Muswell Hill overview
What's it all about?
Brothers Ray and Dave Davies of iconic London band The Kinks were born in Muswell Hill, and the lyrics of Village Green Preservation Society reference the comforts of their neighbourhood. The green of the title is local Fortis Green, where the young brothers often played football until dark. Muswell Hill still has a safe village atmosphere and plenty of open space making it easy to imagine raising children here. Commanding views over London, beautiful Edwardian architecture and the lively Broadway, lined with child friendly cafes and restaurants, all add to the appeal. Muswell Hill’s impressive array of amenities continues to lure families and young creatives to this green and leafy corner of the borough of Haringey. Situated between Alexandra Park and Highgate Woods, it's a haven for dog owners, and long weekend walks up to Ally Pally, followed by a coffee and cake in one of the Broadway’s many cafes, make for a perfect Saturday.
- Muswell Hill was named after the 12th century discovery of a local stream. The ‘Mossy Well’ was believed to have miraculous, healing properties.
- Alexandra Park had its own racecourse between 1868 and 1970, when the eccentric track closed due to failing popularity the increasing cost of keeping it open. Nicknamed ‘The Frying Pan’ for its distinctive layout, as recently as 1999 there was a campaign for it to reopen.
Architecture and property
The opening of nearby Alexandra Palace in 1873, intended as North London’s answer to the spectacular Crystal Palace in South London, kickstarted development in Muswell Hill. Much of the area’s property development took place between 1896 and 1914 and was carried out by James Edmondson and William J Collins, giving it one of the most cohesive architectural styles in London. They were dedicated to building houses with high quality materials in a unified style, hence the dominance of attractive red brick Edwardian homes. Much of Muswell Hill is now designated as a conservation area, and it has retained its period character.
Houses in Muswell Hill are predominantly Edwardian, although there are a few Victorian homes and some 1920s and 1930s properties, many of these boasting gardens. Because of the current high demand for family homes, properties that once were converted into flats are now being restored to their former glory as single family dwellings.
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Film: Muswell Hill’s Odeon cinema shows the best new releases in an unusually glamorous setting. The Grade II listed building dates from 1936, and is a fine example of Art Deco architecture. Nearby Phoenix Cinema is one of the oldest purpose built continuously running cinemas in the UK, and is run by a charitable trust for the community.
Theatre: Theatre critic Michael Billington described the Orange Tree Theatre as ‘a pocket sized National Theatre’, which tells a lot about the high standard and excellent quality of productions here.
Eating: Visit the popular independent cafe Feast Deli and Catering for imaginative sandwiches and salads, try Toff’s for award winning fish and chips or head to Chooks for posh fried chicken. There is also a Carluccio’s and Côte Brasserie along with many independent coffee shops.
Drinking: A particular favourite with locals is The Victoria Stakes. Its wide array of craft beers and warm drinks makes it the perfect location for a cosy weekend afternoon. Other options include the Clissold Arms, where the Kinks played their first gig, and the laidback Maid of Muswell.
- On Sundays locals flock to the farmers’ market at Alexandra Palace to pick up baked goods, preserves and olives, organic fruit and veg, and speciality meats, as well as street food snacks.
- There are several supermarkets to satisfy everyday shopping needs, including Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s. The jewel in the area’s shopping crown has to be Planet Organic with its array of healthy foods and drinks, and many locals take advantage of its delivery service, free with orders over £30. Other popular options include the specialist teas and coffees at W Martyn, and Walter Purkis fishmonger, which smokes its own fish in a century old smoke house behind its Crouch End store.
- Muswell Hill has several pay and display parking bays, particularly in the areas around the Broadway and Fortis Green Road.
- Bookworms are at home in Muswell Hill and can take their pick from the independent Muswell Hill Bookshop on Fortis Green Road, or the well used Muswell Hill Library. The Children’s Bookshop and the Muswell Hill Toy Library cater to a younger age range.
- The friendly Muswell Hill Methodist Tennis Club is open to everyone, with teams of all levels up to the Middlesex Premier League, and opportunities for professional coaching.
Alexandra Park has 196 acres of beautiful parkland and boasts famous city views, alongside a boating lake, pitch and putt course, rose garden and even a deer enclosure. The park is also home to Alexandra Palace, an important historical venue that now hosts concerts, conventions and events. In winter, a visit to the ice rink is an annual ritual for locals, as is the Bonfire Night fireworks display. The 70 acres of ancient woodland at Highgate Wood is a great place to escape after a busy day in the city, and many locals enjoy long weekend walks along its scenic trails, while the smaller Queen’s Wood and Coldfall Wood are perfect for picnics. For something more challenging, try the Parkland Walk, four and a half miles of nature reserve connecting Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace.
Muswell Hill is home to the London Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy, and in 2014 Haringey Council approved plans to build new premises for the centre, as well as 28 new homes. A new co housing development is planned for the site of St Luke’s Hospital, where 70 per cent of the homes will be for people aged over 55.
Tube: Although Muswell Hill is a popular place for central London commuters, it doesn’t have its own Tube or Overground station. However, there are several stations within walking distance, or just a bus ride away. Highgate and East Finchley are on the Northern Line, and Bounds Green, Finsbury Park and Wood Green are on the Piccadilly Line.
Trains: Overground services from Alexandra Palace or Hornsey stations take 20 minutes to Moorgate.
Buses: Muswell Hill has good bus connections, with direct routes both to the City and the West End around the clock. Buses such as the W7 (to Finsbury Park) connect to the nearby underground stations, while the 43 runs to London Bridge and the 134 has a 24 hour service to Tottenham Court Road.
Road: With the M1 only a 15 minute drive away via the North Circular Road, Muswell Hill residents have easy access to the north of England.
Muswell Hill has an abundance of schools for younger children, including Chantry Hall Montessori Nursery School. Local primary schools include Our Lady of Muswell Catholic Primary School, Rhodes Avenue Primary School, Coldfall Primary School, Muswell Hill Primary School, and St James C of E Primary, with the major state secondary schools being Fortismere and Alexandra Park. Locals have their pick of several private schools, including Norfolk House, Highgate School and Channing School for girls.
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