Highgate Cemetery West

Swain’s Lane Highgate London N6 6PJ

Highgate Cemetery lives up to its billing as the spookiest burial ground in the country in the section west of Swain’s Lane, sadly accessible only on a tour. This is Bram Stoker’s kind of place; in fact in 1970 the local newspaper reported that a shadowy ‘Highgate Vampire’ was stalking the then-derelict cemetery at night, leading to a stake-out by two vampire hunters. Hard fact relates that the west cemetery was established in 1839 as London’s population boomed and quickly became the most fashionable burial ground in the city. Today it is celebrated for its Victorian architecture, such as the eccentric Egyptian Avenue and neoclassical Circle of Lebanon, a sepulchral city for Victorian grandees. Yet just as appealing is the deliciously creepy atmosphere as you follow mazy paths around tombs slowly vanishing beneath ivy. En route you’ll pass the last resting places of famous names like Michael Faraday and dog show founder Charles Cruft, plus more recent internments such as poisoned Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko (2009), buried in a lead coffin after his death by radioactive polonium, and the recently deceased painter Lucian Freud (2011).

You can wander freely around the more recent, eastern half of the cemetery, which is where you'll find Karl Marx's grave, among others.

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