Tiffany Roman Style

This series of photos taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, shows the similarities between old oxidized Roman glass and Tiffany glass. This is no accident. Tiffany studied Roman glass and loved the iridescence in it and recreated the effects in his work.

Roman glass:

Roman glass composite, Met 1/12/2017
Roman glass composite, Met 1/12/2017

Tiffany glass:

Photographs below courtesy of the Met except for the last one by me.

Louis Comfort Tiffany 1848-1933, son of a prominent New York jeweler, studied art in New York and later in Paris. While in France, he met Emile Galle who was producing art glass in Nancy. Tiffany was influenced by the Art Nouveau, Japanese prints, Middle Eastern art, and ancient Roman pottery.

Upon returning to America, Tiffany continued painting and was also involved in decorative arts. In 1875, he founded Louis Comfort Tiffany and patented his first glass-lustering technique in 1881. Favrile glass, the trademark for Tiffany handmade glass, resulted from these experiments in imitating Roman glass. This lustering technique, with its iridescent effect, involved dissolving salts of metallic oxides in the molten glass, creating soft greens, blues, golds, etc. The metallic content was then brought to the surface by subjecting the glass to a reducing flame and spraying with another chloride. This treatment caused the surface to crackle into a profusion of tiny lines that refracted light.

Tiffany retired in 1918. Nash carried on the business. In 1928, L.C. Tiffany severed all connection with the firm, withdrawing permission to use his name.

I used some of the Roman glass to create this:

Yellowthroat in an Iridescencent Universe 1/24/2014
Yellowthroat in an Iridescencent Universe 1/24/2014

Jefferson Market

The Jefferson Market Library at 425 Avenue Of The Americas, New York, NY 10011 has an interesting history. My husband Marc covers it well in his Marc’s Village Walks.

Jefferson Market 11/6/2016
Jefferson Market 11/6/2016

I love the old sign on the building across from Jefferson Market. It has an old phone number that uses a name with numbers, Algonquin4-1817, instead of 5 numbers. Ours used to be Oregon, OR5-0138, the same number that his mother had since 1945.

The charming Jefferson Market Garden by the Library open on weekends..

Jefferson Market 11/6/2016
Jefferson Market 11/6/2016

Aged look created in Lightroom, On1 and Photoshop.

@BHEventSpace #BHPortDev

Bedford Street Doors

A short walk south from Christopher to 7th Avenue on Barrow Street in Greenwich Village, New York City. Bedford Street Doors are for Norm’s Thursday Doors, April 28.

A door next to ps3:

107 Bedford Street, NYC 3/5/2016
107 Bedford Street, NYC 3/5/2016

113 Bedford Street, NYC 3/5/2016
113 Bedford Street, NYC 3/5/2016

100 Bedford Street or 17 Grove Street (NE corner of Bedford and Grove): House of William Hyde, window-maker, built 1822. Author James Baldwin frequently stayed here. “The most complete wooden frame house in Greenwich Village”

100 Bedford St or 17 Grove St, NYC 3/5/2016
100 Bedford St or 17 Grove St, NYC 3/5/2016
100 Bedford Street, NYC 3/5/2016
100 Bedford Street, NYC 3/5/2016

SW corner of Grove and Bedford Streets.

18 Grove St at Bedford St, NYC 3/5/16
18 Grove St at Bedford St, NYC 3/5/16

95: Built as stables in 1894, later serving as a winery before becoming apartments in 1927. Alternate story by a local, “the building was actually built by J. Goebel & Company as a factory for crucibles–containers for holding molten glass”.

95 Bedford Street, NYC 3/5/2016
95 Bedford Street, NYC 3/5/2016

86: This unmarked door was the entrance to Chumley’s, a former speakeasy that never had an outside sign. A literary hangout for Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, O’Neill, Dos Passos, Faulkner, Anais Nin, Orson Welles, Edna St. Vincent Millay, James Thurber etc. And movie stars such as Humphrey Bogart would frequent this out of the public eye saloon. It evolved into a popular, cozy bar and restaurant; it can be seen in such films as Reds, Bright Lights, Big City, Wolfen and Sweet and Lowdown. Closed after a wall collapse in 2007 and has yet to reopen.

86 Bedford Street, NYC 3/5/2016
86 Bedford Street, NYC 3/5/2016

A short digression east on Commerce Street:
16 Commerce c. 1821: This old building has sagged alot. possibly due to the construction of 7th Avenue and the subway which cut through that section of Commerce Street.

16 Commerce Stt nr 7 Ave, NYC 3/5/16
16 Commerce Street, NYC 3/5/16

23 Commerce: One of a row of Federal-style houses.

23 Commerce  Street, NYC 3/5/2016
23 Commerce Street, NYC 3/5/2016

75 1/2 Barrow Street: Narrowest building in NYC. It fills in a former alley for carriages. Originally a cobbler’s shop and then a candy factory, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay lived here (1923-24), as did actors John Barrymore and Cary Grant.

75 1/5 Bedford Street, NYC 11/22/15
75 1/5 Bedford Street, NYC 11/22/15

70: Built 1807 by John Roome, sailmaker and court crier.

70 Bedford Street, NYC 11/22/15
70 Bedford Street, NYC 11/22/15

66 Bedford Street, NYC 11/22/15
66 Bedford Street, NYC 11/22/15

Source partly from

Map: Bedford St [Christopher to 7 Ave]
Map: Bedford St [Christopher to 7 Ave]

Horatio Doors

Doors and famous people on Horatio Street (the street I live on) from the Hudson River to Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich Village, New York City. Horatio Doors are for Norm’s Thursday Doors, April 21.

95 and 113 are luxury condos converted from factory buildings near the river. Odd numbers are on the north side and even on the south side of the street. This yellow brick building was built in 1947. While under construction the wood foundations of a 1812 fort were found. Pumps were installed in the basement to supply freezing brine water to the whole sale meat venders in the area.

113 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
113 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
48 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
113 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
48 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
95 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

Washington Commons – a small park on the south side of Washington Street between Jane and Horatio Streets.

Washington Commons,  Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
Washington Commons, Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

83 has a tradesman’s entrance or entrance to rear building (lower door on the right) to the rear.

83 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
83 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

82: Playwright Clifford Odets lived in an apartment building there in 1933-35; he wrote Waiting for Lefty there in 1934.

