Highgate, Essex

Historical Description

Highgate, a northern metropolitan suburb and an ecclesiastical parish, partly in the parish of Hornsey and partly in the parliamentary borough and parish of St Pancras. Situated on a range of hills over 400 feet high about 5 miles from the General Post Office, Highgate is within the northern metropolitan postal district, and within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court and the metropolitan police. There is a station on the Edgeware branch of the G.N.R., and omnibuses and tramcars run frequently to the city and west-end. The name Highgate is said to have been derived from a gatehouse or highgate on the hill, erected by the bishops of London for the exaction of toll. The bishops had a seat here, and the old gatehouse was not removed till 1769. An ancient hermitage was on the hill, and one of the hermits at an early period constructed a causeway hence to Islington. This was afterwards extended from one end to Clerkenwell, from the other end northward, became the great N road from London, and prior to the railway period was traversed daily by upwards of eighty stage coaches. Part of the road on the hill was so steep as to rise 1 in 7; a project was formed in 1809 to avoid this by means of a tunnel under Hornsey Lane, and in 1812, when the work was considerably advanced, the earth fell in, and an open road with deep cutting on the line of the intended tunnel was formed instead, and was spanned by a lofty archway to connect Highgate with Hornsey. From this archway, which is 63 ½ feet in height, an extensive prospect of London may be obtained. The cutting discloses the geognostic formations of the hill, and is an interesting study to geologists. The hill, with a large tract around it, was a forest at the time of the Roman invasion, and was not disafforested till 1218. Portions of the natural timber of it still exist at Caen Wood and South Wood. The nobles who made resistance to Richard II. in 1387 occupied the hill. The Duke of Gloucester and the young king Edward V. in 1483 were met here by the citizens of London, and conducted hence with great pomp to the city. Henry VII., after the battle of Bosworth Field, on his way to the metropolis, was received here by the corporation and citizens of London. Queen Elizabeth visited Highgate in 1589; Mary,. Queen of Scots, was detained a short time at the neighbouring house of the Earl of Arundel; James I. spent a night here in 1624 prior to" a stag hunt in St John's Wood, and. many other sovereigns and distinguished persons have halted here or passed through on their way to the north. Sir Richard Baker the chronicler, Andrew Marvell the poet, Sir Thomas Comwallis the comptroller of Queen Mary's household, General Ireton, Oliver Cromwell, Nell Gwynne, Chief-Justice Pemberton, the two Coleridges, and Lord-Chancellor Bethel were residents; Lord Bacon died here in the house of the Earl of Arundel, and Dr Sacheverell also died here.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient County Middlesex
Civil parish Hornsey
Hundred Ossulstone
Poor Law union Edmonton

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Highgate from the following:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Essex online: