Scott, Ronald David
The cemetery and the city : the origins of the Glasgow Necropolis, 1825-1857.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Glasgow Necropolis, which opened in 1833, is celebrated as the first garden or ornamental cemetery in Scotland and as a ‘Victorian Valhalla’ that remembers and represents the makers of Glasgow as the so-called Second City of the British Empire. What few studies there have been have repeated the popular version of its genesis provided by the Merchants’ House of Glasgow, and have not looked beneath this tidy encapsulation of the origin of its new cemetery. This thesis uses the unpublished archives of the Merchants’ House, in particular the records of its Necropolis Committee, as well as numerous related sources, to examine and discuss the more complex interactions that lay behind the House’s investment.
The thesis begins with a discussion of the physical and intellectual contexts of the origins of the Necropolis: the first chapter examines the new cemetery in the context of civic improvements in Glasgow in the first third of the nineteenth century, and the second discusses it in the context of cemetery development in Great Britain and western Europe. Chapters three and four offer a detailed account of the production of the Necropolis and its early years as an on-going business. The fifth chapter examines the public reception of the Necropolis, using a variety of contemporary sources, including the published accounts of visitors to the city. The sixth chapter discusses the early funerals and monuments of the Necropolis, and examines how these differed form the practices of previous generations.
Methodologically, this thesis adopts a cultural historical approach, with a theoretical basis in the work of Ashplant and Smyth, which focuses on three key concepts in the creation of any cultural product: production, signification and reception.
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