Seva Novgorodsev takes in the gothic majesty of London's Highgate Cemetery.
Watch the video and answer the questions below. The activity is suitable for Intermediate 2 and Advanced students.
1 Where in London is Highgate cemetery?
2 What happened in 1883?
3 What happened in 1933 in Germany?
4 How did Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko die?
5 When did the cemetery open?
6 How can you visit the Lebanon Circle?
7 What can you see on the ceiling of the mausoleum of Julius Beer?
8 Why is Highgate cemetery grade-one listed?
9 What’s the relationship of Lucinda Hawksley with Charles Dickens?
10 Who was Tom Sayers?
Highgate cemetery sits on a hill in a leafy suburb of (1) north London. Entering it feels like stepping foot in the Victorian age. The gothic grandeur seems to be everywhere. Highgate cemetery is famous as the final resting place of political philosopher Karl Marx. When (2) Marx died in 1883 just a handful of people attended his funeral. Now thousands of people visit his memorial every year. Marx lived in London. It’s where he wrote Das Kapital. Today there’s a library dedicated to his memory.
He was a man who walked among Londoners, a true citizen of the world. So it’s that inspiration that calls the library to be created and it was created in 1933, also because (3) that was the year of the Nazi book burnings. So these walls became safe haven and today it flourishes, it serves academics, researchers, teachers and writers from all around the world.
There have been many attempts to destroy Max memorial at Highgate.
When the bomb went off from underneath it, quite appropriately it tilted to the left. You can still see the scars, the battle honors that the bronze wears on its nose.
Many other political thinkers, writers and artists are buried at Highgate like painter Lucien Freud and Victorian novelist George Elliott. Six years ago a Russia defector was buried here.
His name was Alexander Litvinenko and he was murdered, he was highly radioactive because (4) he’d been slipped a radioactive substance, so when he was buried, he was buried twelve feet deep and in a lead-lined coffin.
The west side of the cemetery is the oldest part. (5) It opened in 1839 with its decaying tombstones and ivy-covered vaults, you can see why it was the setting for a classic hammer horror film about Dracula.
The Victorian fascination with ancient Egypt is clear to see here at the Egyptian avenue, where the richest families were buried. At the end it’s the Lebanon Circle, named after the cedar tree which sits atop the graves. This part of the cemetery is so fragile now (6) it can be seen only on a special tour.
This is the mausoleum of Julius Beer and it’s all about the death of a little girl called Ada, who was 8. Her father was very, very distraught and it is the most expensive piece of real estate in the entire cemetery. If you look at the ceiling as you go inside, you know, there’s (7) gold leaves and semi precious stones, that’s where your 3m pounds will go.
This imposing mausoleum is at the highest point of the cemetery. It’s one of the many buildings that are protected because of their national importance.
Highgate is quite unique. Buckingham Palace is grade-two listed, (8) Highgate is grade one, that means it’s the most important architectural site of its kind.
Away from the most extravagant Victorian tombs are the graves of a very well-known English family. (9) Lucinda Hawksley is the great, great, great granddaughter of writer Charles Dickens. Her relatives are relatives are forever immortalized in his novels.
Some of the characters in Charles Dickens’ work are actually inspired by people who are buried here at Highgate, most famously his father John Dickens was the inspiration in David Copperfield for Mr McCawber.
In Victorian times Highgate cemetery wasn’t just a place for the wealthy or upper-classes. This is the grave of working class hero Tom Sayers, one of the most famous men of his day.
In those days, you see, there was no sport for the ordinary person. Football hadn’t been invented, so the working class loved (10) this bare-knuckled fighting and this guy was the great champion because he beat everybody and became a hero. Forget Karl Marx, six people, I mean 10,000 people turned out here at his funeral.
The sanctuary and peace of Highgate cemetery allows one to reflect on the history that is written upon the many graves and tombs here and offers an inside into London’s past.