"They bury their dead in the fairest suburb of the city."
Swaine's Lane—Traitors' Hill, or Parliament Hill—St. Anne's Church, Brookfield—Dr. Coysh—Highgate Cemetery—Arrangement of the Grounds—The Catacombs—A Stroll among the Tombs—Eminent Persons buried here—Stray Notes on Cemeteries—Sir William Ashurst's Mansion—Charles Mathews, the Actor—Anecdotes of Mathews—Ivy Cottage—Holly Lodge, the Residence of Lady Burdett-Coutts—Holly Village—Highgate Ponds—The "Fox and Crown" Public-house—West Hill Lodge—The Hermitage.
Leaving the main street of Highgate by Dartmouth Park Road, of which we have made mention
in the preceding chapter, and passing in a southwest direction, we find ourselves at the entrance of
a narrow thoroughfare called Swaine's Lane (formerly Swine's Lane), which branches off from the
Highgate Road just on the outskirts of Kentish
Town. This lane runs along the base of that part
of Highgate which was formerly known by the
name of Traitors' Hill, from being the rendezvous,
real or reputed, of the associates of Guy Fawkes.
It is traditionally stated that it was upon this spot
that the conspirators anxiously awaited the expected explosion on the 5th of November, 1605.
It was called also Parliament Hill. "The more
common tradition," says Mr. Thorne, "is that it was
called Parliament Hill, from the Parliamentary
generals having planted cannon on it for the
defence of London." To the left of Swaine's
Lane stands St. Anne's Church, Brookfield, a large
and handsome edifice erected by a Miss Barnett to
the memory of her brother. The fine peal of bells
in the tower was the gift of Miss (since Lady) Burdett-Coutts. In Swaine's Lane lived the celebrated
medical practitioner, Dr. Coysh, as is certified by
the following memorandum from the Court Rolls of
the Manor of Cantelowes:—"These very ancient
copyhold premises were formerly in the possession
and occupation of Dr. Elisha Coysh, who, at the
time that the plague of London prevailed, in the
year 1665–6, was very famed in his medical practice
and advice in cases of that dreadful malady, and
was much resorted to at this his copyhold residence
(modernly called Swaine's Lane) formerly called
Swine's Lane, Highgate." The house in which he
resided has long since been pulled down, but a
portion of the ancient garden wall is standing.
Passing up Swaine's Lane, we soon arrive at
the entrance to Highgate Cemetery. This is a
showy composition, in the pointed or Old English
style; for the most part machicolated, and flanked
with turrets and octagonal buttresses, pierced with
windows or panelled, the former capped with
cupolas and finials, and the latter surmounted with
pinnacles and finials. In the centre is a Tudorarched gateway, above which is an apartment,
lighted at each end by a bay window; the roof
terminating with two bold pointed gables, bearing
in its centre an octangular bell-tower of two storeys,
enriched with pinnacles, and surmounted with a
cupola and finial. The right wing contains the lodge
and clerk's office; and the left wing is appropriated
as a chapel, the windows being filled with stained
glass. The cemetery covered originally about
twenty acres of ground on the southern slope of the
hill, between the east and west bays; but a further
extension has since been made, as we shall presently
show. This cemetery possesses many natural
beauties which are not enjoyed by any other rival
of Père la Chaise in or out of London. The beauty
of the situation would naturally lead to the supposition that it had been previously a park or garden of
some nobleman; and such, indeed, we find to be
the case, for in Mr. Prickett's "History of Highgate"
it is stated that it comprises part of the grounds
belonging to the mansion of Sir William Ashurst.
The irregularity of the ground, here rising into a
terrace, and there sinking into a valley, together
with its many winding paths and its avenues of dark
shrubs and evergreen trees, combine to impart to
this hallowed spot a particularly charming effect.
The ground is the property of the London Cemetery Company, which was incorporated by Act of
Parliament in 1839; and the cemetery itself was
one of the first which was actually established by
the Burial Act of 1835, which "rung the death-knell
of intramural interments." The London Cemetery
Company were among the early promoters of that
reform which, as we have stated in our account of
Kensal Green Cemetery, (fn. 1) was so long needed. It
was founded by Mr. Stephen Geary, who also acted
as architect to the Company, and who was buried
here in 1854.
