After living in London for nearly a decade I finally managed to organise myself to go to Highgate cemetery and check it out. I was definitely rewarded for my efforts!
You can pay around £4 to wander round the east cemetery or pay £12 for a tour round the west cemetery and entrance to the east one as well. The west cemetery is only accessible by going on a tour. I would certainly recommend paying slightly more to see both cemeteries as the west cemetery tour was really interesting and gave you a lot of history about the place and it's residents. The cemetery is now a charity and the tour guides are all volunteers. The guide we had was excellent and was more than happy to answer all my questions. Did you know it costs £20k+ to be buried in Highgate cemetery!!
It seems strange to be going to a cemetery out of choice but it was a great day out.
To paraphrase the old joke, I was dying to get into Highgate Cemetery.
Yuk yuk yuk.
Still though, I was excited. It was something I had on my list of London to-dos since I arrived and it only took me two years to actually make it happen (granted, I know a ton of Londoners who have lived here their entire life and still never done it, but still...)
This is one of London's oldest and largest cemeteries (part of the cities Magnificent Seven Graveyards.) It was constructed in the mid 1800's when they literally ran out of room to bury bodies in the city of London and declared no more burials there. This is why is make take you an hour and a day to actually get here (still, at least we have the tube. Trying to do it by horse and carriage back in the day? Yeah, no.)
There are two parts to the cemetery - the ancient West and the more modern east. It's £12 for a guided tour of the west and then you get to go into the east for free or £4 just to see the east. The tour is actually really interesting. It takes about an hour and they go through the history of the cemetery (which was much more of a money-making venture than you'd first believe), the symbolism of many of the signs and carvings on the stones and a couple of the famous graves and mausoleums.
You then do the east on your own, and this is where the famous graves lie. The big one (and I literally mean big one, with a giant bust of his head) is Karl Marx, but the one I wanted to see was Douglas Adams, author of "Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxe". It's actually a very simple stone, but someone put out a basket in front of it, and people leave pens behind. That was lovely.
I also liked pop-artist Patrick Caulfield's grave, which said DEAD in funky, cut-out, art-deco letters. Awesome.
The weather when I came was beautiful and I'm sure that makes all the difference. Come on a beautiful day and experience a bit of morbid yet beautiful London history.
This is a historical cemetery, but it's also a still-functional cemetery, with new inhabitants mixed in with the old. This makes it even more fascinating, as some of the more modern additions are extremely interesting (Malcolm McClaren and Patrick Caulfield were more recent highlights). Aside from Marx's monument, most of the stones are unremarkable when you consider how important some of the people are. You can hardly read George Eliot's stone. Another reviewer complained that it isn't well kept. I think it's as well kept as it can be, considering. The ground has pushed up in a lot of places, stones have been displaced, it all is a bit overgrown and on top of each other. But this is the magic of old cemeteries. It's hundreds of years of civilization lying on top of each other.
Yes, you have to pay a fee to enter, but the cemetery does not receive funding from any public organizations. There was no trash lying around and the grounds are cared for respectfully. I'd gladly pay the £4, again. Take your time and walk through. We weren't going down every side path at all and it still took us an hour to wander through the east cemetery. I'd like to come back when it's a little warmer and do the tour of the west cemetery. This is a gem of a Saturday or Sunday afternoon thing to do and I'd wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who calls North London home.
This place is so beautiful! It was either visiting this or the British Museum. Our friends who have been to England think that we were crazy for choosing Highgate Cemetery, but it's a beautiful place! The thing that sucks is that the Tube (subway) broke down in the midst of us going there, so we were trying to find another way. We walked and walked and walked, looked for taxis, but there was crazy traffic, so we finally looked at the bus system while trying to get away from the traffic, and by that time it was getting late. We got there too late to take the guided tour through the cemetery, which reallllly sucks! But we went around the other part of the cemetery. It was still beautiful... I just really wish we had the guided tour! THAT would have been awesome! If you go to London, take a trip to this place... It's peaceful, serene, and beautiful! It also has a gorgeous park with a lake next to it! Definitely recommend coming here!
I've been in London for 21 years, but only found out exactly where Highgate Cemetery was a few months ago, and it took a while before I took the plunge to visit on a cold, wintry day.
It's impressive. Marx's gravestone is of course big, but Douglas Adams had a cup in front of his headstone with a cluster of pens, and an architect had a simple headstone with DEAD spelt out in steps.
