Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Highgate Cemetery- west

An oasis of tranquillity and a monument to Victorian architecture and eccentricity, Highgate Cemetery is definitely worth a visit.

It is a slightly unusual tourist destination, but it doesn't feel ghoulish or mawkish. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and the visitors were all respectful. Some of the grave sites are stunning, the symbolism was interesting and the grave markers are not only an expression of grief, but a display of status and wealth.
Egyptian avenue- Highgate Cemetery 
The Egyptian avenue was a highly sought after final resting place. The Victorians had a special affinity with the ancient Egyptians, as both cultures had elaborate funeral rites and a fascination with death and the afterlife.

 I did find the idea of above ground graves slightly disconcerting, here and in the catacombs. The avenue looks like a street of houses, with wooden doors opened with a key. Whole families are buried inside, their coffins resting on shelves. The catacombs also feel uncanny, they looked to me like a weird bookshelf of coffins lining the walls.    

More pictures after the jump:-

 Again- it's like a neighbourhood of graves. This area was one of the more expensive areas.

George Wombwell's grave was particularly unusual. He was the owner of a travelling menagerie, and was buried under a statue of his sleeping lion, Nero. I couldn't help think of House Grandison, from Game of Thrones, as their coat of arms is also a sleeping lion.  

Angels are a common emblem in Highgate. It was interesting to see different interpretations, some angels are triumphant, heralding the deceased's entry to heaven, others were mournful. The one below is unique, as the statue is of a sleeping angel.  
 Properly not the best place to come if you're a Dr Who fan and scared of the Weeping Angels.

My mum and I have been meaning to come here since January, but we had to keep putting it off as the weather was so unpredictable, however it was worth the wait. Highgate Cemetery is a beautiful and fascinating place. The tour guide (a lovely Scottish lady) was extremely informative about the history of the cemetery and the people who were buried their, the tour a respectful tribute to their legacy.

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