Take Walks logo

Life & Death in Victorian London, with Special Access Highgate Cemetery Tour

5 reviews

3 hrs 45 mins

Max 15

Why take this tour?

This tour introduces you to the best and the worst of life in Victorian London. On a specially-curated walk through areas of outstanding Victorian character, you'll see beautiful train stations and opulent hotels alongside old slums and churches whose gruesome graveyards literally bulge with bodies. The highlight is a special access tour of the Highgate Cemetery to see the graves of famous Victorians, including Karl Marx.

Take a journey back into the greatest era of social change the world has ever seen.

This is a dream tour for London history buffs who want to experience first-hand what life was like in London's famous Victorian age. You'll take in the splendor of the Renaissance Hotel, learn about the squalor of grave robbers in St. Pancras, and tread the melancholy paths of London's most atmospheric burial ground on a special access Highgate Cemetery Tour. Everything happens in the compnay of an expert guide whose stories, facts, anecdotes and legends will bring this unforgettable era roaring back to life with every step.

The day begins in King's Cross railway station, one of the largest, and still the most beautiful in the city. This grand Victorian cathedral of commuting (which you'l...

Read more

This is a dream tour for London history buffs who want to experience first-hand what life was like in London's famous Victorian age. You'll take in the splendor of the Renaissance Hotel, learn about the squalor of grave robbers in St. Pancras, and tread the melancholy paths of London's most atmospheric burial ground on a special access Highgate Cemetery Tour. Everything happens in the compnay of an expert guide whose stories, facts, anecdotes and legends will bring this unforgettable era roaring back to life with every step.

The day begins in King's Cross railway station, one of the largest, and still the most beautiful in the city. This grand Victorian cathedral of commuting (which you'll recognize from the Harry Potter movies) isn't just a pretty sight; along with the trains it hosts, it literally revolutionized transport in England and became a symbol of the industrial revolution that made this country into the most powerful country in the world. You'll learn the story of that revolution and how it profoundly changed London as you take gape at the beautiful architecture of the station.

Your next stop is in front of the Renaissance Hotel, where newly-minted millionaires once came to spend their vast fortunes. Here, you'll also learn about the rigid British class system and how a newly wealthy "middle class" re-wrote the whole code during the Victorian Era (though not necessarily for the better).

Underneath all the optimism and progress, Victorian London was also characterized by enormous economic inequality. Side by side with bustling train stations and swanky hotels were vast slums called Rookeries (after the nesting habits of birds) where the poor lived and died in squalor and anonymity. Your guide will take you through one of these areas next, and set a scene of poor sanitation, overcrowding, and rampant crime that seems barely imaginable as you pass cozy pubs and trendy cafes.

After a short stroll, you'll arrive at the graveyard of St. Pancras Old Church, which was a traditional burial ground for murderers, suicides, and criminals of all sorts - of which there were many in the surrounding area. But even after death, their bodies were not safe, as you'll learn when your guide tells you the gruesome history of the grave robbers, or 'resurrection men' who used to haunt this graveyard at night and look for bodies to pilfer. Why they did it, and who they sold the bodies to, is one of the most fascinating stories on the tour.

While you're here, you'll also pause at the graves of some famous Victorians, including a wealthy heiress who became one of the age's greatest campaigners for social change and a tormented write who gave birth to the first literary vampire.

Hopping on a nearby subway (or tube, as Londoners like to call them) your guide will tell you all about how this seemingly modern transport system is actually a Victorian invention and help you imagine what it would have been like to ride on it when the carriages were made of wood and the lights came from flickering gas lamps.

You'll arrive in highgate town and see an old school and workhouse - both institutions for children, but from very different walks of life - before heading up to the Cemetery.

Highgate is called one of the "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries of London for a reason: it's spectacular. At the gate, you'll meet an onsight guide who will lead you through a special access Highgate Cemetery tour of the western side (which you can't visit without a guide) As you traverse leafy paths bordered by beautiful and ornate gravestones, you'll learn why the cemetery was built and how it solved some very serious problems in London. You'll also see the graves of famous Victorian personalities and eccentrics as well as some of the more famous architecture, like the catacombs, and the entrance to Egyptian Avenue.

Your Highgate cemetery tour isn't quite over. Heading to the eastern side, you'll see the famous grave of Karl Marx, who lived in London during the final years of his life and whose work captured many of the conflicts and anxieties that shaped the Victorian Age.

Afterwards, you'll head back down to King's Cross on the Tube and your guide will give you plenty of tips on where to eat, what to do, and what to see during the rest of your stay in the city.

  • Sites Visited
  • King's Cross Train Station
  • Renaissance Hotel (outside)
  • London city stroll
  • St. Pancras Old Church Graveyard
  • London Underground
  • Highgate Town
  • Highgate Cemetery
  • Graves of Famous Victorians including Karl Marx
  • Tour Includes
  • Official Highgate Cemetery Tour
  • London Underground tickets
  • Expert Guide
An expert guide explains the Victorian opulence inside the hotel.
St. Pancras Old Church
review-rating-icon

Verified guest reviews

5


5 star reviews Created with Sketch. 5
4 star reviews Created with Sketch. 0
3 star reviews Created with Sketch. 0
2 star reviews Created with Sketch. 0
1 star reviews Generator: Sketch 49.3 (51167) - http://www.bohemiancoding.com/sketchCreated with Sketch. 0
latest-reviews-icon

Latest Reviews

We were very lucky with good weather and an excellent guide and a small group. Thoroughly enjoyed our fascinating tour, the time went so very quickly and we learnt a lot. Thank you.

Fabian was wonderful......loved the detailed history of the area, including architecture, housing accommodations & life during the Victorian era.