|Owned by||Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust|
|Size||15 hectares (37 acres)|
|No. of graves||53,000+|
|No. of interments||170,000|
|Find a Grave||East, West|
Highgate Cemetery is a place of burial in north London, England. There are approximately 170,000 people buried in around 53,000 graves across the West Cemetery and the East Cemetery 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 designated Grade I on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. It is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London.
The cemetery comprises two sites on either side of Swains Lane in Highgate, N6, next to Waterlow Park. The main gate is located on Swains Lane just north of Oakshott Avenue. There is another disused gate on Chester Road. The cemetery is in the London Boroughs of Camden, Haringey and Islington. The nearest transport link is Transport for London C11 bus Brookfield Park stop or 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, now known as the "Magnificent Seven", around the outside of central 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 (West) Cemetery was dedicated to St. James by the Right Reverend Charles James 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. Both the cemeteries are still used today for burials, but these areas are closed to the public. Most of the open unforested area in the East Cemetery still has fairly few graves on it.
The cemetery's grounds are full of trees, shrubbery and wildflowers, most of which have been planted and grown without human influence. The grounds are a haven for birds and small animals such as foxes.
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 then they have had responsibility for the maintenance of the location. In 1984 they published Highgate Cemetery: Victorian Valhalla by John Gay.
Many famous or prominent people are buried in Highgate cemetery; the most famous burial is arguably that of Karl Marx, whose tomb was the site of attempted bombings on 2 September 1965 and in 1970. The tomb of Karl Marx is a Grade I listed building for reasons of historical importance.
Notable East Cemetery interments
- Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and other novels
- Mehmet Aksoy, press officer for the Kurdish YPG, killed by ISIS in 2017
- Farzad Bazoft, journalist, executed by Saddam Hussein's regime
- Jeremy Beadle, writer, television presenter and curator of oddities
- Adolf Beck, the Adolph Beck case was a celebrated case of mistaken identity
- Hercules Bellville, American film producer
- William Betty, popular child actor of the early nineteenth century
- Kate Booth, English Salvationist and evangelist. Oldest daughter of William and Catherine Booth. She was also known as la Maréchale
- Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton, 1st Baronet, Scottish physician who is most-closely associated with the treatment of angina pectoris
- Patrick Caulfield, painter and printmaker known for his pop art canvasses
- William Kingdon Clifford (with his wife Lucy), mathematician and philosopher
- Lucy Lane Clifford, novelist and journalist, wife of William Kingdon Clifford
- Yusuf Dadoo, South African anti-apartheid activist
- Sir Davison Dalziel, Bt, British newspaper owner and Conservative Party politician. Massive mausoleum near the entrance.
- Fritz Dupre, iron and manganese ore merchant, known as the "Manganese Ore King"
- 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
- Edwin Wilkins Field, lawyer who devoted much of his life to law reform
- Paul Foot, campaigning journalist and nephew of former Labour Party leader Michael Foot
- William Foyle, co-founder of Foyles
- William Friese-Greene, cinema pioneer and his son Claude Friese-Greene
- Lou Gish, actress, daughter of Sheila Gish
- Sheila Gish, actress
- Philip Gould, British political consultant, and former advertising executive, closely linked to the Labour Party
- Robert Grant VC, soldier and police constable
- Charles Green, the United Kingdom's most famous balloonist of the 19th century
- Leon Griffiths, creator of Minder
- Mansoor Hekmat, Communist leader and founder of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran and Worker-Communist Party of Iraq
- Eric Hobsbawm, historian
- George Holyoake, Birmingham-born social reformer and founder of the Cooperative Movement
- Alan Howard, actor
- Leslie Hutchinson, Cabaret star of the 20s and 30s
- Jabez Inwards, popular Victorian temperance lecturer and phrenologist
- Georges Jacobi, composer and conductor
- Bert Jansch, Scottish folk musician
- Claudia Jones, Trinidadian born Communist and fighter for civil rights, founder of The West Indian Gazette and the Notting Hill Carnival
- David Kirkaldy, Scottish engineer and pioneer in materials testing
- Anatoly Kuznetsov, Soviet writer
- Liza Lehmann, operatic soprano and composer, daughter of Rudolf Lehmann
- Rudolf Lehmann, portrait artist and father of Liza Lehmann
- George Henry Lewes, English philosopher and critic, common law husband of George Eliot and buried next to her.
