Friday, 1 September 2017

A Visit to Highgate Cemetery

Having recently visited London's most famous Cemetery in Highgate North London,
here are some of the pictures taken on the day. Of course Highgate Cemetery is split
into two areas, The East Cemetery and The West Cemetery. I spent my morning
in The East Cemetery, the more accessible home of some well known headstones.

A visit to The West Cemetery requires that you are accompanied by a tour guide.
But the one thing that the Western side has is the rather grand Egyptian Avenue
and The Terrace Catacombs. It is also the resting place of George Michael who
died suddenly on Christmas Day last year. And his family's choice of Highgate has
been causing some concern at the Cemetery as they have been inundated with
enquiries from fans all around the world. Even now when you call the Cemetery
about a general visit, their first message is how it is not possible for anyone to
visit George's grave. The staff don't want The West Cemetery to become like another
Graceland or some kind of overcrowded shrine. The burial site for George is currently
concealed to the public and will not be part of The West Cemetery guided tour.
They say that they want George's grave site to settle. So who knows, maybe one day
they might put it on the tour guide.

But it was interesting walking around The famous East Cemetery. And several of the
more palatial mausoleums greet you as you enter. And yet there are some wild
areas where many headstones are covered with overgrown ivy. And you imagine
that these sites are no longer attended to or that those connected families have
all but died out.
But it was fun hunting down the well known headstones.

Some of the day's pictures can be seen below.

Above is the grave site of revolutionary socialist Karl Marx.
His original burial site was at the Northern end of the cemetery
but in 1956 his burial and memorial site was moved to a more
prominent and visible position. And all paid for by The Communist
Party. And each year on the anniversary of his death, crowds
gather for a small ceremony.
Pioneer of the Punk Music movement
and former Manager of The Sex Pistols.
His epitaph reads...
"Better to be a spectacular failure, than a benign success."

Above is the entrance to The West Cemetery.

Above is a novel grave stone. It's almost a full size stone
piano. And it's the burial site of musician
Harry Thornton who died in 1918.
Above on the right the grave stone has the word DEAD carved
into it. Looks like English Pop artist Patrick Cauldfield is
having the last laugh.

On the above left is the site for notorious English 1960's
gangster Bruce Reynolds, the man who masterminded
the infamous 1963 Great Train Robbery.

Strange that however notorious some lives were when they
were living, their legacy is secured forever by having a place
at Highgate Cemetery.

Above: The burial site of 1980's tv prankster Jeremy Beadle.
Above left: The burial site of English writer Douglas Adams
best known as being the author of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide
to the Galaxy.'

Middle grave stone is the site of English actor Sir Ralph Richardson.
I couldn't help noticing that a bunch of freshly
cut flowers (Gladioli) had been recently laid on the flat lying
headstone. Perhaps a family member had just visited the site.

Far right is the headstone for Paul Foot an investigative
journalist and socialist campaigner. He was also the
nephew of former Labour Leader Michael Foot.
Above is the very much visited grave site of Victorian novelist
Mary Ann Cross-Evans, better known as George Eliot.
Her most well known works include 'Silas Marner' 'The Mill
On the Floss' and of course 'Middlemarch.'

Above is one of several large mausoleums that greet you as you
enter the East Cemetery.

Above is the double grave site of Loren and Bert Jansch.
Bert Jansch was a Scottish folk musician and founding
member of Pentangle.
Above left is an intriguing headstone. It leaves so many unanswered
questions. It's the grave site of Jim Stanford Horn, a young man
who died at the age of 34 in 2010. He was one half of a gay
couple who clearly enjoyed Penguin books.
Some speculators believe that spaces on the headstone have
been left for the day that the surviving partner passes on
when they will once again be joined together.
Notice the gap for a possible 'S' after the word partner.
Plus the huge gap left under Jim Horn's name.
I read an interesting but speculative article on this intriguing
headstone and it's written by Jason Villemez titled
Apparently on first seeing this grave site he was moved to tears,
not over the loss of the young man's life but more so for
the effect it must have had on the surviving partner.

The middle gravestone is the headstone for Corin Redgrave
from the Redgrave dynasty, that well known family of actors.

And on the far right is a flat headstone that I saw off the beaten
path just by chance. It is the burial site for celebrated
corsetiere Velder Lander.