By the artist-like arrangement of the landscape
gardener, Mr. Ramsey, the grounds are so disposed
that they have the appearance of being twice their
actual size; this effect is produced by circuitous
roads, winding about the acclivity, and making the
ascent more gradual. Besides the carriage road,
the footpaths in all directions encircle the numerous
plantations and flower-beds. On the left of the
entrance is the chapel, a spacious and lofty building, well adapted and fitted up for its solemn purpose. The absence of all unnecessary ornament
produces an effect of appropriate simplicity. A bier
stands at the western end, which can be lowered
through an aperture in the floor by hydraulic pressure. The object of this bier is to convey the coffin
to a subterranean passage below, at the termination
of the service in the chapel, so as to facilitate its
conveyance to the new ground on the opposite side
of the lane; for it may be here stated that the
original ground being now fully occupied, an addition to the cemetery has been made, and this too
is now being rapidly filled up. On leaving the
chapel we pass by the lodge of the superintendent,
and ascend a flight of broad stone steps which
lead up towards the higher and more distant parts
of the grounds. About half way up the hill, the
roads gradually descend again to the entrance of
a tunnel or passage, called the Egyptian Avenue.
The angular aperture at the entrance of this avenue,
with its heavy cornice, is embellished with the
winged serpent and other Oriental ornaments; the
Egyptian pillars and the well-proportioned obelisks
that rise gracefully on each side of the entrance
recall to the imagination the sepulchral temples
at Thebes described by Belzoni. The group
around this entrance is one of the most artistic
points in the cemetery. The solemn grandeur of
this portion of the cemetery is much heightened by
the gloomy appearance of the avenue, which is one
hundred feet long; but, as the road leading through
it is a gentle ascent, the perspective effect makes it
appear a much greater length. There are numerous
square apartments, lined with stone, on each side
of the avenue; these sepulchres are furnished with
stone shelves, rising one above the other on three
sides of the sepulchre, capable of containing twelve
coffins, in addition to those which could be placed
upon the floor. The doors of the sepulchres are of
cast iron; they are ornamented with a funeral device
of an inverted torch. At the termination of the
avenue is a circular road five hundred feet in circumference; on each side of the road are sepulchres
similar to those already described; the inner circle
forms a large building, flat at the top, which is
planted with flowers and shrubs; from the midst
rises the magnificent cedar of Lebanon. The
avenue, the sepulchres in the circles, with the
elegant flights of steps leading to the upper ground
of the cemetery, form a mass of building in the
Egyptian style of architecture that, for extent and
grandeur, is perhaps unequalled.
The lower part of the grounds are striking, from
their beauty of situation and tasteful arrangement;
but the view of the upper plantations, on ascending
from the sepulchre, is still more so. Here we have
an architectural display of another character: a long
range of catacombs, entered by Gothic doorways,
and ornamented with buttresses, the whole surmounted with an elegant pierced parapet. Above
the catacombs is a noble terrace, which communicates with the centre ground by an inclined plane
and a flight of steps. The view from this terrace
on a clear day is extensive and beautiful: the foreground is formed by the cemetery gardens, and the
pleasure grounds of the suburban villas, beyond
which are seen the spires, domes, and towers of
the great metropolis, backed by the graceful sweep
of the Surrey hills.
The Gothic Church of St. Michael at the summit
of the hill, with its lofty spire rising from amid the
surrounding trees, forms a prominent and interesting
feature in the background as the cemetery is viewed
from Swaine's Lane. On the upper terrace abovementioned is the long range of Gothic catacombs,
immediately beneath this church, presenting one of
the most ingenious points of design in the architectural arrangement of the cemetery, of which the
church appears to be an integral part, though such
is not the case. We may here remark, en passant,
that catacombs are found in most parts of the world.
The catacombs of Rome, at a short distance from
the city, are very extensive, and have evidently been
used as burying places and as places of worship.
The catacombs of Naples are cut under the hill
called Corpo di Monte; the entrance into them is
rendered horrible by a vast heap of skulls and
bones, the remains of the victims of a plague which
desolated Naples in the sixteenth century. At
Palermo and at Syracuse there are similar recesses.
In the island of Malta catacombs are found at Città
Vecchia cut into the rock in which that old town
stands. They occur again in the Greek islands of
the Archipelago. At Milo there is a mountain
completely honeycombed with them. In Egypt
they occur in all parts of the country where there
is rock; and in Peru, and in some other parts of
South America, catacombs have been discovered.
"Many names familiar to London ears," writes
the author of "Northern Heights," "present themselves on the tombs as you wander through this
city of decomposition; and some of considerable
distinction. The French have found their Montmartre or Père la Chaise; Germans, their Friedhof;
and natives of countries still more distant lie
scattered here and there. Perhaps no tomb has
ever, as already stated, attracted so many thousand
visitors as that of Tom Sayers, bearing on it his own
portrait and that of his dog. (fn. 2) Wombwell, with his
lion standing over him, as if to say, 'Well, he kept
me cramped up for many years in his vans, but I
have got him safe under my paw at last,' was, in its
newness, a thing of much note; but it never had
a charm for the pugnacious populace of London
like the tomb of the great boxer."
