West Cemetery Tours Bank Holiday Monday 2nd May -  Booking Essential - Go to ‘Visit > West Cemetery’

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

Thursday 26 May: The Frock Coated Communist: The Life of Friedrich Engels a talk by Dr Tristram Hunt MP
Saturday 18 June: Monumental stone masonry and letter cutting - an introduction

Group visits

A special tour is a great way of visiting Highgate Cemetery


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

Admission to the West Cemetery is by guided tour only. The tour lasts around 70 minutes and is in English. The tour takes place even if it’s raining and the paths are steep and sometimes muddy so please do wear appropriate footwear. 

Photography is allowed with small hand-held camera for personal use only. No tripods. No filming. No food or drink. Strong winds or icy conditions may require us to cancel the tour for safety reasons. If we are forced to cancel you will receive a full refund.

Ticket prices
Adults £12; Children 8 to 17 £6. Unfortunately we cannot accommodate children under 8 on the tour.  The ticket price includes entrance to the East Cemetery on the day of your tour. Tickets are not refundable or exchangeable. 

Note: Karl Marx is buried in the east Cemetery.  His grave is not visited on this tour. Tour content varies. If you are interested in a particular grave, please ask before buying your ticket.

Saturday and Sunday

You cannot book. Tours normally run every half hour from 11am - 4pm. Tickets are sold from around 10.45am for all tours that day. Places are limited.

Monday to Friday 

Booking is essential. Tickets go on sale five weeks in advance. If the date you require is not listed, please check back later. We don't charge a booking fee. 

There is one tour at 1.45pm Monday to Fridays. On bank holidays tours run all day. 

Events

See the events page for a full events listing.

The Frock Coated Communist: The Life of Friedrich Engels a talk by Dr Tristram Hunt MP
Thursday 26 May 2016
£10Book now

THE MARX MEMORIAL LECTURE 2016 Friedrich Engels is one of the most attractive and contradictory figures of the nineteenth century. Born to a prosperous mercantile family in west Germany, he spent…

Monumental stone masonry and letter cutting - an introduction
Saturday 18 June 2016
Tickets £95, including materials

A HANDS-ON COURSE LED BY NEIL LUXTON Saturday 18 June 2016 10.30am to 5pm Spend a day learning about the historic craft of monumental stone masonry and the practical skills required to shape a …

Group visits

We can organise tours of the Cemetery for private groups of up to 30 people.

Group tours can be taken at a more leisurely pace than our public tours. They last about 90 minutes and include an extended tour of the West Cemetery and a brief introduction to the East Cemetery. Visitors may stay in the East as long as they wish after the tour until the published closing time.

Group tours are not available at weekends. They are available all year round on weekday mornings only. It's best to make your initial enquiry by telephone so we can let you know if we can accommodate your request, and then follow this up with a booking form. Our group tours are very popular so you'll need to book as far in advance as possible.

The minimum cost is £140 and this covers up to 10 people with additional spaces charged at £14 a head. There is a non-refundable deposit of the minimum charge of £140 to secure the date which is payable within 2 weeks of the initial booking.

For further information please download our booking form.

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. 

Have a look at our 360 degree tour!
Start the tour

 

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.