Highgate Cemetery - famous as
the place where Karl Marx is buried
- is one of the best-known 'garden
cemeteries' of the Victorian era.
The curving pathways wind between
trees and make it a favourite afternoon
There are in fact two cemeteries
at Highgate. The original one, on
the west of Swains's Lane, was established
in 1839 as a joint-stock company,
and was laid out in a romantic style
by the architect Stephen Geary.
It was a great success, so a 'New'
cemetery was establishedin
1854 on the other side of the road.
Today the original cemetery is
closed, and only open for
guided visits at weekends. All these
photos are of the 'New' or east
For long the cemetery flourished,
but as a joint stock company, it
relied on selling new graves for
its upkeep, and thus during the
war, it became neglected, and trees
sprang up everywhere, so that today
it is a wooden park with a few gravestones
scattered in it: Most of the graves
are hidden in the undergrowth.
In the 1980s it was taken over
by a charity, and today it is run
by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery
who open the East cemetery daily
for a small charge (currently £2),
and conduct guided tours at the
weekend of the West cemetery
|The most famous inhabitant of
the cemetery is Karl Marx. This
rather grandiose monument is not
in fact his original burial place,
which was over on the other side
of the cemetery, but it was placed
here in 1956 to be a suitable place
Marx's grave has proved
to be a magnet for other Communist
leaders. Here we see on the left
the grave of Saad Saadi Adi, the
Iraqi communist leader, and on the
right of Dr Yusef Mohamed Dadoo,
Chairman of the South African Communist
In the background, a new block
of flats peeps over the wall of
the cemetery. Whoever lives in them
will have a wonderful view of Marx's
A few yards away is a rather
different grave, the family grave
of Henry Pickard, who proudly describes
himself as being "of Tollington
Park N and Central Meat Market".
One wonders what Marx would have
made of him. Would he have condemned
him as a "capitalist"?
Or would he rather have approved
of someone who was proud to
proclaim his trade, even in death?
Another distinguished grave is
that of William Richard Foyle, the
bookseller, his headstone aptly
in the form of a book.
As one who has spent many happy
hours in his bookshop, I was happy
to say "Hello!"