Above is a small flat lying stone in memory of  Cy Endfield.
His most well known productions included 'Zulu' (1964)
as well as 'Zulu Dawn' (1979).
He also directed many popular B Movies.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
As I left the Cemetery I made my way up a small hill to Highgate Village. I wanted
to get a good look at a local curiosity The Gatehouse Pub. Apparently it dates back
to around 1380. It's also recognized as one of London's most haunted houses.

I remember keeping a local newspaper cutting from the early 1990's concerning some
spooky events that were taking place there, although I cant find that press cutting.
Apparently there was regular paranormal activity in the upstairs area, which back
then was a sort of abandoned ballroom. Very few landlords or tenants would venture
up there.
It was always described as being very cold and anyone that did venture up those
stairs soon found out that their presence was not wanted. And one landlord,
as reported in my local paper, was violently ushered out and thrown down the
staircase. I also remember reading how it was claimed that his healthy head of
hair had literally and suddenly turned white.
The report in that local newspaper article claimed that many customers and staff
had seen a mysterious lady cloked in grey and named The Grey Lady. Although
if there were dogs or children in the downstairs bar then she was unlikely to be seen
In 1966 one customer was violently attacked and strangled by a strong presence
until they almost passed out with very little vision. And staff working there have
faced similar experiences. Not only have they seen a grey lady, but a dark cloaked
Jacobean male has been a regular nuisance, often revealing himself to customers
that are on their own. And some have told how he removed his head cloak only
to reveal a horrific face.

One local Psychic believes that all of Highgate is built on a leyline, and
that the nearby Highgate Cemetery acts as a psychic energy, seeping out and causing
a lot of the strange hauntings in the area. History also tells us of some
violent events that took place not far from this very building.

But it would seem that The Gatehouse recently had some kind of makeover.
And the upstairs haunted ballroom is now a theatre and they're currently running
a musical show called '9 to 5 The Musical.' So perhaps the upstairs area has had
some kind of spiritual cleansing. But I've not heard about any sort of cleansing.
And certainly 20 years ago you wouldn't of been able to get a handfull of willing
people to have climbed those stairs to the old abandoned ballroom.

And so after taking a few images of this local landmark from the road/island opposite
the Gatehouse, I couldn't help thinking about all the spooky events that have happened
within those walls. I've even heard that The Grey Lady has been seen from the
roadside and sighted at one of the top floor windows. So naturally I stopped and
looked up for a moment, focusing on that top front open window. But no such sighting,
at least not today. 


  1. I just took a crash course in the suburb of Highgate. I had forgotten nearby is the Men's Pond, and apparently back in 2012 it was infested with red swamp crayfish and swimmers were advised to wear costumes and not swim naked.

  2. Andrew, They say that the pond is still infected by algae.

    So you're not too keen on Cemeterys then?
    (I think I spent far too long putting that post together).

  3. As I was scrolling down, I saw the piano and wondered if Elton planned something similar? Or more elaborate.
    Spike Milligan is said to have favoured this inscription on his tombstone. 'I want a second opinion.' An interesting post. Good work. - Ian

  4. Ian, When you see that stone piano you cant help thinking of Elton.
    But I always thought that Spike Milligan's gravestone said something
    like 'I told you I was ill.'

    Saw a funny book by Spike in the bookshop. It had me in giggles
    so I quickly bought it and finished it back home. It's called
    'A Mad Medley of Milligan.' They're like childish nonsense poems,
    in the mould of Edward Lear.
    He keeps going on about Hitler and the War, writing in a broken
    German accent..(Vots dis = What's this?)
    His words and rhyming is just so clever and funny.
    I just had to buy that book and take my giggling back home.

  5. Now that you mention it, I did read the 'I told you I was ill' line as well as the second opinion. Maybe he wrote two. I think mine is funnier. - Ian

  6. For a man, and a man he is was, Karl Marx gets a smallish marker. For a man who never works a day labor, in a regular manner, such a day in his life, he gets to be a show as him as an advocate for workers. HA HA HA Thinking here is he is a German and inter there. NO ! Shows off my ignorance. Karl Marx gets a burial in England ? DUH. Hitler and Marx are Austrians, of Austria, are they not each so of from there ? ! Marx and Stalin and Hitler might be fist fighting in the after life.