The Underworld – Because I Could Not Stop For Death

The Underworld – Because I Could Not Stop For Death

This story starts a couple of months prior and an exciting trip underground, deep under the surface of London lies a Victorian crypt, mainly unseen to the public apart from the odd tour yearly to see the remains of the lead lined coffins of an era past. It wasn’t an easy feat to get inside, but for me it was breathtaking to see something you just would never see in normal everyday life. Some may say my heart is filled with darkness, but it could also be said that had we not been brought up to be so uncomfortable with death and dead bodies, there could in another world be part of our life. But for now they lie hidden from society, a fascination for the inquisitive.

Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me
The Carriage held but just Ourselves
And Immortality.
We slowly drove
He knew no haste And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility.

– Emily Dickinson, 1830 – 1886


My second adventure to the crypt stated at 11.30 in the safeness of my home, just a couple of weeks into 2015 and I was shooting my second shoot for my Underworld Series, beautiful Roswell Ivory arrived from Milton Keynes and soon followed by Rosie Lee to create some artistry on Roswell’s face and hair. We had great fun getting ready and trying on the beautiful gowns of Joanne Flemming who kindly sent them over for the shoot. Before long we were in the car with my husband Danny to drive us to our first location, we said goodbye to Rosie who had another makeup job on. Unfortunately after long we realised that the traffic on that day was truly horrific, we were racing for time to get to Brompton cemetery but it became clear that we were not going to meet our 4pm sunset deadline and we decided we would not waste anymore time trying to get there, deflated we spent more time sat in traffic. We decided to go and eat some food at the location of the crypt. But on arrival it was clear that there was not any decent places to eat, it was cool though as we had time to kill before we could try and attempt to get into the crypt.

We headed over to the town we used to live and had a great tapas meal, with raised spirits we made our way back to the crypt, it was 6.30pm by now and in the cover of darkness we made our first attempt, but watching for a while from the car it was clear that the area still had a good few dog walkers and passers by, also a nosey neighbour meant we couldn’t proceed. We chose to go back to my house and return in complete night, it was hard to get inside when we did return, but we made it.

behind-the scenes

On receiving the dresses the day before, unzipping the beautiful Grand Sophy dress, I almost cried when I couldn’t get the zip back up again, the thing with zips is sometimes they fail and this one had chosen to fail at the most annoying time. But after a quick chat with Joanne, it was decided we would sew Roswell into the dress and here Danny is sewing her in. It worked perfectly and she we got the shot even with the wardrobe misfunction.



This close up shows the detail at a 100% crop of this image, even at this crop the image size is the same as a regular SLR image.


Roswell was a true ninja and we couldn’t have done it without the help of Danny, who was amazing. We shot in silence in the crypt for a couple of hours and then realised it was nearing 2am! We had shot 4 beautiful dresses and were super happy with the Victorian story of death and tragedy we had captured, tired we embarked on the massive task of getting out from at least 10ft underground.


It was a truly exhausting shoot and even a day later I was aching from head to toe and covered in bruises, but it was a special thing to be inside such an interesting place and to see dates on the coffins going back to the early 1800’s. The rotting hydraulic lift that lowered the heavy lead lined coffins into the crypt still remains, like a steam punk memory of time gone by, with an estimate 2500 coffins inside it felt to me almost calming to be so far away from the living and taking a step back in time to a world so distant from where we are now.


This is another 100% crop of the above image, showing my retouching to the face. Using photoshop and with help from my newly purchased Retouch Panel plugin. I try to retain a natural feel to the photo when retouching and the panel helps you retouch your photos in a variety of steps. Its not for a beginner for photoshop as it won’t do the retouch for you and you need to know how the tools work, but for an advanced user it makes the retouch process a lot simpler.


Shot with Mamiya 645DF+ Body & Leaf Credo 80 Digital Back, Schneider Kreuznach 28mm f4.5 LS Lens.

Photographer: Rebecca Bathory
Model: Roswell Ivory
Makeup & Hair: Rosie Lee
Dresses: Joanne Flemming
Assitant: Danny Litchfield
There in Spirit: Emma and Darren Smith


Add yours
  1. 1
    Ian Davy

    Well what to say, your photos just blow me away, all your hard work pays off. Perhaps one day, I hope I will take one photo that matches yours.

  2. 5
    john wheatley

    These are breath taking images…. I not only admire your mastery of photographic techniques , but also your spirit of adventure and determination for achieving such amazing imagery….
    I recently subscribed to your feed here, and I’m looking forward to following your career closely.
    Best wishes to you and the team for 2015… :)

  3. 9
    ALan Duggan

    Another absolutely stunning post! Places like this fascinate me, just being here would have my mind racing, looking at the names and dates on the coffins, thinking about the people who worked here and who was the last person to see these decaying coffins. How did they feel working here? What kind of person was they? oh the stories they could have told us… Which sadly are now lost in time.

    It also fascinates me that places like this can be just below us all and we could through life without ever knowing, sad so sad but at least they can all rest quietly in what I am sure is a very tranquil place.

    Thanks for sharing your photos Rebecca and for the write up.


  4. 10
    Death Becomes Her | Roswell Ivory

    […] I asked Rebecca if I could write the beginnings of a few stories to accompany the pictures- stories that I’d leave and finish one day. She very nicely said I could, so the italics under the pictures are my own scribblings. If you’d like to hear her version of the night, read her blog HERE. […]

  5. 11

    These are amazing photos ! But what I’d specifically like to know is, how did you get inside?? I myself am a photographer and would like to do a bit of photography myself.

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