It would be impossible, and indeed superfluous,
to give here anything like a complete list of the
various personages who have been buried in this
cemetery; but a few of the most important may be
Here reposes Michael Faraday, the celebrated
chemist and philosopher, (fn. 3) already mentioned by
us in our account of the Royal Institution, and of
North Marylebone. He died in August, 1857, and,
being a Sandemanian of the mystic school, he was
laid in his grave without any service, not even a
prayer or a hymn. H. Crabb Robinson, the friend
of Coleridge, Goethe, Wordsworth, Lamb, Flaxman,
and Clarkson, and the author of a most interesting
Diary, who died in February, 1867, aged ninetyone, was here interred. Here, too, lie Mr. and
Mrs. John Dickens, the father and mother of Charles
Dickens, together with the latter's little daughter
Dora. Sir John Gurney, a Baron of the Court of
Exchequer, was buried here in 1845. Sir Thomas
Joshua Platt, also a Baron of the same Court, who
died in 1862, lies here; here too repose the remains
of Judge Payne, and those of John Singleton Copley,
Lord Lyndhurst, thrice Lord Chancellor of Great
Britain, who was buried here in 1863. (fn. 4) Admiral
Lord Radstock was interred here in 1857.
Of the artists buried in Highgate Cemetery, we
may mention Charles Turner, A.R.A., who died in
1857; Alfred Edward Chalon, who died in 1860,
brother of the more celebrated John James Chalon,
who also was buried here in 1854. He was a native
of Geneva, and achieved his greatest reputation as
a portrait painter in water colours, and that mostly
by his sketches of courtly and well-born ladies.
Charles Joseph Hullmandel, the lithographic artist,
was interred here in 1850. Sir William Ross, whom
Sir Thomas Lawrence declared to be the first miniature painter of his day, and who died at an advanced
age in 1860, lies buried here. Near to the upper
entrance gate lie the remains of Mrs. Bartholomew,
an artist of some note, the wife of Mr. Valentine
Bartholomew, the celebrated flower painter, who
also rests here. Two other Royal Academicians,
Abraham Cooper and George Jones, lie buried
here; the former died in 1868, and the latter in
the following year.
Amongst men of literary note whose remains are
interred here, we may notice Mr. Alaric A. Watts,
editor of the "Literary Souvenir;" Pierce Egan,
author of "Life in London," "Boxiana," "Life of
an Actor," &c., the veteran historian of the ring, and
sporting journalist; Mr. Samuel Lucas, managing
proprietor of the Morning Star; Mr. W. J. Pinks,
the Clerkenwell antiquary; Mr. James Kennedy,
M.R.C.S., author of a "History of the Cholera,"
&c.; Mr. Joseph Guy, author of "Guy's Geography," and other educational works; and Mr.
George B. Sowerby, the naturalist, author of "The
Genera of Recent and Fossil Shells." Here, too,
is buried the Rev. Frederick Maurice, the Founder
and Principal of the Working Men's College in
Great Ormond Street, of which we have spoken
in a previous volume; (fn. 5) and also the Rev. Dr.
Hamilton, a well-known author, and the successor
of the great Edward Irving.
CROMWELL HOUSE, HIGHGATE.
Of the miscellaneous interments we may mention
those of Mr. John Vandenhoff, the actor; Lillywhite,
the well-known cricketer, whose marble monument,
erected by the members of the Marylebone Cricket
Club, is carved with a wicket struck by a ball,
representing the great cricketer as "bowled out;"
of Colonel Stodare, the famous conjuror; and
Atcheler, the horse-slaughterer, or knacker, to the
Queen, whose tomb is marked by a rudely-carved
horse, to show, it may be supposed, his fondness
for his profession.
As an appendage to an account of Highgate
Cemetery, which appeared in the Mirror, shortly
after these grounds were laid out, the writer thus
observes:—"The most ancient cemetery we are
acquainted with, and perhaps the largest in the
world, is that of Memphis; and of all the
ancient burial places, no one conforms so
nearly to modern ideas of cemeteries as that
of Arles. In the early ages of Christianity
the cemeteries were established without the
cities, and upon the high roads, and dead bodies
were prohibited from being brought into the
churches; but this was afterwards abrogated by
the Emperor Leo. The early Christians celebrated
their religious rites in the cemeteries, upon the
tombs of their martyrs. It was also in cemeteries
that they built the first churches, of which the subterranean parts were catacombs. Naples and
Pisa have cemeteries, which may be regarded as
models, not only for good order and conveniency,
but for the cultivation of the arts and the interest
of humanity. That in Naples is composed of a
large enclosure, having three hundred and sixty-five
openings or sepulchres, answering to the days of the
year, symmetrically arranged. The campo-santo
or cemetery of Pisa is on every account worthy of
attention. As a work of art, it is one of the first in
which the classical style of architecture
began to be revived in modern Europe.
