Seven Photographs: Highgate Cemetery in the Snow [Part I]

     My aunt, knowing that I love cemeteries, told me to visit Highgate Cemetery. I went looking on the web to see what all the fuss was about. I clicked on the Friends of Highgate Cemetery website and looked at the list of famous interns. The first on the list is probably one of my favorite authors, Douglas Adams.
    I was going.

    Upon exiting the Archway Underground Station I climbed up the road called Highgate Hill. Near the top of the hill I turned left at a church, went through a park and got lost, then asked for directions to find the cemetery.
    But on the way back I found the easy way to find the cemetery.
    So do this: Exit the Archway Underground Station, walk up Highgate Hill for a block and a half and turn left on Bradfield Road. Soon this road will end, directly in front of you -unseen through the apartments- is the cemetery, so jog left but continue straight. Soon the cemetery will be on your right. Just follow the cemetery wall, keep making rights, and the entrance will appear.
    At the entrance is a small hut, and a man inside who will take 3 pounds to tour the cemetery. He was kind and pointed me directly to Mr. Adams and gave me a map of other famous people.

    This is when I found out that the cemetery is broken into two sections. East and West. I was entering the East section, the newer section. The West section is older and can only be viewed by reservation, that I had not made.
    In 1830’s London, there was a drought of places to bury the dead. As the city grew the tiny church yards could not handle the overflow. Bodies were buried on bodies, sometimes only a few feet deep. Quick lime was thrown on bodes to make them decompose faster and there was a horrible stench over London.
    That is when an act of Parliament created the ‘Magnificent Seven.’ Seven cemeteries were created on what was then the outskirts of London to house the dead.
    Highgate Cemetery is one of those cemeteries, the others are: Kensal Green Cemetery, West Norwood Cemetery, Abney Park Cemetery, Nunhead Cemetery, Tower Hamlets Cemetery, and Brompton Cemetery.

    The west section of Highgate was opened in 1939, and from the description seems to have a beautiful designed landscape. I must go back there with a reservation for a tour.
    The east section was opened in 1856, and is more a jumbled collection of graves, rather than a perfectly manicured little city. Since the 1930’s the cemetery went into a decline. Over this time many of the graves were abandoned, and there was very little maintenance.
    By 1975 the running of the cemetery was taken over by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery who keep the premises maintained.
    In the East Cemetery, where I wandered around taking pictures, the evidence of years of neglect is visible everywhere. While the paths are are easily passable, many of the head stones and graves are over-run with ivy and trees.
    Which make for -sometimes- better photography.

Below are the first 7 of the 21 photographs from Highgate cemetery. Click here to see all 21 (once I have published them over the next few weeks).

The last resting place of Karl Marx.

Comments are closed.