Date: Thu Oct 13 2005 - 15:53:53 EDT
Continuing a theme for this month. From travelchannel website. In solidarity, Jerry _______________________________________________________________ Karl Marx and Vampires - Highgate Cemetery See All London Journals This entry has photos. Written by actonsteve on 12/30/2000. From journal: London - Cultural Powerhouse of Europe I think Londoners are somewhat proud of having Karl Marx live and die in their city. He lived in posh Hampstead, completed 'Das Kapital' at the British Museum, had boozy pub-crawls down the Tottenham Court Road and got his maid pregnant when living in Dean Street, Soho. But he is buried in Highgate Cemetery. And for those who love urban gothic this is a wonderful place to come. Old Karl way be the star which brings in the crowds but to wander around this atmospheric Victorian cemetery with its ornate graves, mausoleums and creeping ivy is to step into a Hammer Horror film. To reach it from Central London take the Northern Line to Archway tube station. There take the exit leading to Highgate Hill. Walk past the Lloyds bank, Whittington Stone pub, (with a statue of Whittington's cat dating back to 1393)and uphill. When you reach the neo-gothic dome of St Josephs church (opposite 'The Old Crown'pub) take a left and it will take you to Waterlow Park. This is a beautiful park rolling downhill with lawns, gardens and lakes containing coots and mallard ducks. We visited when the first snows of winter had fallen and the park was full of snowmen and tobogganists. Cross the park to the South west exit and you will find yourself in Swains Lane. Here are the entrances to the East and West Cemeteries. Highgate cemetary dates back to 1839 and it soon became the preferred resting places of Victorian families. Their tombs and graves became even more ornate and by the turn of the century the cemetery was full to bursting point. Thirty years ago it was take over by 'The Friends of Highgate Cemetery' who restored it to its former glory. They now do tours each day (£3, 11-3pm) where you can follow the trail around the cemetery and see how it inspired Bram Stoker and his tale of 'Dracula' While waiting for the tours to start it is often better to visit the East Cemetery (£2). Here you can wander at will amongst the tombs and graves. The are usually decked in clinging ivy and lichen, and when we were there there was a light sprinkling of snow on the statues of angels and celtic crosses making it very photogenic. Most people head for the great bust of Karl Marx, where he and his family are buried. The great monolithic bust which would not look out of place in Minsk or Moscow was put there in 1954 by the British Communist party. It reads 'workers of each lands, unite'. His wife, the patrician, Jenny Von Westphalen, is buried nearby. And they all used to live in a house not far away in Hampstead. For a social revoloutionary, Marx had very bourgois tastes. While we were there there were fresh flowers under the statue and East European women were there to pay their respects. But the highlight is undoubtedly the West Cemetery which resembles the creepy set of a horror film. The tour we joined was led by an old lady in her seventies who was a 'friend of Highgate cemetery'. Her black and white cat, Domino, followed the group along the trails as she led us into the cemetery. This was probably more overgrown and was full of graves, statues, tombs and mausaleoms. One of the most amazing was the Egyptian avenue guarded by obelisks and pyramids. Inside were the tombs of numerous Victorian families which led to a wide circular array of tombs arranged around a central catacomb. This was the most ornate section of the cemetery and contained the coffins of the lesbian novelist Radcliffe Hall and her lover Mavis Batten. But if you ask a Londoner what they remember about Highgate cemetery - they will answer vampires. In the 1970s, the leader of the British occult society was caught trying to open the graves at the far back of the cemetery. When questioned he answered that he was there to defeat the 'Highgate' vampire and he was armed with stakes and crucifixes. Was there a vampire or was he just a crackpot? We will never know - but do you dare to visit Highgate Cemetery.
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