Nicole J Simms/ August 9, 2017/ Blog/ 0 comments

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On 29th July 2017, my fellow Oldbury Writing Group members (Julian, Angie, and Dave) and I visited the Warstone Lane Cemetery in the Jewellery Quarter.

Yes, you’ve read that right, we went to visit a cemetery. As weird as this may sound, a cemetery is a perfect place for writers to explore. It’s an ideal setting for a story, thanks to its quiet and creepy atmosphere, and you’ll see a person’s name and the date they died on their headstone, and you can’t help but wonder what kind of person they were and what their life was like. Also, if you love history, then a cemetery is great to visit due to the old gravestones and other features, which allow you to transport back in time.

Now, this hasn’t been our only cemetery visit. Last year, we went to a graveyard in Oldbury, but out of the two cemeteries we went to, the Warstone Lane Cemetery has to be the best one, and that’s mostly thanks to its catacombs.

To get to the cemetery, I caught the metro in West Bromwich with Dave. I was twelve years old when I last used the metro, so I did feel like an excited little girl when I got on board the tram. It didn’t take us long to reach the Jewellery Quarter (I’ll be using the metro to travel to Birmingham from now on), and to our surprise, Julian was also on board the same tram as us – he must have been sitting further down. We finally met Angie (our great leader) in the train station, and then we made our way to the cemetery.

We started our tour at the gate lodge of the Warstone Lane Cemetery. Like with the other cemetery we visited, when we walked inside, the wind started to pick up, and the atmosphere became eerily peaceful. We wandered passed rows upon rows of interesting and intricately designed graves: some had statues, some were shaped as crosses, and some were traditionally designed.

We found a map of the cemetery and quickly located the catacombs, which is the main attraction. Now, I’ve seen photos of the two-tier catacombs, but nothing can prepare you for seeing it in the flesh. You simply don’t know where to start. Some of the tomb doors have peep holes in them, so I decided to take a look inside, even after Angie asked us all what we would do if we looked inside and saw someone looking back at us. Thankfully, no one looked back at me. Aside from the catacombs, there were some interesting items by the graves and tombs, for example, a yellow helium balloon floated around the graves, a red snowflake Christmas decoration hung on one of the trees, and fake lilac roses were placed by tomb number 10 (this was on the second row). All these items made me wonder who put them there and what was the story behind each item – see cemeteries are a great place for writers.

While by the catacombs, we decided to do a writing exercise. We all noted down what we could hear, see, taste, touch, and smell. It was a fascinating exercise, and I enjoyed finding out what the other members had spotted, especially things I hadn’t noticed.

After the exercise, we made our way back up to the rest of the cemetery. Angie found a secret path, and of course, we had to see where it took us. Thankfully, it took us to the top level of the cemetery rather than to our doom. We then made our way back out, where we spotted a Friends of Warstone Lane Cemetery stall. From here you can buy a souvenir (Angie bought a bone pen), and you can also adopt a grave.

I’m so glad that I was able to visit this place because I know I will use this setting in my future stories. The visit was made even better by having my OWG pals come with me (they’re the best). So, if you’re a writer, a photographer (we saw some down there), an artist, a filmmaker (would make an ideal horror film location), or a history lover, then you should definitely visit this cemetery. I know I plan to go back.

Have you ever visited the Warstone Lane Cemetery? If you have, then I would love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below.

Keep writing, folks!

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