Tuesday, May 6, 2008

London Highgate Cemetary

Highgate Cemetery is considered by many to be the finest of London's 'Magnificent Seven' Cemeteries for its Victorian funerary architecture and landscaping. Two buildings are listed Grade I, two Grade II* and over sixty Grade II.

I have always had a weakness of cemeteries. My mother used to drag me to graveyards and we stopped by some of the more famous Civil War battlefields/graveyards when I was a kid. My favorite of these was Vicksburg-but that is another story.

There are a lot of famous people buried in the varied and sundry Cathedrals around London-Shakespeare's tomb in Westminster Abby. London is full of history and it makes sense that her graveyards would be full of famous and important people.

Highgate Cemetery is London's most famous graveyard and well worth a visit. Split into two halves the sadly neglected Highgate Cemetery West is only available by tour, so that you miss out on the fun of wandering around aimlessly amid the stones. Highgate East has not such restriction and you can wander to your heart's contentment.

The whole post-Gothic Victorian necropolis of Highgate Cemetery is under siege by nature with plants and animals running rampant about the place. For a fan of Infrared Photography such as myself, this is the best of new. Graveyards with overgrown plants and tilted monuments make for great images.

Opened in 1838, the 37 acres appears more extensive. There are over 168,000 names buried in more than 52,00 graves, of which at least 850 are notable. Highgate Cemetery is unrelenting in surprises at every turn. There is the resting lion, Nero, in honour of George Wombell, proprietor of England's largest traveling menagerie in the early 19th century. He was one of the first to reap the rewards of displaying exotic animals to people who would otherwise never see them.

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