81: Writer James Baldwin lived here in the 1960s while writing Another Country.

81 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
81 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
81 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
81 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

79 is a four-story 1870 building that was home to novelist William Gaddis in the 1930s and 1940s. It was sold for $7.4 million in 2008, and for $10.5 million in 2012. Note the larger French style windows.

79 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
79 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

77 was Built c. 1836.

77 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
77 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

73 houses the West Village Nursery School, a coop founded c. 1962. It was a nursery school before then because my husband Marc Felix attended it back in 1949.

73 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
73 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
73 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
73 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

71 looks good in the snow.

71 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
71 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

69: Larry Kert, the original Tony in West Side Story, who later won a Tony as the lead in Company, lived here from 1977 until his death in 1999.

69 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
69 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
69 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
69 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

68 is modern.

68 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
68 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

65: Marc was friends of the Leacock’s children who lived here in the late 1950s to early 1960s.

65 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
65 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

62 was once a stable, now a home for a classic Porsche. This, like some other houses, had its stoop removed and the lower trademans entrance became the main entry.

62 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
62 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016


View west towards the Hudson River, Horatio Street, NYC 1/23/2016
View west towards the Hudson River, Horatio Street, NYC 1/23/2016

53 was Built c. 1848.

53 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
53 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

51: Musician Todd Rundgren lived there with his girlfriend Bebe Buell, a singer and fashion model.

Corner of Horatio (633 Hudson): Writer John Cheever lived in a former building here, a teenaged dropout living on bread and buttermilk, when The New Republic published his first short story. Earlier, this address was the headquarters of the Hudson Dusters, a criminal gang whose territory was Manhattan below 13th Street and west of Broadway. They were shut down by police in 1916.

50 was built in 1877. Marc Felix lives here; first with his mother since his birth in 1946, and then with me, Sherry Felix, since 1971. Marc’s mother, Myriam (1918-1971), knew many artists and writers; such as, James Baldwin, Jason Robards, Rip Torn, Kim Stanley, Alfred Ryder,  Alan Ginsburg  and many othe actors, Jazz and Folk musicians..

50 Horatio Street, NYC 12/31/2010
50 Horatio Street, NYC 12/31/2010
50 Horatio Street 4/16/2016
50 Horatio Street 4/16/2016

The musician Richie Havens lived on Horatio for some time.

48: The sculptor Cheim Gross had his studio in this old Firehouse. The famous actor Anthony Quinn visited Gross for sculpture lessons.

48 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
48 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

47: Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollack lived there briefly in the early 1930s.

1, 3 and 5: Gypsies live at number 3 which used to be a variety store.

1, 3 and 5 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016
1, 3 and 5 Horatio Street, NYC 4/15/2016

Green Triangle at Horatio Street, Jane Street and 8th Avenue.

Green Triange, Horatio, 4th Street and 8th Avenue 4/10/2016
Green Triangle at Horatio, 4th Street and 8th Avenue 4/10/2016

2 is on the corner of Greenwich Avenue and was the address of Jackson Hall (1859-63), the meeting place of the Mozart Hall faction of the Democratic Party – opponents of Tammany Hall. A 17-story red-brick coop, built in 1931, stands there now.

Before the Van Gogh apartments at number 2 (1960) there were one story shops there. In one there was a furniture maker, a friend of Marc’s mother, who only used wood joinery in his constrctuiion. Sadly, he commited suicide.

Jackson Square Park is bounded by Horatio Street, Greenwich Avenue and 8th Avenue. It was acquired by the city in 1826, named for President Andrew Jackson, and was redesigned by Calvert Vaux and Parks superintendent Samuel Parsons in 1887. The cast-iron fountain was installed in 1990.

Jackson Square 4/15/2016
Jackson Square 4/15/2016
Jackson Square 9/18/2015
Jackson Square 9/18/2015

Unfortunately, Greenwich Village is no longer a center for artists. It is the new “Gold Coast.” Low cost housing, the old hangouts and neighborhood stores are gone; replaced with condos, expensive restaurants, nightclubs, and boutiques.

Sources: and links to Wikipedia articles.
Personal history by 
Marc and Sherry Felix.

Marc Felix leads history tours of Greenwich Village

Smithfield and London Wall

It was a rainy chilly day on January 7, 2016 so we warmed up with a full English breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, grilled tomatoes, black pudding, baked beans, toast and marmalade in a lovely place by Smithfield Market. Fully fueled we walked over to the British Museum. There is a piece of the old Roman London Wall visible from one of the windows.

Smithfield Market

Smithfield is best known for its meat market, dating from the 10th century, London’s only remaining wholesale market in continuous operation since medieval times. In the Middle Ages, it was a broad grassy area known as Smooth Field, located beyond London Wall to the River Fleet. Street names (such as Cow Cross Street and Cock Lane) remain, but many others (such as Chick Lane, Duck Lane, Cow Lane, Pheasant Court, Goose Alley) have disappeared. In 1174 William Fitzstephen described Smithfield as a smooth field where every Friday there is a celebrated rendezvous of fine horses to be traded, and in another quarter are placed vendibles of the peasant, swine with their deep flanks, and cows and oxen of immense bulk.

In 1710 the market was surrounded by a wooden fence containing the livestock within the market; and the Gate House at Cloth Fair (Fair Gate) used a chain (le cheyne) on market days. Between 1740 and 1750 the average yearly sales at Smithfield were reported to be around 74,000 cattle and 570,000 sheep. By the middle of the 19th century, 220,000 head of cattle and 1,500,000 sheep per year where forced into an area of five acres, in the heart of London, through its narrowest and most crowded thoroughfares. The numbers of cattle driven daily to Smithfield raised major concerns.

Smithfield Market’s Victorian building was designed by Sir Horace Jones in the late 19th century. Some of the buildings on Lindsey Street opposite the East Market were demolished in 2010 to allow the construction of the new Crossrail Station at Farringdon. In March of 2015, the Museum of London revealed plans to vacate its Barbican site and move into the General Market Building and, if funding can be achieved, would be complete by 2021.


