God’s Own Graveyard is a little bit, no heck, it’s A LOT OF, neon heaven in Walthamstow, North London. The workshop of the legendary Chris Bracy, the Godfather of Neon – this place is a real trip for your senses. With a mixture of new and old neon and curiosities, where nostalgia crosses futuristic, crosses whimsy, crosses bling, with a little bit of naughty.
God’s Own Graveyard can be found in Walthamstow, on a little industrial estate which is now home to mostly cool bars, including its own brewery and the rather fabulous Gin palace ‘Mother’s Ruin’, next door. Most of the work is created by commission, rather than being able to be bought on-site, but they are open to visitors, like the shiniest, blingiest gallery/museum you ever did see. They even have a little cafe and a little garden at the back.
God’s Own Junkyard was the workshop and playground of Chris Bracey, otherwise known as the ‘Neon Man’ or the ‘Godfather of Neon’. He had been creating neon artwork for movies and on commission for nearly 40 years and his own father was a creator of neon for circuses and fairgrounds. Sadly Chris passed away in 2014 (read his glorious obituary here) and now his son, Marcus has taken over the realm. Chris was from Walthamstow so the gentrification of the place has kind of happened around God’s Own. Gentrification, of course, is a double-edged sword but with God’s Own at the heart of the village, things could never get bland.
If you are in London and wanting to visit, then give yourself plenty of time as it’s in the outer stretches of the public transport and then a bit of a walk or bus journey into Walthamstow Village. It’s well worth spending time in the area though as the Village is home to some really nice places to eat and drink, and the architecture of Walthamstow Village is rather lovely, so don’t rush.
Frankly, it was all I could do not to pitch-up a tent in God’s Own to merrily live out the rest of my days.
As well as the neon creations there are all kinds of other treasures there. There is a lot of old signage, particularly for a London lover, from the old, seedier days of London’s Soho, which is because Chris made them for those businesses back in his early days, in the 1970s. Some of the signs he created are eponymous and iconic of Soho back in the day.
Religious imagery is used quite a bit – definitely a draw for lovers of the aesthetic of Baz Luhrman’s Romeo & Juliet.
If you are a tourist in London, this isn’t on any bus tour or that easy to get to, but I would suggest visiting this above Buckingham Palace or the London Eye any day as this neon wonderland is truly a one=off and a national treasure.