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Friday, August 10, 2012

Europe CNY 2012 - Day 3, Part 2 - Highgate Cemetery (West)

Europe CNY 2012
Day 3 - 21st January - Highgate Cemetery (West)
(Part 2)

My next stop was the Highgate Cemeteries - East and West.

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??? graffiti

Entrance to the West cemetery was by tour only so I cooled my heels for a while.

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Memorial Symbols: Cross, Clasped Hands, IHS, Obelisk, Urn, War Memorial, Wreath

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Spikey Chain

Highgate West had Faraday's tomb, but we were unable to visit it on the tour as it was in a very muddy part of the cemetery. He was a very devout Christian but because he wasn't Anglican he's not in the consecrated bit of the cemetery.

Highgate was the first private cemetery in England. Before that the cemeteries were church ones.

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Tomb of James William Selby who set a record of 8 hours for the London-Brighton coach run. You can see the symbols of his work. The upside-down horseshoe shows his luck had ran out.

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We were told that the guy who cast Big Ben was buried in here, and they smashed it once because it was out of tune (it was supposed to be D but was E flat). They hit it with a bigger and bigger hammer until it got smashed.
According to Wikipedia though, George Mears (whose name you can see on the memorial) was the foundry's manager and it was Beckett Denison who'd smashed it.

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This red granite is very tough. It is hardly worn. A bomb fell near it and split its neighbour (you can see the ruins beside it), but it was okay.

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A family vault - you can see the lid for (relatively) easy removal so new people can be thrown it.

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This grave was a few weeks old. It was the grave of Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko, the ex-Soviet spy who was "allegedly" poisoned by the FSB. Our guide stressed that they were just allegations. It looks different from the one on Wikipedia - I guess they found money to give him a nicer grave. The broken column symbolises a life cut short.

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There's a pyramid tomb somewhere - so the Devil can't lie on it.

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Path left in a state of "managed neglect"
The urn is a pagan symbol. The Victorians added cloth half covering it so the spirit could escape.

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There is a tomb with a woman mourning: the torch represents life, and it being upside down shows life snuffed. The wreath represents death.

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Egyptian Avenue
This was controversial because of the religious implications. This was a private company, not an Anglican organisation, so it was okay.
The families of the people laid to rest in here have either died out or the cemetery has lost contact with them. The Victorian graves in the cemetery are no longer active but the modern ones are and people visit.

The graves were sold in perpetuity, which was a mistake since the company managing the cemetery ran out of money.

There're paupers buried under the paths of the cemetery, especially the small ones. They were just covered in shrouds. Paupers had no money but the cemetery was obliged to bury them.

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Circle of Lebanon. Because of the Cedar of Lebanon above. It was 300 years old, twice that cemetery's age.

The average age of someone interred in the cemetery was 36 - because of kids.

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"Behold I know not anything
I only hope that good may fall
At last, far off, at last to all
And every winter change to spring"

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"Within rests Hilda Mary beloved wife of Cecil Hayes
She was gentle, unsympathetic, unselfish, and loving. 1871-1904"

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Wombwell, a menagerist (this was before zoos). He was the first to breed lions. The lion above his grave is Nero, who was gentle. Children could ride on top of him. There was one old woman, and his kangaroo went into her bed.
The Queen visited him and gave him a coffin. He showed off the coffin in his show.

There were catacombs in the cemetery (photography was not allowed). Inside there were real coffins. We were shown one where the wood had decomposed. Luckily the lead lining was intact.

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Julius Beer's monument to his daughter, who died at 8. The cemetery wrote to the Julius Beer Bank of Geneva to get funds to clean it up, but got no reply.
You can find photos of the interior and the ceiling.
When they started restoring it, it was so derelict, the glass at the top was broken and there was pigeon shit up to the upper thigh so the door couldn't be opened. So they broke the glass at the top and a guy went in on a rope, and they took 2 days to clean it up.
The door was locked for 15 years after the restoration, and a year ago they opened the door and let people look in.

The author of the Time Traveler's Wife wrote a book on Highgate, and is a guide there.

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Frederick Warne, publisher of Beatrix Potter

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Freemason's grave. You see the set square and compass.

Many big clothing shops of today started as graveclothes makers, e.g. Topshop.

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Tomb of Thomas Sayers. He was a bareknuckle boxer. They fixed him up with an American guy and had to move the American from place to place for 9 months because bareknuckle boxing was illegal. The fight lasted 2 hrs 40 mins and both had crippled the other, and one was blinded by the time police broke it up. This led to a change in boxing rules.
The chief mourner was alone in his carriage - his dog (whom you can see above the grave)

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The only Victorian angel sleeping on a cloud our guide knew of

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The standing angels were mass produced from Italy

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Charles Cruft, who started a dog show. After he died his wife revealed he hated dogs and was a cat man.

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Ann Webb, who died at 102.

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Benjamin Hawes, project manager for the first underwater tunnel under the Thames.
In the middle of the wreath is "Tempus fugit" (time flies). The 3 feet of the shapes represents the Trinity.

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Snake eating self (Ouroboros). Another pagan symbol.

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New tombs - in front of stabilised slope.

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Philip Harben. According to the guide this was the first TV chef (apparently not - just the first celebrity one), who also gave the US scampi.
Lots of flowers. This would have looked good a few months later.

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Path

According to the guide the first tomb was Mary Ann's, but Wikipedia names Elizabeth Jackson.

Someone asked the guide if he'd ever seen ghosts here. He said no and was only scared once - so much so that he'd wet his pants. In 1975 he went to the cemetery for a fag because the teachers didn't know about the place. At night, he saw Dracula. Later he found out Christopher Lee was filming at the cemetery.


It was an especially bad time of the year to visit the UK, because a lot of things were closed after the early January post-Christmas/New Year peak period, and many places were cleaning up in the lull period after New Year.
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