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FoSOC New Year 'Do' - 12 Jan 2018

Saturday 13th January 2018

Welcoming in the New Year in customary style, FoSOC held its members' social get-together at Shirley Baptist Church on a somewhat cold Friday evening. This occasion marked the 15th year of the society, and despite the weather, the event was well-attended, with some 45 (or so) attendees filling the hall to the brim. Our Chairman, Billy Ferguson, welcomed us, and handed over to FoSOC founder and committee member Geoff Watts to recount briefly the origin of the Friends, and update us on the road to recovery from recent ill-health of Mrs Dorota Curl, wife of our President, Professor James Curl.
After that, we all tucked in to the excellent spread of food and drinks provided by Billy and Val Ferguson, while catching up on the news with friends and colleagues. To end the evening, our Ecology Officer, Surender Sharma, gave an illustrated talk on the 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries in London, the capital's first large-scale move away from burials in churchyards – and other sometimes dubious private burial schemes - into the provision of privately-owned, landscaped garden burial spaces. After setting the scene of London in the early C19, we heard about the inspiration of the new cemeteries in the scheme pioneered at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, and how the seven London cemeteries which followed grew and developed their own characters and subsequently fared. We also 'met' some of their well-known residents and learned of links they, as well as some of those responsible for the cemeteries' designs, had with Southampton and our own Cemetery. By the end of the evening those present at the occasion were, we hope, well-nourished in both body and mind.
Thanks are due to those mentioned above for their efforts, particularly Billy and Val as organisers, and to all members who so efficiently helped in all the preparations and tidying-away.
The seven accompanying cemetery photos show:
Kensal Green – the Dissenters Chapel
West Norwood – grave of Baron Paul Julius de Reuter
Highgate – grave of Anna Mahler
Abney Park – statue of Issac Watts
Brompton – grave of Reginald Warneford VC
Nunhead – Dominion troops' war graves
Tower Hamlets – Blitz victims' graves