Highgate News

Catacombs now open - August 2011
The famous gothic terrace catacombs of Highgate Cemetery have recently been opened to the public as part of the West Cemetery tour.
The interior is a long gallery stretching eastwards and westwards from a central entrance and divided into 55 vaults. Each vault contains individual loculi for 12 adults and further room at the top, probably intended for infants. All bodies were contained in triple lead-lined coffins. The outer coffin was often covered with suede or swansdown (brushed cotton) coloured either black, red or purple and embellished with brass stud work.
Information from the official website - www.highgate-cemetery.org
For more details click here

Last major conservation at London's finest Victorian Cemetery  - April 2008

- Highgate Cemetery is Awarded English Heritage Grant to Save Grade II listed Catacombs -
English Heritage has awarded Highgate Cemetery a grant of up to 124,000 towards the conservation of the Cutting Catacombs, the final major structure in need of essential repairs. The grade II listed catacombs lie in the Western Cemetery and comprise 15 individual mausoleums dating back to the opening of the cemetery in 1839.
Highgate is considered to be the finest of London's 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries and became the most fashionable place of rest for Victorian society. The cemetery cover 37 acres and more than 168,000 names are buried there, including famous figures such as Karl Marx, George Eliot and Michael Faraday.
The catacombs have become overgrown with plants, roots and creepers, and need considerable repairs to the roofs. Much of the stonework needs realigning and the iron gates need repairing; in some cases they need replacing.
Tracey Craig, from English Heritage's north London team said: "We have worked closely with the Friends of Highgate Cemetery during the last 20 years and are very pleased to be able to help on the last of their major projects. The Cemetery is an outstanding piece of Victorian history and it has been lovingly restored by a very dedicated team."
The Cuttings Catacombs were sold to private buyers for up to 140 each and perhaps the most notable owner was Sir Benjamin Hawes, buried there in 1862. Sir Benjamin was the MP for Lambeth between 1832 and 1847, and went on to represent Kinsale between 1848 and 1862. He married Sophia Macnamara Brunel, sister to the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The alliance led Sir Benjamin to become Chairman and Director of Brunel's Thames Tunnel project. The tunnel is now part of the London Underground network.
Jean Pateman, Chair of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery said: "The Friends have taken on copious projects over two decades and we are hugely relieved that English Heritage has once again offered us a lifeline. The Cemetery has been listed for its outstanding architectural value and we are very pleased to be able to complete this final substantial project."
After the Cemetery fell into financial decline, the graves and landscape became dilapidated. Restoration work began in earnest in 1986; the landscape is now a Grade II* Park and registered by English Heritage as of "outstanding historical and architectural interest". In 1998 Europa Nostra recognised the unique conservation techniques used by the Cemetery with an award for work in the Lebanon Circle, which was judged as being among the best in Europe.
In keeping with previous conservation done at the Cemetery, all original materials in the Cuttings Catacombs will be re-used where possible. The total cost of the project is expected to be 226,000 and it is hoped that work will start in April.

US novelist working at Highgate -  March 2007

Audrey Niffenegger at Highgate Cemetery

Audrey Niffenegger the author of the bestseller "The Time Traveller's Wife",  has been working at Highgate Cemetery for the past two years. 
In preparation for her new book "Her Fearful Symmetry" which is based in Highgate, Audrey has been commuting between Chicago and London to train and work as a tour guide.

Audrey Niffenegger at Highgate Cemetery

The new book involves twin sisters who move from their home in a rich suburb of Chicago to live in their recently deceased aunt's flat in Highgate.

Ms Niffenegger said: "It involves their relationships with the two men, one Robert the other Martin, who lives in the flat below them.

"Martin is a crossword setter who has obsessive compulsive disorder. One of the twins falls in love with Robert."

Burial space made available in prestigious West Highgate - March 2007

By clearing away thick foliage and cutting into unused steep banks the Friends of Highgate Cemetery have freed up some valuable burial space in the prestigious western cemetery.
To be able to reserve a plot however, some conditions apply. You must be over 80 years old, terminally ill or just plain dead.  We also understand that about 40 places remain vacant in the Terraced Catacombs, the availability of which is not known.
For more information please contact FOHC -
Highgate Cemetery
Swain's Lane
N6 6PJ
Telephone No. (+44) 020 8340 1834

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