A Trip to Highgate Cemetery

On a wet and appropriately Gothic day, Thirds English students visited Highgate Cemetery to explore the inspiration behind a variety of literary classics.

Writes Sahil S (Thirds)

As I entered the cemetery, inky-black gates towered over me. Looking around, I could see row upon row of graves to my right and up the stairway before me, the Land of the Dead loomed straight ahead. Once I climbed up the stairs leading to the graves, my pulse started to race as I wondered what we might see. The tall trees stood like ghostly stooped figures guarding the graves and a carpet of plants covered the floor in an attempt to conceal others.

Highgate Cemetery is one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London. Some of the highlights of this fascinating trip were seeing many of the famous grave stones. It was especially interesting how Highgate Cemetery was the final resting place of Karl Marx, a famous philosopher and an advocate for communism. Other famous people buried here include Michael Faraday, a scientist, Christina Rossetti, a poet, and George Michael, a famous musician.

Visiting the catacombs in the cemetery was definitely an eerie experience. As we entered there was an unnerving silence only disturbed by the odd droplets of water. Seeing the coffins on display was a haunting experience, as I imagined the skeletons within. We then moved to the Egyptian Avenue, which was intriguing, with vaults on each side holding coffins. Our wonderful tour guide, Vanessa, explained the symbolism of the grave markings, and we learnt that a short column symbolises the cutting short of a life well lived.

A particularly striking tomb which stood out was that of a famous boxer. His tomb was guarded by a sculpture of his loyal dog, Lion, in a life-size rendering. Sadly, the dog was not later buried with him. Despite the persistent rain towards the end, I had a memorable day visiting this mysterious landmark and learnt some interesting facts.

Just to leave you all with some food for thought… there is a myth that a vampire lurks in the grounds of the cemetery. He is said to be a tall dark figure… are you brave enough to venture into the grounds of the cemetery? I’m not certain I’d be keen to visit again after dark!

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