The Great British Capital screams grandeur around every corner. Head to one of its cemeteries, and you’ll see that there are no exceptions.
Buried within the grounds of Westminster Abbey are monarchs and famous names such as Stephen Hawking and Charles Darwin. More interested in celebrities and TV stars? You’ll find plenty of late legends and historic figures in Highgate Cemetery.
But where are the weirdest and most unusual graves in London that demand the attention of travelling taphophiles? Read on to find out.
Joseph Grimaldi’s grave
Joseph Grimaldi was the entertainer of the Regency era in the UK during the early 19th century. Hailed the world’s most famous clown, Grimaldi was an eccentric character that incorporated acting, comedy and dancing into his routines.
As a testament to his legacy, his resting place is located in the aptly named Grimaldi Park. And, in 2010, public artwork was installed next to his gravestone. Visitors are genuinely invited to dance on his grave. Not one to miss if you like life (or death) on the wacky side.
For the most part, Kensal Green is a formal cemetery. Yet it’s home to one of the most flamboyant names in British history. Andrew Ducrow, like Grimaldi, was an entertainer. He made a name for himself by performing circus acts with horses during the Victorian era.
As such, he was nicknamed the ‘Colossus of Equestrians’. Ducrow couldn’t decide on a theme for his family tomb. So, he chose dozens. Egyptian sphinxes, Roman tablets and Greek heroes all protect Ducrow’s resting place at Kensal Green.
The Hardy Tree
In the graveyard of St Pancras Church, you’ll find a circle of gravestones surrounding a tree that’s nicknamed ‘The Hardy Tree’ after the famous author Thomas Hardy. But this isn’t the actual resting place of the late author.
During the 1860s, Hardy was the youngest employee at an architecture firm, which was tasked with relocating gravestones from an old cemetery to make way for a new railway. The responsibility of moving the gravestones rested on Hardy, who circled them around this infamous tree. Over the past 150 years or so, the tree has continued to grow, absorbing many of the stones in the process.
Sometimes, simple is better. At least that’s what we can assume Douglas Adams – author of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘ – had in mind judging by his headstone, which simply reads ‘Douglas Adams – Writer – 1952-2001’.
To some, this final message may seem disappointingly succinct. Nevertheless, Adam’s grave attracts masses of visitors, who often leave toys, stationery and other tributes to pay their respects. If you want to follow in their footsteps, you’ll find the headstone in Highgate Cemetery.
Hyde Park’s Pet Cemetery
Pets are family members, so why not give them the send-off they deserve? Hyde Park is home to London’s largest pet cemetery. It all began in 1881 when the lodge-keeper at the park buried his beloved pet Cherry within the grounds.
When word spread, hundreds of people followed suit. Between the years 1881 and 1903, 300 Brits buried their pets alongside Cherry. Nowadays, the resting place is no longer open to the public, but you can take a peek at the headstones from Bayswater Road.
For more unique ways to explore the capital, make sure you take a look at our Small Group Experiences. Explore wartime London, the world of spies and espionage or the foodie’s paradise of Borough Market all in an intimate tour setting.