The Garden Guide

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

Highgate Cemetery 2

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The north-east gate of the cemetery opens on the north end of Swain's Lane, which soon emerges in South Grove. On the right here (Nos. 10 & 11) are the old mansion (Church House) and the coach-house and stables (now part of the Highgate Literary Institution) once occupied by Sir John Hawkins (the friend of Dr. Johnson) and his daughter Letitia, and sometimes identified as Steerforth's house ('David Copperfield'). At the south-west end of South Grove stands the church of St. Michael, erected in 1832 by Lewis Vulliamy. The tall spire is conspicuous for miles around. In the interior is a tablet to Coleridge. The second house beyond the church was once occupied by Dr. Sacheverell, who died here in 1724. West Hill here descends at a steep gradient, passing the built-over site of Holly Lodge (left), the home of Baroness Burdett-Coutts (died 1906). A little to the west are Millfield Lane and Highgate Ponds. At the foot of the hill Swain's Lane comes in on the left and Highgate Road begins. The latter skirts the east side of Parliament Hill Fields and leads to Kentish Town. From the junction of South Grove and West Hill The Grove, an attractive row of Georgian houses, with the remains of the old village green, leads north Coleridge took up his abode at No. 3 here in 1816, with Mr. and Mrs. Gillman, with whom he remained until his death in 1834. At the north end of The Grove is Hampstead Lane, leading on the left to Hampstead, while a few yards to the right it meets Highgate High St. and North Road. At the junction stands the Gate House Tavern, recalling the old toll-gates. Until about a century ago passengers by the stage-coaches to and from the North were expected to alight at Highgate for refreshment and to take the 'Highgate Oath,' which admitted the swearer to the freedom of Highgate on condition 'that he never ate brown bread while he could get white, never drank small beer while he could get strong, never kissed the maid while be could kiss the mistress - unless he liked the other best.'