Brian Parsons

Brian Parsons is the author of The Undertaker at Work (Strange Attractor Press ) and London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer (with Hugh Meller).

  • The Honoured Dead

    The Honoured Dead

    London Cemeteries in Old Photographs

    Brian Parsons

    A rarely seen collection of archival postcards, drawings, and photographs documenting London's great cemeteries.

    Since they were established in the 1830s, London's great cemeteries have inspired countless artists and photographers to record their quiet beauty and solemn majesty. 

    Not just resting places for the city's honoured dead, they also serve as great repositories of social, architectural, and geographic history, reflecting our changing attitudes to the great inevitable.

    Featuring over 170 images, along with comprehensive notes, The Honoured Dead presents a rarely seen collection of archival postcards, drawings, and photographs gathered over many years by author and former funeral director Brian Parsons.

    As well as the celebrated “Magnificent Seven” necropolises—Highgate, Kensal Green, West Norwood, Abney Park, Nunhead, Brompton, and Tower Hamlets—the book also documents cemeteries and burial sites throughout Greater London and its environs, some of them now themselves buried by time.

    Providing a unique perspective on London's past, and its shifting visual representation, The Honoured Dead is a collection to be remembered with flowers.

    • Paperback $30.00 £25.00
  • The Undertaker at Work

    The Undertaker at Work

    Brian Parsons

    A comprehensive historical survey of the work of undertakers in the first half of the twentieth century, essential reading for anyone interested in understanding an often hidden but certainly most fascinating trade.

    Reflecting the rapidly changing nature of the undertaker's work in pre, inter and post- war Britain, this book details the introduction of embalming; how the enormous task of dealing with the dead from both World Wars was undertaken; how undertakers coped with the tragic death toll of the Spanish flu, and the rise of the Co-operative Funeral Service. Around these more institutional historical keystones, the author includes several important burials from the period: the moving story of the burial of the Unknown Soldier; the extraordinary tale of the 'empty coffin' of Lord Kitchener, and the awful logistics of dealing with the worst ever aviation tragedy, the crash of the airship R101. Also included is the author's own collection of rare photographs detailing the changes in modes of transport, premises and coffins that took place during this time, along with contemporary advertising and other images showing the undertaker at work. A further section illustrates the work of a related occupation, the monumental mason.

    • Paperback $21.95 £17.99