Unknown grave, Highgate Cemetery
Circle of Lebanon, West Cemetery
Entrance to the Egyptian Avenue, West Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery is a place of burial in north London, England. It is designated Grade I on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. It is divided into two parts, named the East and West cemetery. There are approximately 170,000 people buried in around 53,000 graves at Highgate Cemetery. Highgate Cemetery is notable both for some of the people buried there as well as for its de facto status as a nature reserve.
The cemetery is located on both sides of Swain's Lane in Highgate, N6, next to Waterlow Park. The Main Gate is located just north of Oakshott Avenue. There is another entrance on Chester Road. The cemetery is in the London Boroughs of Camden, Haringey and Islington. The nearest transport link is Archway tube station.
History and setting
The cemetery in its original form – the northwestern wooded area – opened in 1839, as part of a plan to provide seven large, modern cemeteries, known as the "Magnificent Seven", around the outside of London. The inner-city cemeteries, mostly the graveyards attached to individual churches, had long been unable to cope with the number of burials and were seen as a hazard to health and an undignified way to treat the dead. The initial design was by architect and entrepreneur Stephen Geary.
On Monday 20 May 1839, Highgate Cemetery was dedicated to St. James by the Right Reverend Charles Blomfield, Lord Bishop of London. Fifteen acres were consecrated for the use of the Church of England, and two acres set aside for Dissenters. Rights of burial were sold for either limited period or in perpetuity. The first burial was Elizabeth Jackson of Little Windmill Street, Soho, on 26 May.
Highgate, like the others of the Magnificent Seven, soon became a fashionable place for burials and was much admired and visited. The Victorian attitude to death and its presentation led to the creation of a wealth of Gothic tombs and buildings. It occupies a spectacular south-facing hillside site slightly downhill from the top of the hill of Highgate itself, next to Waterlow Park. In 1854 the area to the east of the original area across Swains Lane was bought to form the eastern part of the cemetery. This part is still used today for burials, as is the western part. Most of the open unforested area in the new addition still has fairly few graves on it.
The cemetery's grounds are full of trees, shrubbery and wild flowers, all of which have been planted and grown without human influence. The grounds are a haven for birds and small animals such as foxes. The Egyptian Avenue and the Circle of Lebanon (topped by a huge Cedar of Lebanon) feature tombs, vaults and winding paths dug into hillsides. For its protection, the oldest section, which holds an impressive collection of Victorian mausoleums and gravestones, plus elaborately carved tombs, allows admission only in tour groups. The newer eastern section, which contains a mix of Victorian and modern statuary, can be toured unescorted.
The tomb of Karl Marx, the Egyptian Avenue and the Columbarium are Grade I listed buildings.
Highgate Cemetery was featured in the popular media from the 1960s to the late 1980s for its so-called occult past, particularly as being the alleged site of the "Highgate Vampire".
Friends of Highgate Cemetery
The Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust was set up in 1975 and acquired the freehold of both East and West Cemeteries by 1981, since when they have had responsibility for the maintenance of the location. In 1984 they published Highgate Cemetery: Victorian Valhalla by John Gay.
The most famous burial in the East cemetery is probably Karl Marx (whose tomb's attempted bombings on 2 September 1965 and in 1970 are still recalled by some Highgate residents), and it is celebrated by a memorial (he was buried nearby).
There are many other prominent figures, Victorian and otherwise, buried at Highgate Cemetery. Most of the historically notable figures lie in the Western part. Tours of the most famous graves are available, but due to vandalism and souvenir hunters visitors are no longer allowed to explore unaccompanied, unless they have a personal connection with the cemetery and thus hold a pass.
- Anatoly Kuznetsov, Soviet writer
- Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and other novels
- Farzad Bazoft, journalist, executed by Saddam Hussein's regime
- Jeremy Beadle, television presenter
- Patrick Caulfield, painter and printmaker known for his pop art canvasses
- Diane Cilento, Australian actress and author
- husband and wife William Kingdon Clifford, mathematician and philosopher, and Lucy Lane Clifford, novelist and journalist
- George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans — the name on the grave is Mary Ann Cross), novelist, common law wife of George Henry Lewes and buried next to him
- Paul Foot, campaigning journalist and nephew of former Labour Party leader Michael Foot
- Lou Gish, actress, daughter of Sheila Gish
- Sheila Gish, actress
- Robert Grant VC, soldier and police constable
- George Jacob Holyoake, Midland social reformer and founder of the Cooperative Movement
- Bert Jansch, Scottish folk musician
- Claudia Jones, black Communist and fighter for social justice
- William Friese-Greene, cinema pioneer
- Mansoor Hekmat, Communist leader and founder of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran and Worker-Communist Party of Iraq
- George Henry Lewes, English philosopher and critic, common law husband of George Eliot and buried next to her.
- Anna Mahler, sculptress and daughter of Gustav Mahler and Alma Schindler
- Karl Marx, philosopher, historian, sociologist, and economist
- Frank Matcham, theatre architect
- Carl Mayer, Austrian-German screenwriter of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and Sunrise
- Malcolm McLaren, punk impresario and original manager of the Sex Pistols
- Ralph Miliband, left wing political theorist, father of David Miliband and Ed Miliband
- Dachine Rainer, poet and anarchist
- Corin Redgrave, actor and policital activist
- Sir Ralph Richardson, actor
- Anthony Shaffer, playwright, screenwriter, novelist
- Sir Donald Alexander Smith, Canadian railway financier and diplomat
- Herbert Spencer, evolutionary biologist and laissez-faire economic philosopher
- Sir Leslie Stephen, critic, first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, father of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell
- Feliks Topolski, Polish-born British expressionist painter
- Max Wall, comedian and entertainer
- Opal Whiteley, American writer
- Edward Richard Woodham, survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade
- Jane Arden, Welsh-born film director, actor, screenwriter, playwright, songwriter, and poet.
