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Frequently asked questions

Was the entrance to the Egyptian avenue originally painted in colours?

We think not. There is no surviving evidence, either physical or documentary, to suggest this. Such a striking treatment would no doubt have been mentioned in contemporary accounts.

Dating from 1838, it is a little too early for the fashion for polychromy ('many colours') which came a bit later. The French architect Hittorff was one of the first to recognize that brightly colored paint had been used in antiquity. His book, L'Architecture Polychrome chez les Grecs, was published in 1846.

Is it true that Karl Marx was moved?

Yes. In 1954, at the height of the Cold War, Karl Marx and the other occupants of his grave were exhumed and reinterred in a new, larger and more prominent grave. The impressive monument you now see followed a couple of years later. Since then it has become a place of pilgrimage for people the world over who have been inspired by his writings. The white marble plaque at its centre is from the original memorial. 

Is Highgate Cemetery only for wealthy people?

Highgate Cemetery has always been a popular choice for the affluent, whose large monuments line the main paths, enhancing its prestige. But it has also attracted a broad cross-section of society, including a large number of people who are buried in 'common' or 'public' graves without markers. Many of them have very interesting stories too. 

Could Catholics be buried at Highgate Cemetery?

Yes. Catholics could be buried in the unconsecrated sections of Highgate Cemetery which were 'set apart for the purpose of Christian burial therein' of non-Anglicans. The Burial Laws Amendment Act 1880 permitted them also to be buried in consecrated ground 'either without any religious service, or with such Christian and orderly religous service at the grave' as was thought fit. The Act also allowed an Anglican minister to officiate at a burial in unconsecrated ground.