Highgate Cemetery Burials- Famous Graves in Highgate Cemetery

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Highgate Cemetery is the most intriguing and beloved of London’s Victorian cemeteries, known informally as the Magnificent Seven cemeteries.

Soon after opening in 1839, Highgate Cemetery became greatly admired as a burial place and many illustrious figures chose it as their final home. Resting underneath some uniquely personal and artistic monuments are renowned political thinkers, writers, artists, architects and more. 

Path lined with memorials and graves in Highgate Cemetery.

During a walk among the Highgate Cemetery burials, you’ll get to discover a bit of London’s cultural heritage and history, admire exquisite funerary sculpture, and experience some peaceful nature.

Graves in Highgate Cemetery surrounded by trees and shrubs.

In This Post

  • Highgate Cemetery burials and famous graves
  • Practical information for visiting graves in Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery Burials- Exploring the Famous Graves in Highgate Cemetery

The most famous graves in Highgate Cemetery are notable for who is buried there, the design of the monument, or both. Some graves are visited because of their beautiful sculptures or uncommon monuments, whereas others are visited because of the achievements and cultural impact of the person laid to rest there.

Sculpture of a couple hugging above a grave.

To help you discover who is buried in Highgate Cemetery and decide which gravesites you are most interested in visiting, we will highlight some of the noteworthy people buried in Highgate Cemetery through a brief biography and description of their graves. We’ve also noted if they are buried in the east or west side of the cemetery.

Grave monument.

Grave of Karl Marx

East Side

One of the most famous graves in Highgate Cemetery belongs to philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx. 

Marx is best known for his critiques of capitalism, which he published in his political pamphlet The Communist Manifesto (1848) and his three-volume Das Kapital (1867, 1885, and 1894). Collectively, his ideas became known as Marxism and had a strong influence on socialist political movements in the 20th century. 

Grave of Karl Marx, one of the most famous graves in Highgate Cemetery.

After his death in 1883 Marx was buried in Highgate Cemetery. His tomb is marked by a large monument featuring a bust of Marx and the inscription “Workers of all lands unite” along with a passage from his “Theses on Feuerbach.” The grave has become a site of pilgrimage for socialists and scholars worldwide. 

Grave of George Michael

West Side

George Michael was a British singer, songwriter, and record producer who achieved international fame as a member of the duo Wham! and later as a solo artist. He’s sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Michael was also known for his philanthropic efforts and activism in various social causes, including LGBTQ+ rights and HIV/AIDS awareness. 

Graves of George Michael, his mother, and sister.
Simon Edwards Esq, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Michael died on Christmas Day in 2016 but wasn’t buried in Highgate Cemetery until late March 2017. His headstone is a simple rectangular marble slab engraved with his birth name, Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, and the words “Beloved Son, Brother, Friend”. He shares a plot with his mother and sister that is surrounded by planters filled with ivy and flowers. Visitors are requested not to leave tributes and take photographs of the grave.

Grave of Douglas Adams   

East Side                                                                                                       

Douglas Adams was a renowned British author, screenwriter, and humorist. He is best known for creating “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” a science fiction series that began as a radio show in 1978 and subsequently expanded into a series of five novels, a television series, stage adaptations, and a feature film. Some of Adams’ other work includes “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” and its sequel “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul”. Adams was also an environmental activist who advocated for endangered species, participating in initiatives like the “Save the Rhino” campaign.

Grave of Douglas Adams.

After passing away from a heart attack on May 11, 2001, Adams was cremated and his ashes were interred in Highgate Cemetery. His grave is marked by a small rectangular headstone engraved with his name and “writer”.  It would be rather inconspicuous if it weren’t for the pot of pens in front of it.

Grave of Malcolm McLaren

East Side

Malcolm McLaren was an impresario, musician, and clothes designer who was best known for managing the punk rock band the Sex Pistols. His knack for controversy and media manipulation helped propel the Sex Pistols to fame and also brought success to the clothing boutique he owned with then-partner Vivienne Westwood.

