Does Highgate have the most architecturally diverse street in the country?
PUBLISHED: 18:01 11 April 2012
Where would you go for a whistle-stop tour of half a millennium of British architectural history?
Some might say the British Museum, others might take a punt on Bloomsbury.
But heritage enthusiasts in Highgate have issued a challenge to the rest of the capital to find a street more architecturally diverse than North Hill.
In just 800 yards, buildings span nearly 500 years and the lifetimes of 10 different monarchs.
A mock Tudor cottage, built in about 1918, stands just doors away from Verandah Cottage flats, constructed by a charity in 1863.
The street also features Georgian townhouses and Gothic revival houses.
Richard Webber, of the Highgate Society, said: “I think it’s an unusual street as it has houses of so many different periods.
“Most of London was built up by people in what was then the countryside.
“They would buy the land and build many houses on it, so you get three or four sites built at the same time which were very similar to each other.
“But what happened on North Hill was different. It is an old road and a coaching route so was never under one person’s ownership.”
He added: “It is the old A1 and on the route from London to Yorkshire and Scotland. That’s why Highgate came into being, it’s the place you would change the horses at the top of the hill.
“Lots of different people built houses and every now and again an old house has been knocked down and flats built. Slums had to be cleared by the local authority too.
“Usually planners think if there is a complete mix of houses it will look awful but in practice, despite the diversity, it looks quite attractive.
“It is virtually impossible to find two houses here the same.
“This is quite good because you can have people of different income groups living in the same street.
“We challenge other parts of London to see if they can match our diversity.”
The society is unveiling an information board and producing leaflets to guide visitors.
Another society member, Michael Hammerson, said: “This is another phase of our initiative to promote awareness of the history of Highgate and bring in tourism.
“The idea stemmed from our realisation that Highgate is a great area and yet tourists just come here on the way to the cemetery and then go away again.
“Why not try to spark a London heritage tourist trail to get the tourists out here?”
The information board, created by the Highgate Society and Haringey Council, will be unveiled tomorrow (Thursday, April 12).