- Roger Lloyd-Pack, British actor known for Only Fools and Horses and The Vicar of Dibley
- John Lobb, Society bootmaker
- Charles Lucy, British artist, whose most notable painting was The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers
- Haldane MacFall, art critic, art historian, book illustrator and novelist
- Anna Mahler, sculptress and daughter of Gustav Mahler and Alma Schindler
- Chris Martin, Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
- Karl Marx, philosopher, historian, sociologist and economist (memorial after his reburial, with other family members)
- Frank Matcham, theatre architect
- Carl Mayer, Austro-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
- William Henry Monk, composer (of the music to Abide with Me)
- Sir Sidney Nolan, Australian artist
- Charles J. Phipps, theatre architect
- Tim Pigott-Smith, actor
- Dachine Rainer, poet and anarchist
- Corin Redgrave, actor and political activist
- Bruce Reynolds, criminal, mastermind of the Great Train Robbery (1963)
- Sir Ralph Richardson, actor
- José Carlos Rodrigues, Brazilian journalist, financial expert, and philanthropist
- Ernestine Rose, suffragist, abolitionist and freethinker
- James Samuel Risien Russell, Guyanese-British physician, neurologist, professor of medicine, and professor of medical jurisprudence
- Anthony Shaffer, playwright, screenwriter and novelist
- Peter Shaffer, playwright and screenwriter
- Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, first Chief Officer of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade
- Alan Sillitoe, English postmodern novelist, poet, and playwright
- Sir Donald Alexander Smith, Canadian railway financier and diplomat
- Herbert Spencer, evolutionary biologist, sociologist, and laissez-faire economic philosopher
- Sir Leslie Stephen, critic, first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, father of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell
- William Heath Strange, physician and founder of the Hampstead General Hospital, now the Royal Free Hospital
- Lucien Stryk, American poet, teacher and translator of Zen poetry
- Sir George Thalben-Ball, English organist, choirmaster and composer
- James Thomson, Victorian poet, best known for The City of Dreadful Night
- Storm Thorgerson, graphic designer
- Malcolm Tierney, actor
- Feliks Topolski, Polish-born British expressionist painter
- Edward Truelove, radical publisher and freethinker
- Peter Ucko, influential English archaeologist
- Max Wall, comedian and entertainer
- Peter Cathcart Wason, pioneering psychologist
- Opal Whiteley, American writer
- Sir Colin St John Wilson, architect (most notably of the new British Library in London), lecturer and author
- Edward Richard Woodham, survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade
- Michael Young, Baron Young of Dartington, politician, social activist and consumer champion.
A monument erected in the East Cemetery by widows and orphans of members of the London Fire Brigade in 1934. There are 97 firemen buried here. The monument is cared for by the Brigade's Welfare Section.
The cemetery's grounds are full of trees, shrubbery and wildflowers, most 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 (previously topped by a huge, 280 years old Cedar of Lebanon, which had to be cut down and replaced in August 2019) feature tombs, vaults and winding paths dug into hillsides. The Egyptian Avenue and the Columbarium are Grade I listed buildings.
Notable West Cemetery interments
- Jane Arden, Welsh-born film director, actor, screenwriter, playwright, songwriter, and poet.
- John Atcheler, ‘Horse slaughterer to Queen Victoria’
- Edward Hodges Baily, sculptor
- Beryl Bainbridge, author
- Abraham Dee Bartlett, zoologist, superintendent of the London Zoo known for selling the popular African elephant Jumbo to P. T. Barnum
- Julius Beer (and family members), owner of The Observer, .
