London: Highgate Cemetery

 

Highgate Cemetery has some of the finest funerary architecture in the country. It is a place of peace and contemplation where a romantic profusion of trees, memorials and wildlife flourish.

Excerpt from Highgate Cementary

Highgate Cemetery is divided into two parts, West and East – West Cementary is by guided tour only, £12 for 70 minutes in English and departs in all weathers, the price including entrance into the East Cementary which you are free to roam around and their is a small entrance fee of £4, if not doing the tour.


 

The West Cementary

Selecting the guided tour option, we were very lucky to get onto the tour as we arrived a few minutes late due to delays on the Tube but the tour leader had only just arrived herself and was understanding – We quickly paid up and the tour started. The day was warm, yet cloudy and it had rained the previous day and since the tour does go out in all weathers, I suggest you wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

The tour takes you all over this section of the cementary, the tour filling the air of history and stories about the cementary, some of the occupants and how they came to be there. You’ll be surprised at some of the facts you hear, including the date of the last burial (it is more recent than you think). As the tour takes you deeper and deeper into the grounds, you notice a shift from individual burials to family plots and mausoleums, shifting in size and status as you progress. One section you are allowed to enter eith the tour leader, the light barely piercing the shadows from within, this crypt emptied for reasons I have forgotten but like the tardis, small looking on the outside yet inside seems to go on for a distance.

Towards the end of the tour, after a haunting true-to-life story about one particular burial, you get a glismpe inside a mausoleum which demonstrates the loss of a loved one and a dedication to be true to their memory, their life with the money to do it – No photography here, just a small little step in to gaze at this wonder that takes your breath away. Death and grief are such powerful forces in our lives..

At the end of the tour, if you have time and interest to use your ticket to the East Cementary, included in the tour price, then keep on reading to find out about this part of Highbury Cementary.


 

The East Cementary

Most well known in this section of Highgate Cementary is the grave of Karl Marx, his political philosophy that influenced the world and which I have explored through my studies of history and sociology.

If you do visit this side of the cementary, be sure to use your entrance fee wisely and walk around, there are some wonderful and creative headstones belonging to poets, artists, presenters, actors etc that are worth checking out whether you recognise the names or not.

Would I do the East Cementary by itself? Probably not and would recommend that if you would like to do it, you do the guided tour in the West first, followed by the chance to walk around the East side in your own time.  It is worth the time and money, with the nearby area filled with restaurants, cafes, pubs etc so that you can grab something to eat and drink.

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