Author: Julie, 21/07/2016
Highgate is a suburban area of north London at the north-eastern corner of Hampstead Heath, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) north north-west of Charing Cross.
Until late Victorian times it was a distinct village outside London, sitting astride the main road to the north. The area retains many green expanses including the eastern part of Hampstead Heath, three ancient woods, Waterlow Park and the eastern-facing slopes known as Highgate bowl.
At its centre is Highgate village, a collection of largely Georgian shops, pubs, restaurants and residential streets, interspersed with diverse landmarks such as St Michael’s Church and steeple, St. Joseph’s Church and its green copper dome, Highgate School (1565), Jacksons Lane arts centre housed in a Grade II listed former church, the Gatehouse Inn dating from 1670 and Berthold Lubetkin’s 1930s Highpoint buildings. Highgate is also famous for its atmospheric Victorian cemetery in which the Communist philosopher Karl Marx is buried. Highgate is also now becoming recognised as a producer of local beverages such as beers from the London Brewing Company and Sacred Microdistillery which distils gins, vodkas and other spirits.
The village is at the top of a hill which provides views across London: it is 446 feet (136 m) above sea level at its highest point.
Historically, Highgate adjoined the Bishop of London’s hunting estate. The bishop kept a toll-house where one of the main northward roads out of London entered his land. A number of pubs sprang up along the route, one of which, the Gatehouse, commemorates the toll-house. In later centuries Highgate was associated with the highwayman Dick Turpin.
Highgate Hill, the steep street linking Archway (traditionally called part of Upper Holloway) and Highgate village, was the route of the first cable car to be built in Europe. It operated between 1884 and 1909. Like much of London, Highgate suffered damage during World War II by air raids. The local tube station was used as a bomb shelter.