The Highgate Cemetery is one of the most infamous cemeteries in London city that was opened to public in 1839. The place was originally opened as one of the “Magnificent Seven” park cemeteries of London. There are many Egyptian and Victorian tombs in the cemetery, and among them, you can find the gravestones of Karl Marx, Douglas Adams (a sci-fi author), James Holman (a sightless adventurer from the 19th Century known as “the Blind Traveler”), and Adam Worth (a criminal believed as the inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis named Professor Moriarty).
The Magnificent Seven comprised of Highgate, Abney Park, Kensal Green, West Norwood, Tower Hamlets, Brompton, and Nunhead cemeteries, which were made in 1832. It was made as part of an effort to move the burial grounds out of the London city due to the twin pressures of desires to have buildable land in the city and health concerns about the churchyard cemeteries being overcrowded.
The buildings and tombs of the cemetery are constructed in a Victorian Gothic style. During the mid to late 1800’s, the Highgate Cemetery was much sought after burial ground. By the end of the Second World War, the cemetery was unattended, overgrown, and in serious disrepair, adding to the creepy feel of the place. Eventually, the place became the location for the horror films of the movie studio, Hammer, in the 1970’s. The films from the studio regenerated public interest in the Highgate Cemetery and many stories of desecration, grave robbing, and vampires in the cemetery came to appear in the news.
As written in the book “Beyond the Grave”, “Many claimed to see a particular creature hovering over the graves. Scores of ‘vampire hunters’ regularly converged on the graveyard in the dead of night. Tombs were broken open and bodies were mutilated with wooden stakes driven into their chests. These stolen corpses, turning up in strange places, continuously startled local residents. One horrified neighbor to the cemetery discovered a headless body propped behind the steering wheel of his car one morning!”
The Highgate Cemetery remains a popular location for paranormal, occult, and vampiric enthusiasts. The West Highgate area of the cemetery is the most overgrown part and can be visited only on a guided tour of the place. However, the East Highgate area that has the grave of Karl Marx can be explored on normal London walking tours.