Monday 15 April 2024

A few old haunts on the Brompton Electric

Early yesterday morning  I took my Brompton Electric out for a little spin. The rather strange thing is that despite cycling just over 26 miles in total, the battery was not turned on once! Still, good to know it is there at the push of a button when needed. 

It was about 9 miles from N6 down to Brompton Cemetery and the weather was rather lovely. There weren't really too many people about and thankfully far too early for delivery drivers on various two-wheeled forms of transport. 

I do like Brompton Cemetery. It opened in 1840 and one of the Magnificent Seven Cemeteries established by an Act of Parliament in 1839. These include: Kensal Green, West Norwood, Highgate, Abney Park, Nunhead and Tower Hamlets.

For me it cannot really compete with my particular favourite, Kensal Green and its close second, Highgate. 

It does have the grave of Emmeline Pankhurst, political activist and organiser of the suffragette movement. It always seems to have some lovely flowers laid respectfully and occasionally - as was on this day - a ribbon tied around the headstone. 

I went over Hammersmith Bridge going south over the Thames and later back again heading back home. For many Londoners, this is their favourite bridge. Quite by chance my route back took me quite close to where is designer, Joseph Bazalgette once lived on Hamilton Terrace. It opened in 1827 for the first version and 1887 for the current version. Sadly , in 2019 it as closed indefinitely to all motor traffic. It is currently open as a foot bridge and for cyclists. 

As I not too far away from Mortlake, I decided to pay a visit to the church of Mary Magdalen where you can see the quite amazing tomb of explorer and writer, Sir Richard Francis Burton. 

Both Sir Richard and his wife Isabel are buried in the tomb - designed by Isabel - in the shape of a Bedouin tent. There really isn't anything else like it. 

Sir Richard was one of those people who seemed to be able to hear someone speaking a foregin language and be able to pick it up incredibly fast. It was said that he could speak over 25 languages. He was a colour character. At Oxford he was said to have challenged another student to a duel for mocking his moustache. He was famous for translating 'The Arabian Nights' the 'Kama Sutra' and 'The Perfumed Garden.' Shamelessly, he also documented his journey to Mecca in disguise pretending to be a Muslim. 

To the rear there is a fixed ladder leading to a viewing window through which you can see into the tomb itself. On the left is Lady Isabel's coffin and on the right Sir Richard. There is usually some reflection on the glass, unless you pay a visit near sunset - not advisable!

I was trying to think back when I last paid a visit to Brompton Cemetery and Sir Richard's tomb and think that it was quite possibly during one of the lockdowns.

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

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