It was constructed by John of Pisa,
being projected by Ubaldo, archbishop
of Pisa, in 1200. The length of this
cemetery is about 490 feet, its width 170,
height 60, and its form rectangular. It
contains fifty ships' freights of earth from
Jerusalem, brought hither in 1288. The whole of
the edifice is constructed of white marble. The
galleries are ornamented with various specimens
of early painting. Fine antique sarcophagi ornament the whole circumference, raised upon consoles, and placed upon a surbase, breast high.
The Turks plant odoriferous shrubs in their cemeteries, which spread a salubrious fragrance, and
purify the air. This custom is practised also in
the Middlebourg and Society Islands."
IVY COTTAGE, HIGHGATE, 1825.
Cemeteries, or public burial-grounds planted and
laid out as gardens, around the metropolis, are a
novelty of our time, although they were suggested
just after the Great Fire in 1666, when Evelyn
regretted that advantage had not been taken of that
calamity to rid the city of its old burial-places,
and establish a necropolis without the walls. He
deplores that "the churchyards had not been
banished to the north walls of the city, where a
grated inclosure, of competent breadth, for a mile
in length, might have served for an universal cemetery to all the parishes, distinguished by the like
separations, and with ample walks of trees; the
walks adorned with monuments, inscriptions, and
titles, apt for contemplation and memory of the
defunct, and that wise and excellent law of the
Twelve Tables restored and renewed."
As we have intimated above, Highgate was once
important enough to possess a "Mansion House,"
the grounds of which now serve as a part of the
cemetery. The house itself stood at the top of the
hill, as nearly as possible on the site now occupied
by St. Michael's Church. The mansion was built
by Sir William Ashurst, Lord Mayor of London in
1694, and, as may be imagined from its situation,
commanded a most delightful prospect over the
county for many miles on the one side, and an extensive view of the metropolis on the other. The
chestnut staircase is said to have been executed
from a design by Inigo Jones; some of the rooms
were hung with tapestry, and the chief doorway was
richly carved. The extensive pleasure grounds are
said to have been laid out with considerable taste.
The house was for some years occupied by Sir
Alan Chambre, one of the Justices of the Common
Pleas, and he was almost the last person who used
it as a private residence. It was taken down in
1830. The stone doorway, with the coat of arms,
has been placed as an entry to a house in the
High Street; and some other armorial bearings,
carved in wood, which once adorned the mansion,
found a depository in the house of a local antiquary.
In Millfield Lane, in the hamlet of Brookfield,
not far west from the spot where now stands St.
Anne's Church, was the suburban retreat of Charles
Mathews, the comedian, to which we have briefly
referred in our notice of Kentish Town. (fn. 6) This
celebrated humourist was the son of a well-known
theological bookseller in the Strand, and was born
in 1776. He used to relate, in his own amusing
way, that he had ascertained from his nurse that
he was "a long, lanky, scraggy child, very good
tempered, with a face that could by no means be
called regular in features; in fact," she said, she
"used to laugh frequently at the oddity of his
countenance." He received his education at
Merchant Taylor's School, where the peculiar
manners of three brothers, schoolfellows, incited
his first attempts at mimicry, and which he afterwards embodied in one of his "entertainments."
He could just remember Macklin, the centenarian
actor, on whom he called when quite a young
man, in order to ask his advice as to going on the
stage. The old man, though he had then seen his
hundredth birthday, frightened him so much that
he was glad to beat a retreat.
In 1803 Mathews first appeared on the London
stage in Cumberland's Jew. From this time the
fame of the comedian was fully established; "never
had broad humour been better represented." In
1818 he first resolved on giving an "entertainment" by himself, and in that year first announced
himself "At Home" at the English Opera House.
His success was signal, and such as to induce
the managers of Old Drury and Covent Garden
to attempt to interdict the performances; but in
this they failed.
His "At Home," as we learn from Crabb
Robinson's "Diary," was very popular in 1822,
when he represented Curran, Wilkes, and other
statesmen of the reign of George III. His imitation of Lord Ellenborough, indeed, is stated to
have been so remarkable, that he was rebuked for
the perfection with which he practised his art. In
1819 and three following years he resumed these
profitable labours in the "Trip to Paris," "Country
Cousins," &c. These "entertainments" have been
given in almost every theatre in the United
Kingdom. His last appearance in the regular
drama was in Hamlet, when Mr. Young took leave
of the stage, in 1832.
