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As we approach Halloween children and adults alike begin to prepare for the annual ritual of trick-or-treating but are there really such things as ghosts and vampires? Highgate Cemetery has always been referred to as haunted and in the past we have let an apartment in Holly Lodge Mansions which is behind the cemetery to a vampire enthusiast who wanted to be nearby. I have done some internet research into why people refer to Highgate Cemetery as haunted.
The Cemetery occupies 20 acres and is sprawled on the hilly slopes on the south side of Highgate Village. It was opened in 1839 and soon became a sought after burial spot amongst Victorians in London. By the early 20th century thousands of people had been laid to rest including many famous and illustrious names.
During the second world war the Cemetery saw a severe downturn and by the 1960’s it was pretty much abandoned. Rumours began to spread of cults holding strange ceremonies after dark in the abandoned ruins. The Hampstead & Highgate Express started to receive letters from frightened readers about ghostly experiences around the Cemetery. Apparently one man whose car had broken down was terrified by a hideous apparition with glowing red eyes staring at him through the gates whilst another man walking along Swains Lane was knocked down by a fearsome creature who came out from the wall of the cemetery. The headlights of an approaching car caused the creature to dissolve into thin air.
It was then suggested that a Vampire was living in the cemetery and it was bombarded by journalists, camera crews and curious people looking for the undead. The Highgate Vampire is rumoured to be a medieval nobleman who practised black magic in Romania. His coffin was relocated in the 18th century and buried on the site that became Highgate Cemetery. Apparently Satanists awoke him performing rituals. It is reported that he is a tall dark figure who glides around the Cemetery whose presence can be felt by a sudden drop in temperature. It’s also reported that watches and clocks have stopped working when he is near.
More letters of frightening encounters around Swains Lane were received by the local press including a ghostly cyclist riding up the steep slope of Swains Lane and a tall man in a top hat stroll across the road and disappear into the wall of the cemetery.
In the 1980’s the Friends of Highgate Cemetery began a massive restoration project clearing the pathways and uncovering the spectacular tombs that had been neglected for years. Today ghostly sightings are reduced to the ghost of a mad old woman. Her long grey hair blows behind her as she races amongst the graves looking for her children whom she is supposed to of murdered in a fit of rage. The other is of a figure who gazes into space paying no attention to anyone nearby. If you get to close it vanishes reappearing a short distance away still gazing into space.
Highgate Cemetery hold a number of events throughout the year along with tours of the West Cemetery. Daily entrance is available to the East Cemetery where Karl Marx is buried and you can roam freely around.
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