London’s Roman Wall

The Roman wall was built in the late 2nd or early 3rd century, between 190 and 225. The reason for the wall’s construction is unknown, it may have been connected to the invasion of northern Britain by Picts who overran Hadrian’s Wall in the 180s. Many historians think the political clash between Septimius Severus, and the governor of Britain Clodius Albinus over the right to succession as emperor led to the wall’s creation. Albinus may have ordered the construction of the wall in the 190s. Septimius defeated his rival in 197.

The London Wall was one of the largest Roman construction projects in Britain; as were Hadrian’s Wall and the road network. It was constructed largely from Kentish ragstone brought by water from Maidstone. The wall was 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) long, enclosing an area of about 330 acres (130 ha), and was 6 to 9 feet (2 to 3 m) wide and about 20 feet (6 m) high. It had a ditch or fossa measuring 6 feet (2 m) deep and 9 to 15 feet (3 to 5 m) wide in front of the outer wall. It had at least twenty-two bastions spaced about 70 yards (64 m) apart, on the eastern section of the wall.

The economic stimulus provided by the wall and Septimius’s campaigns of conquest in Scotland revived Londinium’s fortunes somewhat in the 3rd century. In the late 3rd century (457) Londinium was raided on several occasions by Saxon pirates. This led to the construction of an additional riverside wall. The wall was redeveloped in the medieval period with the addition of crenellations, more gates and further bastions.

The original five gates to the Roman roads were Ludgate, Newgate, Cripplegate, Bishopsgate and Aldgate. Aldersgate, between Newgate and Cripplegate, was added around 350, and Moorgate, between Cripplegate and Bishopsgate, was built in the medieval period. The boundaries of the City of London went past the old city wall during the medieval era. The seven gates to the City of London, with many repairs and rebuilding over the years, stood until they were all demolished between 1760 and 1767.

The wall’s moat forms the line of the street of Houndsditch. Once London’s main rubbish disposal site and was notorious for its appalling odor. The moat was finally covered over and filled in at the end of the 16th century, becoming the present street.

During the Great Fire of London in September 1666, almost all of the medieval City of London inside the wall was destroyed.

In the late 18th and 19th centuries the wall underwent substantial demolition, although large portions of it survived by being incorporated into other structures. During the Blitz of WWII, some of the tallest ruins left standing were remnants of the Roman wall.

Today all that remains of the wall are a few fragments, some of which can be seen in the grounds of the Museum of London, in the Barbican Estate and around Tower Hill. A section near the Museum of London was revealed at Noble Street, after an air raid on 29 December 1940. Another section is at St Alphage Gardens, and other sections form parts of the walls or foundations of modern buildings. A large fragment of the wall is just outside Tower Hill tube station.


Celts – British and London Museums

I love Celtic art and history. The British Museum had an exhibit on the Celts in December 2015. I also saw some lovely Celtic pieces at the Museum of London. The word “Celts” is a cultural label and not an ethnic identity.

The Celts of Iron Age and Medieval Europe who had similar languages and cultures but not ethnicities. Much of the ethnic, geographic, linguistic and cultural origins of the Celts is uncertain. Details of the Celts of Great Britain and Ireland are still being debated.

With the expansion of the Roman Empire and the Great Migrations of Germanic peoples in the mid-1st century Celtic culture had become restricted to Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Brittany. Between the 5th and 8th centuries. They had a distinctive linguistic, religious, and artistic heritage. The Continental Celtic languages were no longer in wide use by the 6th century.

Insular Celtic culture diversified into the Gaels (Irish, Scottish and Manx) and the Brythonic Celts (Welsh, Cornish, and Bretons) of the medieval and modern periods. A modern “Celtic identity” is a part of a Celtic Revival in Great Britain, Ireland, and in Portugal and Spanish Galicia. Today, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and Breton are still spoken in parts of their historical territories, and Cornish and Manx are undergoing a revival.

Hecataeus of Miletus, the Greek geographer, in 517 BC first recorded the Celts – as Κελτοί – refering to a people living near Massilia (modern Marseille). In the 5th century BC Herodotus referred to Keltoi as living around the head of the Danube and in the far west of Europe. The etymology of the term Keltoi is unclear. Possible roots include Indo-European kel ‘to hide’ (also in Old Irish celid), IE *kel ‘to heat’ or kel ‘to impel’. Some say it is Celtic in origin, while others view it as a name coined by Greeks. Linguist Patrizia De Bernardo Stempel suggests it means “the tall ones”.

In the 1st century BC Julius Caesar reported that the people known as Gauls (Galli) called themselves Celts. This suggests the name Keltoi, if bestowed by the Greeks, had been adopted by the tribes of Gaul. The geographer Strabo in the late 1st century BC refers to the “…Gallic and Galatic,” and also uses Celtica as a synonym for Gaul, which is separated from Iberia by the Pyrenees. He reports “Celtiberi and Celtici” peoples in Iberia. Pliny the Elder cited Celtici in Lusitania as a tribal surname, which is confirmed by epigraphic findings.

Latin Gallus (pl. Galli) might stem from a Celtic ethnic or tribal name originally, perhaps one borrowed into Latin during the Celtic expansions into Italy during the early 5th century BC. Its root may be the Common Celtic galno, meaning “power, strength”, hence Old Irish gal “boldness, ferocity” and Welsh gallu “to be able, power”. The tribal names of Gallaeci and the Greek Γαλάται (Galatai, Latinized Galatae; see the region Galatia in Anatolia) most probably go with the same origin. The suffix -atai might be an Ancient Greek inflection. Classical writers did not apply the terms Κελτοί or “Celtae” to the inhabitants of Britain or Ireland, which has led to some scholars preferring not to use the term for the Iron Age inhabitants of those islands.

Celt is a modern English word, first attested in 1707, in the writing of Edward Lhuyd, whose work, along with that of other late 17th century scholars, brought academic attention to the languages and history of the early Celtic inhabitants of Great Britain. The 17th century English form Gaul and Gaulish come from the French Gaule and Gaulois, a borrowing from Frankish Walholant, “Land of foreigners or Romans”, the root of which is Proto-Germanic walha-, “foreigner”’, or “Celt”, whence the English word Welsh (Anglo-Saxon wælisċ walhiska-), South German welsch, meaning “Celtic speaker”, “French speaker” or “Italian speaker” in different contexts, and Old Norse valskr, pl. valir, “Gaulish, French”). Proto-Germanic walha is derived ultimately from the name of the Volcae, a Celtic tribe who lived first in the South of Germany and emigrated then to Gaul. This means that English Gaul, despite its superficial similarity, is not actually derived from Latin Gallia (which should have produced Jaille in French), though it does refer to the same ancient region.

