Most of us want to get to know our neighbors when they move into a new home. But for Charlotte Goldthorpe, it was a slightly different story.
The fashion speaker bought her cemetery lodge in 2019. “When I tell people I live in a cemetery, they always ask if it’s haunted.
“Well, no, it’s not,” she said as she walked her dog at Sowerby Bridge Cemetery in West Yorkshire. “The neighbors are quiet – well, I wouldn’t want them to be loud.”
Attractive: A lodge next to Alderley Edge Cemetery was purchased this year. Pavilions were built for guardians, but are rarely used for that purpose now
Charlotte has lived in the two-bedroom stone house since she bought it for £250,000. It was built in 1851 as a house for the workers who tend to the graves.
“I love it,” she said. “I wasn’t even selling my old house, but I was just looking through Rightmove and saw this place and thought it was a nice building. It was cheap and there was space outside.
Charlotte was told that burials were rare.
“Then there were three in the first week. It’s a revelation. I had never been to a real funeral before, and now I have seen many.
I’m not indiscreet, but after the funeral, I will pay homage to the new people who have joined the cemetery, it’s as if we were all living together.
Many British cemeteries were built in the Victorian era, when there was mass migration to cities for employment and the birth rate soared.
Lodges were built for the keepers, but these are rarely used for this purpose now and many continue to be sold. They make strong, attractive homes – that’s exactly how it feels to be surrounded by graves.
Charlotte says her Gothic-style house is like a “Tardis upside down.” It looks substantial on the outside, but it’s compact on the inside. She installed a wood-burning stove to make it cozy, but it’s the environment she loves the most.
“Every time you see someone new and there are the graves of people who lived in the house,” she says. “One of them lived here in the early 1900s and died on Bonfire Night.”
But it’s a surprisingly happy place, she says. “It’s lovely because people come to walk their dogs and there’s a lady tending to her grandmother’s grave. It’s a beautiful community and no, nothing moves in the night.
While most houses in cemeteries are old lodges, some more recently built houses have a view of the cemetery from their kitchens.
At London’s famous Highgate Cemetery – resting place of Karl Marx, Lucian Freud, George Eliot and Russian polonium poisoning victim Alexander Litvinenko (in a lead-lined coffin) among others – a striking mansion is up for sale at £7 million pounds with Knight Frank.
The owner, who keeps a low profile, says: “The cemetery in our area looks like a Victorian garden, like something out of a novel. When the birds are loudest on a summer morning, it’s like waking up in a forest somewhere far more tropical than London.
The four-bedroom, four-bathroom home features a cinema and glass walls that overlook the tombs, creating an extraordinary contrast with its surroundings.
Another unusual property is the Lodge at Alderley Edge Cemetery in Cheshire, which forms a mock Tudor arch over the entrance. Built in 1906, it was used as office space until David Kaushal, a doctor, bought it at auction for £273,000 earlier this year.
He is currently in the process of renovating it. “You can’t get anything at Alderley Edge, property here is like gold dust,” he says. “When I told my friends they were very excited – pardon the pun – because it’s like you have your own peaceful park.”
And it is the responsibility to keep the peace, he said. “You have to be aware of the mourners and pay your respects to them. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s scary, cool and exciting.
Kate Lay, director of Landwood Property Auctions, which sold the house, agrees: “Living in a cemetery pavilion is not for everyone, but they often offer exceptional value in sought-after areas. The only downside is that you might find your family too scared to come visit.