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By Lara Kavanagh in London—
However morbid it might sound, a stroll around one of London’s historic cemeteries can make a wonderfully atmospheric detour off the usual tourist track. In the early 19th century, several large, elegant cemeteries were commissioned to accommodate the demands of the burgeoning London populace; listed below are three of the best.
Highgate benefits from an elevated position in the north of the city, and is regarded as one of London’s most beautiful resting places. Look out for highlights such as the Gothic catacombs, the Egyptian Avenue and the Circle of Lebanon.
Claim to fame
Author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide,” Douglas Adams, physicist Michael Faraday, novelist Stella Gibbons and the parents of Charles Dickens are all buried here.
Visiting Highgate Cemetery
Hours: Opens weekdays at 10 a.m., weekends 11 a.m.
Closes March 1-October 30 at 5 p.m. (last admission 4:30 p.m.); Closes October 31 to February 28 at 4 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.)
Entry £3 per adult / £2 for students with valid ID
Tel: 020 8340 1834
Tube stop: Archway
The Wrestlers (020 8340 4297, open daily)
Great neighborhood pub with a roaring fire in winter and friendly staff. Especially nice for a Sunday lunch.
Brompton cemetery was designed by Benjamin Baud, and features a compact layout set around a central avenue leading up to a chapel. With its slightly tumbledown air and stunning stone angels, it’s a charming place for a peaceful autumnal stroll.
Claim to fame
Parts of “GoldenEye,” “Johnny English” and “The Wings of the Dove” were filmed here.
Visiting Brompton Cemetery
Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in summer, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter.
Tel: 020 7352 1201
Tube stop: West Brompton
The Troubadour (020 7370 1434, Web site, open daily)
A cozy 50s coffeehouse/restaurant, with homely cuisine and live music in the basement. A good stop-off for a hearty feed.
Kensal Green Cemetery
Influenced by the stunning Père-Lachaise site in eastern Paris, Kensal Green features 72 acres of sprawling garden cemetery in which you can lose yourself for hours. The Friends of Kensal Green run two-hour introductory tours of the site every Sunday from March to October, and on the first and third Sundays of the month from November to February (2 p.m. start).
Claim to fame
Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, newsagent W. H. Smith and mathematician Charles Babbage are all buried here.
Visiting Kensal Green Cemetery
Hours: April 1 to September 30: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
October 1 to March 31: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Bank Holidays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Free entry; suggested £5 donation for guided tour
Tel: 020 8969 0152
Tube stop: Kensal Green
The Paradise (020 8969 0098, Web site, open daily)
This sprawling public house features gorgeous fittings and great food in its romantic dining room, and it’s far enough off the Portobello Market trail to provide a relaxing break after a tour of the cemetery grounds.