Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Highgate Cemetery

Rumor had it that Highgate Cemetery would be a fascinating visit, and it lived up to its reputation. I took the guided tour on a grey Sunday afternoon and marveled at the eerie and breathtaking illusions hidden past the front gates. Highgate Cemetery was one of the first private cemeteries set up in London. In previous times, interment had taken place in church courtyards, but as space began to run out, other arrangements were made. Highgate opened in 1839. The Victorians of this period had a fascination with death and arranged elaborate funeral processions and Gothic memorials.

Highgate became the fashionable place to be buried. The Victorians of the time channeled their grief into elaborate and artistic statuary and memorials. For over 100 years, the cemetery was filled. Through time and well into the twentieth century, as more and more people chose to be cremated, the cemetery declined in popularity and in available space. It was closed in the 1970's and left unattended for years. During that time, it was a place lost in time.

Portions of the cemetery have now been cleared for visitors to view, but you can still sense the presence of time gone by.

Broken statuary lie askew.

Verdant greenery has spread rampant and choked many of the burial areas.

It's a step back in time. Angels faithfully watch over the remains.

Statues are often set upon 3 pedestals, representing the Victorian ideals of Faith, Hope, and Charity.

The Egyptian Avenue is filled with family vaults from long ago.

Symbols abound throughout. A broken column represents a life cut short--too soon. The wreath encircling this column represented resurrection.

An urn was a symbol of death, and partially draped so that the spirit could escape.

An inverted and extinguished torch symbolized the lack of light, or death.

Clasped hands represented a couple buried in death, who would meet again in a heavenly place.

Rest in peace.

And finally, an hourglass reminding us that time flies. Treasure each day.

If you are interested in seeing more, you can find a hauntingly beautiful video about Highgate by clicking here.


  1. Oh, if I had only had time to go to a cemetery when I was in London. My bestest friend in the whole world, spent a week in London last summer, and this cemetery was her favorite thing.
    Here's a rundown of what we did on the day we were there...
    1. Changing of the guards
    2. Big Ben
    3. Parliament
    4. West Minster Abby
    5. Trafalger Square
    6. Covent Gardens
    7. Harrods
    8. and chips!!!!!!!
    9. Some shopping
    10. The Tube...and back to Paris

    I think we did pretty good for 10 hours. We walked everywhere because we found the Tube a little confusing compared to Paris.

    If you had only been there...guess what? I would have wanted to spend the day in your cool house!!!!! We could've talked Beth Moore, and I'm sure our husbands would've become best friends...hey, if you're ever in Tampa!!!


  2. Loved these pictures. We visited a famous cemetery in Buenos Aires a couple of years ago and I got some very neat pictures there also. I especially like the picture of the hourglass and the reminder to treasure our time here, friend.