Charles Mathews' sense of humour, however,
was so strong, that he was unable to restrain himself at any time from comic speeches. It is said
that his residence at the foot of Highgate Hill
was so situated that the wind when high blew
with great violence on the house, and at times
very much alarmed Mrs. Mathews. "One night,
after they had retired to rest," as the story is told
by Mr. Palmer, in his "History of St. Pancras,"
"Mrs. Mathews was awakened by one of these
sudden gales, which she bore for some time in
silence; at last, dreadfully frightened, she awoke
her husband, saying, 'Don't you hear the wind,
Charley? Oh, dear, what shall I do?' 'Do?' said
the only partially-awakened humourist; 'open the
window, and give it a peppermint lozenge; that is
the best thing for the wind.' At another time, and
when on his death-bed, his attendant gave him in
mistake, instead of his medicine, some ink from a
phial which stood in its place. On discovering his
error he exclaimed, 'Good heavens, Mathews, I
have given you ink!' 'Never, ne-ver mind,
my boy, ne-ver mind,' said the mimic, 'I'll—I'll
swallow—bit—bit—of blotting-paper.' Fun was
in him by nature, and to the last he could not
Charles Mathews has been styled "the Hogarth
of the English stage." His pleasant thatched
cottage here, which looked down on Kentish Town,
and commanded a distant view of London, was, as
he was wont to say, his "Tusculum." It rose, not
unlike a country vicarage, in the midst of green
lawns and flower-beds, and was adorned externally
with trellis-work fancifully wreathed and overgrown
with jasmine and honeysuckles. In the interior of
this retired homestead was collected a more interesting museum of dramatic curiosities than ever
was gathered together by the industry of one man.
Here he would show to his friends, with pride and
pleasure, relics of Garrick—a lock of his hair, the
garter worn by him in Richard III.; and also his
collection of theatrical engravings, autographs, and
portraits now in the Garrick Club. (fn. 7)
"A merrier man,
Within the limit of becoming mirth,
I never spent an hour's talk withal.
His eye begat occasion for his wit,
For every object that the one did catch
The other turned to a mirth-moving jest."
Charles Mathews, whose wit and versatility were
proverbial, died at Devonport, June 27th, 1835,
immediately after his return from America. Mrs.
Charles Mathews wrote her husband's memoirs
after his decease.
A view of Ivy Cottage, as the residence of
Charles Mathews was called, is given by Mr. Smith,
in his "Historical and Literary Curiosities." With
it is a ground-plan, showing the apartments devoted
to his theatrical picture-gallery, and the arrangement of his portraits, now in the possession of the
Garrick Club. Among the treasures of the house
also was the casket made out of Shakespeare's
mulberry-tree at Stratford-on-Avon, in which the
freedom of that town was presented to Garrick, on
the occasion of his jubilee, in 1769. A sketch of
this is also given in the same volume.
Holly Lodge, the residence of Lady BurdettCoutts, stands in its own extensive grounds on
Highgate Rise, overlooking Brookfield Church,
Millfield Lane, and the famous Highgate Ponds,
which lie at the foot of the south-western slope
of the hill. The house—formerly called Hollybush
Lodge—was purchased by Mr. Thomas Coutts, the
well-known banker, of whom we have spoken in
our account of Piccadilly, (fn. 8) and it was bequeathed
by him, with his immense property, to his widow,
who afterwards married the Duke of St. Albans.
On her decease, in 1837, it was left, with the
great bulk of her fortune, amounting to nearly
£2,000,000, to Miss Angela Burdett, a daughter
of Sir Francis Burdett, the popular M.P. for Westminster, who thereupon assumed the additional
name of Coutts. As we have intimated in the
chapter above referred to, the extensive power of
benefiting society and her fellow-creatures, which
devolved upon her with this bequest, was not lost
sight of by its possessor, and her charities are
known to have been most extensive. Amongst
the chief of these have been the endowment of a
bishopric at Adelaide, in South Australia, and
another at Victoria, in British Columbia; also the
foundation and endowment of a handsome church
and schools in Westminster in 1847, and the
erection of a church at Carlisle in 1864. Besides
the above, she has been also a large contributor to
a variety of religious and charitable institutions in
London—churches, schools, reformatories, penitentiaries, drinking-fountains, Columbia Market,
model lodging-houses, &c. Miss Burdett-Coutts
also exercised her pen, as well as her purse, in
mitigating and relieving dumb animals and the
feathered tribe from the suffering to which they
are often subjected, having written largely against
cruelty to dumb creatures. In recognition of her
large-heartedness she was, in the year 1871, raised
to the peerage as Baroness Burdett-Coutts.
Holly Village, of which we have already spoken,
stands on the southern side of the pleasure-grounds
of Holly Lodge. It was built about the year 1845
by Lady Burdett-Coutts, as homes for families of
the upper middle class. They comprise a group of
about ten cottages, erected to add picturesque and
ornamental features to the surroundings of Holly
Lodge, and are surrounded by trim and well-kept
gardens. They were also intended, in the first
instance, to provide cottage accommodation of a
superior description for the workpeople on the
estate; this idea, however, was abandoned, and
the houses are now occupied by a higher class in
the social scale. The whole village has been
erected with an amount of care and finish such
as is seldom bestowed on work of this description,
or even work of a much more pretentious kind.