That's the way to go, with humour.
This was beautiful and fun, the tour with Malcolm was perfect, he is very knowledgeable and friendly. It was slightly over cast and quite windy today, making the tour that much more fun. Will define toy come back
I trekked out here one Saturday with a couple of friends to see gravestones. And boy are there a lot of them!
Highgate Cemetery is split into two sides: east and west. The west cemetery is older and requires a guide, and the east cemetery is a cemetery you can just wander through. The guided west cemetery tour plus admission to the east cemetery was £12 when we went; the east cemetery alone was £4. We did the tour.
So it's kind of cool. It's a bit of history of London that you may not see. It's from when cemeteries became businesses and people pretentiously bought big plots and gravestones so people could see them after they die. Of course you do see them, but do we really know who they are? Not really. There are a lot of people buried in the cemetery with a few famous people. Or at least renowned. Or at least people that used to be famous that the tour guides point out to you. It's also a bit creepy. The cemetery was shut down in the 1960s for lack of funds so everything became overgrown with greenery. It's hard to believe it just exists inside London as it seems like a place that should be out in the middle of nowhere. There are some elaborate structures here, and people apparently paid quite a bit of money to try to be famous in death. It's just weird.
The east cemetery is home to both the grave of Karl Marx and Douglas Adams. The Karl Marx grave is massive. It's a bit pretentiously massive to be honest, but a lot of communists really wanted to be buried near there, so it's kind of interesting to see the number of gravestones near Karl Marx's grave that belong to them. Douglas Adams' grave is a lot less pretentious. Just a gravestone. And a bucket of pens. People apparently pilgrimage here to leave him a pen in his afterlife. When Nava was dropping a pen off in the bucket, I inappropriately cracked the joke that it was "The Douglas Adams 'give a pen, take a pen' scheme". Hilarity ensued. It's probably inappropriate to laugh like that in a cemetery, but I like to think if Douglas Adams could have heard us, he would have found it funny as well.
Both cemeteries are fully packed with gravestones. They're not set up in a neat pattern (I mean it is London after all, neat patterns are strictly forbidden). Some of them are so far back and packed in that the people who work there don't even know who are buried because it's dangerous to try to get back there and see. That's how many people are buried here.
It's an interesting place to visit. Just make sure when you go the Northern line is open. Otherwise getting here may be a bit of a nightmare. If you like to see statues that look like they could be Weeping Angels and massive, pretentious gravestones and crypts, this is the place for you. Or if you have a morbid fascination with death, go and see it.
After months of wanting to visit here - considering it IS only a short walk from where I live - I finally went today. Granted, that wasn't the plan, but when you're wandering around and end up at cemetery gates, my vote is always for going in.
I went into the east side (£4), which is where you can walk without a guided tour. It's also where Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, and George Eliot are buried.
I spent about an hour wandering around the rows; it's a great mix of old and new headstones, and some beautiful and sad stories are told. I'll probably go back, to be honest, as there's so much to see.
Be warned though: it does get very muddy on some of the side paths, so dress accordingly!
I like visiting decrepit cemeteries, so when I read about the Highgate I put it high on my London must do list. I read that it was the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula and it's not hard to see why. The cemetery is a random mix of old and new, with many of the older tombstones uprooted and overgrown with ivy and twisted tree limbs. If you're lucky you'll see one of the resident foxes so keep a lookout. It was definitely among the more unique burial sites I have visited, topping the New Orleans cemeteries.
Cost (as of Feb 2013): £3 entrance fee for the E side, £7 for the W side tour (mandatory tour guide required)
- The trails get muddy so plan your footwear accordingly.
- Extras with the W side tour include history, mausoleum, visit and a glimpse into one of the vaults. If you do the tour note that there will be a lot of standing, so dress warmly if it's chilly.
- 15 min walk from the Archway Underground station
- Our guide mentioned bat watching night tours (they live in the vaults), though I'm not sure who organizes them.
Graveyards are the new must-see tourist attractions. Think Pere Lachaise in Paris; The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague; Arlington National Cemetery in the USA; St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City... It goes on and on, but Highgate is one of the best you will see, which is why I had no qualms taking a first date for a walk in this fine cemetery. I defy anyone who says romance is dead.
