All posts by Romany Reagan

Romany Reagan received her PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London in performing heritage in 2018. Her practice-based research project ‘Abney Rambles’ is comprised of four audio walks that she researched, wrote, and recorded from 2014 to 2017 within the space of Abney Park cemetery, located in the north London community of Stoke Newington. Researching the layers of heritage that make up Abney Park led to a study of the occult literary heritage of Stoke Newington, ‘earth mystery’ psychogeography, and folklore. Since completion of her PhD, Reagan has expanded her folklore research scope to encompass legends and lore from the British Isles which she is documenting on her blog, Blackthorn & Stone. Publications: ‘Crossing Paths/Different Worlds in Abney Park Cemetery’, Ways to Wander (Bridport: Triarchy Press) 2015; '"Thoughts on Mourning" Audio Walk Exploring Mourning Heritage and Death Positivity in a Victorian Garden Cemetery', Thanatos Journal, Volume 6, 2017, p50-82; 'The Gendered Garden: Sexual Transgression of Women Walking Alone in Cemeteries', Death & the Maiden, 2017, https://deadmaidens.com/2017/10/10/the-gendered-garden-sexual-transgression-of-women-walking-alone-in-cemeteries/ Website: https://blackthornandstone.com/ Twitter/Instagram: @msromany

The Gendered Garden: Sexual Transgression of Women Walking Alone in Cemeteries

My PhD research is a study of the layers of heritage and cultural meaning within the Victorian garden cemetery Abney Park in Stoke Newington, north London. I am a practice-based researcher, and my research methodology is to explore these themes by way of a walking practice in the cemetery. I have crafted four audio walks in an endeavour to offer the community an invitation to view a selection of, perhaps, new perspectives and doors of perception into the various aspects of the cemetery space.

Throughout my four years as a walking practitioner researching Abney Park, I have walked alone through the cemetery, at all times of day, at all times of year. However, I have been walking in Abney for a total of nine years, simply for my own personal enjoyment. Sometimes I would walk with other people, but the majority of my time in Abney has been as a woman walking alone.

Perhaps from naivete, or a certain rash boldness, I never considered my walking practice as strange, or particularly dangerous. And it wasn’t until two years ago, when I read psychogeographer Geoff Nicholson’s account of taking a walk through Abney Park Cemetery, that I considered my gender – and my favourite pastime – could be perceived this way.

Continue reading The Gendered Garden: Sexual Transgression of Women Walking Alone in Cemeteries

Audio Walk: Abney Rambles – Woodland Networks

Audio Download link: Woodland Networks

For this walk, enter Abney Park Cemetery from the wrought-iron gates entrance on Stoke Newington Church Street.

This audio walk is part tour of some of the veteran tree specimens in Abney Park Cemetery, but also part exploration of the unseen nonhuman networks at play in this ancient and diverse nature preserve.

Please use the attached map to see where all of the veteran tree specimens are in Abney, this walk will explore a selection of these ancient trees, but I encourage you to use this map to find your own ramble.

 

 

 

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‘Cult of the Dead’ versus ‘Phobic of the Dead’: The role of Victorian mourning ephemera in death acceptance.

Remember Me. The Changing Face of Memorialisation

Guest-blogger Romany Reagan, PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London, explores the practice of constructing mementos from the hair of deceased loved ones during the Victorian period.

Perhaps the most iconic attribute of the Victorian era is its perceived preoccupation with death and mourning. The Victorian ‘Cult of the Dead’, as it’s often been called, was not only housed in cemeteries, tombstones, horse-drawn hearses, and monuments. Mourning ephemera comprised various small portraits, mounted mourning cards, linen handkerchiefs with black borders, mourning fans of black silk, various items of mourning dress, mourning hair jewellery and art, post-mortem photography, and innumerable personal effects. Viewed through today’s values and aesthetics, these numerous personal objects are now historical rarities that are found in niche museums and personal ‘cabinets of curiosities’, which are the only places where these once commonplace and personal totems now receive due appreciation.

romany-reagan-image-1 Montage of Victorian mourning Ephemera. Image courtesy…

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Tower Hamlets Cemetery Audio Walk: Siren Sea—All is Lost for She

Siren Sea All is Lost for She widow image

My audio walk #SirenSea is now available on @FoTHCP Soundcloud!#cemetery #TowerHamletsCemeteryPark #audiowalks

This is a fairly short (12min) walk through Tower Hamlets Cemetery telling a love story of ancient woodland gods, a sea widow, her sailor love & the sea siren who stole him away………..

Audio Walk: Abney Rambles – Woodland Magick

Audio Download Link: Woodland Magick

For this walk, enter Abney Park Cemetery from the wrought-iron gates entrance on Stoke Newington Church Street.

This walk is a dark allegorical tale of what lies behind the uncanny mystery that envelops Stoke Newington – and lies beneath Abney Park Cemetery…

Photo by Michał Huniewicz  

Independent audio walks: You can take these walks anytime you like!

I’ve received quite a few questions on when I am giving these audio tours next, so I thought it would be good to give some clarification on how to take these walks.

These aren’t guided tours at a set time; they are audio tracks you listen to as you walk through Abney Park Cemetery independently whenever you wish to! (As long as the park is open!)

The walks are guided in the sense I give directions on where to go within the audio tracks, but otherwise the journey is up to you as a private experience.

Please feel free to contact me with any other questions you may have: Romany.Reagan.2012@live.rhul.ac.uk

Audio Walk: Abney Rambles – Thoughts on Mourning

Audio download link: Thoughts on Mourning

For this walk, enter Abney Park Cemetery from the wrought-iron gates entrance on Stoke Newington Church Street.

This audio walk is a meditation on modern versus Victorian mourning practices. Interweaving quotes from then and now, with stories, the walk is set to the music of The Black Heart Procession, with exit music ‘Dance While the Sky Crashes Down’, by Jason Webley.

When completed, please take the time to fill out my short survey

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CGRML3B

Audio Walk: Abney Rambles—Love, Wrath, Death, Lions: A Performed History of Frank & Susannah Bostock

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Photo by Romany Reagan, Abney Park Cemetery

For this walk, enter Abney Park Cemetery from the Neo-Egyptian gates entrance on Stoke Newington High Street.

Audio Download Link: Abney Rambles – Love, Wrath, Death, Lions – A performed history of Frank & Susannah Bostock

This audio walk is the performed life story of Frank and Susannah Bostock, a famous travelling circus and menagerie couple, buried in Abney Park Cemetery. Frank was a famous lion tamer, and the Bostocks were part of the founding members of Dreamland Amusement Park, Coney Island, New York.

This walk is a love story, but not a simple one.

When completed, please take the time to fill out my short survey

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CGRML3B

I would like to thank my cast for the generous donation of their time and performances!

Cast:

Frank Bostock: Professor Richard Dennis

Susannah Bostock: Sam Edwards

Thomas Dyson, attorney: Gavin Kelly

Times journalist: Ronan Shields