Celtic refers to a family of languages and, more generally, means “of the Celts” or “in the style of the Celts”. Several ancient cultures are considered Celtic in nature, based on unique sets of artefacts. The link between language and artefact is aided by the presence of inscriptions. The modern idea of an identifiable Celtic cultural identity or “Celticity” generally focuses on similarities among languages, works of art, and classical texts, and, social organization, homeland and mythology. Recent theories hold that they reflect a common cultural and language heritage more than a genetic one.

Today, the term Celtic generally refers to the languages and respective cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Brittany, also known as the Celtic nations. These are the regions where four Celtic languages are still spoken to some extent as mother tongues. The four are Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and Breton; also two recent revivals, Cornish (one of the Brythonic languages) and Manx (one of the Goidelic languages). There are also attempts to reconstruct the Cumbric language (a Brythonic language from North West England and South West Scotland). Celtic regions of Continental Europe are those whose residents claim a Celtic heritage, but where no Celtic language has survived; these areas include the western Iberian Peninsula, i.e. Portugal, and north-central Spain (Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Castile and León, Extremadura).

Continental Celts are the Celtic-speaking people of mainland Europe and Insular Celts are the Celtic-speaking peoples of the British and Irish islands and their descendants. The Celts of Brittany derive their language from migrating insular Celts, mainly from Wales and Cornwall, and so are grouped accordingly.


The Celtic languages form a branch of the larger Indo-European family. By around 400 BC in the late Bronze Age, the Celtic languages were already split into several groups, and spread over much of Western continental Europe, the Iberian Peninsula, Ireland and Britain. Evidence of Insular Celtic is available only from about 400 AD, in the form of Primitive Irish Ogham inscriptions. An important source of information on early Celtic is place names (toponymy).

Some scholars believe that the Urnfield culture of the late Bronze Age (c. 1200 BC to 700 BC) of Western Middle Europe is the origin for the Celts as a distinct cultural branch of the Indo-European family.

The spread of iron-working led to the development of the Hallstatt culture directly from the Urnfield (c. 700 to 500 BC). Proto-Celtic is considered to have been spoken during the late Urnfield or early Hallstatt cultures, in the early 1st millennium BC. The spread of the Celtic languages to Iberia, Ireland and Britain would have occurred during the first half of the 1st millennium BC. The earliest Celtic style chariot burials in Britain date to c. 500 BC. Some scholars see Celtic languages as covering Britain and Ireland, and parts of the Continent, long before any evidence of “Celtic” culture is found in archaeology. Over the centuries the language(s) developed into the separate Celtiberian, Goidelic and Brythonic languages.

The Hallstatt culture was succeeded by the La Tène culture of central Europe, which was overrun by the Roman Empire, though traces of La Tène style are still to be seen in Gallo-Roman artefacts. In Britain and Ireland La Tène style in art survived precariously to re-emerge in Insular art. Early Irish literature casts light on the flavor and tradition of the heroic warrior elites who dominated Celtic societies. Celtic river-names are found in great numbers around the upper reaches of the Danube and Rhine, which led many Celtic scholars to place the ethnogenesis of the Celts in this area.

Diodorus Siculus and Strabo both suggest that the heartland of the people they called Celts was in southern France. The former says that the Gauls were to the north of the Celts, but that the Romans referred to both as Gauls (linguistically the Gauls were certainly Celts). Before the discoveries at Hallstatt and La Tène, it was generally considered that the Celtic heartland was southern France, see Encyclopædia Britannica for 1813.

Archaeological evidence

Before the 19th century the original land of the Celts was placed west of the Rhine, more precisely in Gaul, because it was where Greek and Roman ancient sources, namely Caesar, located the Celts. This view was revised by the 19th century historian Marie Henri d’Arbois de Jubainville who placed the land of origin of the Celts east of the Rhine. Jubainville based his arguments on a phrase of Herodotus’ that placed the Celts at the source of the Danube, and argued that Herodotus had meant to place the Celtic homeland in southern Germany. The finding of the prehistoric cemetery of Hallstat in 1846 by Johan Ramsauer and the finding of the archaeological site of La Tène by Hansli Kopp in 1857 drew attention to this area.

The concept that the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures could be seen not just as chronological periods but as “Culture Groups” of people of the same ethnicity and language, started to grow by the end of the 19th century. In the beginning of the 20th century the Gordon Childe theorized that these “Culture Groups” could be thought of in racial or ethnic terms. His theory was influenced by the writings of Gustaf Kossinna. This theory was bolstered by findings of “La Tène culture” and “flat inhumation cemeteries” which were directly associated with the Celts and the Celtic language. The Iron Age Hallstatt (c. 800–475 BC) and La Tène (c. 500–50 BC) cultures are typically associated with Proto-Celtic and Celtic culture.

In various academic disciplines the Celts were considered a Central European Iron Age phenomenon, through the cultures of Hallstatt and La Tène. However, archaeological finds from the Halstatt and La Tène culture were rare in the Iberian Peninsula, in southwestern France, northern and western Britain, southern Ireland and Galatia and did not provide enough evidence for a cultural scenario comparable to that of Central Europe. It is considered equally difficult to maintain that the origin of the Peninsular Celts can be linked to the preceding Urnfield culture, leading to a more recent approach that introduces a ‘proto-Celtic’ substratum and a process of Celticisation having its initial roots in the Bronze Age Bell Beaker culture.

The La Tène culture was late Iron Age (from 450 BC to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BC) and found in eastern France, Switzerland, Austria, southwest Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. It developed out of the Hallstatt culture, with Mediterranean influence from Greek, and later Etruscan civilizations. A shift of settlement centers took place in the 4th century.

The western La Tène culture corresponds to historical Celtic Gaul. If the whole La Tène culture can be called a unified Celtic people is difficult to say; archaeologists show that language, material culture, and political affiliations do not necessarily run parallel. Frey notes that in the 5th century, “burial customs in the Celtic world were not uniform; rather, localized groups had their own beliefs, which, in consequence, also gave rise to distinct artistic expressions”. Thus, while the La Tène culture is certainly associated with the Gauls, the presence of La Tène artefacts may be due to cultural contact and does not imply the permanent presence of Celtic speakers.

