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Cedar of Lebanon at Highgate Cemetery

Sad loss of well-loved and historic tree



Sadly, Highgate Cemetery has reported the loss of, "its great old Cedar of Lebanon" The beloved tree predates the cemetery, having been planted more than 50 years before the London Cemetery Company began its layout began in 1836. It is not known exactly how old the Cedar was, but it was believed to be at least 250 years  

Highgate Cemetery’s layout on seventeen acres of the former Ashurst Estate by Highgate Village, which was itself taken down to allow for the building of St Michael's Church, Highgate in 1830. The areas lie on a steep hillside, facing the centre of London, and winding down Swain’s Lane past Waterlow Park towards Hampstead Heath, Dartmouth Park and Kentish Town. Garden designer, David Ramsey, created exotic, formal planting. Stephen Geary, the architect, and surveyor, James Bunstone Bunning designed the stunning monuments and chapels of what soon became London’s most fashionable cemetery. 

Earth taken from around the ancient Cedar of Lebanon was used to create the Circle of Lebanon, which leads up to perhaps the most unique aspect the celebrated Egyptian Avenue, a walkway bordered by sixteen vaults. Close by the Terrace Catacombs was built in 1842. Along with seventy other monuments, these gothic wonders have all been listed by English Heritage. Some of the most identifiably Victorian of the monuments and headstones lie in the West Cemetery. 


Highgate Cemetery shared the news of the tree's demise on its Twitter account in August 2019
When the cemetery was designed, the tree was incorporated into the plans. Visitors on the tour to the West Cemetery could see the gravestones radiating out from the magnificent arboreal centre. Cemetery staff requested an arboreal report before making the necessary decision of the tree's removal. Experts described the tree as, "high risk" as a result of years of significant decay. Dr Ian Dungavell, Chief Executive of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust, has stated they are searching for a replacement tree of a similar size.  

All Highgate Cemetery burial records are available now on Deceased Online. They include digital scans of original registers, grave details indicating all those buried in each grave, and section location maps for graves (unfortunately, maps for a few graves are not available).

And please get in touch to let us know of any ancestors you have found buried in Highgate. Just post a message via the Comments Box below, or on our Facebook or Twitter pages!

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