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Highgate Cemetery (London) in Spring

P. Marlin May 2015

Highgate is a cemetery located in north London, England. Opened in 1839, it was created as one of seven cemeteries placed outside the city of London to help with the overflow of burials in local churchyards. The cemetery is divided into two parts, named the East and West cemetery. There are approximately 170,000 people buried in around 53,000 graves.

When I visited the cemetery in May 2015 the spring flowers were in bloom. I arranged to take the West Cemetery tour which included a visit to the Egyptian Gateway, Circle of Lebanon and the catacombs.

The above photo shows the entrance to the West Cemetery. This area was used frequently in the 19th and 20th century as an entry way for the family and their deceased.

Egyptian Gateway: The Egyptian gateway in the West Cemetery is flanked by a pair of massive obelisks. When the cemetery was founded, interest in ancient Egypt was still very strong, encouraged by Napoleon's campaigns. The association of the Egyptian style of architecture with the memorialization of the dead was a natural one. An avenue, lined with tombs, leads up to the Circle of Lebanon (below image from Highgate Cemetery).

The Circle of Lebanon (photo above and below): At the heart of the Circle of Lebanon is a massive ancient cedar tree which long predates the Cemetery. It was part of the grounds of Ashurst House, sold in 1830 and demolished to provide a site for the present St Michael's Church. The cemetery designers kept the great cedar as a key feature in the landscape.