Last weekend, the weather was beautiful so we decided to go where?….
To a cemetery of course! Ok it might sound weird and creepy but it’s not just any cemetery. We’re talking about Highgate Cemetery. It’s a well known rest place for some famous artists, scientists, writers etc.
For example, Karl Marx (the philosopher) is buried there. But also the late singer George Michael. Although don’t expect to see George Michael’s tomb just yet because he has just been buried (on 30 March 2017) and his family doesn’t allow the general public to see the tomb yet. Fans might have to wait a few years. But there are many other interesting tombs to see….
A few facts about Highgate Cemetery
- It opened in 1839
- The East side opened in 1860
- There are 170000 people buried in 53000 tombs at Highgate Cemetery
- The East part is the most popular part of the cemetery
- The Catacombs and the Egyptian Avenue are located on the West side
- Karl Marx was initially buried in a small tomb with his wife but got ‘relocated’ to a more prestigious tomb in 1956
- The founder of the Notting Hill Carnival (Claudia Jones) shared the same communist ideas as Marx and was buried not far from him
- The pop artist Patrick Caulfield is buried in the East. He designed his own tomb and made sure the word D E A D were written on it
- Highgate Cemetery is part of the “100 Great Geosites” thanks to the range of rocks and stones used as headstones, mausoleums and monuments
Highgate Cemetery is also for people who are alive
Highgate Cemetery is an interesting place. When we went there it was nice and sunny and you almost completely forget you are in a cemetery. Many people were walking there but nobody seemed sad or unhappy to be there. In fact, it was like walking in any other London park.
It’s a nice place for a relaxed walk away from the noise plus you have benches spread across the cemetery so you can easily rest if you need to, or read the map with famous “residents”.
Although it’s a cemetery it’s actually not creepy or morbid at all.
On a sunny day, you will have more chances of being chased by lively human beings with an ice cream than some creepy living dead (yes, that is a bit of an exaggeration). The point is the atmosphere is really relaxed.
There are two parts to the cemetery:
The most famous burial here is the one of Karl Marx. His tomb was the site of attempted bombings on 2 September 1965 and in 1970. There are also thousands of other semi-modern and mostly Victorian graves.
Other famous residents include:
- DOUGLAS ADAMS (1952-2001) Author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
- Mary Ann Cross (alias: GEORGE ELIOT) (1819-80) Novelist
- WILLIAM FRIESE GREENE (1855-1921) British portrait photographer and prolific inventor
- ANNA MAHLER (1904-88) Austrian sculptor, daughter of composer Gustav Mahler
- MALCOLM MCLAREN (1946-2010) Impresario, rock-artist, clothes designer and boutique owner
- CHRISTINA ROSSETTI (1830-94) Poet
To find out more of the East side residents in different categories, click here.
Ticket: £12 with tour only (with this ticket you can access the East side too, valid within a month)
This part of Highgate cemetery is known for its architecture and tomb layout. There are different sections dependent on era and topic.
The West side includes:
- The Chapel
- Egyptian Avenue
- Circle of Lebanon
- Terrace catacombs
- Mausoleum of Julius Beer
Find out more about the West side here.
We also found some “less famous” but equally curious graves:
This might not sound like the nicest thing to do, but Highgate Cemetery is indeed an interesting place to visit. Don’t worry about the atmosphere there. It is relaxed and you won’t feel like you’re in a cemetery. The odd crow flying by might be the only creepy thing about it.