Elevator to the underworld

[Image: An underground “coffin lift or ‘catafalque’,” from London’s West Norwood cemetery catacombs. “The blocked aperture in the ceiling led to the now demolished Episcopal Chapel above. The stairs on the right (now blocked) also led up to the chapel.” Photo by Nick Catford, the wildly great and seemingly omnipresent photographer behind Subterranea Britannica].

London’s West Norwood cemetery opened to the public in 1837; it boasted “two chapels with a series of vaults or catacombs constructed beneath the Episcopal Chapel.”
Fantastically, the catacombs came with “a hydraulic coffin lift or catafalque to transport the coffins from the chapel to the vaults below.”
Although “[b]oth chapels were severely damaged during the war and the Episcopal Chapel was finally demolished in 1955 and replaced by a walled rose garden, the catacombs below were undamaged and remain intact and accessible today.”
A lot more information is available at Subterranea Britannica, but, if you don’t feel like reading text, be sure to check out Nick Catford’s photo gallery. Some of those images are genuinely creepy; some quite beautiful; others just really, really cool.

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