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Highgate Cemetery

 

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 walk.

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 cemetery.


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 for pilgrimage

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 Party.

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 memorial.


 

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!"


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