London

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Highgate Cemetery was one of seven cemetery’s that were created to help relieve the cemeteries and church graveyards within the City of London which had become so overcrowded that they were becoming a health hazard. Located in the North London district of Highgate, at the top of Highgate Hill, the Cemetery soon became a highly sought-after place to be buried. In Victorian times cemeteries were considered to be places for both contemplation and commemoration, and grand tombs were constructed in the then popular Gothic style, and today Highgate Cemetery is considered to have the finest collection of Victorian funerary architecture in the country. In 1987 the cemetery was included in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.

Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery 1

At the start seventeen acres of land was allocated, fifteen of which were allocated for Church of England burials with the remaining two acres for those considered as being dissenters, with chapels for each included in a Tudor style building. Soon it was becoming one of London’s most fashionable cemeteries so in 1856 it was extended by a further twenty acres. A lane known as Swain’s Lane separated the two parcels of land, so the original plot became known as the West Side with the newer area referred to as the East Side.

Highgate Cemetery 2

In particular the oldest West Cemetery is an amazing place to visit, and as visitor numbers are controlled it has a peaceful air about it as you walk the narrow path’s through woodland and undergrowth, while the knowledgeable guides pass on fascinating details and interesting anecdotes. One of the first tombs you will come to is that of James William Selby, a coachman who still holds the record for a return trip from London to Brighton in a horse drawn coach.

Highgate Cemetery 3

In particular the oldest West Cemetery is an amazing place to visit, and as visitor numbers are controlled it has a peaceful air about it as you walk the narrow path’s through woodland and undergrowth, while the knowledgeable guides pass on fascinating details and interesting anecdotes. One of the first tombs you will come to is that of James William Selby, a coachman who still holds the record for a return trip from London to Brighton in a horse drawn coach. Of special interest is the Egyptian Avenue featuring a couple of huge obelisks, then on to the Circle of Lebanon, a magnificent group of family vaults. Not to be missed is the tomb of Julius Beer, created by Gilbert Scott, who based his design on the mausoleum of the Greek king Mausolus.

The Eastern Cemetery is perhaps not as atmospheric as the West Cemetery, but being newer and still in use today, it contains the resting places of those that may be better known to visitors, including a number of celebrities. Probably the best known and most visited grave is that of Karl Marx. Marx had requested a simple grave with just a headstone, but in 1954 the Communist movement arranged for his grave to be moved to a more prominent position and to mark it they mounted a huge bronze bust of Marx on top of a granite plinth, on which the inscription reads “Workers of All Lands Unite - The Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways - The point however is to change it”.

Highgate Cemetery 5