Near the entrance are huge upright and solid mausoleums which wealthy and important people in the 1930's chose as their final resting place. They are flamboyant and imposing; I immediately christened them "ego-graves".
This is the grave of the American nature writer Opal Whitley. Her epitaph gives her name as Francoise Marie de Bourbon-Orleans because she claimed to be descended from French aristocracy. The grave is still tended by a mystery mourner who leaves flowers and engravings, but they come and go very furtively and nobody has ever identified them. This is not the only such enigma in
Check out the Highgate Cemetery
tombstone next door. That was put there in the 1950's; was somebody precognitive? Canary Wharf
The postmodern artist Patrick Caulfield has a gravestone that suits his style very closely. The word cut into the top simply says: "DEAD". He must have been a very literal man.
This is Jeremy Beadle's final resting place. He may not be about anymore, but he will never be forgotten. He loved reading as well as practical jokes, so the sculptor produced a small library for his tomb.
There were many very bizarre avant-garde graves like these two.
This is the original grave of Karl Marx. His children and his long-suffering wife, Jenny of Westphalia, are also interred here. After he died his co-author Friedrich Engels revealed a family secret, that of Marx's son whom he had fathered during an affair with his maid Helene Demuth and whom Engels has brought up as his own to avoid a public scandal. The son, Frederick, was buried here when he died in 1929.
Karl Marx is
's most famous
"resident", as they call them. The political philosopher was a German,
but lived most of his adult life in Highgate
Whether you support him or oppose him (I personally oppose him and consider him
a tool of the New World Order), nobody can deny that he is one of the most
influential people who ever lived. Therefore his small inconspicuous grave was
regarded as too lowly. In 1955 the Communist Party of Great Britain arranged
for his body to be moved to a new grave beneath the imposing pedestal and bust
of the Karl Marx Memorial. It is a bulky marble edifice placed prominently on a
corner of one of the main pathways. It is topped with an oversized bronze bust
of that famous bushy-bearded head. There have been two attempts to destroy the
Memorial with explosives, in 1965 and 1970, but "they just nudged it to
the left!" quipped the guide. There was a crowd of around fifty people
visiting the Memorial and some visitors come to just to see it. The
management of the Cemetery cater specially to those of Marxist beliefs and
encourages "comrades" to come and pay their respects to the founder
of their philosophy. As you can see, there are flowers and other tributes left
there regularly. The tour guide told us that during the 1960's the Soviet and
Chinese embassies in London sent hundreds of their staff at a time to pay
homage at the Memorial and there was a campaign to move Marx' body to Red
Square in Moscow. Luckily for Highgate's fame and fortune this was
unsuccessful. The space around the Karl Marx Memorial is hot property for his
supporters to be laid to rest. It is known as "Commie Corner". Famous left wing politicians and activists such
as Ralph Miliband, Paul Foot and Claudia Jones have plots nearby. Highgate
This is the tomb of Corin Redgrave, a famous actor who starred in films such as Anthony and Cleopatra and Four Weddings and a Funeral. He was an ardent supporter of Karl Marx and wanted to be buried closer to the Memorial, but had to put up with being about two hundred yards away. This shows how full up
Douglas Adams was the author who created the ingenious and hilarious Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy. He died of heart disease in 2001 at a young age while exercising at the gym... I'm sure he would have chuckled at the irony of that too. There is an urban legend that his epitaph reads: "So long and thanks for all the fish!" As you can see above, this is not true. His marker is surprisingly modest in fact. The pot of pens are tributes from fans of his writing.
Anna Mahler was a famous sculptress and the statue on her gravestone is one she made herself.
This is probably my favourite gravestone in
, and I didn't note whose
it was. Highgate
There are many dark secrets at
. One of those is a tunnel dug under Highgate Cemetery Swains Lane between the East and West sides so coffins could be
manoeuvred from the chapel in the West to the East without blocking the
traffic. The entrance to the tunnel was walled off and is now only just visible
behind this workman's shed... I wonder what was inside it when they walled it
off! One thing that the tour doesn't mention is the Highgate Vampire scandal.
This started in 1969 when a man called David Farrant was passing one of the
gates when he saw a ghostly apparition. He reported this and when the media got
hold of it, they sensationalized it into a story about a vampire haunting the
cemetery. They were helped by another local man who became famous as a self-styled
vampire-slayer, complete with holy water and wooden stakes tucked into his belt
etc. When the story was covered on television, hundreds of people turned up at
the cemetery and tried to break in. On this HPANWO Radio show I interview David
Farrant, see: http://hpanwo-radio.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/programme-192-podcast-david-farrant.html.
has a long tradition of being a place of massive
supernatural activity. David himself was only there to try and find a ghost
that many others had also related seeing. This paranormal interest connected
with the cemetery goes on to this day. Oddly enough, I picked up a free
information booklet at the entrance kiosk and am certain it was in my bag when
I left. When I got home it was nowhere to be found. It might turn up, but if it
doesn't... I can't see how it could have vanished by normal means. Both Ustane
and myself very much enjoyed our visit to Highgate Cemetery . I will have to return one day soon and join a tour
of the Highgate Cemetery West Side. Below are some photographs I took that illustrate
perfectly the spooky essence of . Highgate Cemetery