A Hidden Gem

I have to admit that our motives were not pure when we went to visit Highgate Cemetery. We had read in a ‘Walking Haunted London’ book, that the place was haunted. There were rumours of vampires and so, as dedicated ghost hunters, we were so there. Highgate Cemetery West can only be visited by guided tour. All I can say is, that if you ever visit London, it HAS to go on your places to visit list. Not because it is ghostly, or scary, simply because it is fascinating. Our tour guide was John Waite, who has regular slots on Radio 4. He was brilliant.IMG_1833
He informed us that the the cemetery was designed so that you could never see where you were going. It was a trip into the unknown. The cemetery is overgrown with trees and the smell of ferns is gorgeous. There are about 100,000 people buried there, including Alexander Litvinenko, who has been buried about 12 feet down in a lead-lined coffin, due to his being poisoned by polonium 210. Other dead residents include: the architect for Buckingham Palace, the man who built Big Ben and Faraday. The highlight for me was the Circle of Lebanon,IMG_1844 which consisted of tombs around a large tree. The tree used to be the only one in the graveyard. Then we went to the Terrace Catacombs. Here some of the coffins could be seen. IMG_1847 Some had been stolen. Apparently back in the 60s, children used to bunk off school and go and play with the dead bodies. The very strange part of the cemetery’s history, was that back in the 70s, a corner of it was sold off to build a house! The house is built on the graves of paupers and babies. The residents then sold off the garden and 10 years ago a new house was built, mostly of glass. I could go on and on about all the things I learned and this wouldn’t even include the east cemetery. However, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. You have to go. When you get there. Ask about the tunnel.

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~ by envisioningutopia on September 22, 2013.

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