Some of the houses are single, and some comprise
two dwellings. They are built of yellow, white,
and moulded brick, some with stone dressings.
Although bearing a general resemblance, and in
one or two instances arranged as corresponding
pairs, they all differ more or less in form, and
considerably in the details. All of them have a
quiet elegance that is very uncommon in buildings
of their class. The entrance is rather elaborately
adorned with two carved statues of females, holding a lamb and a dove; and there is some pretty
carving elsewhere. Mr. Darbishire was the architect of this model village.
The ponds mentioned above are on the estate of
the Earl of Mansfield, and lie below Caen Wood,
in the fields leading from Highgate Road to Hampstead, between Charles Mathews' house and Traitors'
Hill. In the summer season they are the resort of
thousands of Londoners, whilst the boys fish in
them for tadpoles and sticklebats, or sail miniature
boats on their surface. The ponds are very deep,
and many a poor fellow has been drowned in them,
some by accident, and more, it is to be feared, by
suicide. About the year 1869 these ponds were
leased to the Hampstead Waterworks Company,
which has since become incorporated with the
New River Company. These ponds, for a long
time, supplied a considerable portion of the parish
Nearly on the brow of the West Hill, a little
above the house and grounds of Lady BurdettCoutts, as we ascend towards the Grove and the
town, we notice a roadside inn, of a retired and
sequestered aspect, rejoicing in the name of the
"Fox and Crown." It bears, however, on its front
the royal arms, conspicuously painted, with a notice
to the effect that "this coat of arms is a grant
from Queen Victoria, for services rendered to Her
Majesty when in danger travelling down this hill,"
and dated a few days after her accession. Some
accident, it appears, happened to one of the wheels
of the royal carriage, and the landlord had the
good luck to stop the horses, and send for a wheelwright to set matters straight, accommodating Her
Majesty with a seat in his house whilst the repairs
were being executed. The event, if it did not
turn the head of Boniface, brought him no luck,
for he died heart-broken, the only advantage which
he reaped from the adventure being, it is said,
the right of setting up the lion and unicorn with
On West Hill, immediately below the "Fox and
Crown," stands a rustic house, at right angles to
the road, called West Hill Lodge. This was
occupied for many years by William and Mary
Howitt, who wrote here many of the books by
which their names will be hereafter remembered.
Of these we may mention "The Ruined Castles
and Abbeys of Great Britain and Ireland," the
"Illustrated History of England," "History of the
Supernatural in all Ages and Nations," "Visits
to Remarkable Places, Old Halls, and Battle
Fields;" and last, not least, the "Northern Heights
of London." Another residence on West Hill, a
little above the entrance to Millfield Lane, was
called the Hermitage, of which the Howitts were
the last occupants. It stood enclosed by tall trees,
and adjoining it was a still smaller tenement, which
was said to be the "real and original Hermitage."
It is thus described by Mr. Howitt:—"It consisted only of one small low room, with a chamber
over it, reached by an outside rustic gallery. The
whole of this hermitage was covered with ivy,
evidently of a very ancient growth, as shown by
the largeness of its stems and boughs, and the
prodigality of its foliage. In fact, it looked like
one great mass of ivy. What was the origin of
the place, or why it acquired the name of the
Hermitage, does not appear; but being its last
tenant, I found that its succession of inhabitants
had been a numerous one, and that it was connected with some curious histories. Some dark
tragedies had occurred there. One of its tenants
was a Sir Wallis Porter, who was an associate of
the Prince Regent. Here the Prince used to
come frequently to gamble with Sir Wallis. This
hermitage, hidden by the tall surrounding trees,
chiefly umbrageous elms, and by the huge ivy
growth, seemed a place well concealed for the
orgies carried on within it. The ceiling of the
room which they used was painted with naked
figures in the French style, and there they could
both play as deeply and carouse as jovially as they
pleased. But the end of Sir Wallis was that of
many another gamester and wassailer. Probably
his princely companion, and his companions, both
drained the purse as well as the cellar of Sir Wallis,
for he put an end to his existence there, as
reported, by shooting himself.
"There was a pleasanter legend of Lord Nelson,
when a boy, being once there, and climbing a very
tall ash-tree by the roadside, which therefore went
by the name of 'Nelson's tree,' till it went the
way of all trees—to the timber-yard. It was
reported, too, that Fauntleroy, the forger, when
the officers of justice were in quest of him, concealed himself for a time at this hermitage." The
old Hermitage, however, with its quaint buildings,
its secluded lawn, and its towering trees, disappeared about the year 1860, and on its site
a terrace of houses has been erected.
