20 Jul 2022

Tomb with a view: The best UK cemeteries to visit

Tombstones at Highgate cemetery

It's not everyone's idea of the perfect day trip, but Britain is blessed with some of the most magical cemeteries around. From marvellous memorials to the burial grounds of historic figures, there are countless UK cemeteries that are worth a visit. We analysed TripAdvisor traveller rankings to find out which cemeteries are the most loved in London and throughout England. We discovered:

  • Honouring the fallen is of great importance to the public – the World War II war grave cemetery, Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, topped the chart.
  • Highgate Cemetery – the resting place of poets, painters and philosophers – is the most beloved burial site in the capital.
  • Liverpool Cathedral gets people talking – it has the highest number of reviews (9,068) and is the third highest rated cemetery by UK travellers overall.

Tomb with a view

There are more than 12,000 historic cemeteries, churchyards and burial grounds in England and Wales, so getting top-rated by visitors is no easy task. While cemeteries are associated with sad occasions where we sometimes shed tears, they're also places of contemplation, reflection and often, beauty. So, what are the top ranked cemeteries to visit in England?

List of top cemeteries in England
Map of England cemeteries

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial

This landmark cemetery commemorates the sacrifices of 10,000 American military service personnel who fought during World War II. Originally donated by the University of Cambridge, the site includes a modern visitor centre featuring films, interactive displays and the stories of those who fought to free Europe from tyranny. Located near Cambridge, you can combine your visit with a spot of sightseeing (and punting) in one of England’s most picturesque cities.

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial
Highgate cemetery

Highgate cemetery

This iconic north London cemetery dates back to 1839, and is the burial site of literary luminaries like George Eliot, the engineer Michael Faraday, and the philosopher Karl Marx. It’s perched next to Waterlow Park, which has gorgeous views of the capital, and includes the tudor Lauderdale House with its café, gallery space and open-air concerts. With just under 40,000 Instagram posts tagged #highgatecemetery, this is one burial site that looks the part – with or without an Insta filter.

Liverpool Cathedral

Liverpool Cathedral

The monumental Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is the biggest in Britain (and fifth largest in Europe). In the shadow of the cathedral is St James Mount and Gardens, which was a cemetery until 1936 when it was designated ‘full’ (at 57,774 burials) but still contains the gravestones and legacy of its fascinating history. Remarkably, the cemetery features examples of 18th century graffiti, thought to be carried out by quarry workers. While in Liverpool, be sure to take in the city’s other great attractions, whether it’s a saunter through the Royal Albert Docks or a Beatles bus tour.

Cemeteries in the capital

Our research revealed that four of the top fifteen most popular English cemeteries were in the capital, so we were in grave danger of producing a London-dominated list. But it got us thinking: what are the most highly rated cemeteries within the M25?

List of top London cemeteries to visit
London's top five ranked cemeteries to visit

Aside from the aforementioned Highgate Cemetery, London is home to plenty of other much-loved resting places. Brompton Cemetery is a Grade I listed gem with a restored chapel, a modern café, visitor centre, and more than 35,000 graves, including the burial site of women’s suffrage campaigner Emmeline Pankhurst.

In the south of the city, Nunhead Cemetery is a grand and sprawling Victorian burial site consecrated in 1840, while Kensal Green – the oldest cemetery in the capital – is where the pioneering engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel is buried.

Cemeteries elsewhere in the UK

While our study focused on cemeteries in England, it would be remiss not to mention some of the beautiful resting places that can be found throughout the UK. The Necropolis in Glasgow is a sprawling ‘City of the Dead’ with epic views of Glasgow Cathedral. In Wales, the stunning Llandaff Cathedral, in the outskirts of Cardiff, dates from 1107 and while parts of the cemetery are wild and untamed. And in Northern Ireland, the Clifton Street Cemetery (which opened in 1797) offers guided tours and is a great place to learn more about Belfast’s past.

Celebrating our cemeteries

As our research shows, there are magical cemeteries the length and breadth of England. From the ancient timber roofed St Oswald’s Church in Grasmere, Lake District, to the stunning beach-side Barnoon Cemetery in St Ives, Cornwall, our cemeteries are so much more than burial sites where we go to mourn the deceased. Of course, funeral plans have to start somewhere, and while few of us would like to contemplate our own burial service, perhaps it’s nice to remember that cemeteries can be inspirational places and the backdrop to many of life’s unique occasions – from film sets and weddings to a sleepy Sunday stroll.

Planning a funeral in later life

No one likes to think about their own funeral, but it’s never a bad idea to discuss some of these later life decisions with your nearest and dearest as early as possible. Do you want a small or large occasion? Traditional or modern? Do you want the venue to be somewhere special that means something to you, or simply the nearest church or hall?

Everyone is different, and the most important thing is that you have a fitting send-off according to your own wishes. And if you haven’t got money set aside already for your funeral expenses, you could consider Over 50s Life Insurance as one option to help towards your funeral payments and ease your loved ones’ financial worries.

But whether you opt for a cemetery burial, cremation or another way of departing, we hope our list of the best cemeteries shows that there are plenty of wonderful locations where people past, present and future will be memorialised for generations to come.

Methodology

Legal & General analysed TripAdvisor traveller rankings in July 2022 to discover the top-rated cemeteries across England, Scotland, and Wales.

Fair Use

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Sources

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g186225-d212978-Reviews-Cambridge_American_Cemetery_and_Memorial-Cambridge_Cambridgeshire_England.html

https://highgatecemetery.org/about

https://www.visitliverpool.com/things-to-do/liverpool-cathedral-p9023

https://www.fonc.org.uk/

https://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/in-pictures-the-magnificent-cemeteries-of-london

https://www.visitwales.com/attraction/historic-site/llandaff-cathedral-943340

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/cardiff-llandaff-cemetery-history-where-20878892

https://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/births-deaths-and-ceremonies/cemeteries/clifton-street-cemetery

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