Nearest underground station – Archway station on the Northern line (although it can take up to 30 minutes to walk to the cemetery, there are two buses which take you fairly close to the entrance).
Visiting a cemetery is not the normal type of event that your retiree club organises, but Highgate Cemetery is one of England’s greatest treasures with some of the finest funerary architecture in the country. It is a place of peace and contemplation where a romantic profusion of trees, memorials and wildlife flourish. Opened in 1839 as part of a plan known as the “Magnificent Seven”, it went into decline in the 1970s before being rescued by a charity, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust. The cemetery has two separate wings, the West Wing and the East Wing. Access to the West Cemetery is only possible if you are part of an organised tour, therefore our visit will begin with a 90-minute tour commencing at 11.15 am.
Nowhere captures better than the West Wing the special atmosphere of this Victorian cemetery. During our guided tour, you will see iconic graves and the first-ever plot in the cemetery. It is home to the most impressive architectural features – the Chapel, Colonnade, Egyptian Avenue, Circle of Lebanon, Terrace Catacombs and the mausoleum of Julius Beer.
Following the guided tour, you are free to explore the East Wing on your own (which is on the other side of Swain’s Lane), where the graves of many well-known figures reside, such as world-famous philosopher and sociologist, Karl Marx. When Karl Marx was buried here, the cemetery was a private, profit-making commercial operation. However, as it filled up it became uneconomic as a private concern and was rescued in 1981 by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery. Burials have continued here since the Friends took over and the cemetery continues to serve the needs of North London. Our visit will gain you access to the hidden corners of this beautiful, historic site and with over 53,000 graves, it is a place to remember the people who have gone before us and to celebrate their achievements.
When our guided tour finishes you may wish to take lunch in a local restaurant and then return in the afternoon to visit the East Cemetery (which is open until 5.00 pm).
NOTE: If you have limited mobility, you should contact Ros Patrick before booking your places on this visit. In the West cemetery, the paths are steep and the tour route includes two flights of stairs. The East cemetery is on a gentler slope with no steps and predominantly tarmac paths and is more easily wheelchair accessible. Limited disabled parking is available outside the cemetery’s entrance.