Registered with The English Heritage, the cemetery is filled gothic tombs and architecture that are visually stunning and yet somehow you get charmed by the spooky feeling that overwhelms you as you walk around. It is a bit weird nosing around a graveyard, but surprisingly fascinating. It is well worth the £3 entry, considering it is like nothing else and when you take into account that other cemeteries in Europe charge 10 euros.
I see dead people. No really, come here and you will. Grave upon grave of Doris', Maudes, Williams, Alberts and more. It's £3 to get in and you pay about a quid for a little 4 page guide. It's good, it's not great.
I was a little excited by the fact that Karl Marx grave is here as well as some other interesting famous dead people but to be honest, considering the charge for you to come in, it's not well marked or well kept. I might be a little spoilt by Abney Cemetery in Stoke Newington, which although smaller and less famous, is superior in beauty and great to walk around.
I understand that this place is a working cemetery so I did feel a bit like I was invading someone's privacy but it was an interesting day out. If you haven't been, I would suggest a visit on a sunny day. Just don't take your bike. Those hills almost killed me!
One of the gems of North London (along with Camden Market & Hampstead Heath).
The burial ground of Karl Marx (amongst others). A wild and woody area of winding pathways and overgrown shrubbery, oh and plenty of gothic and macabre architecture.
On our last trip here we came across wild foxes, squirrels and cats. A rare delight in such a vast city. Well worth a visit!
Nothing like spending a day in a cemetery to make you feel glad to be alive, eh? But not with Highgate Cemetery, because it is so alive. It breathes, it lives and it thumbs its nose at the death that it envelops.
Today my friend and I braved the yummy mummies of Highgate to visit this famous cemetery. The east side is eternally home to famous people including Karl Marx and Douglas Adams. But we dutifully paid the £7 to visit the west side of the cemetery.
On a guided tour by one of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery, we heard all the history of the place, the reasons behind why graves were adorned a certain way, visited Egyptian Avenue and saw some fairly impressive crypts. The tour is excellent because you feel the community of the place, why people feel strongly enough to volunteer their time to giving tours and keeping the place open.
To me, Highgate Cemetery is wild and beautiful with trees and greenery refusing to give way to looking civilised and a proper place to be laid to rest. Nature refuses to be curtailed here and that is why it transcends simply being a cemetery.
Forgive me, as this is probably going to the wankiest review ever written on yelp, but I came here last year just to check it out and had one of the most emotional days of my life. some of the tombstones have some of the most beautiful and touching words on them, there was an old married couple buried together and that just completely broke me, i was also listening to lana del rey 'blue jeans' on repeat for about 2 hours. It was a beautiful sunny day in May and I just wandered around the cemetery for hours and hours. This is a really good place to get some thinking done. or if your in the arts somewhere to get some creative inspiration.
Galloping Graveyards Tintin, its the curse of the Magnificent Seven! The Magnificent Seven Graveyards that is ,,,, MUAHAHAHAHA.
Enter ye, enter ye all who want me stop speaking in this silly way although there is, according to Wikipedia the "Highgate Vampire" that dwells there. Having said that with the recent spate of Twilight type movies any moody pale person qualifies as a vampire...anyway I digress.
This is, one of London's (and europe's) historic graveyards and the now home to Karl Marx and Douglas Adams. It is is a fair old trek from either of the two nearest underground stations but completely worth it to see how the great and the good of victorian (and present) live...in death!
Completely beautiful with very enthusiastic guides, we only saw the East Cemetery for £7 (including tour) but the other side is waiting.
Top Tip 1) Look online for tour times as they vary
Top Tip 2) Highgate has amazing pubs, Waterlow Park and The Heath so you can make a great day of it.
Top Tip 3) Be lazy get the bus up the hill
This gets lots of positive reviews I went and I suppose I am giving it 3/5 because that's the most I would ever give any cemetery.
So the low downas far as cemeteries go it's as good as they get (I guess). But I just don't think they are that great. Given the whole death thing!
If you want to add some spookyness to your day, take a tour of Highgate.
It's a bit of a hike from the bus routes but suck it up, it's worth the trek.
We got there a bit early and paid the $3 to tour the east side first. So many great photo-ops here. We found Douglas Adams grave on accident :)
When it was time for our reserved tour of the west side we got in line with the others and waited for our name to be called.
I was a little irritated by the tour guide, I'm not gonna lie. Her tone of voice made it seem like she didn't really want to be there.
