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Where the dead live

It is a myth that death has replaced sex as our big taboo. Death is easy to talk about. What is hard is to give it modern architectural form. Our cemeteries express a wider loss of faith in civic culture

By Ken Worpole   April 2003

Take a train out of any town in Britain, and before long you will pass a number of small churchyards and Victorian cemeteries: angelic, sepulchral, the headstones tilting any which way, the interiors thick with buddleia and mournfulness. In contrast, the cemeteries of the modern era are bleak, flat fields with serried rows of nondescript gravestones looking like an abandoned game of patience, with all the spiritual uplift of a supermarket car park. This is what we have done with death, these places seem to say: rid it of all its terror and replaced it with banality. It was not…

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