"—Many to the steep of Highgate hie;
Ask, ye Bæotian shades! the reason why?
'Tis to the worship of the solemn Horn,
Grasped in the holy hand of Mystery,
In whose dread name both men and maids are sworn,
And consecrate the oath with draught and dance till morn."—Byron.
Charles Knight—Sir John Wollaston—The Custom of "Swearing on the Horns"—Mr. Mark Boyd's Reminiscence of this Curious Ceremonial—A Poetical Version of the Proceedings—Old Taverns at Highgate—The "Angel Inn"—The Sunday Ordinary—A Touching Story—The
Chapel and School of Highgate—Tomb of Coleridge, the Poet—Sir Roger Cholmeley, the Founder of the Grammar School—Southwood
Lane—The Almshouses—Park House—St. Michael's Church—Tablet erected to Coleridge—Fitzroy House—Mrs. Caroline Chisholm—Dr.
Sacheverel—Dorchester House—Coleridge's Residence—The Grove—Anecdote of Hogarth—Sir John Hawkins' House—A Proclamation in
the Time of Henry VIII.—North Hill—The "Bull Inn."
Returning once more to the main street of the
village—"this romantic rather than picturesque
village,"as Crabb Robinson calls it in his "Diary"—we resume our perambulation, starting from
Arundel House, of which we have given an account
in an earlier chapter. (fn. 9)
A small house close by the site of Arundel
House was for many years the residence of Mr.
Charles Knight, whose name is well known in
connection with popular literature.
A little to the north of this house, but standing
back from the high road, was the mansion of Sir
John Wollaston, the founder of some almshouses
in Southwood Lane, which we shall presently
notice. Sir John Wollaston, we may here remark,
was at one time Lord Mayor of London, and
held several appointments of trust in the City.
He died in the year 1658, and was buried in the
old chapel of Highgate.
The main street of the village, although so near
to London, has about it that appearance of
quietude and sleepiness which one is accustomed
to meet with in villages miles away from the busy
metropolis; and like most other villages, the
number of its public-houses, as compared with
other places of business, is somewhat remarkable.
In 1826 there were, in Highgate, no less than
nineteen licensed taverns, of which Hone, in his
"Every-day Book," gives the signs. In former
times a curious old custom prevailed at these
public-houses, which has been the means of giving
a little gentle merriment to many generations of
the citizens of London, but is now only remembered as a thing of the past. It was a sort of
burlesque performance, presided over by "mine
host," in which the visitor, whoever he might be,
was expected to take an oath, which was duly
administered to him, and was familiarly called
"swearing on the horns." "No one," writes Mr.
Samuel Palmer, "ever hears of this hamlet without
at once referring to it:—
'It's a custom at Highgate, that all who go through,
Must be sworn on the horns, sir; and so, sir, must you.
Bring the horns, shut the door; now, sir, take off your hat,
When you come here again, don't forget to mind that.'
A few years ago it was usual all over the kingdom
to ask, 'Have you been sworn at Highgate?'
And if any person in conversation laid an emphasis
more than usual on the demonstrative pronoun
that, it was sure to elicit the inquiry. Some sixty
years ago upwards of eighty stage-coaches would
stop every day at the 'Red Lion' inn, and out of
every five passengers three were sworn. So soon as
the coach drew up at the inn-door most pressing
invitations would be given to the company to
alight, and after as many as possible could be
collected in the parlour, the landlord would introduce the Highgate oath. A little artifice easily
led to the detection of the uninitiated, and as
soon as the fact was ascertained the horns were
brought in. There were generally sufficient of the
initiated to induce compliance with those who had
not yet passed through the ordeal. The horns
were fixed on a pole five feet in height, and placed
upright on the ground before the person who was
to be sworn. The neophyte was then required to
take off his hat, which all present having also done,
the landlord, in a bold voice, began the ceremony.
It commenced by the landlord saying—
'Upstanding and uncovered: silence. Take notice what
I now say to you, for that is the first word of the oath; mind
that! You must acknowledge me to be your adopted father,
I must acknowledge you to be my adopted son. If you do
not call me father, you forfeit a bottle of wine; if I do not
call you son, I forfeit the same. And now, my good son,
if you are travelling through this village of Highgate, and
you have no money in your pocket, go call for a bottle of
wine at any house you may think proper to enter, and book
it to your father's score. If you have any friends with you,
you may treat them as well; but if you have money of your
own, you must pay for it yourself; for you must not say you
have no money when you have; neither must you convey
your money out of your own pocket into that of your friend's
pocket, for I shall search them as well as you, and if I find
that you or they have any money, you forfeit a bottle of
wine for trying to cheat and cozen your old father. You
must not eat brown bread while you can get white, unless
you like brown the best; nor must you drink small beer
when you can get strong, unless you like small the best;
you must not kiss the maid while you can kiss the mistress,
unless you like the maid best; but sooner than lose a good
chance, you may kiss them both. And now, my good son,
I wish you a safe journey through Highgate and this life.
