Highgate Cemetery | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Highgate Cemetery

London, England, United Kingdom

Lucy Davidson

20 Apr 2021

About Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery is a graveyard in London where the famous philosopher and political economist Karl Marx is buried. It is also the burial site of many other prominent people, including several novelists, artists, political activists, and professionals. A list of famous internments can be found on Highgate Cemetery’s website.

Guided tours of the East Cemetery, where Marx is interned, take place at 2.15pm on the first Saturday of each month, and last around an hour.

History of Highgate Cemetery

There are few burial places in the whole of Britain that are as famous and evocative as Highgate Cemetery. In its original form – the north-western wooded area – the cemetery was opened in 1839 as part of a plan to provide seven large and modern cemeteries, now known as the ‘Magnificent Seven’, around the outside of central London.

There are approximately 170,000 people buried in around 53,000 graves across the East and West Cemeteries.

The site is known for its elaborate Neo-Gothic tombs, sculpted stone angels, and foreboding mausoleums, and as such, has been branded a ‘Victorian Valhalla’.

Indeed, during the Victorian period, the cemetery was a hugely popular and fashionable burial site, with Victorian attitudes to death and burial leading to a huge wealth of Gothic tombs.

By the end of World War II, however, the cemetery was overgrown and in serious disrepair, with occult, vampire, and horror fans circulating rumours about a possible ‘Highgate Vampire’, and the horror film production company Studio Hammer making it the setting for some of their films in the 1970s.

the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust was set up in 1975, and is responsible for the upkeep of the site.

Highgate Cemetery Today

Today, the Cemetery is a highly popular destination for those with an interest in history and architecture. The grounds are full of trees, shrubbery, and wildflowers, most of which have been planted and grown without human influence.

The West Highgate section, which is the most overgrown, can only be visited on a guided tour. The East Highgate section, however, including the grave of Karl Marx, can be explored on your own, but you need to pay an entrance fee. The cemetery gates are open to visitors daily from 10 am to 4 or 5 pm, depending on the season.

Getting to Highgate Cemetery

From Kings Cross St. Pancras, the cemetery is reachable in around half an hour via the Northern Line underground tube to Archway. By car, it takes around 20 minutes via A5203, though parking may be somewhat limited. For those who would like a walk through central London, the cemetery is around an hour by foot from the centre, via Highgate Road.

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