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Strange Places To Visit in London

Jun 6, 2008
The area of Greater London in England is the biggest metropolis in the whole of Europe covering an enormous area of over six hundred square miles. Throughout the city are numerous world class tourist attractions such as the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the London Eye and, of course, Buckingham Palace and other places associated with the British Royal Family. However, dig a little deeper and you will find a number of not so well known places well worth visiting.

If you are a fan of gothic horror movies or the black and white classics of Boris Karloff then you will simply have to visit one of London's finest hidden gems, Highgate Cemetery. This overgrown Victorian masterpiece has all manner of grave monuments ranging from the ancient and traditional to the modernistic bust of Karl Marx which can be found in amongst the mausoleums, catacombs and multitudes of statues.

When Karl Marx died in 1883 (he moved to London in 1849) he was buried in the simple family plot at Highgate Cemetery. However the Communist Party of Great Britain felt that something more befitting for the "Father of Communism" should be put in place and in 1954 they commissioned the amazing monument and bust we see today. Sadly the decision had not been unanimous and many felt that, considering his teachings, it was rather grotesque and some, in 1970, went as far as trying to blow it up.

Besides Karl Marx Highgate has a great many other famous people buried there and it can be something of a challenge to find them all. Here are a few that are worth finding; G. Wombwell, Michael Faraday, Julius Beer, John Lobb, Tom Sayers (bare knuckle fighter), Christina Rossetti, J. W. Cross, C. H. Newton, Dr S.Birch, Sir Leslie Stephen, George Eliot and the family grave of Charles Dickens.

One of the things that are brought to mind when we think of the Victorian period is the way in which they built lavish buildings which are most evident in the incredible Victorian public buildings which remain in use today. The styles of their creations were heavily influenced by those found throughout the British Empire. In the mid nineteenth century London was in great need of burial grounds and seven cemeteries where built. The Victorian attitude to design was extended to these graveyards which became known as the "magnificent Seven" with Highgate being the most fantastical.

To meet the demands of the successful Victorians Highgate had their mausoleums built together in a most amazing fashion. The entrance to the Egyptian Avenue is one of the most spectacular. The avenue itself has mausoleums on either side and it leads on to the famous group of mausoleums known as the "Circle of Lebanon" which is one of the most photographed parts of the cemetery.

One of the most exciting aspects of exploring Highgate is suddenly seeing an incredible statue appear amongst the overgrown bushes and vines. Throughout the cemetery there are many examples of the most incredible memorial sculptures which include representations of the usual religious subjects and even family pets. Of special note is the grave of the famous coachman James Selby which is well worth searching for.

If you really do want to know more about the grave of James Selby I would suggest you search online as I have chosen not to describe it in this article because I feel that describing it in full will destroy the impact and wonder if you visit it yourself. I am sure that if you do find it you will fully appreciate my decision to omit it and also understand why I made a point of highlighting it - it really is something special.
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