Grave of Malcolm McLaren.
Gareth E Kegg, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After passing away in Switzerland in 2010, McLaren was buried in Highgate Cemetery’s east side. His large headstone features a bust of himself and an inscription of what McLaren claimed was the best advice he’d ever been given: “Better a spectacular failure, than a benign success.”

Grave of Michael Faraday

West Side

Michael Faraday was an influential British scientist whose work in electromagnetism and electrochemistry laid the foundations for modern electrical engineering and technology. His major discoveries include the principles of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and electrolysis and he invented the electric motor, generator, and transformer. 

Grave of Michael Faraday.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Faraday died in 1867 and was buried in a modest grave at Highgate Cemetery that is shared with his wife. His headstone is inscribed with his name and dates of birth and death.

Grave of William Friese-Greene 

East Side

William Friese-Greene was a pioneering British inventor and photographer, celebrated for his contributions to the development of early motion picture technology. He is perhaps best known for his patent of a moving picture camera in 1889, which utilized celluloid film.

Grave of William Friese-Greene.
londresavanzado.blogspot.co.uk, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Friese-Greene died on May 5, 1921, while attending a meeting of film exhibitors in London. His family’s grave in Highgate Cemetery is marked by a tall monument inscribed with mentions of his inventions.

Grave of Tom Sayers

West Side

Tom Sayers was a celebrated English bare-knuckle boxer, widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of his era. Even though he was only 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed around 150 pounds, he became known for his tenacity, skill, and ability to overcome larger opponents. He had an impressive career record of 12 wins, 1 loss, and 3 draws.

Grave of Tom Sayers surrounded by ivy and trees.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Sayers died at age 39 and his marble tomb features a life-sized sculpture of his loyal mastiff, Lion, lying in front.

Grave of George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

East Side

George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, an English novelist, poet, and journalist. Eliot’s works are known for their rich portrayal of provincial life and psychological insights. Some of her novels include Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, and her masterpiece Middlemarch.

Grave of George Eliot.
Pierre-Yves Beaudouin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Eliot’s grave in Highgate Cemetery is marked by an obelisk engraved with both her pen name and her married name, Mary Ann Cross.

Grave of Patrick Caulfield

East Side

Patrick Caulfield was a prominent British painter and printmaker, known for his distinctive style that combined elements of Pop Art with traditional painting techniques. His work is characterized by bold, flat areas of colour, precise lines, and a focus on everyday objects. Some of his most famous works include After Lunch and Still Life with Dagger.

Grave of Patrick Caulfield.

Caulfield’s modern tombstone was designed by himself and has cut-out letters spelling the word “DEAD”.

Grave of Claudia Jones

East Side

Claudia Jones was a pioneering Trinidadian-born journalist and activist. Growing up in Harlem during the Great Depression, Jones became deeply involved in political activism, joining the Communist Party and advocating for civil rights, women’s rights, and workers’ rights. Jones faced persecution for her political beliefs and was eventually deported from the United States. She settled in London and went on to found the first major Black newspaper in Britain and the Notting Hill Carnival. 

Flowers on the grave of Claudia Jones.
Simon Edwards Esq, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jones was buried in Highgate Cemetery near the grave of her hero Karl Marx. Her gravestone reads “Valiant fighter against racism and imperialism who dedicated her life to the progress of socialism and the liberation of her own black people.”

Grave of Ian Holm

West Side

Sir Ian Holm was a distinguished British actor known for his versatility and extensive work in film, television, and theatre. He began his career with the Royal Shakespeare Company and then starred in films including Chariots of Fire, Alien, The Fifth Element, The Aviator, and The Lord of the Rings.  

Grave of Ian Holm.
Simon Edwards Esq, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Holm’s remains were interred on the west side of Highgate Cemetery beneath a tombstone that is topped with a sculpture of his likeness.

