Highgate cemetery in London is one of the most hauntingly beautiful, mysterious and romantic places I have visited in the world.
Blending sculpture, nature and powerful explicit and implicit messages, I find it profoundly moving.
Evocations range from the grandiloquently expressive…
… to the touchingly restrained.
Epitaphs are one of the most powerful yet challenging forms of expression: how do you summarize and conclude a life in just a few words?
I find some of the messages left behind by the residents “life-changingly” powerful…
Sally Hunter, “LAWYER, should have been a marine biologist” – I didn’t know you, but I will certainly not forget you.
Georgia Taliotis, “smile, open your eyes, love and go on”. Timothy Fraser “I warm’d both hands before the fire of life”. Thank you.
Highgate cemetery is also home to illustrious figures of the 19th century as well as eminent people of our own time.
Karl Marx’s massive “WORKERS OF ALL LANDS UNITE” tomb is unmissable. It appears to be a pilgrimage destination for admirers, and it is surrounded by the tombs of some of his disciples from around the world.
On a lighter note, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s author Douglas Adams is not far, and his admirers ensure he always has an ample supply of pens.
By now, he may know whether the answer is indeed “42”…
Stepping back in time, one of the masterpieces is inside the Mausoleum of Julius Beer at the top of the cemetery: a poignant testament to a father’s love for his lost daughter. Beer’s daughter Ada is shown being lifted heavenwards by an angel in a very touching sculpture by H. H. Armstead.
The mausoleum is closed to visitors, but the beautiful sculpture is visible by peeping through its wrought iron gate.
Most sculptures are standing tall, reaching for the sky…
… but a few prefer a more relaxing permanent resting position 🙂
Talking of which, did these two intend to get so cozily close in the next stage of their existence? At any rate, they look very romantic…
Although signs of hope for an afterlife are everywhere…
… reminders that faith can be precarious abound as well…
… and some prefer to openly acknowledge that they consider their condition very permanent.
Others express what was important to them in almost surreal ways.
A massive ancient cedar tree dominates the “Circle of Lebanon”, the circular series of Egyptian style tombs which was built around it in the 1830s.
Everywhere, nature is slowly taking over, powerfully reminding us of the transience of all marks we leave on this planet… and that resistance is futile.
The atmosphere of the cemetery is most powerful when visitors are scarce.
Then, one can feel transported to another epoch, and imagine some of the stories which took place here.
More to come, stay tuned!
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