I really wish we had a bit more freedom to walk about and take pictures. I wasn't interested in the facts of the cemetery, I just wanted to take cool/spooky photographs. the trick is to linger in the back of the group as long as you can and wait til others are out of the shot ;)
Bring some good walking shoes and an umbrella (just incase).
Ironically, the high point of my recent trip to London was a visit to Highgate Cemetery. We walked through the side you can walk through unaccompanied because we had been told that the other side was always booked. When we had had our fill of the peaceful chaos of the cemetery, we decided to try our luck across the way, and we were lucky enough to get a tour. Peter, our guide, had the appropriate blend of reverence and humor as he showed us around, and he impressed us with his knowledge and his obvious affection for the place.
The cemetery itself is fascinating and definitely worth a visit.
This place is totally worth the lengthy trek up the hill! It's beautiful and amazing! The little map of notable graves doesn't begin to cover the people who are buried there- if you can do some research before you go do and plan your visit a bit better. Marx is there and a ton of other people who are politically significant. It's amazing to see so many old tombstones near the brand new ones. I hope it will be kept up- so many of the graves are unable to be seen due to the growth of trees and bushes, etc.
I didn't have a guided tour- maybe that would be a better way to see it. I went with dear friends and we had a lovely time. You could totally spend a whole day there. It was very relaxing and wonderful to be amongst the headstones.
Really cool cemetary with so many headstones. Of course it's famous for the burial of Karl Marx (that statue is awesome!). I believe for a student the Eastern area is £2, and £3 for adults. The woman who took our money was really friendly and helpful. She showed us a small map that I believe you generally have to pay for to show us the best way around the cemetary to hit all the good bits :)
One of those places I'd love to be at nighttime (I love creepy stuff ;D), because the sheer amount that's there plus how overgrown everything is.
If you like cemeteries and history, don't worry :P You'll love this place.
Yes, a trip to the cemetery CAN be a fun day out for you and the kids!
Actually, more of an educational trip into the ''who's who' of headstones, this place can be magical if you come and visit at the right time of year. Listed as Grade II on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, its Roman-inspired architecture rises up from the surrounding wooded area, and is a sight to behold. There's plentiful flora & fauna too.
Amongst the famous who are laid to rest: Karl Marx, Douglas Adams and the late Alexander Litvinenko.
This Victorian burying ground is beautiful, atmospheric and historic.
It's thick with bushes and trees, and clustered with amazing gravestones and tombs.
There are large paved paths, but also tiny trails between the trees and stones. Some stonework lies in toppled piles.
You can see the resting places of Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, and many others.
It costs £3 to get in. A map and directory of some of the famous people buried there costs £1. Both are very much worth it. I could wander and sit in here for hours.
One of the best things I've done in London. It's not so much a cemetery tour as a history of Victorian London, plus a bit of celebrity stuff thrown in. Our guide, John, was excellent (I don't know what the other guides are like, but you've lucked out if you get him) and had the ability to really bring the story to life (sorry!). We did the tour of the larger West Side (the East Side is £3 and self guided, with the main attraction being Karl Marx' grave).
Anyway, it's £7 and an hour of your time well spent. Do it!
A wonderful place to visit.
A cool place on a hot summer day,
& a spectacular place in the snow.
There is so much to see. The East
& West sides hold a very different feel to each other
& so you will need at least a day each to appreciate both.
In the West
you have the graves of Thomas Faraday, the Rosetti family
inc Elizabeth Siddal (wife of Rosetti & model for his Ophelia)
or Radlcliffe Hall the writer of The Well of Lonliness, & a gay icon.
In the East Wing
Karl Marx, George Eliot,& now it seems, a favourite burial place
for artists & analysts. One such is Patrick Caulfield, old mate &
artist,whose grave says quite simply : DEAD
There are often talks here in the chapel (with mulled wine in winter)
***Now take a look at my Guide to Graves
Such a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. You have to visit the west part of the cemetery on a tour but the knowledge from the guides is well worth it. Interesting to find out that there was fashion for tomb and headstone decoration with a part of the cemetery showing that influences from Ancient Eqypt were popular at one time.
Wear some sturdy shoes as the cemetery is quite overgrown and could be a bit slippery underfoot.
I lived near here for a few years and visited the cemetary a few times at different times of the year with friends who wanted to see an unusual part of London. It's quite interesting to see the different feel you get simply by going in the spring as opposed to the autumn, and each guide focuses on different parts of the place, history and graves. You learn (and see) something new each time.