Grave of Jeremy Beadle

East Side

Jeremy Beadle was a popular British television and radio presenter, writer, and producer. He gained widespread fame in the 1980s and 1990s for his work on television shows that specialized in practical jokes and light entertainment.

Grave of Jeremy Beadle.

After Beadle’s death at the age of 59, his cremated remains were buried in Highgate Cemetery. Beadle’s headstone has a stack of sculpted books to reflect his love of reading and bears the inscription “Writer, Presenter, Curator of Oddities.” 

Grave of George Wombwell 

West Side

George Wombwell was a prominent menagerie exhibitor in the 19th century. He is best known for founding Wombwell’s Travelling Menagerie, one of the most famous exotic animal shows in Victorian Britain.

Lion on the tomb of George Wombwell.
Courtesy of Highgate Cemetery

Wombwell’s tomb is notable for its large sculpture of his lion Nero. 

Grave of Julius Beer

West Side

German-born Julius Beer was a prominent businessman and financier. He emigrated to Britain in the mid-19th century, where he built a successful career in finance and publishing. He made his fortune in the London Stock Exchange, but his most notable venture was acquiring The Observer newspaper in 1870, which he transformed into a leading publication. 

Mausoleum of Julius Beer.
Majolo9, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Beer is buried in a grand family mausoleum with Diocletian windows and a pyramidal roof. Architect William Bouwens van der Boijen took inspiration for the design from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Beer’s mausoleum has been a Grade II listed building since 1974. 

Grave of Malcolm Tierney

East Side 

British actor Malcolm Tierney was known for his work in film and television playing roles in Braveheart and the series Poldark, Doctor Who, and Brookside. 

Grave of Malcolm Tierney.
Simon Edwards Esq, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tierney’s grave in Highgate Cemetery is marked by a headstone inscribed with a tree below the lyric “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” from the John Lennon song “Imagine”. The headstone also has the wrong year of death.

Grave of Bruce Reynolds

East Side

Bruce Reynolds was a notorious British criminal best known for masterminding the Great Train Robbery of 1963. The heist, one of the most famous in British history, involved the theft of over £2.6 million from a Royal Mail train travelling from Glasgow to London.

Grave of Bruce Reynolds.
Pierre-Yves Beaudouin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Reynolds died in 2013 and his headstone features a sculpture of his face, eyes closed, and the words “This is it!”

Who Else is Buried in Highgate Cemetery?- More Notable People Buried in Highgate Cemetery

Since there are so many notable Highgate Cemetery burials, here are a few more people buried in Highgate you may want to seek out during your visit.

  • Edward Hodges Baily- sculptor (West Side)
  • Edward Blore- architect known for his work on Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey (West Side)
  • Charles Chubb- lock and safe manufacturer (West Side)
  • Charles Cruft- founder of Crufts dog show (West Side)
  • Ugo Ehiogu- footballer (West Side)
  • Roger Lloyd-Pack- British actor (East Side)
  • Harry Thornton- pianist (East Side) 
Sculpted piano on a grave in Highgate Cemetery.
Grave of Harry Thornton- packshot/Depositphotos.com

Practical Information for Visiting Graves in Highgate Cemetery

Location: Highgate Cemetery is located in London at Swain’s Lane.

Hours: Highgate Cemetery is open daily from 10:00 am until 4:00 or 5:00 pm depending on the season. Confirm current hours here. It is closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. 

Admission Fees: Yes. Tickets can be bought at the cemetery (card only, no cash) or on the cemetery’s website.

Tours: Guided tours of Highgate Cemetery are available for a fee. There are two options to choose from- a Highlights Tour and an East Side Tour. Tours take about 75 minutes and can be booked up to four weeks in advance here.

Visitor Guidelines: Do not disturb the tranquility, stay on the paths, and do not sit or climb on the monuments.

Accommodations in London

If you’re planning to visit Highgate Cemetery and need accommodations, here is a list of hotels in London. Please consider booking your London accommodations through the included link. It costs nothing extra and helps support this website.

Graves in Highgate Cemetery.

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