death, and football fans.

The project was fundamentally designed by Laura Mitchison of On The Record, with many of the volunteers helping to conduct the interviews.

You can listen to the 2-part resulting documentary here – https://on-the-record.org.uk/listen/the-quick-the-dead-an-oral-history-of-brompton-cemetery/