Saturday, 18 April 2009

A pleasant Saturday afternoon stroll .... in a cemetery

This is going to be a huge blog post just because there's so much to write about... apologies if the pictures take a while to load!

I finally got to visit Highgate Cemetery today and it live up to all it's expectations, romantic, fascinating and almost returned back to nature.

Highgate Cemetery was one of the Magnificent Seven, opened around the outskirts of London to resolve the issue of lack of burial space. It opened in 1839 and is the final resting place for many famous people.

The entrance is magnificently Victorian neo-gothic

First we took a tour of the original West Cemetery. The most famous part of this is the Egyptian
Avenue and Circle of Lebanon. I didn't take pics in here, though I wish I did as it was magnificent however I couldn't work out how to make my phone camera work silently and mobile phones aren't allowed in :( so these pics aren't mine.

Egyptian Avenue - 8 mausoleums on each side, each can hold 12 coffins. They were very expensive and so contain the remains of the great and the good.

The Circle of Lebanon - twenty sunken tombs built around a cedar tree, thought to be around 400 years old, later expanded with an outer circle of 16 tombs. Famous residents include Radclyffe Hall - author and poet best known for the banned lesbian classic "The Well of Loneliness"

This map shows some of the famous graves in the West Cemetery

Famous graves we spotted in the West Cemetery:
John Singleton Copley - British statesman
Charles Cruft - Founder of Crufts Dog Show
Memorial to Charles Dickens (and grave of his wife Catherine)
Alexander Litvinenko - former spy and Russian dissident, poisoned with radioactive polonium in London, 2006
Sir William Otway - served under Wellington, fought in the Peninsular War
Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall
George Wombwell

This map shows the famous graves in the East Cemetery

A quick stop for lunch and to work out if I could make my phone camera silent - which I could - and we wandered to the East Cemetery - here I was able to take plenty of pictures.

This shows how nature has reclaimed the cemetery - In the Victorian era it was maintained in pristine condition by a team of 27 gardeners but by the 1970s it had fallen into disrepair. The current aim is not to restore it's Victorian grandeur but to keep the state of equilibrium that exists today, only repairing that which has to be repaired. The cemetery is home to many wild species of flora and fauna including urban foxes.

Grave of George Eliot pseudonym of Mary Ann Cross - English author

There are large numbers of Polish graves in the cemetery and the lighting of candles in red glass jars is a Polish tradition, we saw several graves that had them on. These are usually lit on All Saints Day (November 1st)

I should have gotten both these in one photo, alas I didn't. They are a husband and wife who championed social reform. Their work lives on in the Young Foundation.

Grave of Charles Watts - famous atheist

George Jacob Holyoake - Chartist and promoter of secularism

This grave reads "poet and anarchist" - must find out more about Dachine Rainer and Edward James Ballantine

I have no idea what this is, or what it's meant to signify, or who's grave it marks.

The reason a lot of people visit Highgate Cemetery - the tomb of Karl Marx

And just across the path was what seemed to be Comrade's Corner

I took this picture just because it shows the amazing way that nature has grown around the graves. This is ivy, snaking around two trees. Most of the vegetation is self-seeded.

The grave of British artist Patrick Caulfield - he was known for his pop art canvasses and his memorial is very different to most of those around it.

And finally just as we were leaving, we spotted the grave of Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and more...

Highgate High Street, living up to it's name!

And a quirky house with a tower in Highgate - someone has a thing about houses with towers so I snapped a quick pic!

Victorian cast iron bridge over the Archway road


CraftyPretender said...

What a great way to spend the day!!! looks like you had a blast!

Velda said...

I had put this in my faves when you first posted it because I didn't have time to read. I'm glad I came back....this is incredible! As much as I love graveyards, you just can't get any better than European ones! That was an amazing trip Tina, thanks for taking us on it with you!

So how close are you to Stowe? Care to do some genealogy research and photography for me? lol

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