Highgate Cemetery and Keats House

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Posted 1st November 2018

Patrons & Friends Trip to
Highgate Cemetery & Keats House

Aly Warner
Volunteer Patrons Coordinator

In a bid to learn more about Christina Rossetti before the forthcoming exhibition, on a sunny autumn day, Friends and Patrons were given a private tour of the fascinating West Cemetery at Highgate, London.

One of the earliest privately run garden cemeteries in England, Highgate was opened in 1839 and is the final resting place for many celebrated Victorians, among them Christina Rossetti and Lizzie Siddal, artist muse and model for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Set among sinuous, climbing paths and ivy-clad leaning monuments, the grave is hard to find without a guide; as were the many other heroic characters commemorated in the large, atmospheric cemetery. Men such as 'menagerist' George Wombwell, whose grave is marked by a statue of his famous lion exhibit, scientist Michael Faraday and Victorian bare-knuckle prize fighter, Thomas Sayers. More recent graves include those of novelists Radclyffe Hall and Douglas Adams, as well as artist Patrick Caulfield.

A walk through the extraordinary Egyptian Avenue leads to the beautiful, ancient Cedar of Lebanon tree where the most expensive burial plots can be found, as well as the eerie Catacombs. A memorable visit.

After lunch at the historic Flask pub we made the short journey to Grade I listed Keats House in Hampstead, where the young poet (who inspired Christina Rossetti) lived, next door to his great love, Fanny Brawne. Recently restored, it includes many original features and touching artefacts associated with the poet, such as his annotated copies of 'Paradise Lost' and Fanny's engagement ring.

For more information on how to become a Friend or Patron, contact Sarah James on 01483 813597 or development@wattsgallery.org.uk

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