Minority views

Myles Dillon and Nora Kershaw Chadwick accepted that “the Celtic settlement of the British Isles” might have to be dated to the Beaker period. Martín Almagro Gorbea proposed the origins of the Celts could be traced back to the 3rd millennium BC, rooted in the Bell Beaker culture, with a wide dispersion of the Celts throughout western Europe, variability of the different Celtic peoples. Using a multidisciplinary approach Alberto J. Lorrio and Gonzalo Ruiz Zapatero added to Almagro Gorbea’s work with a model for the origin of the Celtic archaeological groups in the Iberian Peninsula. More recently, John Koch and Barry Cunliffe have suggested that Celtic origins lie with the Atlantic Bronze Age, roughly contemporaneous with the Hallstatt culture but positioned considerably to the West, extending along the Atlantic coast of Europe.

Stephen Oppenheimer points out that the only written evidence that locates the Keltoi near the source of the Danube (i.e. in the Hallstatt region) is in the Histories of Herodotus. However, Oppenheimer shows that Herodotus seemed to believe the Danube rose near the Pyrenees, which would place the Ancient Celts in a region which is more in agreement with later Classical writers and historians (i.e. in Gaul and the Iberian Peninsula).


The Romans knew the Celts living in what became present-day France as Gauls. Their territories probably included the Low Countries, the Alps and present-day northern Italy. Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars described the 1st century BC descendants of those Gauls. Eastern Gaul became the center of the western La Tène culture. In later Iron Age Gaul, the social organization was similar to the Romans, with large towns. From the 3rd century BC the Gauls used coins.

The Romans arrived in the Rhone valley in the 2nd century BC and encountered a mostly Celtic-speaking Gaul. Rome wanted land communications with its Iberian provinces and fought a major battle with the Saluvii at Entremont in 124–123 BC. Gradually Roman control extended, and the Roman Province of Gallia Transalpina developed along the Mediterranean coast. The Romans knew the remainder of Gaul as Gallia Comata – “Hairy Gaul”.

In 58 BC the Helvetii planned to migrate westward but Julius Caesar forced them back. He then fought other tribes in Gaul, and by 55 BC had overrun most of Gaul. In 52 BC Vercingetorix led a revolt against the Roman occupation but was defeated at the siege of Alesia and surrendered.

Following the Gallic Wars of 58–51 BC, Caesar’s Celtica formed the main part of Roman Gaul, becoming the province of Gallia Lugdunensis. This territory of the Celtic tribes was bounded on the south by the Garonne and on the north by the Seine and the Marne.

Place, personal name analysis, and inscriptions suggest that the Gaulish Celtic language was spoken over most of what is now France.


Until the end of the 19th century scholars acknowledged the Celts’ existed in the Iberian Peninsula and where related to the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures. However, since Iron Age in the 19th century Celtic populations were supposedly rare in Iberia and not linked to that of Central Europe. Three divisions of the Celts of the Iberian Peninsula are: The Celtiberians in the mountains near the center of the peninsula, the Celtici in the southwest, and the Celts in the northwest (in Gallaecia and Asturias).

The origins of the Celtiberians might be key to understanding the Celticisation process in the rest of the Peninsula. Recent investigations about the Callaici and Bracari in northwestern Portugal are providing new approaches to understanding Celtic culture (language, art and religion) in western Iberia.

John T. Koch of Aberystwyth University suggested that Tartessian inscriptions of the 8th century BC might be classified as Celtic. This would mean that Tartessian is the earliest attested trace of Celtic by a margin of more than a century.

Alps and Po Valley

Celtic (Lepontic, sometimes called Cisalpine Celtic) 6th century BC inscriptions have been found in Northern Italy at Golasecca, where the Ticino exits from Lake Maggiore. A location suitable for long-distance salt trading exchanges between Etruscans and the Halstatt culture of Austria.

In 391 BC Celts from “…beyond the Alps streamed through the passes in great strength and seized the territory that lay between the Apennine mountains and the Alps” said Diodorus Siculus. The Po Valley and the rest of northern Italy (known as Cisalpine Gaul) was inhabited by Celtic-speakers who founded cities such as Milan. Later the Celts routed Roman army at the battle of Allia and Rome was sacked in 390 BC by the Senones. At the battle of Telamon in 225 BC a large Celtic army was trapped between two Roman forces and crushed. The defeat of the combined Samnite, Celtic and Etruscan alliance by the Romans in the Third Samnite War was the beginning of the end of the Celtic domination in mainland Europe. In 192 BC the Roman armies conquered the last remaining independent Celtic kingdoms in Italy.

Eastward expansion

The Celts also expanded down the Danube river and its tributaries. The Scordisci tribe’s capital was at Singidunum in 3rd century BC (present-day Belgrade, Serbia). The concentration of hill-forts and cemeteries shows a dense population in the Tisza valley of modern-day Vojvodina, Serbia, Hungary and into Ukraine. Expansion into Romania was blocked by the Dacians.

Further south, Celts settled in Thrace (Bulgaria), which they ruled for over a century, and Anatolia, where they settled as the Galatians (see also: Gallic Invasion of Greece). Despite their geographical isolation from the rest of the Celtic world, the Galatians maintained their Celtic language for at least 700 years. St Jerome, who visited Ancyra (modern-day Ankara) in 373 AD, likened their language to that of the Treveri of northern Gaul. Galatia in central Turkey was an area of dense Celtic settlement. The Boii tribe gave their name to Bohemia, Bologna and possibly Bavaria, and Celtic artefacts and cemeteries have been discovered in Poland and Slovakia.

The Celtic language and culture spread to some areas by contact rather than invasion. However, the Celtic invasions of Italy and the expedition in Greece and western Anatolia, are well documented in Greek and Latin history. There are records of Celtic mercenaries in Egypt serving the Ptolemies. Thousands were employed in 283–246 BC and they were also in service around 186 BC. They attempted to overthrow Ptolemy II.

Insular Celts

All Celtic languages extant today belong to the Insular Celtic languages, derived from the Celtic languages spoken in Iron Age Britain and Ireland. They were separated into a Goidelic and a Brythonic branch from an early period.

