london photography travel

Exploring London: Highgate Cemetery

After finishing grad school last September, I was constantly stressed out about being in the dreaded Transition Phase. I’m sure anyone who reads this can relate to that state of mind–you’ve finished school; you have a good degree; so what are you going to do with your life? Wait, didn’t you already go through this after getting your BA?

For five months, I constantly worried about finding a job so I could stay in London. And for those five months, I had way too much time on my hands. Now, between working two jobs, I feel like my free time is practically non-existent. Stress and I have been on intimate terms for a long time, and as someone who is prone to anxiety, it’s really important for me to take opportunities that allow me to just chill out. My go-to method for mentally unwinding is photography. When I can, I like to grab my camera and head out with a friend, or solo, to take photos around London.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Anthony and I decided to go on a photo walk in what is possibly my favorite part of London. Highgate is a beautiful village bordering Hampstead Heath and the ancient Highgate Wood. Its biggest tourist attraction is the hauntingly atmospheric victorian cemetery where many notable people, including Karl Marx, George Elliot, Ralph Richardson, Jean Simmons, Lucian Freud, and most of Charles Dickens’ family, have found their final resting place.

Highgate Cemetery is split into two sections spanning either side of Swains Lane. The East Cemetery is open to the public for a small fee. The West Cemetery, often referenced in film and literature, is accessible by guided tour only. We chose the West Cemetery and were led on a trek by a quirky guide who regaled us with stories of the cemetery’s famous inhabitants and put to rest the urban legend of the Highgate Vampire. No ghosts or vampires were seen on our tour, but it’s easy to see why such stories abound in this quaint corner of North London…

Highgate Wood

Highgate Cemetery

Cedar of Lebanon, Highate Cemetery

Circle of Lebanon, Highgate Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery
White Eagle Hill, Highgate Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery is roughly a 10 minute walk from either Archway or Highgate tube stations (Northern Line)

Kendra has been the weblady at since 2007. She lives in Yorkshire and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, and co-author of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies (Running Press). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, Instagram at @vivandlarrygram, or at her official website.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments (8)

  1. Beautiful photos Kendra! I especially love the second one.
    I’m living through your London travels now- you’ve seen more than I ever did in my three years at Uni lol. I think back then I was a little scared to go to places… Oh well.
    Oh- I enjoyed reading about the Highgate vampire!

    1. Aww, but I live vicariously through your photos, as well! I find exploring really fun, even when I go alone. You get to see the things you really want to see without having to accommodate someone else’s suggestions, you know??

  2. Beautiful pictures, Kendra ! This place is almost surreal… Have you ever visited the “Père Lachaise” cemetery in Paris ?

  3. Thanks for the inspirational photos,made me take a mental note to absolutely visit this piece of
    peaceful ground next time we’ll be in London. Sounds idyllic. You say that taking photographs is like chilling out for you, yes, partly I can go along with that ,but I find it a bit of stress as well because I’m always afraid of missing THE spot, or THE special light on an object and then ,it’s always either or: really experiencing a moment of life and scenery or taking a picture of “it” more or less living in the abstraction that that implies,of course you know what that means. But it is nice that you’ve shared these glimpses of “wishful eternity” with your blogger friends.And isn’t this here much too long for a blog,considering your chronic lack of time? Best, Renata

%d bloggers like this: