Sound trail traces Hampstead graveyard's buried

Image caption, A graveyard map and audio files are available on Camden council's website

A sound trail has been launched that shines a light on the lives of those buried in a London churchyard.

The people included in Hampstead Parish Churchyard's audio guide, buried over the past 250 years, include a chimney sweep and a body-snatching victim.

The Life and Death in Hampstead Sound Trail contains extracts from more than 40 recorded interviews with family members and experts.

It is available on Camden Council's website.

The council hopes the Sound Trail will be used in primary schools to teach children about local history.

Among those buried in the churchyard are the father and grandfather of Daphne du Maurier, author of Rebecca and Jamaica Inn.

Nineteenth century landscape painter John Constable is also buried there.

Sound Trail users are able to navigate a map of the cemetery, in Church Row, and click on individual gravestones for an audio commentary about the lives of the people buried beneath the headstones.

The guide tells the tale of those who have been buried at the graveyard - which is also known as St John-at-Hampstead - since around 1745, when the medieval church building was pulled down and replaced by the present church.

Radio presenter Alan Dein, who conducted many of the interviews, said the graveyard contains "a great social history of Hampstead and the nation" with "so many intriguing people buried there".

Body snatchers

The audio archive shows how "fame is fleeting", he added.

Image caption, Gerald du Maurier, father of author Daphne du Maurier, is buried in the churchyard

"It tells the story of people who were significant when they were buried, but 150 years since their death, they're not remembered," he said.

During his research, Mr Dein, from Hampstead Garden Suburb, discovered tales of body snatching from the graveyard.

"During the time many of the people were buried, body snatching was in its heyday," he said. "The medical profession needed dead bodies.

"A John Lloyd, who died in 1791, was buried there but a day later, he was nabbed," he added.

"Body snatchers dug him up, put him in a sack, stuck him on a coach, but they were caught and he was reburied."

The project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is the result of a partnership between Hampstead Parish Church and Camden Council.

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