Linguists debate over whether a Celtic language came to Britain and Ireland and then split or whether there were two separate “invasions”. The older view was that the Celtic influence in the British Isles was the result of successive invasions from the European continent by diverse Celtic-speaking peoples over the course of several centuries. This view has fallen into disfavor, to be replaced by the model of a phylogenetic Insular Celtic dialect group.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, scholars dated the “arrival” of Celtic culture in Britain (via invasion) to the 6th century BC, based on similar Hallstatt type archaeological evidence of chariot burials in England. Some Iron Age migration was possible but details are vague. By about the 6th century (Sub-Roman Britain), most of the inhabitants of the Isles were speaking Celtic languages of either the Goidelic or the Brythonic branch.

Since the late 20th century, the new model (championed by archaeologists such as Barry Cunliffe and Celtic historians such as John T. Koch) places the emergence of Celtic culture in Britain much earlier, in the Bronze Age due to a gradual emergence of the Proto-Indo-European culture – perhaps introduced by the Bell Beaker People and enabled by the network between the peoples of Britain, Ireland and the Atlantic seaboard.

Classical writers did not use the terms Κελτοί or “Celtae” when referring to the inhabitants of Britain or Ireland, leading a number of scholars to question the use of the term Celt to describe the Iron Age inhabitants of those islands. The first historical account of the islands of Britain and Ireland was by Pytheas, a Greek, who sailed around “Pretannikai nesoi” around 310-306 BC which can be translated as the “Pretannic Isles”. In general, classical writers referred to the inhabitants of Britain as Pretannoi or Britanni. Strabo, writing in the Roman era, clearly distinguished between the Celts and Britons.


Roman local government mirrored pre-Roman tribal boundaries, and archaeological finds suggest native involvement in local government. The native peoples became keen to adopt Roman ways. Celtic art incorporated classical influences, and kept faith with old traditions despite a Roman overlay. The Gauls often served in the Roman cavalry and the Romans adopted the Celtic cavalry sword, the spatha, and Epona, the Celtic horse goddess.


Tribes appear to have been led by kings, although there is some evidence of oligarchical republican forms of government eventually emerging in areas closely tied to Rome. Celtic societies were divided into three groups: a warrior aristocracy; an intellectual class including professions such as druid, poet, and jurist; and everyone else. In ancient times the offices of high and low kings in Ireland and Scotland were filled by election under the system of tanistry, which eventually came into conflict with the feudal principle of primogeniture in which succession goes to the first-born son.

Little is known of family structure among the Celts. Patterns of settlement varied from decentralized to urban. The popular stereotype of non-urbanized societies settled in hillforts and duns. drawn from Britain and Ireland (there are about 3,000 hill forts known in Britain) contrasts with the urban settlements present in the core Hallstatt and La Tène areas, with many fortified Iron Age settlements (oppida) of Gaul late in the first millennium BC, and with the towns of Gallia Cisalpina.

Slaves were acquired from war, raids, and penal and debt servitude. Slavery was hereditary, though manumission was possible. The Old Irish and Welsh words for ‘slave’, cacht and caeth respectively, are cognate with Latin captus ‘captive’ suggesting that the slave trade was an early venue of contact between Latin and Celtic societies. In the Middle Ages, slavery was especially prevalent in the Celtic countries.

Archaeologist have discovered large prehistoric trackways created for wheeled transport crossing bogs in Ireland and Germany, part of a network of overland trade routes that spanned Eurasia. The Celts mined tin, lead, iron, silver and gold. Celtic smiths and metalworkers created weapons and jewelry for international trade, particularly with the Romans.

The monetary system was complex and is still not understood. It is assumed that “proto-money” was used. This included bronze items made from the early La Tène period and onwards, which were often in the shape of axe heads, rings, or bells.

Appearance and Clothing

According to Diodorus Siculus: “The Gauls are tall of body with rippling muscles and white of skin and their hair is blond, and not only naturally so for they also make it their practice by artificial means to increase the distinguishing color which nature has given it. For they are always washing their hair in limewater and they pull it back from the forehead to the nape of the neck, with the result that their appearance is like that of Satyrs and Pans since the treatment of their hair makes it so heavy and coarse that it differs in no respect from the mane of horses. Some of them shave the beard but others let it grow a little; and the nobles shave their cheeks but they let the moustache grow until it covers the mouth.”

During the later Iron Age the Gauls generally wore long-sleeved shirts or tunics and long trousers (called braccae by the Romans). Clothes were made of wool or linen, with some silk being used by the rich. Cloaks were worn in the winter. Brooches and armlets were used, but the most famous item of jewelry was the torc, a neck collar of metal, sometimes gold. The horned Waterloo Helmet in the British Museum, which long set the standard for modern images of Celtic warriors, is in fact a unique survival, and may have been a piece for ceremonial rather than military wear.

Gender and sexual norms

According to Aristotle the Celts were unusual because their men openly preferred male lovers (Politics II 1269b). H. D. Rankin in Celts and the Classical World notes that “Athenaeus echoes this comment (603a) and so does Ammianus (30.9).” In book XIII of his Deipnosophists, the Roman Greek rhetorician and grammarian Athenaeus, repeating Diodorus Siculus in the 1st century BC (Bibliotheca historica 5:32), wrote that Celtic women were beautiful but that the men preferred to sleep together. Diodorus went further, stating that “the young men will offer themselves to strangers and are insulted if the offer is refused”. Rankin argues that the ultimate source of these assertions is likely to be Poseidonius and speculates that these authors may be recording male “bonding rituals”.

The sexual freedom of women in Britain was noted by Cassius Dio: “…a very witty remark is reported to have been made by the wife of Argentocoxus, a Caledonian, to Julia Augusta. When the empress was jesting with her, after the treaty, about the free intercourse of her sex with men in Britain, she replied: “We fulfill the demands of nature in a much better way than do you Roman women; for we consort openly with the best men, whereas you let yourselves be debauched in secret by the vilest.” Such was the retort of the British woman.”

A few records show women participated both in warfare and in kingship. Plutarch reports that Celtic women acted as ambassadors to avoid a war among Celts chiefdoms in the Po valley during the 4th century BC. Very few reliable sources exist regarding Celtic views towards gender divisions and societal status, though some archaeological evidence does suggest that their views towards gender roles may differ from the Roman’s.

