Perched at London’s highest natural point, Highgate offers residents the suburban high life, without having to venture too far from the centre of town. Once a small village on the Great North Road, the laid-back vibe can still make it feel like one today.
Highgate’s tree-lined streets are dominated by detached Victorian properties and terraced houses, with a mix of cottages and little mews streets. The most prestigious part of the village features town houses, grand mansions in vast grounds, gated properties and private estates.
Courtenay Avenue, a gated private road located off Hampstead Lane, is home to a number of imposing detached mansions. The avenue topped the list of the UK’s most expensive streets in 2008, when average properties sold for £6,803,900.
The quiet life in Highgate seems to attract the rich and famous – keep your eyes peeled for Sting, Annie Lennox and George Michael. Yesterday’s famous names attract the most visitors though; the atmospheric Highgate Cemetery is the final resting place for Karl Marx, George Eliot and many more.
Hampstead Heath, with its acres of woodland, bathing ponds and panoramic views of London, is right on the doorstep, making this a great choice for lovers of the outdoors. In fact it’s probably the closest you’ll get to country life within the boundaries of the M25… The High Street has retained a village feel, and here you will find a number of unique boutiques, and some excellent pubs and coffee shops.
Highgate School has an excellent reputation as a private mixed school. Channing School is a school for girls aged four to 18 with an equally good reputation for both academic and extra-curricular activities.
A couple of useful bus routes serve Highgate and both Archway and Highgate Northern Line Underground stations are only a short walk away.
In the 17th century, unsuspecting coach passengers stopping for refreshments would be sworn in as Freemen of Highgate – having first bought appropriate quantities of alcohol – in a boundary ceremony known as Swearing on the Horns.
What the agents say
“A truly delightful place to live: warm and vibrant, with a small village feeling. Although the views from the top of the hill are far-reaching, and span several counties, you are still within easy reach of the City and West End,” Mark Sumray of Benham & Reeves
Eating and drinking:
The Flask – a top London pub. They do a mean Sunday roast, especially the roast pork with yummy crackling. 77 Highgate West Hill (020 8348 7346)
Dean and Hudson – the cupcakes and treats from this old-school tearoom are like little works of art. 249 Archway Road (020 8340 1698)
Deli and Delights – stock up on picnic treats here; we’re always seduced by the cold cuts, cheeses and sun-dried tomatoes – perfect picnic fare. 343 Archway Road (020 8340 8632; www.delianddelights.co.uk)
Hair of the Dog – Your one-stop shop for all things fabulous and furry, stylish felines and canines need look no further than Hair of the Dog for their grooming, accessories and homewares needs. 24 Highgate High Street (020 8340 4030; www.hairofthedoglondon.com)
We love sifting through the local charity shops. They have the best stuff in them:
Oxfam – this is an absolute treasure trove. 80 Highgate High Street (020 8340 3888; www.oxfam.org.uk)
RSPCA – stocks an amazing selection of hats. 335 Archway Road (020 8348 5725; www.rspca.org.uk)
Arts and Vintage – if you like arts and craft shops, you will lose myself for hours here. They sell jewellery, signed prints, hand knits and fabulous vintage stuff. 265 Archway Road
Ripping Yarns – What a great name! This is a lovely second-hand bookshop, which specialises in children’s books. We could browse all day. 355 Archway Road (020 8341 6111; www.rippingyarns.co.uk)
Le Chocolatier – the perfect place to buy chocolate gifts… or might we suggest a little something for yourself? 8 Highgate High Street (020 8348 1110)
Entertainment and culture:
Jacksons Lane – a great fringe theatre and studios. They also do their own little panto at Christmas and run a variety of classes ranging from jive and flamenco, to writing courses and yoga. 269a Archway Road (020 8341 4421; www.jacksonslane.org.uk)
Highgate Cemetery – a must-see.You can take a guided tour of the artfully overgrown private East Cemetery; it’s like a secret garden, you feel like you are stepping back in time. Swain’s Lane (020 8340 1834; www.highgate-cemetery.org)