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Unlocking Highgate Cemetery

Heritage, Nature & Community

For almost two centuries, Highgate Cemetery has been a sanctuary in a busy metropolis. Today, time and climate change have exposed the fragility of the historic structures and threaten the rich natural habitat. Unlocking Highgate Cemetery addresses these urgent issues to better meet the needs of our community. Here, you can discover our plans and tell us what you think. Your experiences, thoughts and ideas will help shape the future of this extraordinary site. Thank you.

View the project exhibition

Take the survey


From its earliest days, the architecture of Highgate Cemetery was a source of wonder and delight. Over time, the garden design gave way to woodland, ivy embraced the monuments and a special romance settled over the 36-acre site.

Today, many of the structures are unstable and access to some areas is difficult or closed. The most urgent needs include conservation of the Grade I-listed Egyptian Avenue and Circle of Lebanon; restoring access to expansive views from the Grade II*-listed Terrace Catacombs; and re-opening the grand West Carriage Drive.

Among other improvements, we will open up the Dissenters’ Chapel as a public space to explore 200 years of human stories.


The Cemetery is a haven for life, from trees and plants to a variety of insects, birds and mammals, including a rare cave spider. Over time, the effects of climate change and an increasing monoculture of self-seeded Ash trees and a blight of Ash dieback have degraded this rich habitat.

We will remove dangerous and diseased trees, restoring biodiversity with climate-resilient planting and improved water management. Above all, we will protect the special character of Highgate Cemetery, where nature is inextricably entwined with stone.


Community is at the heart of Highgate Cemetery, from grave owners, visitors and members to the volunteers who have battled to save the site for the last 50 years.

As part of Unlocking Highgate Cemetery, we will partner with local organisations to develop a wide range of programmes, including oracy skills for school groups, vocational training in landscape management, as well as learning resources on universal themes such as grief, memory or celebrity.

Our new interpretation plan will expand the stories we tell, reflecting the huge range of heritage and welcoming a greater diversity of people.

Photo: Frank Cano, Head Gardener, working with students from the Harington Scheme (2024).


We have been working on Unlocking Highgate Cemetery since 2019 when we published our Conservation plan.

In 2021, we launched an international competition to find the right team to develop proposals. With their direction we carried out extensive survey work and research to understand the site and to inform proposals.

Over the past couple of years, we consulted with the public, Camden Council and Historic England to test our ideas. We are now developing these.


Unlocking Highgate Cemetery is a seven-year, £18m project. Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and our own reserves, we can begin this vital work to unlock our future.

However, we must still raise £200,000 per year to complete the project. To discuss ways you can support, please contact us, or donate directly online.


Make a donation

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30 September 2024

Planning & Listed Building Consent

In September, we will submit our application for planning and listed building consent. 

20 April 2024

Neighbour Day 2024

If you live in N6, N19 or NW5, come and visit Highgate Cemetery for free on Neighbour Day and find out more about our future plans.

Register for a free ticket

16 December 2023

Major award from National Lottery Heritage Fund

Unlocking Highgate Cemetery launches today thanks to a major award from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

Read the announcement

8 July 2023

Summer Exhibition 2023

Visit our free exhibition in the Courtyard at Highgate Cemetery. Here you can give your feedback on our plans to: 

  • Improve the landscape to address risks including diseased trees and the impact of the climate crisis;
  • Restore the cemetery's monuments and buildings;
  • Develop new activities that benefit all;
  • Create new buildings and facilities to support the Trust’s plans and improve the visitor experience;
  • Improve the accessibility throughout the Cemetery.

10 June 2023

Fair in the Square

Discover more about our Conservation Project at Highgate's Fair in the Square. Free Admission.

More information

1 August 2022

Stage 1 Report to Members

This report shares our progess through RIBA Stage 1 with Members and the public. The report covers what has happened so far; plans for renewing the landscape, buildings and structures; how we are running the project; and promoting public benefit.

Read the Stage 1 report

1 July 2021

Design teams announced

Gustafson Porter + Bowman and Hopkins Architects are appointed to to help shape Highgate Cemetery for future generations

Read the announcement

20 February 2019

Conservation Plan published

Our Conservation Plan sets out the history and significance of Highgate Cemetery and explains how we propose to look after it in the future. The plan has been prepared by leading multi-disciplinary consultancy Alan Baxter Ltd. after extensive consultation with members, volunteers and the public.

Read the plan