Mike Chowla
England Dec 2009:

Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery is a Victorian era cemetery on what was at the time the outer edge of London. London has since enveloped the Highgate area. The cemetery has the wonderful overgrown quality from the decades where it was abandoned and and complete unkept. In the 1970's, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery was formed and took over the management of the cemetery and have restored it to a working cemetery.

The western portion of the cemetery can only be viewed via guided tour. What struck me about the tour was how the stone monuments to the dead survive but the connection to the living has vanished after 150 years. The tombstones and mausoleums are technically property of the decedents of interred. However, the cemetery custodians can rarely locate the decedents which inhibits restoration work. Now where is the orphaning of the dead more surprising than at the fabulous Mausoleum of Julius Beer. The interior this mausoleum has beautiful inlaid stone work which was recently restored. But there are no decedents of the wealthy Beer family the custodians have been able to locate.