- Edward Hodges Baily, sculptor
- Beryl Bainbridge, author
- George Samuel Bentley, printer & publisher of the London Standard Newspaper 1879-1890
- Julius Beer, owner of The Observer, and his 8 year old daughter, who the mausoleum was originally created for. This is the largest structure on site and has recently been restored to close to its original splendor
- Jacob Bronowski, scientist, creator of the television series The Ascent of Man
- Robert Caesar Childers, scholar of the Orient and writer
- Edmund Thomas Chipp, organist and composer
- John Singleton Copley, Lord Chancellor and son of the American artist
- Sir Charles Cowper, Premier of New South Wales, Australia
- The family vault of Robert Monach and WH Crossland. In this vault are buried William Henry Crossland's parents-in-law (the Monachs), his brother, his wife, his mistress, his daughter and eldest son, though not Crossland himself
- Charles Cruft, founder of Crufts dog show
- David Devant, theatrical magician
- Alfred Lamert Dickens, the younger brother of Charles Dickens
- Catherine Dickens, wife of Charles Dickens
- John Dickens and Elizabeth Dickens, parents of Charles Dickens
- The Druce family vault, one of whose members was (falsely) alleged to have been the 5th Duke of Portland.
- Michael Faraday, chemist and physicist
- Lucian Freud, British painter
- John Galsworthy, author and Nobel Prize winner (he was cremated and his ashes scattered, memorial only)
- Stella Gibbons, novelist, author of Cold Comfort Farm
- Radclyffe Hall, author of The Well of Loneliness and other novels
- James Holman, 19th-century adventurer known as "the Blind Traveller"
- Surgeon-General Sir Anthony Dickson Home, Victoria Cross recipient from Indian Mutiny
- Alexander Litvinenko, Russian dissident turned critic, murdered by poisoning in London
- Christina Rossetti, poet
- Frances Polidori Rossetti, mother of Dante Gabriel, Christina and William Michael Rossetti
- William Michael Rossetti, co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
- Thomas Sayers, Victorian boxer
- Elizabeth Siddal, wife and model of artist/poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti
- Jean Simmons, actress
- Alfred Stevens, sculptor, painter, and designer
- Arthur Waley, translator and scholar of the Orient
- George Wombwell, menagerie exhibitor
- Ellen Wood, author known as Mrs Henry Wood
- Adam Worth, criminal mastermind and philanthropist. Possible inspiration for Sherlock Holmes's nemesis, Professor Moriarty
- Patrick Wymark, actor
The cemetery contains the graves of 316 Commonwealth service personnel maintained and registered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, in both the East and West Cemetery, 257 from the First World War and 59 from the Second. Those whose graves could not be marked by headstones are listed on a Screen Wall memorial erected near the Cross of Sacrifice in the older (Western) Cemetery.
- In Bram Stoker's Gothic novel Dracula, the Count's young victim, Lucy Westenra, is buried in "Kingstead Cemetery" (a fictionalised Highgate), where she later preys on young children as a vampire.
- The first chapter of the third Young Bond novel by Charlie Higson features the kidnapping of an Eton College professor in the cemetery grounds.
- Footage of Highgate appears in numerous British horror films, including Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), Tales from the Crypt (1972) and From Beyond the Grave (1974).
- The 1977 BBC TV episode, "Count Dracula" for the series Great Performances, was filmed in Highgate's West cemetery. It was directed by Philip Saville and featured Louis Jourdan as Count Dracula.
- In the BBC TV series Porridge, Fletcher claims that his eldest daughter, Ingrid, was conceived on Karl Marx's tomb.
- Herbert Smith is shadowed through Highgate Cemetery in Visibility, a murder/espionage/thriller by Boris Starling.
- Tracy Chevalier's novel Falling Angels is set in and around Highgate Cemetery.
- Highgate Cemetery is the sixth level of the Nightmare Creatures game.
- Fred Vargas´s novel Un lieu incertain (English title: An Uncertain Place) starts in Highgate Cemetery.
- Barbara Hambly's vampire novel, Those Who Hunt The Night, has the main characters visiting Highgate at one point to examine the remains of a vampire who had taken over an abandoned tomb.
- Stated in the acknowlegments as the inspiration for the setting of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.
- Audrey Niffenegger's book Her Fearful Symmetry is set in and around Highgate Cemetery, and she acted as a tour guide there while researching the book.
- In the story "The Berkenheim", soon to be made into a feature film, the opening and closing scenes are at Highgate Cemetery.
- In Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment, Morgan Delt and his mum visit the grave of Karl Marx
- Part of a scene from the 2009 film Dorian Gray is filmed in the Circle of Lebanon
- The lead characters in Mike Leigh's film High Hopes (1988) visit Highgate Cemetery to pay homage to Karl Marx.
- In the fiction book Double or Nothing (2007), a part of the Young Bond series, James is in the cemetery where Ludwig and Wolfgang Smith plan to kill him.
- In the fiction book Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow, projectors (beamers) are set up in the trees to show films on a wall. The movies are cobbled together by the main character, Trent McCauley on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net.
In 2010 the West Cemetery can only be visited as a guided tour (for which a small fee is asked). The East Cemetery can be visited after paying a small entrance fee.