Highgate Cemetery in a sad state of disrepair

Highgate Cemetery has been in the news recently, but what the reports haven t mentioned is the management of the cemetery s landscape, or, as I perceive it, the lack of it. On a recent visit to the Western Cemetery I was struck both by the beauty of what

Highgate Cemetery has been in the news recently, but what the reports haven't mentioned is the management of the cemetery's landscape, or, as I perceive it, the lack of it.

On a recent visit to the Western Cemetery I was struck both by the beauty of what remains of the Victorian structures and monuments, and by the shocking state of dereliction of the landscape glimpsed beyond the front row of graves.

This is a site of international importance that deserves to be kept in a well maintained order for the families who have loved ones buried there, for the many visitors, both national and international and for future generations.

Instead, one sees a tangle of leaning and fallen trees, Victorian monuments in danger of being damaged by further falls, broken masonry, headstones buried under sprawling ivy, and rubbish left lying where it should not be.


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It cannot be that there is no money to care for the cemetery landscape; the buildings, the boundary walls and the catacombs have clearly been restored.

Our tour went up a pathway where concrete kerbs have been laid in preparation, we were told, for new tarmac roads. What place do modern concrete kerbs and tarmac have in this historic landscape? Gravel or pebbled roads and pathways are traditional to graveyards. Could not the landscape have the attention it so desperately deserves?

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I understand there is a management plan and groups of volunteers are attempting to clear the fallen trees, reopen vistas and protect monuments. It seems to me that the cemetery's chairman is more concerned with personal control than with getting on with the urgent task of looking after the landscape. Years of negligence could lead to this unique historic landscape's ruin.

Deborah Bell

Shepherds Hill, N6

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