Evidence in some Iron Age burial sites in the Champagne and Bourgogne regions of Northeastern France suggest that women had roles in combat during the earlier La Tène period. Individuals buried with both female jewelry and weaponry have been identified, such as the Vix Grave, and there are questions about the gender of some skeletons that were buried with warrior assemblages. It has been suggested that “the weapons may indicate rank instead of masculinity”.

Among the insular Celts documents suggest symbolic if not actual roles warrior for women. There is the famous commentary by Tacitus about Boudica. Poseidonius’ comments on the Celts had common themes, primarily primitivism, extreme ferocity, cruel sacrificial practices, and the strength and courage of their women.

Under Brehon Law, which was written down in early Medieval Ireland after conversion to Christianity, a woman had the right to divorce her husband and gain his property if he was unable to perform his marital duties due to impotence, obesity, homosexual inclination or preference for other women.

Celtic art

Celtic art is generally the art of the La Tène period across Europe, while the Early Medieval art of Britain and Ireland called “Celtic art” by much of the general public, is called Insular art in art history. Both styles absorbed considerable influences from non-Celtic sources, with a preference for geometrical decoration over figurative subjects, which are often extremely stylized when they do appear; narrative scenes only appear under outside influence. Energetic circular forms, triskeles and spirals are characteristic. Much of the surviving material is in precious metal, which no doubt gives a very unrepresentative picture, but apart from Pictish stones and the Insular high crosses, large monumental sculpture with decorative carving, is very rare; possibly it was originally common in wood. Celts also created musical instruments such as the carnyces. These famous war trumpets were used before the battle to frighten the enemy, the best preserved one was found in Tintignac (Gaul) in 2004 and is decorated with a boar head or a snake head.

The interlace patterns that are often regarded as typical of “Celtic art” were in fact introduced to Insular art from the animal Style II of Germanic Migration Period art and incorporated with great skill and enthusiasm by Celtic artists in metalwork and illuminated manuscripts. These “Celtic” forms were used for the finest Insular art; such as, in Gospel books like the Book of Kells and Book of Lindisfarne, chalices like the Ardagh Chalice and Derrynaflan Chalice, and penannular brooches like the Tara Brooch. The peak period of Insular art lasted from the 7th to the 9th centuries, before the Viking attacks sharply set back cultural life.

In contrast the less well known spectacular art of the richest earlier Continental Celts often adopted elements of Roman, Greek and other “foreign” styles (and possibly used imported craftsmen) to decorate objects that were distinctively Celtic. After the Roman conquests, some Celtic elements remained in popular art, especially Ancient Roman pottery, of which Gaul was actually the largest producer, mostly in Italian styles, but also producing work in local taste, including figurines of deities and wares painted with animals and other subjects in highly formalized styles. Roman Britain created more enamel objects than most of the Empire, and its development of champlevé technique was probably important to the later Medieval art of the whole of Europe. Rising nationalism led to a revival of Celtic art in the 19th century.

Warfare and weapons

While epic literature depicts warfare as more of a sport focused on raids and hunting rather than organized territorial conquest, the historical record is more of tribes using warfare to exert political control and harass rivals, for economic advantage, and in some instances to conquer territory.

Dionysius said that their “manner of fighting, being in large measure that of wild beasts and frenzied, was an erratic procedure, quite lacking in military science…” The Celtic weapon was a long bladed sword which was used for hacking edgewise rather than stabbing.

Polybius asserts that certain of the Celts fought naked, “The appearance of these naked warriors was a terrifying spectacle, for they were all men of splendid physique and in the prime of life.” According to Livy this was also true of the Celts of Asia Minor.


Celtic religious patterns were regionally variable; however, some patterns of deity forms, and ways of worshipping these deities, appeared over a wide geographical and temporal range. The Celts worshipped both gods and goddesses. In general, Celtic gods were deities of particular skills, such as the many-skilled Lugh and Dagda, while goddesses were associated with natural features, particularly rivers (such as Boann, goddess of the River Boyne). This was not universal, however, as goddesses such as Brighid and The Morrígan were associated with both natural features (holy wells and the River Unius) and skills such as blacksmithing and healing.

The Irish god Lugh, associated with storms, lightning, and culture, is seen in similar forms as Lugos in Gaul and Lleu in Wales. The continental Celtic horse goddess Epona had her Irish and Welsh counterparts, Macha and Rhiannon, respectively.

Druids held ceremonies in sacred groves. La Tène Celts built temples of varying size and shape, though they also maintained shrines at sacred trees and votive pools. Druids served as priests and religious officiants, but also as judges, sacrificers, teachers, and lore-keepers. Druids organized and ran religious ceremonies, and they memorized and taught the calendar. Other classes of druids performed ceremonial sacrifices of crops and animals for the perceived benefit of the community.

Gallic calendar

The Coligny calendar, an engraved on a bronze tablet, dates to the end of the 2nd century, and was found in 1897 in Coligny, Ain, was. It is written in Latin inscriptional capitals, and is in the Gallic language. The restored tablet contains 16 vertical columns, with 62 months distributed over 5 years. The French archaeologist J. Monard speculated that it was recorded by druids wishing to preserve their tradition of timekeeping in a time when the Julian calendar was imposed throughout the Roman Empire.

Roman influence

The Roman invasion of Gaul led to many changes in Celtic religion, the most noticeable of which was the weakening of the druid class, especially religiously. Deities began to appear with both Roman and Celtic attributes. Other changes included the adaptation of the Jupiter Column, a sacred column set up in many Celtic regions of the empire. Another major change was the use of stone monuments to represent gods and goddesses. Prior to Roman conquest the Celts had only created wooden idols; such as, monuments (sacred poles) carved into trees.

Celtic Christianity

areas of Ireland and Scotland unconquered by the Romans began to move from Celtic polytheism to Christianity in the 5th century. Ireland was converted by missionaries, such as Saint Patrick, from Britain. Later missionaries from Ireland went to Scotland, Anglo-Saxon parts of Britain, and central Europe. Celtic Christianity in Britain and Ireland had limited contact with Rome, continental Christianity, and Coptic Christianity. Celtic Christianity developed, or retained, features that made them distinct from the rest of Western Christianity, most famously their conservative method of calculating the date of Easter. In 664 the Synod of Whitby began to resolve these differences.

