Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Highgate Cemetery, East side

The East side of the Cemetery is less pretentious, but not less beautiful. Since you are allowed to walk around by yourself, you can take your time, enjoy the greenery and the old grave stones and tombs, hear the birds sing and get into a contemplative mood!

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I had already looked out a few graves to visit, but we started just behind the entrance and walked south and then back up north again. I hope the photos will give you an idea of the peaceful surroundings.

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While checking the map I spotted two Austrians buried here (my husband is Austrian so it seemed a good idea, no Swedes there unfortunately) Carl Mayer, author, mostly known for co-writing the screen script to the 1920s classic, silent movie The Cabinet of Dr Caligari's. According to Wikipedia:


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Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, it tells the story of an insane hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) to commit murders. The film features a dark and twisted visual style, with sharp-pointed forms, oblique and curving lines, structures and landscapes that lean and twist in unusual angles, and shadows and streaks of light painted directly onto the sets.


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We continued strolling through the cemetery, enjoying the lovely day. Still the Indian summer, but autumn is luring around the corner, with the occasional yellow and read showing up. To visit in spring, early summer, must be fantastic with all the flowers around.  You are almost transferred back to the Victorian times and can easily forget time.

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The most famous of the people buried here is Karl Marx. He even have two graves. The original is a simple stone on the ground and he was originally buried here with his wife Jenny, who died shortly before him. His funeral, in 1883, was visited by eleven people. With time, more and more people visited his grave though, and since it is situated at a very small path way, it was decided to move it to a more accessible place.  The great bronze head situated on top a pillar, was erected in 1956 by the British Communist Party. Apart from Marx and his wife, the tomb is also the burial place for Harry Longuet, their grandson, Helene Demuth, who was the housekeeper of the Marx (and, here some gossip, most scholars believe that the child she gave birth to was fathered by Marx. For another view, here a page on Marx myths by Terrel Carver, a little bit of a gothic story), and Eleanor, their daughter.
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The Marx original grave stone

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The new memorial
Just opposite you find the grave of Herbert Spencer, "a philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist and a prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era". He (not Darwin) was the person to coined "survival of the fittest" (from his Principles of Biology (1864)).


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Another Austrian, the sculptor Anna Mahler (daughter of composer Gustav Mahler).  She studied art and painting in Berlin, Rome and Paris, and finally settled for sculpture, where she thought she could better express her creativity. I presume the sculpture at her grave is by her, but am not able to find any reference that confirms it.

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A few different stones were found at the end of the tour. Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, has a somewhat unusual, but fitting, decoration at his stone; a Jim Stanford Horn, obviously loved the Penguin books.

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A very interesting place to visit, far away from the 'madding crowd'!

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