BOOKING ESSENTIAL FOR GOOD FRIDAY AND EASTER MONDAY TOURS

West Cemetery

With its sinuous paths winding up a steep wooded hill and ivy-clad monuments, here is a secluded funerary landscape at its most evocative

The West Cemetery is home to the most impressive architectural features of Highgate Cemetery — the Chapel, Colonnade, Egyptian Avenue, Circle of Lebanon, Terrace Catacombs and the mausoleum of Julius Beer. Visit the West Cemetery by guided tour only. At the weekend, just turn up and take the next available tour. During the week, you'll have to book — see the ‘Tours’ section below.

Tours

Experience by captivating atmosphere of the West Cemetery by taking a tour with one of our knowledgeable volunteer guides

Events

Saturday 21 June: Midsummer evening tours of the West Cemetery
Saturday 28 June: Military tour of the Highgate Cemetery West

The Chapel

See the interior of our splendidly-restored funerary chapel


Egyptian Avenue

One of the most stunning sights of the Cemetery, a bit of ancient Egypt has found its way to north London

Circle of Lebanon

An ancient cedar tree was here long before the cemetery, and a circle of tombs was built around it

Terrace Catacombs

From the terrace at the top of the cemetery there were views across London. But visitors were standing on the roof of the catacombs beneath...


Mausoleum of Julius Beer

The finest monument in the cemetery, evidence of the grief occasioned by the loss of a daughter

Highgate Cemetery East

Don't forget, a visit to Highgate Cemetery East is included with your West tour ticket. Karl Marx is on the east side

Tours

For the safety of visitors and to preserve the tranquility of the setting, admission to the West Cemetery is by guided tour only. Tours are led by volunteers, and all proceeds go to the continuing upkeep of the cemetery. Tours last about an hour.

For tour details and prices see the bottom of this page. 

 

Events

See the events page for a full events listing.

Midsummer evening tours of the West Cemetery
Saturday 21 June 2014
Tickets £12

Sold out TUESDAY 17 JUNE TO SATURDAY 21 JUNE 2014 Few places in London are more beautiful on a summer evening than Highgate Cemetery. So, to celebrate the longest days of the year, we…

Military tour of the Highgate Cemetery West
Saturday 28 June 2014
TICKETS £12Book now

The British armed forces in the 19th century ruled a large part of the world. Not a year of Queen Victoria’s reign passed without  armed conflict. This ranged from major wars such as the…

The Dickens Connection - evening guided tour
Thursday 3 July 2014
TICKETS £12

Sold out Charles Dickens often walked the paths of Highgate Cemetery and chose it as the burial place of his wife Catherine, their baby Dora and his parents. By visiting these and other family gr…

The Dickens Connection - evening guided tour
Thursday 7 August 2014
TICKETS £12Book now

Charles Dickens often walked the paths of Highgate Cemetery and chose it as the burial place of his wife Catherine, their baby Dora and his parents. By visiting these and other family graves togeth…

The Chapel

Left of the main entrance gate is the chapel, which now doubles as our visitor reception for tours of the West Cemetery.

Built in 1839, it once held Anglican funerals only, with non-Anglican funerals held in a matching but slightly smaller chapel opposite.

We still use it for funerals, meetings and concerts. 

 

Egyptian Avenue

The main path suddenly opens out in front of the Egyptian gateway, flanked by a pair of massive obelisks. 

When the cemetery was founded, interest in ancient Egypt was still very strong, encouraged by Napoleon's campaigns. 

The association of the Egyptian style of architecture with the memorialization of the dead was a natural one. 

An avenue, lined with tombs, leads up to the Circle of Lebanon

Circle of Lebanon

At the heart of the Circle of Lebanon is a massive ancient cedar tree which long predates the Cemetery. It was part of the grounds of Ashurst House, sold in 1830 and demolished to provide a site for the present St Michael's Church. 

The cemetery designers kept the great cedar as a key feature in the landscape. It is now like a massive bonsai, its base surrounded by a circle of tombs.

On the inside face they are in the Egyptian style and belong to the 1830s; the tombs on the outer face are later, and mostly in the classical style. 

Terrace Catacombs

The Terrace Catacombs take the position of the terrace of the gardens of Ashurst House, demolished in 1830. From here there were splendid views of London, now mostly obscured by trees. 

These brick catacombs with a cast-iron traceried terrace balustrade were part of the original buildings of the cemetery in 1838-9. 

Inside, there is a brick-vaulted gallery more than 80 yards long, lit by oculi set in the terrace. It is lined with separate recesses, each large enough to take a single coffin end on, from floor to ceiling down both sides of length, 825 in all.

The catacombs could be used as a permanent resting place or temporarily whilst a plot was chosen. Fans of construction history get excited because the terrace is thought to be the earliest surviving asphalted building in England. 

Mausoleum of Julius Beer

Testament to a father's love for his lost daughter, the mausoleum is a splendid work of art.  Designed by leading architect John Oldrid Scott and based on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it dominates the top of the cemetery. 

Inside, Beer's daughter Ada is shown being lifted heavenwards by an angel in a very touching sculpture by H. H. Armstead. 

 

Highgate Cemetery East

Your Highgate Cemetery West tour ticket also gives you free access to Highgate Cemetery East across the road.  So make sure you leave enough time to visit both.

If you don't have enough time on the day of your tour, your West tour ticket will give you one free entry to the East Cemetery within a month.