10 July 2013

Photographing Highgate Cemetery

As part of one of my Photo Experience Days London Photowalks, I made my first ever visit to Highgate Cemetery earlier this month.

It was a hot Saturday, and the walk up the hill from Archway tube station had left us hot and sticky.  The lack of facilities (asides from a few toilets and selling bottles of water for £1.00) left me a tad disappointed.  Given that it's run as a charity you'd think that by adding a small cafe somewhere would only add to their bank account.   If you are going there, do be sure to bring some food with you, or eat while you're near the tube station.

We had a slow walk around the East Cemetery, where unknown to me before today I was to meet up with an old "friend", my favourite author Douglas Adams.  His grave is as I'd have hoped, quietly understated.  Next to his headstone is a small pot of pens, which I assume people add to.   Nice.

Other famous graves included Malcolm McLaren (complete with newly added death mask), Jeremy Beadle (I didn't even know he'd died), and arguably the most famous "resident", Karl Marx.

Photographing the cemetery in the bright midday sunshine wasn't easy, and I'd quite like to come back on a wet, grey winters afternoon to photograph it again.

While there we also did the tour of the West Cemetery.  Although probably more interesting architecturally than the other side, for me is was spoiled by four things.  Firstly you can only access by taking a guide tour, not necessarily a problem, except when said tour is run by the most boring tour guide ever...  Er.... Uhm....   Zzzzzz!   Also, a particularly old and grumpy woman kept appearing as if from nowhere to tell various members of the group off for straying more than a few metres from the main group.   If I'd have been there by myself I might have said something quite loudly to her, although she did scare me quite a bit, so I'd probably have just kept quiet and mumbled it to myself.

The last reason that spoiled it was being asked not to take photos in the two crypts we visited.  I asked why and two not very good reasons were given, the first because coffins were visible and it would be disrespectful to them (although I can't exactly see any of them making a complaint), and the second because "photography would damage the art work"....   Yep, apparently taking a photo without flash would damage the building.   I'm not quite sure how that works, but like a muppet I respected their rules and took no photos.

I will be back...  assuming they don't ban me for a negative review that is!  

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