The West Cemetery Tour at Highgate Cemetery

One night, Foxes curiously searched for interesting urban spaces to explore. With the help of the almighty Internet, we found the beautiful and ecologically enriched Highgate Cemetery located just outside of the central London on ShotHotspot. Immediately allured by Highgate Cemetery’s impressive Gothic monuments, we booked a West Cemetery guided tour and eagerly await for the date to come.

This working Victorian cemetery first opened its West Cemetery in 1839 and later expended its east part in 1854.  Through time, this atmospheric burial ground worthy of its historical significance is slowly reclaimed by the natural, creating a tranquil, yet mysterious, ambiance.

Would you like to join our tour with us?

EGYPTION AVENUE

After passing through the colonnade where Victorians horse-drawn funeral hearses were held at, we encountered the Egyptian Avenue (designed to reflect the Victorian’s association of ancient Egypt and death). Guarded by a pair of massive obelisks, this majestic structure lines the family vaults alongside of the passageway. It almost felt like we were in a Tomb Raider scene when we walked through the avenue!

CIRCLE OF LEBANON

At the end of the Egyptian Avenue lies the Circle of Lebanon. This Gothic structure consists of a circle of tombs surrounding a massive and beautiful ancient cedar tree lifted at the heart of the circle (hence where the name comes from).

TOMBS OF THE FAMOUS

Top: George Wombwell, travelling menagerist, Left: Tom Sayers, Victorian pugilist, Middle: Karl Marx, philosopher, historian, sociologist and economist, Right: Anna Mahler, sculptress and daughter of Gustav Mahler and Alma Schindler

This wrapped up our tour of the West Cemetery.  For the rest of the time, we walked the East Cemetery and visited some of the beautiful graves.

SURPRISING ENCOUNTER

As we walked towards the Highgate Village on Swain’s Lane we encountered this picturesque Gothic village named Holly Village. Designed by architect Henry Astley Darbishire and developed by Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts (one of the richest women in Victorian England), this privately owned, exquisite gem adjacent to the Highgate Cemetery is really beautiful. Rumour has it Charles Dickens possibly helped out with the design as well (he was one of Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts’ close friends)! What an amazing piece of architecture with interesting history attached to it.

FOXY’S SIDE NOTES:

  • Highgate Cemetery is located on both sides of Swain’s Lane in Highgate, N6.
  • The visit to West Cemetery  is by guided tour only.  The tour is £12/adult, which includes the East Cemetery admission, and last for about an hour. Booking is essential for the weekday tour and the weekend tour runs on a first come first serve basis. Click here to book the tour.
  • BBC London Calling – Highgate Cemetery from Santiago Burin des Roziers on Vimeo.
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/65673927 w=550&h=400]
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