Visiting famous grave sites and memorials might seem like a rather depressing trip, but it’s not all doom and gloom — for some people it is a way they can pay tribute to the famous person and that moment in history. Many cemeteries are also very beautiful places to visit, with spectacular architecture, grave statues and natural surroundings.
A stroll around a grave site can be atmospheric and peaceful, reflecting life ending, but in a place where new flora and fauna begin. Nature thrives and takes over, covering the gravestones with moss, while ivy trails elegantly around statues of angels. It is no wonder that this special appeal draws large numbers of visitors — the Père Lachaise in Paris receives 3.5 million visitors per year!
Visitors are especially interested in seeing famous graves and memorials — they might be a fan, or they might simply be interested in history. It is interesting to see how different personalities and different families have created very personal places to pay tribute to people. Custom memorials can be very unique.
You might want to add some of the visits below to your bucket list.
You would expect the King of Rock n Roll’s grave to be a destination in itself and it is. Indeed, it attracts over 600,000 visitors every year. There is even an annual procession called the ‘Elvis Walk’ — a solemn candlelit vigil which passes past the grave site.
Leonardo da Vinci, Italian painter, sculptor, architect, and engineer, is buried in the chapel of Saint-Hubert at the Château d’Amboise in France. The château has breathtaking views over the Loire Valley and draws thousands of visitors a year to see da Vinci’s tomb.
Tens of thousands of visitors come to Bruce Lee’s grave to see where the martial arts master has been laid to rest. Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son, is buried next to him — an actor who was tragically killed on set filming 1994 film The Crow.
Tens of millions have visited John F. Kennedy’s gravesite. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis requested the eternal flame on JFK’s grave as a never-ending tribute.
Buried with his guitar, Bob Marley’s grave is a popular tourist destination. Every year, Jamaica pays tribute to its famous son with an assortment of events.
Marilyn Monroe’s gravesite draws huge numbers of fans, who cover it with red lipstick kiss marks. Hugh Hefner bought the tomb next door so he could be next to Playboy’s first Playmate.
For such a small country, England packs a big punch when it comes to globally famous historical and cultural figures. Here are some of the most interesting graves in England.
Lord of the Rings author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien has a suitably magical grave. He is buried with his wife, Edith, and their gravestones are marked with the names Lúthien and Beren (Lúthien is a beautiful elf and Beren is her warrior lover in Tolkien’s Middle Earth lore).
Tragically, Emily didn’t live to see the success of Wuthering Heights, and Charlotte, author of Jane Eyre, died from a complicated pregnancy. Anne Brontë died away from home in Scarborough, so she isn’t buried with her sisters.
Queen Victoria was buried in a white dress and wedding veil, one of Prince Albert’s dressing gowns and, some say, holding a lock of her servant John Brown’s hair.
The Lady with the Lamp, and the founder of modern nursing, is buried in the modest village of East Wellow, Hampshire (her family refused a burial at Westminster).
Kings, queens, writers, rockstars…London has some of the world’s most famous graves — so many it’s hard to choose just a few — but take a look at this sample to inspire some visits:
Many visit the grave of Charles Darwin in Westminster Abbey, near the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton. His famous last words were: “I am not the least afraid of death.”
Another prestigious grave to visit is that of Horatio Nelson — it’s fascinating to know that Nelson’s coffin was made from the mast of a captured French ship and that the impressive marble tomb in St. Paul’s Cathedral was originally commissioned for Henry VIII.
But London’s famous graves are not always famous because the person laid to rest there is famous — often it’s due to the striking way the grave has been marked. Take a look at these examples:
Highgate Cemetery is brimming full of famous people, but it’s the most bombastic memorials which are often the most visited.
Tom Sayer was a bare-knuckle boxer with an army of fans in Victorian times. His tomb has a giant stone statue of his dog, resting on top. It is a majestic, unusual sight.
OTT Victorian circus owner Andrew Ducrow apparently couldn’t decide on a classical theme for his tomb — so he went all out and chose them all. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Gothic — all these influences are here. It really needs to be seen to be believed!
Discover our various locations for headstones in London.
Very professional and so helpful, they will help and guide you through the whole process and you don’t have to worry about a thing, nothing Is too much for them. I would highly recommend, the headstone was installed much earlier than expected and it looks amazing. Really happy thank you.
Tunbridge Crematorium, Kent.
Sarah S. Google Review: 19/05/2021
Such a good service from start to finish. Clear and courteous instruction on what information was needed from me and kept me informed throughout. Finished memorial stone is perfect and installed without a hitch. Thank you.
St Paulinus Church, Dartford, Kent.
Claire D. Google Review: 16/12/2020
Can recommend Memorials of Distinction without hesitation. A wonderful team who made the whole process very manageable and less daunting, resulting in a beautiful memorial stone for my parents. They even provided some photos once the stone had been installed so I could see it before visiting in person, which was so moving and made my day. All in all, a credit to the profession.
Karen G. Google Review: 08/02/2023
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