[OPE-L] Karl Marx and Vampires

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Thu Oct 13 2005 - 15:53:53 EDT


Continuing a theme for this month.  From travelchannel website.
In solidarity, Jerry
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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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