Highgate Cemetery, London

Highgate West Cemetery © Ross M McGill

Gigantic, gothic and overgrown, Highgate is the most famous cemetery in England. And its quirkiness is proportional to its fame.

The site opened in 1839 to cope with massive population explosion, high mortality and extreme shortage of burial grounds. Nowadays, it is one of the most atmospheric, arcane and downright spooky spots in all of London.

East Cemetery boasts an odd mismatch of famous burial sites: Karl Marx, George Eliot, Douglas Adams, TV presenter Jeremy Beadle and more. But for every famous grave there are a hundred more lesser-known stories to discover.

Now largely left to nature, West Cemetery’s grand gothic tombs are a treasure trove of the unexpected: your guide will fill you in on some of the weird internment rites, insignia and obscure symbolism. They will likely skip the lurid rumours of ghosts and ghoulies, however. Not least, the legendary Highgate Vampire, who triggered media hysteria back in 1970 – but prompted an outbreak of vandalism in the graveyard.

Written by - Edited by Charlotte Amelines - Photo by Ross M McGill

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