Three of the 166,000 names engraved in the 51,000 headstones of Highgate Cemetery.

Each life a story.

Stories of love and hate...

Of joy and sorrow...

Of murder and exhumation.


Consecrated by the Bishop of London on 20th May 1839, the first inhumation at Highgate Cemetery six days later, was of Elizabeth Jackson, a 36-year-old spinster of Golden Square, Soho. In the years which followed, Highgate swiftly became the desirable last resting place of fashionable Victorian society: a Gothic edifice of romantic proportions.

Perched on a hill above the smoke and filth of the city below, the cemetery's catacombs; the labyrinth of Egyptian sepulchres and avenues of death, have echoed with the entombment of poets and painters, princes and paupers. With unseeing eyes, the multitude of silent stone angels have witnessed pomp and ceremony and dreadful exhumations.



An eighteen-part series for radio, broadcast by the BBC between 1995-97, the Sexton's Tales are the true life stories of the Victorian men and women which four generations of grave diggers have sat and told one another, whenever the weather proved too inclement to go about their business. They are yarns of the famous and infamous, of derring-do and darstadly deeds. A fading mirror to a society which shaped our own as no other before.

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The Crypt
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