- Francis Bedford, landscape photographer
- William Belt, barrister and antiquarian, best known for his eccentric behaviour
- Eugenius Birch, seaside architect and noted designer of promenade-piers
- Edward Blore, architect known for his work on Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey
- Edwin Brett, publisher and pioneer of serialised sensational weekly fiction and 'penny dreadfuls'
- Jacob Bronowski, scientist, creator of the television series The Ascent of Man
- James Bunstone Bunning, City Architect to the City of London
- Edward Dundas Butler, translator and senior librarian at the Department of Printed Books, British Museum
- John James Chalon, Swiss painter
- Robert Caesar Childers, scholar of the Orient and writer
- Edmund Chipp, organist and composer
- Antoine Claudet, pioneering early photographer, honoured by Queen Victoria as "Photographer-in-ordinary"
- John Cross, English artist
- Philip Conisbee, art historian and curator
- Thomas Frederick Cooper, watchmaker
- John Singleton Copley, Lord Chancellor and son of the American painter John Singleton Copley
- Sir Charles Cowper, Premier of New South Wales, Australia
- Addison Cresswell, comedians' agent and producer
- George Baden Crawley, civil engineer and railway builder
- 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 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.
- Herbert Benjamin Edwardes, Administrator and soldier, known as the "Hero of Multan"
- Joseph Edwards (sculptor), Welsh sculptor
- Thomas Edwards (author), (Caerfallwch), Welsh author and lexicographer
- Ugo Ehiogu, footballer
- Michael Faraday, chemist and physicist (with his wife Sarah), in the Dissenters section
- Lucian Freud, painter, grandson of Sigmund Freud, and elder brother of Clement Freud
- John Galsworthy, author and Nobel Prize winner (cenotaph, he was cremated and his ashes scattered)
- Stephen Geary, architect (most notably of Highgate Cemetery)
- John Gibbons, ironmaster and art patron
- Stella Gibbons, novelist, author of Cold Comfort Farm
- Margaret Gillies, Scottish painter known for her miniature portraits, including of one of Charles Dickens
- John William Griffith, architect of Kensal Green Cemetery
- Henry Gray, anatomist and surgeon, author of Gray's Anatomy.
- Radclyffe Hall, author of The Well of Loneliness and other novels
- William Hall, founder with Edward Chapman of publishers Chapman & Hall
- Philip Harben, English cook regarded as the first TV celebrity chef
- Sir Charles Augustus Hartley, eminent British civil engineer, known as 'the father of the Danube.'
- George Edwards Hering, landscape painter
- Edwin Hill, older brother of Rowland Hill and inventor of the first letter scale and a mechanical system to make envelopes
- Frank Holl, Royal portraitist
- James Holman, 19th-century adventurer known as "the Blind Traveller"
- Surgeon-General Sir Anthony Home, Victoria Cross recipient from Indian Mutiny
- Bob Hoskins, actor
- Georgiana Houghton, British artist and spiritualist medium
- David Edward Hughes, FRS, 19th-century electrical engineer and inventor
- Sir John Hutton, publisher of Sporting Life and Chairman of the London County Council
- Georges Jacobi, composer, conductor and musical director of the Alhambra Theatre
- Lisa Jardine, historian
- Victor Kullberg, one of the greatest marine clockmakers
- Thomas Landseer, younger brother of Sir Edwin Landseer (there is a cenotaph, Edwin was buried in St Paul's Cathedral)
- Sir Peter Laurie, politician and Lord Mayor of London
- Douglas Lapraik, shipowner and co-founder of HSBC and the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Group
- Henry Lee, surgeon, pathologist and syphilologist
- Robert Liston, surgeon
- Alexander Litvinenko, Russian dissident, murdered by poisoning in London
- James Locke, a London draper credited with giving Tweed its name
- William Lovett, Chartist
- Samuel Lucas, Editor of the Morning Star, journalist and abolitionist
- John Maple (furniture maker) founder of the furniture makers Maple & Co.
