At the heart of the west side of Highgate Cemetery is the Circle of Lebanon. This round of mausoleums creates a massive pot, containing the ancient Cedar of Lebanon.
The tree long predates the graveyard surrounding it. Highgate Cemetery was originally the grounds of Ashurst House. When the manor was sold in 1830 and demolished to make way for St. Michael’s Church, the tree was already around 100 to 150 years old. It was left standing as the cemetery developed around it.
Some of the earliest tombs in Highgate were constructed around the cedar in the modish Egyptian style of the 1830s. The outer circle of tombs, built later, are in a more classical style. This circle of mausoleums surrounding the cedar is known as the “Circle of Lebanon,” and it created a gigantic pot befitting the size of the tree inside it. The tree, still growing despite its age, is now a sort of bonsai with its roots constrained inside the pot.
Update as of August 2019: Significant decay was found in the tree and it was in danger of collapsing. The tree has since been removed and the search for a replacement is underway.
Update as of July 2021: Unfortunately, the cedar tree has not yet been replaced.
Know Before You Go
The tree can be seen during guided tour of Highgate Cemetery West.