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Coordinates: 51°34′18″N 0°08′41″W / 51.5716°N 0.1448°W / 51.5716; -0.1448

Hampstead Heath 7.JPG
Highgate seen from Hampstead Heath
Highgate is located in Greater London

 Highgate shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ285875
London borough Camden
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district N6
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Hampstead and Highgate
London Assembly Barnet and Camden
Enfield and Haringey
North East
List of places: UK • England • London

Highgate is a village in North London on the north-eastern corner of Hampstead Heath. Highgate rises to an altitude of 330 feet (101 m) at Highgate Wood[1] and 430 feet (131 m) at North Hill.



Highgate is divided between three London boroughs: Haringey in the north, Camden in the south and west, and Islington in the south and east. The postal district for Highgate is N6. It is one of the more expensive suburbs to live in and has an active conservation society, The Highgate Society, to protect its character.

View of Highgate, John Constable, 1st quarter of 19th century.

Hampstead Lane and Highgate Hill contain the red brick Victorian buildings of Highgate School and its adjacent Chapel of St Michael. The school has played a paramount role in the life of the village and has existed on its site since its founding was permitted by letters from Queen Elizabeth I in 1565. Highgate is noteworthy for its Cemetery and Georgian architecture. It is also the location of Berthold Lubetkin's two Highpoint apartment buildings.

Historically it 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. Subsequently, Highgate was part of the Municipal Borough of Hornsey and the seat of that borough's governing body for many years.

Highgate Hill, the steep street linking Archway and Highgate village, was the route of the first cable car to be built in Europe. It operated between 1884 and 1909.

Notable inhabitants

Peter Sellers' mother moved here, to Muswell Hill Road, in order to send Peter to the Catholic St Aloysius boys' school in Hornsey Lane.

In recent years famous inhabitants have included John James Sainsbury, J. B. Priestley, Stella Gibbons, Yehudi Menuhin (and later Sting who bought Menuhin's old house), Sir Clifford Curzon, Pierce Brosnan, Sir Jacob Bronowski, Stanley Baxter, Mike Skinner, Tariq Ali, Clive Owen, Heath Meek, Geri Halliwell, Bob Hoskins, Cliff Parisi, Ulrika Johnson, Imre Varadi, Alex Zane, Terry Gilliam, Arthur Boyd, Chris Moyles, Christopher Nolan, George Michael, Jonathan Pryce, Alison Steadman, Paul Nicholas, David Ryan Jordan (Air Traffic), Dizzee Rascal, Marina Diamandis, Tim Pigott-Smith, Heath Robinson, Freddie Highmore, Stephen Gately, Ray Davies (The Kinks) and Victoria Wood.

Highgate Cemetery is the burial place of Karl Marx, Michael Faraday, Douglas Adams, George Eliot, Jacob Bronowski, Sir Ralph Richardson, Sir Sidney Nolan, Alexander Litvinenko, and Radclyffe Hall.

Adjacent to the Highgate cemetery is the Holly Lodge Estate, one of only two housing-estates built in the UK for single women; formerly, it was the home and grounds of Baroness Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts. Between 1930 and 1939, the wife and son of Adolf Hitler's half brother, Alois, lived in Highgate; Brigid and her son, Pat, lived at 26 Priory Gardens.[2] Sadie Frost has an office in the village behind the 'LA Fitness' gym. In April 2008, she complained about the noise caused by the classes.[3] Leslie Compton, formerly an Arsenal F.C footballer and a Middlesex cricketer, owned a pub here after he retired from sports.

The MP for the Hampstead and Highgate constituency since 1992 has been Labour's Glenda Jackson. Lynne Featherstone is the Liberal Democrat MP for the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, which covers the northern half of Highgate Village. The Boundary Commission report of 2003 recommended separating the Camden part of Highgate from the remainder of its present constituency and joining it with Kentish Town and Holborn to the south.

Many influential men have passed through Highgate School, either Masters or indeed Old Cholmeleians, the name given to old boys of the school. These include T. S. Eliot, who taught the poet laureate John Betjeman there, Gerard Manley Hopkins the poet, the composers John Taverner and John Rutter, John Venn the inventor of Venn diagrams, actor Geoffrey Palmer, Anthony Crossland MP and Labour reformer, and most recently the cabinet minister Charles Clarke.

In Victorian times St Mary Magdalene house of charity in Highgate was a refuge for former prostitutes - "fallen women" - where Christina Rossetti was a volunteer from 1859 to 1870. It may have inspired her most well-known poem Goblin Market.


In 1817 the poet, aesthetic philosopher and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge came to live in the Highgate home of Dr James Gillman in order to rehab from his desperate opium addiction.[4] After Dr Gillman built a special wing for the poet, Coleridge lived there for the rest of his life, becoming known as the sage of Highgate. While here some of his most famous poems, though written years earlier, were first published including "Kubla Khan". His literary autobiography, Biographia Literaria, appeared in 1817. His home became a place of pilgrimage for figures such as Carlyle and Emerson. He died there on 25 July 1834. He is buried in the crypt of St Michael's Church.

In popular culture

A famous scene in pantomime is set in Highgate. Dick Whittington and His Cat are characters in an English story adapted to the stage in 1605 which since the 19th century has become one of the most popular pantomime subjects, very loosely based on the historical Richard Whittington, a medieval Lord Mayor of London. Dick, a boy from a poor family in Gloucestershire, walks to London to make his fortune, accompanied by his cat. He meets with little success there. Discouraged, as Dick and cat are making their home by way of Highgate Hill, they hear the Bow Bells from distant London; Dick believes they are sending him a message to "turn again" - and that he will become Lord Mayor of London. They return: Dick makes his fortune and indeed becomes Lord Mayor. A large hospital on Highgate Hill is named after the story, and a statue of Dick's faithful pet stands nearby.

  • In the song "Cross-Eyed Mary" by Jethro Tull, the title character, is referred to as the "Robin Hood of Highgate".
  • The pub tradition of Swearing on the Horns originated in Highgate.
  • "London Song" by Ray Davies: "If you're ever up on Highgate Hill on a clear day, You can see right down to Leicester Square"


The name of the village is commonly pronounced /ˈhaɪɡeɪt/, rhyming with "flyweight". An alternate pronunciation, used by the London Underground in announcements at Highgate tube station, is /ˈhaɪɡɨt/, where the final syllable matches the last syllable in "tag it".

Transport and locale

Nearest places

Nearest tube stations

Places of interest

Highgate is known for its pubs which line the old high street and surrounding streets. Some notable favourites are The Angel, the Flask and the Wrestlers.


For details of education in the Haringey portion of Highgate see the London Borough of Haringey article.

See also


External links


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