By Koray Hussein
On July 16th, we here at Maybe It’s Because kicked off our tour of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries with a Photo Walk of Highgate’s East Cemetery. This week we thought we’d go into more detail about the cemetery, what makes it so special and why Highgate is widely regarded to be London’s most famous cemetery.
That’s not a knock on Kensal Green, West Norwood, Nunhead, Brompton, Tower Hamlets or Stoke Newington’s Abney Park but there really is something special about Highgate cemetery that’s hard to put into words but I’ll give it a shot.
It may sound rather morbid and slightly creepy to suggest a cemetery as a place to head to for a walk but in all honesty, Highgate’s famous east cemetery is super relaxing and dare I say it, enjoyable.
That is if you don’t count the walk up to the cemetery entrance which had me cursing under my breath every step of the way. Who the hell decided to put the entrance all the way up the hill?
Granted this complaint is coming from an ex-smoker who has done literally nothing to get back into shape but still…
Upon entering the eastern cemetery, which is open to the public every weekday, you pay an entrance fee of £4 (free for under 18’s), get handed a free booklet with a handy map of the cemetery and get waved on your way.
If you stick to the main pathway and to the map then you’ll probably be done with Highgate cemetery in no time at all and probably feel slightly let down… But that’s not exactly what you’re supposed to do.
No, the best way to explore the cemetery would be to head down the narrower paths which are almost hidden by the trees and bushes where some of the cemeteries most interesting gravestones are located.
But don’t skip the main route entirely otherwise you’ll miss the cemeteries most famous residents, the most well known one being the extremely controversial, Karl Marx, who has an enormous headstone of… his head. Not a fan of the bearded German? Well how about Douglas Adams, the author of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, which is often decorated with pens that the authors fans have brought and left at the grave? No? My you’re hard to please… What about Jeremy Beadle?
Sod it. Just have a look at these:
In all honesty I never used to be a massive fan of cemeteries and found them extremely difficult to visit. Luckily for me, a friend somehow managed to convince me to visit Prague’s jaw dropping Old Jewish Cemetery whilst visiting the city… If you’ve ever been to Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery then you already know that, for someone with a slight fear of cemeteries, that visiting the Praguian (that’s a real word, I promise) landmark is what the phrase jumping in at the deep end was penned for.
The Jewish Cemetery may steal the honours for the most spectacular cemetery I’ve ever visited but if you’re fond of cemeteries and the serenity that often comes with the territory then I would wholly recommend Highgate cemetery.
In case you missed the link earlier, click here to view our Photo Walk of the cemetery.