This atmospheric graveyard in north London is full of architectural gems, and it paints a fascinating portrait of Victorian times. If you take the tour of the West Cemetery (book in advance), your guide will reveal intriguing stories behind the lives and deaths of the eminent and ordinary Victorians who are buried here.
Enchanting paths wind through woodland, amid ivy-clad angels and jumbled headstones, leading to the Lebanon Circle Vaults, where you'll find a 300-year-old Cedar of Lebanon tree. Other highlights are the Egyptian Avenue, the Terrace Catacombs, and the enormous Julius Beer Mausoleum. At 1000ft above sea level, this stately home of a mausoleum has a commanding position gazing down over London, and cost the equivalent of £3 million today.
In the East Cemetery you can wander at will, and it is here where you will find the tomb of the most famous Highgate inhabitant, Karl Marx.
Swain's Lane, London N6 6PJ
+44(0)20 8340 1834
Nearest tube: Archway
Google map: bit.ly/e24iLF
While it feels a little odd to be recommending a visit to a cemetery, it’d be a shame to pass through Stoke Newington without experiencing the historic and very lovely Abney Park.
I enjoy wandering through and getting a bit lost in there once in a while, perhaps stopping for a quiet sit-down and a ponder on one of its old benches. It’s very peaceful considering it’s in an inner-city borough. When I’m deep inside, the whoosh of the Hackney traffic is almost completely masked by the tweeting of cheerful birds.
It’s overgrown and higgledy piggledy, with curious little pathways leading in between the ancient graves, some of which house beautiful stone statues. The park is a local nature reserve, and the eerily empty gothic-style chapel slap bang in the middle is now a Grade II listed building.
There are two entrances – the main one on Stoke Newington High Street and smaller gates on Stoke Newington Church Street. It's a lovely location to spend a quiet half an hour in London, and priceless on a sunny day.
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