Highgate Cemetery West, Swain's Lane, London

Highgate Cemetery opened in 1839, after London graveyards had become overcrowded and unsanitary.  It was the third of eight private cemeteries established on the edge of the city, open to people of all denominations.  The West Cemetery covers 17 acres.  The East Cemetery, covering 19 acres, opened across the road in 1860.

In the twentieth century, the cemetery became unprofitable and was neglected.  Nature took over.  It is now cared for by a charity, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust and is run for public benefit, not for profit.  It is still open for new burials, despite the very limited space available.

The West Cemetery can only be visited on a guided tour led by a volunteer, for a small charge.

The Egyptian Avenue, flanked by two obelisks, is lined with tombs, and leads up to the Circle of Lebanon.

Circle of Lebanon.

Egyptian Avenue.

The family mausoleum of James Anderson Kelman on the Circle of Lebanon.

A columbarium (storage for cremated remains) and the family vault of Henry von Joel.

The ancient cedar tree which long predates the cemetery.  It's base is now surrounded by "The Circle of Lebanon", with the tombs on the inside face in the Egyptian style, and those on the outer face from later dates mostly in the classical style.  The celtic-style cross is in memory of William Usborne who died in 1875, and of his wife Mary Ann.

Alexander Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service and the KGB.  He received political asylum in the UK, but died in November 2006 of poisoning with the radioactive isotope polonium-210.  In May 2007 the British Foreign Office submitted a formal request to the Russian Government for the extradition of two individuals to the UK to face criminal charged relating to Litvinenko's murder.

Emma Wallace Gray died in 1845, aged 18 years, "from the effects of fire, her dress having accidentally ignited ten days previously."

Elizabeth Jackson, aged 36 years, was the first person buried in Highgate Cemetery on 26 May, 1839.

The Cruft family founded the famous annual dog show.

A fine example of a family grave, the family of Sir Herbert H. Bartlett.

George Wombwell was born in Wendon Lofts, Essex.  He became a shoemaker in Soho, but soon began to buy exotic animals from ships that came from all over the world, and put them on display in Soho.  In 1810 he established Wombwell's Travelling Menagerie.  He died in 1850 and is buried under a statue of his lion Nero.

The Terrace Catacombs take the position of the original terrace of the gardens of Ashurst House, which was demolished in 1830.  The brick gallery is more than 80 yards long, with each of the 825 recesses large enough to take a single coffin.

James and Jane Simpson - "Their lives were devoted to works of Christian philanthropy and benevolence especially in behalf of the Jews and deaf mutes, sympathy with the latter class led to their founding the adult deaf & dumb institution, since merged into the Association in Aid of the Deaf a& Dumb, also the British Asylum for Deaf & Dumb Females, Clapton: and to their establishing regular public religious services for this afflicted class." 

Thomas Sayers, born in May 1826, was a famous bare-knuckle fighter.  He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, and weighed 155 pounds.  He was recognised as the heavyweight champion of England between 1857, when he defeated William Perry (the "Tipton Slasher"), and his retirement in 1860.  He died in November 1865, aged 39 years.

Walter Fox Halton was buried here in 1909.  His son, with the same name, is also remembered here.  He was a Pasha in the Egyptian Service and President of the Egyptian Railway Board.  He died in 1897 and is interred in Cairo.

Michael Faraday was a scientist who studied electromagnetism and electrochemistry.  His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.

There are 318 identified casualties of both World Wars remembered at Highgate Cemetery.  There are many individual CWGC headstones scattered throughout the cemetery.

Peter Otto Wolff, born in Vienna, was a civil engineer and hydrologist.