Cemeteries are not exactly the type of place that people usually put on their bucket lists. However, cemeteries are often beautiful, tranquil places that offer secluded sanctuaries in the heart of cities. Some cemeteries also contain a lot of history and impressive architecture. Around Halloween is a good time to visit them too, with the autumnal colours and earlier sunsets adding to the atmosphere.
1. Highgate Cemetery, London
This iconic cemetery is one of the most famous in the world. It’s the final resting place of Karl Marx, Douglas Adams and many other luminaries. It’s also worth a visit for the impressive Neo-Gothic architecture. Extravagant mausoleums, stately tombs and ruins lie among thick woods. At times it feels like you’re in a completely different world to the busy modern capital.
Just watch out for vampires.
In the 1960s there were a number of sightings of an alleged vampire in the cemetery. The site had a long history of ghostly apparitions, but apparently this one was different. The sightings generated such interest that in 1970 hundreds of people led by Sean Manchester went on a vampire hunt at night! Of course they didn’t find a vampire, but that didn’t stop Manchester and others from claiming the site was the lair of a vampire.
Make sure you take plenty of garlic with you on your visit.
2. Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol
Opened in 1839, this beautiful Greek inspired cemetery was designed as an Arcadian landscape. There are a number of impressive Grade II listed buildings set among parkland. There is a crypt under the Church which has a memorial to soldiers that died in WW1. Several famous Bristol residents are buried here, including Indian social reformer Ram Mohan Roy.
3. Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey
Also known as the London Necropolis. This huge 400 acre cemetery was the largest in the world when it opened in the 19th century – it even had it’s own railway station. It’s still the largest in Western Europe, and contains a staggering 250,000 burials. The cemetery has an abundance of impressive Victorian architecture and wildlife. It’s not uncommon to see deer, rabbits and foxes wandering around. The site also contains the largest military cemetery in the country, with many fallen soldiers from WW1 and WW2 buried here.
4. Glasgow Necropolis
The Necropolis contains some spectacular architecture, with monuments designed by many of the top sculptors and architectures of the day. It was opened in 1832, making it one of the oldest cemeteries in Britain. It lies on a hill to the east of the city centre, so I visit here also gives you good views of Glasgow. The Necropolis is subject to a conspiracy theory which claims its 37-acre landscape is a large metaphor for Freemasonry, and symbols of this secret group can be found scattered throughout the site. Perhaps you can find some of these symbols during a visit.
5. Southampton Old Cemetery
Not many people outside of Southampton will have heard of this place, but it’s a beautiful site. Opened in 1849, it’s on the edge of the large Southampton Common which is a great place to relax while in the city. There are gravestones of many of the victims from the Titanic here. The cemetery has been somewhat overtaken by nature, with vines growing on gravestones and trees encroaching. It gives the site an atmospheric feel; especially in the evening when it looks like the stereotypical graveyard from a horror film.
Walk through here at night on Halloween if you dare…