Monday, 19 March 2018

Travel Beyond the Crypt: Highgate Cemetery, London

Last week I went to Highgate Cemetery with a friend (outfit post here). It is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries built in a ring around London in the 1830s (Highgate Cemetery was built in 1839) to ease the city's overcrowded cemeteries after burials in the city had been banned and provide park space in the capital. I visited Brompton Cemetery last week, another Magnificent Seven cemetery, so perhaps eventually I will make my way around all of them.

Highgate Cemetery is on Swain's Lane, Highgate, London N6 6PJ and the closest tube station is Archway tube station on the Northern line. Don't get off at Highgate station as it's actually a much longer walk! You can walk through Waterlow Park if you take the Highgate Hill exit of Archway tube station which is a pleasant walk.

Highgate Cemetery is split into two sides, the East Cemetery and West Cemetery. Highgate Cemetery charges £5 admission fee to enter the East Cemetery, and the West Cemetery is only accessible by guided tour, which runs twice per weekday at 1.45pm and 4pm and needs to be booked, and up to every half an hour on the weekends and can only be purchased on the day. The West Cemetery tour admission fee is £12 and includes the admission fee for the East Cemetery, so really you're only paying £7 extra to view the extremely beautiful and private West Cemetery, which I highly recommend. In fact, I'd probably say the West Cemetery is the main attraction of visiting Highgate Cemetery and would question why one would make the effort to visit Highgate only to visit the East Cemetery (unless you were visiting a grave, of course).

Egyptian Avenue, Highgate Cemetery, London

Egyptian Avenue, pictured above, is probably the most famous and admired area in Highgate Cemetery. In the Victorian era, Egyptology and archaeology were at the height of its popularity so Ancient Egyptian inspired architecture was all the rage. They constructed Egyptian Avenue, and inside it the Circle of Lebanon, and sold the vaults inside to families to be buried in.

Egyptian Avenue was my absolute favourite part of Highgate Cemetery, as it combines my love of the Victorian and Ancient Egyptian periods and architecture.

Highgate Cemetery, London

Highgate Cemetery, London

Looking out from the gates of Egyptian Avenue.

Egyptian Avenue, Highgate Cemetery, London

The vaults inside Egyptian Avenue. It would have been amazing to have been able to purchase the right to be buried in one of these plots. Fun fact: You don't actually buy the plot or buildings to be buried in, you buy the right for you and your family to be buried there.

The Circle of Lebanon, Highgate Cemetery, London

The Circle of Lebanon

Highgate Cemetery, London Highgate Cemetery, London

Sleeping angel on grave, Highgate Cemetery, London

This tomb is home to the only angel lying down/asleep in the entire cemetery, signifying her purity. Here is an interesting blog post going more into detail about it and the tomb.

Highgate Cemetery, London

In the West Cemetery, you cannot see the end of any path in the cemetery, so it really feels like you are in another never-ending world of the dead.

Mausoleum of Julius Beer, Highgate Cemetery, London
Source

Statue of Ada Beer in the Mausoleum of Julius Beer, Highgate Cemetery, London
Source

Another famous monument in Highgate Cemetery is the Mausoleum of Julius Beer, which was built mainly to bury his daughter, Ada and the rest of his family, including himself when the time came. Its creation was inspired by the famous Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. There is an absolutely beautiful statue in the mausoleum, which isn't normally open to visitors, but you can see it through the windows of the building. It is of Julius' daughter, Ada, being carried to heaven by an angel, and the depiction of Ada is copied from her death mask, a casting made of a deceased person's face. Her peaceful face is so beautiful, the first time I saw the statue, I actually teared up a little. The grief and love the Beer family must've felt to create this mausoleum and statue is indescribable. A very interesting article about the cemetery and its occult tales can be found here, whose photo of the Mausoleum of Julius Beer I have shared, and the photo of Ada's statue as well as more information about the mausoleum can be found here by fellow Cemetery Explorer.

East Cemetery photos below

Angel statue at Highgate Cemetery, London

Highgate Cemetery, London

Very old, very simple tombstone in the East Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery, London

Highgate Cemetery, London

Highgate Cemetery, London

Highgate Cemetery, London

Karl Marx's grave at Highgate Cemetery, London

Karl Marx and his family is buried in the East Cemetery and has a memorial/monument at the place of his burial. The cemetery was quite quiet but the largest concentration of people were at Karl Marx's grave.

Jewish and Christian grave at Highgate Cemetery, London

I found this grave very beautiful and poignant, as this couple were of different faiths but were buried together and combined them on the tombstone.

Highgate Cemetery, London

A lot of the cemetery is overgrown, but the gardeners do try to keep it maintained, and most of the overgrowth looks quite nice and old, unlike Brompton Cemetery's overgrowth that just looked a bit unkempt and uncared for.

I really enjoyed my visit to Highgate Cemetery and highly recommend it if you love Gothic travel attractions, cemeteries, Victorian architecture or history.

 

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