What's it all about?
Ever since poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge made for the leafy and lofty beauty of Highgate to try and tackle his opium addiction, the area has been a magnet for creative individuals and more recently, celebrities. When families aren’t busy socialising or partaking in community events, they’re free to enjoy the beautiful environment Highgate has to offer. Situated on one of London’s highest points, the village commands great views over central London and the expansive greenery of Hampstead Heath. Much like neighbouring Hampstead, the High Street is the area’s social hub where everyone from teenagers meeting to share that day’s gossip to pensioners taking a stroll gathers for coffee and cake. Residents cherish this village like atmosphere safe in the knowledge that Leicester Square is only a 20 minute Tube journey away. Despite the area’s exclusive reputation, property styles are varied and cater to a diverse market. Whether you’re seeking a family home for the kids to grow up in, or a one bedroom flat, this prime north London property hotspot has it all.
- Highgate is famous for its Grade I-listed cemetery where political philosopher Karl Marx and writers George Eliot and Christina Rossetti are buried. It gained much notoriety in the press in the early 1970s for supposedly being the haunt of the ‘Highgate vampire’. The ensuing publicity led to a mass hunt but no vampire was ever found.
- Highgate Hill, the street that links Archway with Highgate Village, was the route of Europe’s first cable car. It operated between 1884 and 1909.
- Visitors to Highgate pubs in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries would have to undertake the comical custom of ‘Swearing on the Horns’ to confirm their commitment to debauchery. A clerk would read an oath, which participants would agree on, then kiss or salute a set of horns.
Architecture and property
Highgate village dates back to 1354 and was originally part of the Bishop of London’s hunting estate. From the 16th century, impressive houses were built along Highgate Hill and in Georgian times the area became highly fashionable as a country retreat for wealthy City workers, a demographic it still serves today. Highgate suffered bomb damage in World War II, which goes some way to explaining the range of its property styles, everything from Victorian mansions to more modest flats on the Holly Lodge Estate.
While elegant Georgian homes are ever sought after, there is a variety of Victorian properties too. Highgate is home to what was once described as ‘perhaps the single most celebrated Modernist building of the 1930s in London’ – Berthold Lubetkin’s 1930s Highpoint development. These highly desirable apartment blocks are Grade I listed and have communal gardens, tennis courts and a heated outdoor swimming pool.
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Eating: One thing Highgate knows how to do is afternoon tea. High Tea of Highgate is a tiny cafe with a huge array of cakes and scones. It’s always busy, but you won’t regret queuing. The High Street has a great selection of independent and chain restaurants. Locals only have to venture slightly further to enjoy the culinary delights of Holloway Road and Junction Road, such as the acclaimed Italian 500 and gastro pub St John’s Tavern.
Culture: Located in a striking Gothic church conversion, the multi arts venue Jacksons Lane is a hotbed of theatrical activity. Classical music fans should visit The Red Hedgehog, an intimate 100 seat concert hall opposite Highgate Tube. Anyone in need of some light entertainment can head Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate’s excellent fringe theatre. The central Pond Square is home to community events, including the Highgate Summer Fair and Christmas carol concert.
Drinking: Many of Highgate’s social gatherings take place in its traditional-style pubs. The Red Lion & Sun and The Flask are reliable options, but first prize goes to The Wrestlers, a beautiful pub in the heart of the village, occupying the same site since 1547. A real fireplace, vintage wooden furniture and stained glass windows ensure its authenticity while its extensive menu keeps the locals returning.
- Most locals find that the numerous parks and outdoor spaces provide ample opportunity for exercise, but just down the hill Archway Leisure Centre has a pool, sauna and gym.
- Highgate High Street is lined with exclusive one off boutiques and children’s stores. One of the best is notsobig, named after an imaginary crocodile in a Roald Dahl book, it's full of designer offerings for tots and young teens.
- Highgate Cemetery has become a tourist destination in itself and one can easily lose an afternoon admiring its beautiful Gothic architecture.
- Highgate Library is a community hub, located in a striking Edwardian building. It is supported by a group of residents called Friends of Highgate Library, which organises talks by writers and promotes use of the library.
- There’s a strong social scene at Highgate Golf Club, and many of the area’s keen sporty types are members.
- The handy Tesco Express on the High Street can satisfy most daily needs, but locals can also call on organic grocery stores or Highgate Butchers. For a big shop, it’s only a short drive to Morrisons or Waitrose on Holloway Road.
- Residential parking restrictions are in place from 10am-12pm, meaning visitors can often find somewhere to park for free. The quaint size of the village itself means residents usually walk to the Tube, but there is also a car park with 29 spaces for those who’d prefer to drive.
Highgate not only has broad swathes of its own woodland, but it is also within walking distance of some of London’s most stunning landscapes. Locals take their pick of Hampstead Heath, Queen’s Wood, Waterlow Park or Highgate Wood, and everyone will have their own favourite outdoor spot. For picturesque walks, the 70 acres of ancient woodland in Highgate Wood is a must. Music enthusiasts might like to stroll past Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath in the hopes of overhearing rehearsals for the summer concerts. Families often stop off at Waterlow Park, a friendly neighbourhood space given to the public by Sir Sidney Waterlow as a ‘garden for the gardenless’ in 1889.
Several new property developments are underway in Highgate. One of the most exciting is One Highgate, a luxury block of 15 contemporary apartments with leisure centre, concierge and underground parking.
Tube: Underground services from Highgate station in Zone 3 take just 20 minutes to Bank. Some locals choose to walk to nearby Archway as it is in Zone 2, one stop south of Highgate on the Northern line.
Buses: Local bus routes include numbers 143 (to Brent Cross), 210 (to Finsbury Park), and the 603 (to Muswell Hill). Both buses 214 and 217 (to Moorgate) operate 24 hour services.
Cycle: The City is only about half an hour's ride away, although it might take longer on the uphill journey back home.
Road: Highgate is on the A1, which connects with Islington in the south and the M1 in the north.
Many families come to Highgate to be close to the private schools, including the coeducational Highgate School and Channing School for girls. In the state sector options include boys’ secondary school St Aloysius’ College. State primary schools include St Michael’s C of E Voluntary Aided Primary School and Highgate Primary School.
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