The free standing Celtic cross with a circular nimbus (representing a halo or sun cross) Is a form created by early Celtic Christians (
I wonder if it is also an incorporation of the sacred poles carved into trees. 

(Source: This is my much reduced version – believe it or not. I hope a few of you are interested enough to read all this.

A few other photographs taken at the two museums:

St Mary’s Old Church Door

A church has been at the site of St Mary’s Old Church, Stoke Newington, London since the time of the Domesday Book (1086). The current Elizabethan Church (16 c.) was erected by Lord William Patten as an Anglican church in Stoke Newington, then a village on the outskirts of London.

Patten, Lord of the Manor from 1549 to 1571, decided to rebuild the almost derelict parish church in1563. On the south side is Patten’s private chapel with its own door at the east end with the date and his motto “ab alto” (“from above”) over the door. The door inside to his private chapel has his family crest with its motto “Prospice” (“look forward”). The red brick walls and arcade separating the chapel from the nave date from then. Patten’s design included a vestry at the east end and a schoolroom at the west end. The parish school is four hundred years old.

In 1805 the seating in the church was replaced with high pews with panels and doors. In 1829 Sir Charles Barry enlarged the church. After bomb damage in 1940 the Church was restored in 1953. The church interior was remodeled in 2013 and the majority of the pews were removed. It is now used as an arts and community space.

John Dudley, Patten’s successor as Lord of the Manor, has an elaborate tomb behind the pulpit. Dudley held offices at court and was one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorites. The memorial to the Hartopp family (end of the north aisle) commemorates some of Charles Fleetwood descendants; such as, Oliver Cromwell’s son-in-law, who lived in Fleetwood House, Church Street.

Buried in the south-eastern part of the churchyard is James Stephen, William Wilberforce’s brother in law, a chief adviser on the final draft of the Bill to abolish the slave trade in 1807. Wilberforce’s sister and daughter are also buried there. Wilberforce wished to be buried there, but was interred at Westminster Abbey instead. The poet and abolitionist Anna Barbauld is entombed to the right of the path to the main south door (Source:

Post created mainly for Norm’s Thursday Doors from photos take on December 21, 23 and 29, 2015. This is my third posting on Stoke Newington. The other two are:

St Mary's Old Chirch door, Stoke Newington
St Mary’s Old Chirch door, Stoke Newington

Botolph’s Door

My son took us around London on December 19, 2015. I chose the Parish and Ward Church of St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, London for this post for this week’s Norm’s Thursday’s Doors.

History (source:

St Botolph’s is thought to be a Christian site since Roman times. The original Saxon church foundations were discovered when the present church was erected, and is first mentioned as “Sancti Botolfi Extra Bishopesgate” in 1212. The church survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. St. Botolph’s, the fourth on this site, was completed in 1729, designed by James Gould. It is unique among the City churches in having its tower at the East End, with the chancel underneath. The font, pulpit and organ are eighteenth century.

1992 and 1993 St. Botolph’s was one of the many buildings to be damaged by IRA bombings. Restoration was completed in 1997. St Botolph’s was the first of the City burial grounds to be converted into a public garden. The transformation caused much opposition.

Botolph (died 680AD) and his brother Adolph were 7th century Saxon nobles. They were sent to a Benedictine Abbey in France for education. Adolph rose to be a Dutch Bishop, and Botolph returned to his native East Anglia. King Anna gave him a grant of land to build a monastery, either at Icanhoh (in a marshland area) near Boston (Botolph’s Town) in Lincolnshire, or Iken near Aldeburgh in Suffolk. Botolph was said to have expelled the swamps of their “Devils.” He probably drained the marshes and eliminated the marsh gas with its night glow.

The monastery was destroyed by Danish invaders in 870AD. King Edgar (963-967AD) had the remains of the saint divided into three parts: the head to be taken to Ely, the middle to be taken to Thorney, and the remainder to be taken to Westminster Abbey. The relics were brought, via various towns, to London. Over 70 Churches, along with are five towns and villages, are dedicated to him. The churches at the entrances to the four City gates of Aldersgate, Bishopsgate, Aldgate and Billingsgate were named after him. The one at Billingsgate was destroyed in the Great Fire (1666) and never rebuilt. As his relics traveled from place to place, his name became associated with wayfarers and travelers.

Parish and Ward Church of St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, London
Parish and Ward Church of St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, London

Abney Park Cemetery

My husband, Marc, and I stayed near Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington, London UK late December 2015 and the first week of January 2016 while in London visiting my grandson and family. On several mornings we walked through the charming cemetery. We looked at the old graves in the damp and gloom and I photographed a few birds.

In the late 1800s London needed more cemeteries away from the inner city. Abney Park Cemetery is one of them. “The site of Abney Park was formed from the estates of Fleetwood House and Abney House, the latter of which had been the home of renowned non-conformist and hymn writer Isaac Watts. This association quickly made Abney the foremost burial ground for Dissenters – those practicing their religion outside the established church. It was founded on these principles, with a nondenominational chapel at its core, and was open to all, regardless of religious conviction” ( Today it is both a park and memorial ground.

There are over 200,000 people laid to rest in Abney Park Cemetery. Here are three of Abney’s residents (

Frank Bostock was a big-cat tamer. It’s said he discovered lions are afraid of chairs. His monument is in the form of a lion. He died of the flu and not by a lion.

Welsh nurse Betsi Cadwaladr has been called “the forgotten Florence Nightingale.” She was over 60 when she decided to train as a nurse and joined the military nursing service in Crimea. She clashed with Nightingale but eventually Florence gave Betsi credit for the work she did at the front line in Balaclava.

Joanna Vassa was the daughter of Britain’s first Black activist, Olaudah Equiano alias Gustavus Vassa. Equiano was shipped to England as a slave, served in the navy and obtained his freedom in 1766. He became a writer, Methodist and antislavery campaigner, and wrote his autobiography “The Interesting Narrative of the Life Of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African,” published in 1789. Vassa married Susannah Cullen of Soham, Cambridgeshire and they had two daughters. Joanna married a congregational minister, Henry Bromley, and lived in Devon, Essex and then Hackney, where she died in 1857. Her grave was discovered in 2005 and is English Heritage listed.

The cemetery is still used. One of the headstones we saw is dates 2015.