Highgate: the history and culture of a city with the community spirit of a village
- Credit: Archant
Happy Highgate residents are rightly pleased with abundance of independent shops, excellent schools and thriving community found around such neighbourhood hubs as Waterlow Park
Highgate High Street lies on the border of Camden and Haringey, and the boundary with Islington lies part way up Highgate Hill, but the whole of Highgate proper has the N6 postcode. Highgate is in the Holborn & St Pancras parliamentary constituency. The council tax for Camden starts at £906.25 for Band A properties, rising to £2,718.76 for Band H properties. Tax for ‘average’ Band D homes is £1,359.38 for 2016/17.
Property in Highgate offers options from grand Georgian town houses and large Victorian homes to world-famous Modernist buildings. The Holly Lodge Estate is a prime example of inter-war planning, complete with mock-Tudor facades. The mansion blocks on the estate were originally designed as bedsits to house single working women but have since been converted into self-contained flats.
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The area’s property prices have risen dramatically over the past year as a new wave of wealthy residents are attracted to the generous-sized homes and excellent schools, but the market has shown signs of slowing in recent months, in line with comparable London neighbourhoods. The average price of a two-bedroom flat in Highgate is £837,422; for a semi-detached house it’s £2,031,879; and for a detached house it’s £4,523,938.
Highgate is popular in large part thanks to its schools with independent offerings Highgate (mixed) and Channing (girls) selective and highly sought after by wealthy families and several of the area’s celebrity residents. Avenue Nursery and Pre-Prep is a small private nursery school for children aged between nearly three and seven. State Highgate Primary School is a small, mixed community school with a liberal ethos (no uniform, first name teachers, philosophy and Mandarin lessons) rated good by Ofsted, while religious options St Joseph’s RC primary and St Michael’s C of E are rated outstanding and good respectively. St Aloysius RC College is a comprehensive Catholic boys’ school rated outstanding by Ofsted.
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Highgate tube station is in Zone 3 on the High Barnet branch of the Northern Line but it’s a reasonable walk from there to Highgate Village, which is best reached by bus. The 271 from Moorgate currently terminates in the Village but, following a lengthy campaign, there are now plans for it to join the 214 (from Liverpool Street) at its terminus on North Road. The 210 passes through Highgate between Finsbury Park and Brent Cross; the 143 takes a different route through Hendon to Brent Cross; while the 603 travels up past East Finchley to Muswell Hill on weekdays, mostly serving the school crowd.
Landmarks and history
The first mention of Highgate Hill is recorded as far back as 1565 but the area’s village stretches back even further to the 15th century. By the later 17th century houses were being built for City men, many of which are still standing and nowadays still house City men and women and their families.
Visitors come from all over the world to visit the famous Highgate Cemetery which is the resting place of icons including Karl Marx and Douglas Adams. The site was originally commissioned for burial use in 1836 when, during a period of particularly high death rates, an Act of Parliament was passed to create The London Cemetery Company, who bought 17 acres of land in the area for £3,500.
The high street boasts many independent boutiques. Institutions include Highgate Butchers, Bailey & Saunders Highgate Pharmacy, Highgate Bookshop, Highgate Vet, Brooksby Newsagents and Highgate Pantry. Northwood News were priced out of the area recently with a valedictory street party held in the family owners’ honour.
Hair of the Dog, a shop and doggie salon offers grooming alongside fancy canine accessories.
Highgate Flowers sell beautiful cut flower arrangements and offer same-day guaranteed local delivery.
Eating and drinking
Highgate dining can err disappointingly towards chain restaurants although their outpost of Côte comes highly recommended. New on the scene is Ostuni, London’s first restaurant focusing solely on the cuisine of Puglia. They serve the pasta classics of southern Italy, as well as a delicious range of seafood, and meat dishes cooked over charcoal in their ‘fornello pronto’ oven.
Even newer (it opened in November) is the Good Food cafe serving
Watering holes in and around the village include the Bull, dog-friendly Red Lion and Sun, and historic pub The Flask, parts of which date back to before the 18th century. Locals’ favourite The Wrestlers on North Road has a beer garden for summer drinking and open fires for cosy winter evenings. Nearer the tube station, Boogaloo hosts live bands and club nights for a merry band of locals.
Sports, leisure and culture
For the artistically inclined, there’s plenty of local culture on offer: Jackson’s Lane is a hub for experimental performance, while the historical Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution, established in 1839, runs a Tuesday night lecture series; courses in a range of subjects and houses a library specialising in Highgate and north London.
Upstairs at the Gatehouse is a small, award-winning fringe theatre in the upper room of the Gatehouse pub. It has its own in-house company, Ovation, which produces a varied programme of shows each year.
Waterlow Park provides 20-acres of grassland with some of the best views in London and is popular with local dog walkers all year round. During the summer months local school children flock to enjoy the sunshine after classes finish for the day. The park also provides the setting for numerous festivals and fetes, which bring together the whole Highgate community.
Lauderdale House has a fascinating history. It was once home to Nell Gwynn and was visited by Samuel Pepys. It has closed for refurbishment until Christmas 2016 when it will resume its exhibitions, fairs, workshops and performances. The on site Cafe will also reopen under new management.
Good for kids
Named after Roald Dahl’s imaginary crocodile, notsobig is a children’s clothes boutique on the High Street stocking clothes for newborns to 16 year olds.
Over on Archway Road, Jackson’s Lane offers a programme of children’s shows, as well as various performing arts workshops and courses.
In Partnership with Waterlows