- Hugh Mackay Matheson, industrialist and founder of Matheson & Company and the Rio Tinto Group
- Frederick Denison Maurice, English Anglican theologian, prolific author and one of the founders of Christian socialism
- George Michael, singer, songwriter, music producer and philanthropist. Buried beside his mother and sister.
- Barbara Mills, (ashes) first female Director of Public Prosecutions
- Jude Moraes, landscape gardener, writer and broadcaster
- Nicholas Mosley, novelist and biographer of his father, Oswald Mosley
- Edward Moxhay, shoemaker, biscuit maker and property speculator, best known for his involvement in the landmark English land law case Tulk v Moxhay
- Elizabeth de Munck, mother of celebrated soprano, Maria Caterina Rosalbina Caradori-Allan in grave with large carving of pelican in piety
- Walter Neurath, Publisher and founder of Thames and Hudson
- Samuel Noble, English engraver, and minister of the New Church
- George Osbaldeston, known as Squire Osbaldeston, sportsman, gambler and Member of Parliament (MP)
- Sherard Osborn, Royal Navy admiral and Arctic explorer
- Peter Robinson, founder of the Peter Robinson department store at Oxford Circus, London
- Frances Polidori Rossetti, mother of Dante Gabriel, Christina and William Michael Rossetti
- Christina Rossetti, poet
- Gabriele Rossetti, Italian nationalist and scholar. Father of Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti
- William Michael Rossetti, co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
- Tom Sayers, pugilist, his tomb is guarded by the stone image of his mastiff, Lion, who was chief mourner at his funeral.
- Henry Young Darracott Scott, responsible for the design and construction of the Royal Albert Hall
- Elizabeth Siddal, wife and model of artist/poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti and model for the painting of Ophelia by John Everett Millais
- Jean Simmons, actress
- Sir John Smale, Chief Justice of Hong Kong
- Tom Smith, inventor of the Christmas cracker
- Charles Green Spencer, pioneer aviator and balloon manufacturer
- Alfred Stevens, sculptor, painter and designer
- Walter Fryer Stocks, prolific landscape painter
- Sir Henry Knight Storks, soldier, MP, and colonial administrator
- Alfred Swaine Taylor, toxicologist, forensic scientist, expert witness
- Frederick Tennyson, poet, older brother of Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- Samuel Sanders Teulon, prolific Gothic Revival architect
- John Vandenhoff, leading Victorian actor
- Henry Vaughan, art collector who gave one of Britain's most popular paintings, John Constable's The Hay Wain to the National Gallery
- Arthur Waley, translator and scholar of the Orient
- George Wallis, First Keeper of the Fine Art Collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum
- Henry White, lawyer and gifted landscape photographer
- Brodie McGhie Willcox, founder of the P&O Shipping Line
- Henry Willis, foremost organ builder of the Victorian era
- Hugh Wilson, RAF test pilot
- George Wombwell, menagerie exhibitor
- Ellen Wood, author known as Mrs Henry Wood, there is also a plaque for her in Worcester Cathedral
- Adam Worth, criminal mastermind. Possible inspiration for Sherlock Holmes' nemesis, Professor Moriarty. Originally buried in a pauper's grave under the name Henry J. Raymond
- Sir William Henry Wyatt, long-serving chairman of the Middlesex County Lunatic Asylum at Colney Hatch, Southgate
- Patrick Wymark, actor
- Joseph Warren Zambra, scientific instrument maker
Other notable interments (location unknown)
- Robert William Buss, artist and illustrator
- Theodore Hope, British colonial administrator and writer
- Henry Moore, marine painter
- Sir William Charles Ross, painter to The Queen and Court. Portrait miniature artist
- Raphael Samuel, historian
- Jeanette Threlfall, Victorian-era hymnwriter, poet
The cemetery contains the graves of 318 Commonwealth service personnel maintained and registered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, in both the East and West Cemeteries, 259 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 west cemetery.
