Investigating The Haunted Past Of Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery

The Eerie History Of Highgate Cemetery

You can find Highgate Cemetery in Highgate in London. It has a deep and dreadful history, dating back to its opening in 1839. Its creation was part of a larger plan for the ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries. This plan aimed to provide more modern burial grounds outside of London. To combat the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions of church cemeteries at the time.

The cemetery’s grounds, including their gardens and winding paths, were designed by Stephen Geary. He worked for the London Cemetery Company. They were dedicated to St. James by the Right Reverend Charles Blomfield and consisted of two main sections. These sections included the two acres designated for Dissenters. And the Church of England reserved the other fifteen acres.

Over time, they sold burial rights to people for a limited time. Highgate Cemetery became a fashionable place for burials. People without deceased relatives would travel miles to admire the cemetery’s beauty.

Highgate over the years

During the Victorian era, Highgate graveyard underwent construction. The construction entailed new and elaborate Gothic tombs and mausoleums. These gorgeous new structures and the location of this south-facing hillside cemetery added to its beauty.

The cemetery features several notable sections. There’s the Egyptian Avenue and the Circle of Lebanon. Plus, the oldest part of the cemetery has a remarkable collection of Victorian mausoleums. And there are fancy gravestones and several intricately carved tombs.

Today, admission to the older section (West Cemetery) is restricted. And can only be accessed while on a guided tour. But the newer area (East Cemetery) can be explored by guests. And visitors and is where you’ll find the eternal place of Karl Marx.

Famous burial ground

The biggest claim to fame for Highgate Cemetery is that it’s the final resting place of many famous people. There are historical figures who are known worldwide buried here. Some of the most famous people buried here include:

  • Karl Marx (in the East cemetery section)
  • Mary Ann Evans (otherwise known as George Eliot), whose maiden name was Mary Ann Cross
  • Mary’s partner, George Henry Lewes
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  • Elizabeth Jackson of Little Windmill Street, who was the first buried in Highgate graveyard

In addition to these famous names, the cemetery is home to a whopping 850 notable people. There are 18 Royal Academicians and 6 Lord Mayors of London. And around 48 Fellows of the Royal Society, to name a few.

Paranormal Happenings At Highgate Cemetery

As paranormal enthusiasts, even we shiver about the number of people buried here. There must be a sheer amount of lost souls who may wander the grounds of the older West Cemetery. Who knows what’s lurking around the Circle of Lebanon or the infamous Egyptian Avenue?

Either way, only a few brave souls have ever claimed to capture evidence of paranormal activity here. Who knows? With the right ghost-hunting equipment, you may be the next person to witness something spooky at the Highgate graveyard.

Cemeteries are already spooky enough as it is. But what sets the Highgate graveyard apart is its long history and periods of abandonment. And the nasty rumours of occult activities occur within its walls when the sun goes down.

Spooky encounters

Reports of ghostly encounters at Highgate Cemetery began in the mid-20th century. The Highgate Express and Hampstead newspapers received several letters from frightened individuals. These people wanted to share their blood-curdling experiences at the burial grounds.

One of these unfortunate souls claimed to have seen an apparition with sinister, glowing red eyes. And they glared at them through the cemetery gates when their car had broken down outside.

Another visitor who was scared out of their wits reported getting knocked down. He claimed an unknown creature hit him as they strolled down Swain’s Lane. And that the beast swooped down from the high cemetery walls. And it disappeared before their eyes when a car’s headlights flashed through the gates.

Either way, the cemetery harbours dark secrets at night. It’s this time when strange supernatural creatures creep about in the shadows. Sadly, none of these creatures are recorded or documented. So, there needs to be more proof to back up these claims. But with the sinister atmosphere of Highgate (even during the day), we’re inclined to believe these horrifying tales.

The Highgate Vampire

One of the most famous stories linked with the cemetery is that of the Highgate Vampire. According to the local legend, the vampire was once a medieval nobleman. Spirits cursed the nobleman after practising black magic in Romania. They brought his coffin to England in the 18th century and buried him at Highgate.

Some members of the paranormal community believe that Satanists gathered in the cemetery. The Satanists performed a ritual to awaken the vampire from his slumber. But that’s just a rumour, right? Well, perhaps not!

Witnesses who have claimed to see the creature have described him as a tall and imposing figure. It stalks around the cemetery, just waiting for his next victim. They said that his presence alone makes the air grow cold and causes watches to stop working.

People claim that vampires even terrify animals. And that the vampires are responsible for several dead foxes on the cemetery grounds. It sounds like these stories are straight out of a horror film!


Highgate Cemetery is a display of London’s rich and diverse history. And a nexus of countless tales, legends, and mysteries. From the well-designed pathways that wind through Victorian-era tombs. To the chilling ghouls that seem to linger in the shadows. This burial ground is etched firmly into history and paranormal records.

It’s a resting place for renowned figures and a hotspot for ghostly sightings. It offers a unique experience to all who visit. You may come to pay respects and admire the structural marvels. Or delve into the mysteries of the unknown. Highgate Cemetery remains an iconic landmark. And a place where history and legends meet. So, the next time you’re in London, take a moment to step back. To a place where the past comes alive, both in memory and, perhaps, in spirit.


How can I explore Highgate Cemetery?

The East Cemetery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can explore this part of the cemetery during a timed visit. And catch a glimpse of some of the lost souls who are trapped here. But with over 53,000 graves, completing your self-guided tour of the grounds may take a while. The West side of the cemetery allows for group tours, and you can only access it with a guide. These guided tours are exciting and informative. We recommend getting a ticket to experience everything. Including the older (and most haunted) section of this graveyard has to offer.

How much does it cost to visit Highgate Cemetery?

If you plan to visit the Eastern part of the cemetery, you’ll need a ticket. The average adult ticket price is around £4.50. And a children’s ticket is around £0.50. To access both sides of the cemetery, you can expect to pay around £10 for adults and £8 for children over 8. If you’d prefer guided tours of the grounds, you may pay as much as £15 for adults. The cemetery only accepts card payments. So, booking your tickets from the Highgate Cemetery website is advisable.

Can churches be haunted?

Yes, churches can be haunted, just like any other location. The Church of Ghosts in the Czech Republic is a famous example, known for its eerie atmosphere and legends of paranormal activity.

Sam Ashford
Sam Ashford - Author

Hey, I'm Sam Ashford! I'm a ghost-hunting expert, writer and founder of SpiritShack. My mission is to help people like yourself learn about spirituality and how to hunt ghosts!