Highgate Cemetery, London
A guide to genealogy in Highgate Cemetery, with information on where to find death and burial records; etc.
Highgate Cemetery is an historic place of burial. It was one of seven cemeteries built at that time to meet the great need for extra burial space around London. By the 1830s, the population of London was rapidly increasing and the cemeteries in central London, which were mainly church graveyards, had long been full and unable to cope with the large number of burials, and were seen as a hazard to health and an undignified way to bury the dead.
The others were: Kensal Green Cemetery (1832); West Norwood Cemetery (1837); Abney Park Cemetery (1840); Nunhead Cemetery (1840); Brompton Cemetery (1840) and Tower Hamlets Cemetery (1841).
These cemeteries soon became fashionable places for burials, and Highgate, in particular, is notable for some of the famous people buried there.
Highgate Cemetery is divided into two parts, the East and West cemeteries. The oldest part, the West Cemetery was opened in 1839, with the newer part, the East Cemetery, was added in in 1860. At the time it was built, at one of the highest points in London, and had clear views over the city. And it was from the city of London that most of the burials came.
The Egyptian Avenue and the Circle of Lebanon (complete with a Lebanese Cedar Tree) feature tombs, vaults and winding paths dug into hillsides for London's elite.
Although both parts of the cemetery are open to the public, the West Cemetery can only be visited as part of a guided tour.
There are about 170,000 people buried in around 53,000 graves at Highgate Cemetery. Both parts of the cemetery are still in use for burials.
The Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust was set up in 1975 and acquired the freehold of both East and West Cemeteries by 1981, since when they have had responsibility for the maintenance of the location.
The Cemetery provides a chargeable service to help you find out whether someone is buried in Highgate Cemetery, but you will need to know the person’s full name and date of death. They can then provide you with the Grave Number.
Alternatively, a small number of graves have been indexed on the Find a Grave website:
Telephone: (+44) 20 8240 1834
Web Site: www.highgatecemetery.org