In Dracula, we can read that Lucy Westenra, after having succumbed to a mysterious disease, was buried in a tomb in "Kingstead." As already discovered by Philip Temple, Kingstead probably was a fictitious combination of "Kingston" and "Hampstead" in the North-West of London. Temple suspected that St. Mary’s Churchyard in Hendon, between these two villages, had been in Stoker's mind: Van Helsing’s actions mirror the Hendon story of a medical student opening a vault and cutting off the head of the corpse of his own mother in 1828. The trial received immense public attention; Holm justified his act with scientific interests, possibly masking an effort to find a cure for a hereditary family disease. Another curious story related to this graveyard is that of Edward Longmore, who was—nomen est omen—seven foot six inches (228 cm) tall and known as the “Heresfordshire Colossus.” His corpse, buried in 1777 in a depth of 5 m, was watched over for six weeks; shortly afterwards, it was stolen.
As I found out, Stoker used to visit his friend, the poet and sculptor Thomas Woolner, in Hendon. Like Rossetti, Woolner belonged to the Pre-Raphaelite artists and surely knew about these macabre tales. In 1892, Stoker attended his funeral at St. Mary’s Churchyard. Next to it was Sunnyhill Fields, known as “Sunnyhill Park” since 1922, after Hendon Council bought the land. A photo of April 1921 shows that at the time its southeast corner was still covered with headstones. Possibly, Stoker’s words “where (...) the sun rises over Hampstead Hill” were inspired by the view from the—then still larger—churchyard over to Sunnyhill.
When I visited London in April 2012 for the Stoker Centenary Symposium, I also made an excursion to Hendon. I located and photographed the only memorial which might be called “a lordly death house,” as mentioned in Dracula: the vault of Philip Rundell Esq. († 17 February 1827), a highly successful, immensely rich silver manufacturer with good connections to royalty and agencies all over the world. There is a door at the backside and, with a little imagination, one can see Van Helsing sneaking into the tomb with his doctor’s bag by candle light, followed by Seward and the other men.