Highgate Cemetery 2017

The Master organised a visit to Highgate Cemetery on a sunny summer Wednesday, 7 June 2017.  We were given an exceptionally thought-provoking and entertaining guided tour of the West Cemetery by the Visitor Experience Manager and later roamed the East Cemetery on our own. 

Highgate Cemetery was opened in 1839 by a private company, set up by Act of Parliament, at a time when resurrectionist body snatching was rife and churchyards throughout London were unsanitary and no longer able to cope with the rising population. By the 1970s the cemeteries were derelict, a refuge for wildlife, overgrown and almost impenetrable. A trust was set up to restore the monuments and provide ‘managed neglect’.  
We mustered in the chapel and were led up the winding path, designed to make the site seem much larger than it really was; paused for a photograph in front of the Egyptian gateway; circled the Cedar of Lebanon, now more than 200 years old; gazed on the monuments, some serenely simple, some grotesquely ostentatious and some tilted at unintended angles; and ventured briefly into the unlit catacombs. Nature remains firmly in charge. There are still a few empty plots for sale with a high scarcity value. After seeking out the graves of Michael Faraday, George Eliot, Karl Marx, Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned in 2006, and Thomas Sayers, the Victorian bare-knuckle prize fighter whose funeral in 1865 attracted over 10,000 onlookers, we climbed to Highgate Village for a well-earned and enjoyable lunch.

Last modified on Friday, 04 May 2018 08:17
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