Back in 2015 I visited Highgate East Cemetery in Highgate, London. One thing that readers on this blog will probably quickly come to know is that I am more than a little obsessed with anything to do with ghosts or hauntings, and as such, Highgate Cemetary was a must on my Haunted-Places bucket list.
Highgate has been linked to more than a few creepy stories over the last few decades. From rumors of satanic rituals taking place, reported sightings of a ghostly nun and the notorious legend of the Highgate Vampire – which sparked such hysteria in the 70’s that an actual vampire hunt was organised for the cemetery. It is therefore unsurprisingly more than a little infamous in British Legend and folklore.
Upon arriving at the cemetery it wasn’t hard to see how it managed to attract so many legends of ghostly goings on and sinister happenings.
An enormous, overgrown, expanse of crumbling Victorian graves and gothic architecture, it was nothing if not atmospheric. Highgate is an incredibly hilly part of London, and the cemetery, having largely been left to grow wild until a restoration project began in the 80’s, is surprisingly ‘green’; with huge, twisted trees, long grass, and various wildflowers growing largely unhindered.
The previous neglect has also left it’s mark on the cemeteries thousands of graves; nature has pretty much taken over many parts of the cemetery, toppling and splitting graves, and making the cemetery feel as a much a forest as it does a cemetery.
And it is HUGE.
Having been opened in the early 1800’s, the cemetery marks the final resting place of more than 170,000 people. The graves are densely packed together, but even with this the cemetery still stretches out a long distance. It is a very quiet, somewhat eerie place to wander around, with many little corners to investigate or trails to follow.
The cemetery also boasts a number of famous graves – sociology theorist Karl Marx is one of the cemeteries most notable occupants, boasting what is probably the grandest memorial in the cemetery. There are also a number of other rather interesting graves to spot in the cemetery – look out for the rather tongue-in-cheek inscription on artist Paul Caulfield’s grave, or TV presenter Jeremy Beadle’s unusual headstone.
The West Cemetery is unfortunately only available via paid, guided tours, and I thus didn’t visit it on this particular trip. I do hope to visit it in the future however, especially as this is the supposed domain of the rumored Highgate vampire.
The East-Cemetery charges a £4 admission fee for adults, and the closest tube station is Archway. There are a number of routes you can follow to get from Archway to the cemetery, but I personally recommend taking the route through Waterflow Park; a lovely, scenic park with a nice lake and a lot of greenery, which is certainly worth the five minute stroll it takes to get to the cemetery.
Update: You can now read all about my trip to Highgate West Cemetery by clicking this link!