London’s 13 most fascinating historic cemeteries

Experience tranquillity with a side of history and take a tour of one of London's peaceful historic cemeteries.

Pay your respects to famous names throughout history and contemplate in the quiet at London's park-like cemeteries, complete with grand tombs and striking sculptures.

Find plenty of other peaceful spaces in London, from ancient temples to secluded gardens. Make the most of the capital’s stunning outdoors in its beautiful parks.

1. Highgate Cemetery

Ornate entrance to the Egyptian Avenue at Highgate Cemetery, London
Entrance to the Egyptian Avenue at Highgate Cemetery. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Walk among ivy-covered Victorian-era tombstones at Highgate Cemetery in north London. One of the city’s "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries, Highgate houses ornate tombs and mausoleums, especially along its grand Egyptian Avenue in the West Cemetery. A huge bronze bust marks the burial place of Karl Marx in the East Cemetery.

2. Brompton Cemetery

Chapel rotunda at Brompton Cemetery, London, on a sunny day
Chapel at Brompton Cemetery. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Explore more than 35,000 monuments on the grounds of west London’s Brompton Cemetery. Elaborate gravestones and family vaults flank a central avenue, which leads to a chapel modelled after St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

3. Kensal Green Cemetery

Victorian-era statue covered in moss at Kensal Green Cemetery, London
Statue at Kensal Green Cemetery. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

The first of London’s "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries, Kensal Green opened in 1833 and is based on Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. More than 250,000 people, including nobility and members of the Royal Family, have been laid to rest in Kensal Green. It’s also a nature conservation area with abundant birdlife and several regionally rare plants.

4. Abney Park Cemetery

Statue of an angel in front of a cross at Abney Park Cemetery, London
Headstone at Abney Park Cemetery. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Step into the quiet of Abney Park Cemetery, just off busy Stoke Newington High Street in north London. Mossy, vine-cloaked headstones from the 19th century sit below towering trees, giving this space a forest-like feel.

5. West Norwood Cemetery

Wander through the world’s first Gothic Revival-style cemetery in West Norwood. The ornamented tombs include many notable names, such as Mrs Beeton of cookery book fame and Henry Tate, the sugar merchant who started the Tate Gallery.

6. Nunhead Cemetery

Ornate Anglican Chapel at Nunhead Cemetery, London
Chapel at Nunhead Cemetery. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Spot chirping birds and other wildlife around the graves at Nunhead Cemetery, a local nature reserve. Decorated mausoleums and headstones indicate the burial spots of Victorian-era inventors, engineers, actors, singers and musicians. Head to the viewpoint on the cemetery’s western side for a look at St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance.

7. Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

Victorian headstones at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in London
Headstones at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Enjoy a woodland walk in the city at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park in east London. This space closed to burials in 1966 and transformed into an ecology park to preserve plants and wildlife. Walking trails crisscross the park and lead past marble monuments.

8. Golders Green Crematorium

Admire the red-brick Italianate architecture of the Golders Green Crematorium, the first in London. The surrounding 12-acre memorial gardens have many plants and two tranquil ponds. Look for famous names in the columbaria, including psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and Keith Moon, drummer in The Who.

9. Willesden Jewish Cemetery

Two Victorian-era gravestone urns at Willesden Jewish Cemetery in London
Gravestones at Willesden Jewish Cemetery. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Take a tour of Willesden Jewish Cemetery, a historic 1873 burial ground with almost 30,000 graves in north-west London. Enjoy a guided walk of the grounds and learn about the cemetery's history in the interactive exhibit in its former administration building.

10. Islington and St Pancras Cemetery

Visit the plant-filled grounds of Islington and St Pancras Cemetery in north London, which contains more than 1,000 graves of those who died in World War I and World War II. The cemetery offers self-guided maps to learn about the Commonwealth servicemen and servicewomen buried here.

11. St Pancras Old Churchyard

Headstones around the Hardy Tree at St Pancras Old Churchyard, London
Headstones around the Hardy Tree at St Pancras Old Churchyard. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Keep an eye out for well-known names in the burial ground of St Pancras Old Churchyard, one of the oldest cemeteries in central London. Famous people buried here include architect Sir John Soane and writer Mary Wollstonecraft. Rows of thin gravestones tightly encircle the Hardy Tree, one of the cemetery’s most famous landmarks.

12. Bunhill Fields

Gravestones covered in moss at Bunhill Fields, London
Gravestones at Bunhill Fields. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Make a point to pause in Bunhill Fields, a small quiet space just south of the busy Old Street roundabout. This unassuming cemetery, often passed through quickly by commuters without a second glance, is the burial place for notable 17th and 18th-century writers, including Daniel Defoe, William Blake and John Bunyan.

13. Crossbones Graveyard

Ribbons on the fence at Crossbones Graveyard, London, on a sunny day with the Shard in the background
Ribbons on the fence at Crossbones Graveyard. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Holding the remains of some 15,000 poor and working-class Londoners, Crossbones Graveyard remembers the "outcast dead" and the medieval sex workers who were not permitted a Christian burial. A monthly evening vigil pays tribute to those buried here, and visitors add messages, flowers and colourful ribbons to the cemetery’s gates.

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