Walking Amongst The Dead

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

Divided into two parts, named the East and West cemetery there are approximately 170,000 people buried in around 53,000 graves at Highgate Cemetery; that’s a lot of dead people and you might wonder why anyone would want to spend their time mooching around with a camera amidst such surroundings. Quite the opposite of being morbid or sad Highgate is in fact a beautiful and positive place which if you haven’t already visited you should definitely go to.

November the 1st is All Saints Day or in Spain Día de los muertos (day of the dead) there the tradition is for families and loved ones to visit their dearly departed and to give their final resting place a nice tidy up and general polish. In Ibiza there is a serious lack of space so the unfortunate souls are holed up in walls 5 or 6 stories high. This results in every day of the dead seeing swarms of the living wielding cleaning products waiting patiently for ladders in order to reach the lofty heights of their dormant loved ones. A swift wipe over and a quick insertion of flowers and the job is done… Highgate in contrast to this has or had much more space available so its residents are easily accessed in order to be tidied up.

This November the 1st was perfect, just the right combination of sunshine, crisp clear air and a hint of fog. I should say that this outing wasn’t all my idea, I can’t take all the credit for the visit. It was the work of Jude who I found through a wonderful site called Meetup.com, unlike other walking tours this one focused (haha) on photography as well as being dead interesting (sorry!) Jude patrolled the grounds like a pro and made an otherwise beautiful morning even more memorable.

Maybe there are nicer places in London and this may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I really think this corner of the capital should be visited more often. The admission is £4, friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust is run by volunteers, supported by paid staff and countless volunteers who do everything from guiding tours to helping maintain the landscape, so this money is really needed  – please come and visit and see what a great job they’ve done!!

More info can be found at http://highgatecemetery.org/

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