Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for HIGHGATE

HIGHGATE, a metropolitan suburb and a chapelry in St. Pancras and Hornsey parishes, Middlesex. The suburb stands on a hill, near the Hampstead and City Junction and the Great Northern railways, 5¼ miles NNW of St. Paul's, London; is within the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan police and the Central criminal court; and has post offices‡ in High street and Highgatehill under London N, a pillar box in Millfield lane, and wall boxes in Highgate archway, Hornsey lane, and North hill . A railway station, on the Hampstead and City Junction railway, is near its SSW side at KentishTown; another railway station, on the new branch of the Great Northern railway northwestward from the vicinity of Holloway, is adjacent to its NE side in the Archwayroad; and omnibuses run both from its Kentish-Town and its Holloway environs to the City and the West End. The name Highgate is said to have been derived from a gatehouse or highgate on the hill, erected by the bishops of London for the exaction of toll. The bishops had a seat here, and are still owners of the toll; and the old gatehouse was not removed till 1769. Au ancient hermitage was on the hill; and one of the hermits, at an early period, constructed a causeway hence to lslington. This was afterwards extended from one end to Clerkenwell, from the other end northward; became the great N road from London; and, prior to the railway period, was traversed daily by upwards of eighty stage coaches. Part of the road on the hill was so steep as to rise 1 in 7; a project was formed, in 1809, to avoid this by means of a tunnel, 300 yards long, under Hornsey lane; and in 1812, when the work was considerably advanced, the earth fell in, and an open road, with deep cutting, on the line of the intended tunnel, was formed instead, and was spanned by a lofty archway to connect Highgate with Hornsey. This cutting discloses the geognostic formation of the hill, and is an interesting study to geologists. The hill, with a large tract around it, was a forest at the time of the Roman invasion, and was not disafforcsted till 1218. Portions of the natural timber of it still exist at Caen wood and South wood. The nobles who made resistance to Richard II., in 1387, occupied the hill. The Duke of Gloucester and the young king Edward V., in 1483, were met here by the citizens of London, and conducted hence with great pomp to the city. Henry VII., after the battle of Bosworth field, on his way to the metropolis, was received here by the corporation and citizens of London. Queen Elizabeth visited Highgate in 1589; Mary, Queen of Scots, was detained a short time at the neighbouring house of the Earl of Arundel; James I. spent a night here, in 1624, prior to a stag hunt in St. John's wood; and many other sovereigns and distinguished persons have halted here, or passed through, on their way to the north. Many travellers used, at taverns here, to enjoy a curious kind of local hospitality, and to swear, in connexion with it, a curious burlesque oath. Sir Richard Baker, the chronicler, Andrew Marvell, the poet, Sir Thomas Cornwallis, the comptroller of Queen Mary's household, General Ireton, Oliver Cromwell, Nell Gwynne, Chief-Justice Pemberton, the two Coleridges, and Lord Chancellor Bethel were residents; Lord Bacon died here in the house of the Earl of Arundel; and Dr Sacheverell also died here. The hill on which the town stands is one of the highest in Middlesex, and commands brilliant views of London and the surrounding country. The town begins in the vicinity of Upper Holloway; extends about 1¼ mile to the NNW; and contains many villa residences and many good shops. Its environs are studded with mansions and villas; include the Earl of Mansfield's fine domain of Caen wood; abound in walks and drives; and possess many attractions of both close view and distant prospect. A spacious reservoir of the New River water company is on the summit of the hill. An ancient tumulus is on Parliament hill. A lepers hospital was founded, in the time of Edward I., by William Poole, on the lower part of Highgate hill, at a spot now called Lazarets or Lazarcot Field. A stone near this, called the Whittington stone, commemorates the tradition that Whittington here heard Bow bells ringing the popular change known as, " Turn again, Whittington, thrice lord mayor of London." A cemetery of 21 acres, called the North London cemetery, was formed, in 1 839, on the south slope of the hill, adjacent to Upper Holloway; underwent recent enlargement, by the addition of land on the opposite side of Swan's lane; contains a handsome chapel; and is beautifully laid out, planted with wood, and studded with monumental columns, obelisks, urns, and sarcophagi. St. Michael's church, immediately above the cemetery, was built in 1833, in lieu of a previous old chapel; is a handsome edifice in the pointed style, with a tower and spire visible for miles around; and contains a monumental tablet to S. Coleridge, and other monuments, removed to it from the old chapel. St. Anne's church, at the foot of West Hill, was built and endowed by the late Miss Barnett. All Saints church, on North Hill, was built in 1864; is a small cruciform edifice, in a variety of the later French first pointed style; and has a bellcote over the chancel arch. The Congregational chapel at South Grove, was built in 1859, and is an elegant structure. There are also a Baptist chapel, two Roman Catholic establishments, and a Jewish synagogue. The grammar school was founded in 1865; acquired a new school, a chapel, and a library, in Gothic style, in 1867; and has an endowed income of about £800, with a University exhibition of £50. There is a mission college in connexion with the London Missionary Society. There are also national, British, and industrial schools, and a literary institution. The endowed charities amount to about £1, 058, and include Whittington's college or almshouses, and Wollaston's and Pauncefort's alms houses. The small pox hospital was built in 1850. The children's convalescent hospital was formed, by transmutation of Cromwell House, in 1869. The St. Pancras infirmary was built, at a cost of £36, 000, in 1869. There are also a dispensary and a Magdalene institution.—The chapelry was constituted in 1832. Pop. in 1861, 4, 547. Houses, 719. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of London. Value, £550. * Patron, the Bishop of London. St. Michael's, St. Anne's, and All Saints are separate charges. See Pancras (ST.).


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a metropolitan suburb and a chapelry"   (ADL Feature Type: "populated places")
Administrative units: Hornsey St Mary AP/CP       St Pancras AP/Vest/CP       Middlesex AncC
Place: Highgate

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