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A stroll through London's cemeteries

Feature by Lizzie Guilfoyle

Seen all the old familiar sights? Well how about something completely different – a stroll through London’s cemeteries. And it’s not as macabre as it sounds.

There are several to choose from, in pleasant surroundings and with much to capture the imagination.

The most famous is probably Highgate Cemetry in north London, the burial place of Karl Marx, the founder of communism. His tomb (on the east side) is adorned with a large and impressive bust of him.

Other famous names buried there include the poet Christina Rossetti, the actor Ralph Richardson, the scientist Michael Faraday and the marine painter Henry Moore.

Also worthy of note is Mary Ann Evans who is better known as the writer George Eliot. Her novels include The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Daniel Deronda and Middlemarch.

And then there’s the Egyptian Avenue – cleverly designed to look longer if you’re facing up the slope – and the circle of Lebanon which is topped by a huge Cedar of Lebanon and features tombs, vaults and winding paths dug into hillsides. These and Marx’ tomb are classed as listed buildings.

In fact, this part of the cemetery is only open for guided tours at the weekend.

Brompton Cemetery in Fulham has been used for numerous film locations, including Jack and Sarah and Goldeneye both in 1995, The Wings of the Dove in 1997, and Johnny English in 2003.

While the funeral scenes in Stormbreaker which stars Damien Lewis and is due for release in July 2006, were also shot there.

It’s also a haven for wildlife, in particular for birds, butterflies, foxes and squirrels.

Elsewhere in London, south of Old Street roundabout, is an area known as Bunhill Fields. Between the late 17th century and 1855, it was a non-conformist burial ground.

Those buried there include poet William Blake and his wife Catherine; the Quaker movement founder George Fox; and authors John Bunyan and Daniel Defoe who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress and Robinson Crusoe respectively.

Kensal Green Cemetery in Harrow Road, W10 is also the last resting place of many well known names – Brunel, Babbage (he invented the first computer), Thackeray, Trollope and Collins; as well as Lord Byron’s wife and Oscar Wilde’s mother.

So, whether it’s scenery, architecture or a taste of the past that takes your fancy, a stroll through London’s cemeteries has much to offer.