A visit to Highgate

On Saturday we went to Highgate cemetery which is my favourite of the big seven cemeteries that we’ve visited. It’s divided into the east and west sides, with the west side only being accessible on a guided tour. We’ve done the tour before so we just went for a wander round the east cemetery.

Highgate was opened in 1839 and has lots of famous people buried there, but even more people just like you and me. Parts of it have been left to return to nature but other parts are still in use, and lots of it is very well looked after.

Arguably the most notorious resident is Karl Marx. Now I know some of you probably think I’m very weird because I like visiting graveyards but at least I don’t pose with the memorials! There were people getting their pictures taken next to Karl Marx??? What’s that all about? Just a teeny bit too weird for us.

Another grave I was keen to see was Malcolm McLaren (see below) of punk era fame. I really like the epitaph on his grave – better a spectacular failure, than a benign success.

Another great, yet simple epitaph was on Jeremy Beadles grave – Writer, presenter, curator of oddities – ask my friends.

I’ve probably said this before, but cemeteries are a great place to see beautiful carvings and unusual headstones – here’s just a few for you to enjoy (yes enjoy is the right word).

Since we last visited Highgate the fabulously talented Douglas Adams has left this earth and the really lovely thing about his grave is that there is a pot that people leave pens in – just in case he runs out. For those that don’t know, he wrote the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy and other books.

I took a picture of the one below for all you dog lovers out their – around the dogs head is written, ‘His faithful dog Emperor’.  I thought that was lovely that his dog was part of his memorial.

The next two headstones are more modern ones but both Ken and I really liked them – the epitaphs are lots of words to describe the person, and not all totally serious.  So for example a line of mine might be:  Tasmanian, cat servant, cupcake baker, crafter, etc – you get the picture.  It’s a really nice way of commemorating someone and anyone reading it will get a feel for what that person was like.

The next headstone picture is for all my fellow Australians – one of our greatest painters, Sidney Nolan, who died in the UK so is buried in Highgate.  I had to go off road to get this picture, clambering over old graves and fallen trees – good thing I’m not nervous around graves.

My final picture of a grave is that of Phillip Gould’s – he was a Labour peer who died from cancer.  You may wonder why I’m including this one, but it’s because of how he tackled his own death.  There is a fantastic you tube clip entitled ‘When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone’ in which Phillip talks about his approaching death – if you get the chance please watch it as it’s very inspiring.  Anyway, in that clip he goes to Highgate and has a picture taken of himself in the spot where his grave would be – so it was really nice to see how beautiful and peaceful his final resting place is.

After our meander around the cemetery we walked up to Highgate village for lunch – and of course as soon as we left the cemetery it started to rain, and it was a bit of a trek up a very steep hill to get to the village – Ken was pushing me up the hill by the end of it.  I very much deserved my lunch and a nice glass of rose when we finally sat down.  Also we both deserved a very nice dessert at the end of our meal.

On our walk back to the nearest tube station we went past some lovely houses with nice architecture, and some really colourful graffiti.

Whilst we were walking down the hill we passed a statue of Dick Whittington’s cat – the stone he is sitting on was erected in 1821 with an inscription to Dick Whittington, the cat was added in 1964.  Just another of London’s very quirky things that you find when being observant.

When we got to the tube station it was so nice to see the below sign – normally these boards are reserved for disruption notices to the service but as you can see someone has a sense of humour.


At Baker Street when we were waiting for our train home it was lovely to see the train opposite has gotten into the spirit of remembrance for November.

So that’s it for our weekend adventures – until next time, stay safe, keep smiling, and take care of each other.

Pamela & Ken
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