The cemetery is maintained by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust. They charge an entry fee to cover expenses for the tours and the maintenance of the property. The cemetery is a private cemetery and not generally open to the public.
The West Cemetery is accessible by ticketed guided tour only (mainly for safety reasons) on Saturday and Sunday afternoons or with prior booking for weekdays. However, the cost of the guided tour includes access to the East Cemetery and a map. The tour lasts for approximately one hour. The East Cemetery is accessible by a ticketed self-guided (entry includes a map) or a guided tour. Full terms can be found on the website. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the West Cemetery was opened for self-guided tours for the first time in its more than a century old history, as part of a move to increase public accessibility.
In popular culture
This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2015)
- Several of John Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga novels refer to Highgate Cemetery as the last resting place of the Forsytes; for example, Chapter XI, "The Last of the Forsytes," in To Let (1921).
- In the 1970 film Clegg directed by Lindsay Shonteff, Harry Clegg, played by Gilbert Wynne, walks into the Cemetery through the Egyptian Avenue entrance.
- 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).
- 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.
- Highgate Cemetery is the sixth level of the Nightmare Creatures game.
- In Len Deighton's alternative history novel SS-GB and its TV adaptation, a bomb is detonated in the tomb of Karl Marx when his remains are exhumed by German occupation forces to be presented to the Soviet Union.
- Fred Vargas's novel Un lieu incertain starts in the 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 acknowledgments as the inspiration for the setting of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.
- Audrey Niffenegger's book Her Fearful Symmetry (2009) is set around Highgate Cemetery; she acted as a tour guide there while researching the book.
- In the novel Double or Die (2007), a part of the Young Bond series, Ludwig and Wolfgang Smith plan to kill Bond in the cemetery.
- Tracy Chevalier's book Falling Angels (2002) was set in and around Highgate Cemetery. The two main protagonists met there as children while their parents were visiting adjacent family graves and they continued to enjoy meeting up and playing there.
- The movie Hampstead (2017) features a few scenes in the cemetery.
- The climax of a novel by John Steele, Seven Skins (2018), was set in the Egyptian Avenue and Circle of Lebanon, among other locations in the West Cemetery.
- The movie Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) features scenes towards the end of the film in the cemetery before the famous Cedar tree was removed.
Carl Rosa grave
The grave of Bruce Reynolds
The tomb of Tom Sayers
The grave of Patrick Caulfield, RA
The Grave of Mansoor Hekmat
The Grave of Anna Mahler
The Grave of Yusuf Dadoo
The Grave of Eric Hobsbawm
The Grave of Jeremy Beadle
- "Frequently Asked Questions". Highgate Cemetery. Highgate Cemetery. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
- Historic England, "Highgate Cemetery (1000810)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 21 June 2017
- "Highgate Cemetery". Historic England. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
- "History". Highgate Cemetery. Highgate Cemetery. Archived from the original on 24 January 2017. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
- A Brief History of Highgate Cemetery
- "Tomb raiders' failed attack on Marx grave", Camden New Journal, UK
- "Farewell to YPG's Mehmet Aksoy in London". ANF. 11 November 2017.
- Davis, Angela (20 June 2019). "Angela Davis praises CPUSA for its history "of militant struggle"". PeoplesWorld.org. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
- GRO Register of Deaths: JUN qtr 1861 1a 174 St Geo Han Sq – Henry Gray
- "DServe Archive Persons Show". .royalsociety.org. Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
- "Cemetery Details: Highgate Cemetery". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
- "The Bullet Machine". 4 June 1970 – via www.imdb.com.
- Niffenegger, Audrey (3 October 2009). "Audrey Niffenegger on Highgate Cemetery". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
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