“Death is a mystery, and burial is a secret.”
103 years before Stephen King’s book about a Pet Sematary created in the town of Ludlow, Maine was printed there was an honest to goodness Pet Cemetery in England.
The Hyde Park pet cemetery (originally the London Hyde Park Dog Cemetery and advertised as The Secret Pet Cemetery of Hyde Park) was established sometime in 1880 and was the final resting place for two cats, three monkeys and a number of birds. Topper, a fox terrier belonging to the park’s Metropolitan Police station was also buried in the cemetery. William Petre, 13th Baron Petre sent a dog for burial at the park and promised to attend the ceremony but died overnight, allegedly of grief for his animal.
However the majority of the deceased buried at the Hyde Park Cemetery are dogs.
471 headstones are known in the cemetery and many are marked with burial dates of these beloved pets. Only five headstones are marked with dates in the 1880s, 255 with the 1890s, 70 with the 1900s and only 23 with later dates. The 1976 burial was the only one carried out after the 1950s- I wonder if it was a cat and if it’s name was Church ( who in King’s book was named after Winston Churchill so it’s possible- slow wink -being that this burial took place in England.)
I learned that pet cemeteries at this time were considered a German custom and that eventually they fell out of fashion. From what I understand there is now a drive to bury pets along side their owners now- which in my opinion is long over due. I don’t care about tradition or decorum.
The sad fact is life goes on and a lot of people stop visiting their loved one’s graves as the years go on ( and there is NOTHING wrong with that ) so why not save a space for a pet?
It only seems right and in a way, oddly comforting to have this reunion in death.
Now let’s step back into the world of the living.
Enclosed at the end of this post are some photos from the Hyde Park cemetery- a quiet little memorial park that is no longer open to the public except for the occasional tour and I have to wonder if I would ever take that tour and if I did would this passage from Pet Semetary pop into my head as I walked among the graves of our most cherished companions.
It probably would, because if I can creep myself out at a cemetery I always do- I think it’s fun.
“Don’t go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to, Doctor. The barrier was not made to be broken. Remember this: there is more power here than you know. It is old and always restless. Remember.”