Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last — far off — at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring
Alfred Lord Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’, at the entrance to one of the tombs in the Circle of Lebanon
‘Better a spectacular falure, than a benign success’ – Gravestone of Malcolm Mclaren
Highgate Cemetery was opened in 1839, one of seven cemeteries across the capital designed to relieve pressure on church burials as the London population exploded. It is a listed Grade I park. The West Cemetery is especially impressive architecturally, notably the Egyptian Avenue and the Columbarium.
After a long period of neglect, it has been restored to the level of ‘tidy wilderness’ which makes it such an enchanting place to walk through today and seek out famous heroes and heroines from the past, many from the creative and political world.
For us, the wildflowers, birdsong and butterflies flitting around add much to the charm.
WHAT LITERARY FIGURES ARE BURIED HERE?
Douglas Adams (1952-2001) Author Of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Fans leave pens at the foot of his grave. ‘I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.’
George Eliot (1819-80) Novelist. (the name on the grave Is Mary Ann Cross),
Karl Marx (1818-1883), author of Das Kapital, the most visited memorial of them all
Alan Sillitoe (1928-2010), author of the ‘Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’
Christina Rossetti (1830-94) Poet
Beryl Bainbridge (1932-2010), Liverpool author
Stella Gibbons (1902-1989), novelist, author of Cold Comfort Farm
There are also several other literary figures that you can find with the help of the map provided on admission.
Highgate Cemetery, Swain’s Lane, London N6 6PJ.
See www.highgatecemetery.org/ for visiting times. Entrance fee applies. Visits to the West Cemetery by guided tour only.
- Visit: The sundial in Lauderdale House garden in Waterlow Park, inscribed with the last stanza of ‘The Garden’ by Andrew Marvell, who lived here in the 17th century:
How well the skillful gard’ner drew
Of flow’rs and herbs this dial new,
Where from above the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run;
And as it works, th’ industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckon’d but with herbs and flow’rs!
- Spot: The Blue Plaque commemorating A. E. Housman at 17 North Road, Highgate, N6 4BD
- Spot: The Blue Plaque commemorating J.B. Priestley at 3 The Grove, Highgate, London N6 6JU
- Spot: The Blue Plaque commemorating Sir John Betjeman, 31 Highgate West Hill, Highgate N6 6NP
- Browse: Highgate Bookshop, 9 Highgate High Street, London N6 5JR, 020-8348 8202. Local authors Julian Barnes, Ben Schott and Andrew Martin, often do book signings here