The cemetary is in two sections. The newer Eastern part has a few famous people buried in it, including Karl Marx and George Eliot. Admission includes a photo pass.
The Western section is seen by guided tour only. This is the older Victorian section, and you get a sense of how the Victorians thought of death is so different from modern day. Depending on your guide, you may see the graves of Michael Faraday, the Rosetti family, Elizabeth Siddal or Radcliffe Hall (to name but a few).
The Egyptian Avene and Circle of Lebenon are both impressive sites and as you walk deeper (and higher-the cemetary is on the side of a hill), you may think that you are no longer in London due to hearing wildlife and little traffic noise.
It's well worth a trip to Zone 3 to see this Victorian gem (and you can check out the pubs and shops of Highgate Village when you are done), just be sure to get your timing right so you don't miss the last tour of the day!
A haunting place. But very tranquil, too. Seek out the grave of Douglas Adams, and ask yourself why someone has put little toy dolphins on his headstone...
"So long, and thanks for all the fish".
Imagine Central Park in New York overgrown and full of graves and tombs. This is it, in London. I did not have time to explore fully, however, I was disheartened by the extreme disarray. Overgrowth completely consumes a lot of sculptures. Some graves are literally sinking which brings safety into question. Some of it adds charm and an ancient feel but it's just too abandoned in some areas.
i asked my friend if she wanted to visit highgate w/ me on saturday, and she thought i was morbid and politely declined. however, this is a really beautiful place to visit. take a tour so that the guide can tell you stories of all the interesting people who are laid to rest here (including george elliot, karl marx, and many women's rights activists, among others).
we only saw the east cemetery, but there is a whole other side that you can also visit as well.
I know it sounds weird to say it feels good to be at a cemetery, but this place is absolutely awesome! I visited it on a hot summer day and it felt like a secret garden rather than place of eternal rest. With all these victorian tombs embraced by ivy and green labyrinth of trees covered in moss. Definitely worth visiting.
if you want to know the real victorian london, then come here. Victorians loved to preen and wanted to show their wealth even after death. the west side is so vast you need a tour guide to get around. most go to the east side just to look at karl marx' tomb (he isnt even laid to rest here). . The catacombs and the cedar tree sprouting from the top is a wonderful sight. the tours around are hourly and you may be lucky to get the devoted Mrs Jean Pate who is the chair lady of the Highgate trust.
This is one of the few reasons why i came to London. This is history and then some. It might be a little creepy to some people, but this shows you how people thought of death in the Victorian era.
Most exciting scene, especially the old part of the cemetery. Many movies they have shot in here. You could get lost in the wild jungle of plants, graves and statures. Probably the most beautiful cemetery in the whole world.
A wonderful place to visit. Some of the East Cemetery is more modern and for me less interesting and I avoided Karl Marx on principle!
The West Cemetery is by far the best section. It is wonderfully surreal and can only accessible by Tour. It is somewhere where visitors left to their own devices might get lost for days or find a quiet corner to chip off souvenirs, so I fully understand why its tours only!
The Egyptian-Style circular Tombs built round the spectacular Lebanon Cedar Tree are famous from many films and it is a delight to visit them 'for real'.
The cemetery try to balance the needs of the architecture with the needs of the prolific wildlife which depend on this refuge within the city. The price for the tour is reasonable for the quality of what you see, especially for those wanting to take some inspiring photos.
The West Cemetery is so vast that you can't see it all.
Wear stout shoes or boots for the West Cemetery and as with all outdoor sights, remember to take a waterproof coat or brolly!
And don't forget your camera!
I've been and will return!
I would have enjoyed this more if I hadn't have been turned away the day before by an extremely officious woman as we had - only just- missed the last tour of the day, in fact we could see everyone walking away but she wouldn't let us in. It is a fascinating place, not at all depressing or morbid as I thought it might be. Some beautiful architecture.
nice and peaceful place..
Without a doubt the best graveyard in the world . Its like a little piece of the Hammer Horror movies broke out into the real world . I like to peep through the railings and see it in patches . It feels like I'm getting a glimpse into another world .
Loved it. Dont just go and see Karl Marx, but take the time to visit the massive cemetery across the road which is wonderfuully evocative. oh, and definitely take a camera. some of my favourite shots were taken there:)
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