Thursday, October 15, 2009


If you ever get the chance to check out HIGHGATE cemetery in London, don't miss it! My friends Betty and Neville Robinson took me on a tour of this Victorian masterpiece. This deliciously creepy Victorian cemetery has spectacular obelisks, catacombs, mausoleums and vaults scattered over 37 acres of overgrown woodland. Among the famous people buried here are Karl Marx, George Eliot, Christina Rossetti, Michael Faraday, the family of Charles Dickens, six Lord Mayors of London and the founders of many of London's most famous businesses, such as the venerable Foyle's bookshop and shoemakers John Lobb.

For the Victorians, death was an event to be marked with as much ceremony as possible. The West cemetery of Highgate was opened in 1839 and rapidly became so popular that it was extended in 1854 with the building of the East cemetery. Highgate was the place to be buried if you were a prominent Victorian. But cemeteries back then were more than just a place for burial; they were also to be enjoyed for their beauty and serenity. Highgate was a popular Victorian tourist attraction, and thousands came to marvel at the tombs and memorials.

The East cemetery is certainly an inviting place for a ramble, with shady paths and pretty clearings. It's the altogether darker and more menacing West cemetery, though, that is the soul of Highgate. Overgrown with ivy and briar, studded with marvellous Gothic monuments, this is a forest straight out of a Grimm Brothers fairytale


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