The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 48 Hampstead and Highgate


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Highgate, a northern suburb of London, occupies the summit of Hampstead's 'sister hill' (426 feet) and, like Hampstead, retains many of its old houses. Highgate Tube Station lies at the junction of four main roads: Holloway Road, leading south-east to Holloway and Islington; Junction Road, leading south-west to Kentish Town and Camden Town; Archway Road, running north past Highgate Station to the Great North Road; and Highgate Hill, ascending north-west to the old village of Highgate. Archway Road was constructed in 1812-29 to avoid the steep acclivity of Highgate Hill. The viaduct which carries Hornsey Lane across it replaced the old 'Highgate Archway' in 1900. At the south end of Archway Road, to the east, are the Whittington Almshouses (known as Whittington College), erected here in 1822 out of the Whittington foundation. On the lawn in front is a statue of Richard Whittington as a boy. Near the foot of Highgate Hill (left) is the Whittington Stone, popularly supposed to occupy the site of the stone on which Dick Whittington sat and listened to Bow Bells saying, 'Turn again, Whittington, Thrice Mayor of London.' Higher up, on the same side, are Islington Infirmary and St. Joseph's Retreat, the mother-house of the Passionist Fathers in England, with a large domed chapel. Here the High Street of Highgate begins. On the right is Hornsey Lane, leading to the viaduct (view; comp. above), and on the same side of High St. are some old houses, including Cromwell House (No. 104), which according to idle tradition was built by Cromwell for his son-in-law General Ireton. This is a good example of the carefully finished, artistic, red-brick mansion of the first half of the 17th century. It has fine ceilings and a noble oak staircase with carved balusters and statuettes long mistaken for 'Cromwellian soldiers.' The turret and dome were added after a fire in 1865. A tablet on the park wall, almost opposite Cromwell House, indicates the site of a cottage occupied by Andrew Marvell (died 1678). Above Cromwell House stood Arundel House, where Francis Bacon died in 1626, having caught cold by alighting from his carriage near Highgate to experiment in stuffing a fowl with snow.