character of Highgate is just one of the reasons why people
like to visit this part of north London, but it also has
a number of interesting features that are worth an afternoon
Located on a hill just across from Hampstead, Highgate
lies to the west of north London. And the name, as with
many places in England, has a literal origin and refers
to a tollgate that stood at the hilly location.
In terms of current attractions Highgate is home to Lauderdale
House [map]. This 16th century manor house has had a chequered
past, falling into the hands of several different owners
and even surviving a fire in the 1960’s. Taking
a stroll around the house and grounds could be an interesting
way to spend a couple of hours, but if you need something
more involving then you could also take part in some artistic
adventures. Today the building is used as an arts and
education centre that runs classes for adults and children
in drama, drawing and creative writing.
The grounds surrounding Lauderdale House make up Waterlow
Park [map]. Here you could simply enjoy this beautiful
open space, with its rose gardens, lush trees and water
features. The park was given to the public by the industrialist
Sir Sidney Waterlow in 1889 as a ‘garden for the
gardenless’ and today includes tennis courts, a
putting green, and a dog free play area for the under
fives. If these aren’t enough to keep you entertained
then you may want to go there in the summer when open-air
concerts fill the grounds with music.
Close to Lauderdale House is the famous Highgate Cemetery [map],
although this may seem like a morbid place to visit, if
you take the guided tour you will probably find it fascinating.
The cemetery is where English chemist and physicist Michael
Faraday is buried, as well as political philosopher
and social theorist Karl Marx and novelist George
Eliot. But in addition to its well known residents
Highgate Cemetery is also of interest for its history
and architecture. The guided tours are available throughout
You could also explore the ancient woodland of Highgate
Wood [map] which is so old that it has a mention in the
Domesday Book. Today this 70 acre conservation area is
popular with children for its nature trails and playground,
but is also a favourite with those who just fancy a serene
stroll in the shade. And if you need a little refreshment
while you’re frolicking in the fresh air you can
visit the Oshobasho Café [map] located in the
Aside from the attractions, Highgate is known for a number
of other reasons. It has a starring role in Dick
Whittington, a popular English story with a connection
to the pantomime tale of Puss In Boots. As legend has
it, Dick Whittington was a poor boy who came to London
with his cat to seek his fortune. But when he reached
Highgate Hill he lost heart and was about to turn back
when he heard the bells of London tell him to turn around
because he was going to be the Mayor of London three times.
The story does have a loose basis in truth as London did
have a mayor called Richard Whittington but apart from
that there are very few similarities and he actually held
the post four times rather than three. However Highgate
does have a stone, located close to the Whittington Hospital,
to commemorate the tale.
The area also played a part in the real life of Francis
Bacon who has a street there named after him. English
statesman, lawyer and philosopher Francis Bacon, has three
main reasons why he his remembered; he pioneered a method
of scientific investigation, he was fired as Lord Chancellor
in 1621 for taking a bribe and he is also believed, by
some, to be the true writer of Shakespeare’s plays.
Bacon died after catching a chill at the home of his good
friend the Earl of Arundel in Highgate in 1626.
Other notable Englishmen who have a connection to Highgate
include poet and friend of William Wordsworth, Samuel
Taylor Coleridge who died in Highgate in 1834 and poet
John Betjeman who was born in Highgate.
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