I charge you, my good son, that if you know any in this
company who have not taken this oath, you must cause
them to take it, or make each of them forfeit a bottle of
wine; for if you fail to do so, you will forfeit one yourself.
So now, my son, God bless you; kiss the horns, or a pretty
girl if you see one here, which you like best, and so be free
If a female were in the room, she was, of course,
saluted; if not, the horns were to be kissed, but
the option was not allowed formerly. The
peculiarity of the oath was in the pronoun that,
which generally resulted in victimising the strangers
of some bottles of wine. So soon as the salutation was over, and the wine drank, the landlord,
addressing himself to the newly-made son, said,
'I have now to acquaint you with your privileges
as a freeman of Highgate. If at any time you are
going through the hamlet, and want to rest yourself, and you see a pig lying in a ditch, you are
quite at liberty to kick her out and take her place;
but if you see three lying together, you must only
kick out the middle one, and lie between the two;
so God save the king!'" These last liberties,
however, are, according to Mr. Larwood, a later
addition to the oath, introduced by a facetious
blacksmith, who at one time kept the "Coach and
THE "OLD CROWN INN," HIGHGATE, IN 1830.
Mr. Mark Boyd describes at length, in his
"Social Gleanings," the whole of the process to
which it appears that he and his brother were
subjected one fine Sunday half a century ago, and
to which they submitted with all the less reluctance
because they learnt that Lord Bryon and several
other distinguished personages had been sworn
there before them. He relates the initiatory steps
of ordering a bottle of the Boniface's best port,
and another of sherry, "which the landlord took
care should be excellent in honour of so grave a
ceremonial, and for which he did not omit to charge
accordingly." He goes on to describe how "the
landlord and his waiter then retired to prepare for
the imposing ceremony, and in ten minutes a
thundering knock at the door announced the
approach of the officials. In marched, with all
solemnity, the swearer-in, dressed in a black gown
with bands, and wearing a mask and a wig; his
clerk also in a black gown, carrying the horns
fixed on a pole in one hand, and in the other a
large book, from which the oath was to be read.
The landlord then proclaimed, in a loud voice,
"Upstanding and uncovered. Take notice what
now I say to you, &c.," and so proceeded to
administer the oath verbatim, as above. "The
custom," adds Mr. Boyd, "has now fallen into
disuse; but at the 'Gate House Tavern,' some
months ago (1875), whilst the waiter was administering to me an excellent luncheon, I mentioned
that, were the landlord to revive the custom, many
of the present generation would extremely enjoy
the fun in which their ancestors had indulged, and
none more than our 'American cousins.' 'Moreover,' said I to the waiter, 'where you now make
five shillings you would pocket ten; and if your
landlord provided as good port and sherry as
formerly, he would sell two bottles for one.'" In
spite, however, of Mr. Boyd's specious argument,
and even the example of Lord Byron, we believe
that the landlord has not at present ventured
on reviving this absurdity, even in this age of
"revivals" of various kinds. In fact, if the truth
must be told, he takes no interest in the historic
past, and does not care to be questioned about
VIEWS IN HIGHGATE.
The following is one version, among several, of
an old initiation song which was used on these
occasions in one of the Highgate inns, which
either "kept a poet," or had a host who was fond of
rhyming. We take it from Robert Bell's "Ballads
and Songs of the Peasantry of England;" the
author states that it was supplied to him by a very
old man, who had been an ostler at Highgate.
"The old man," adds Mr. Bell, "told him that it
was not often used of late years, as 'there was no
landlord that could sing, and gentlemen preferred
the speech.' He also owned that the lines were
not always alike, some saying them one way
and some another, some making them long, while
others cut them short:"—
Enter Landlord, dressed in a black gown and bands, and
wearing an antique-fashioned wig; followed by the Clerk
of the Court, also in appropriate costume, and carrying
the register book and the horns.
Landlord. Do you wish to be sworn at Highgate?
Candidate. I do, father.
The Landlord then says or sings as follows:
Silence! O yes! you are my son!
Full to your old father turn, sir;
This is an oath you may take as you run,
So lay your hand thus on the horn, sir.
[Here the Candidate places his right hand on
You shall not spend with cheaters or cozens your life,
Nor waste it on profligate beauty;
And when you are wedded, be kind to your wife,
And true to all petticoat duty.
[The Candidate says "I will," and kisses the
horns, in obedience to the Clerk, who exclaims, in a loud and solemn tone, "Kiss
the horns, sir."
And while you thus solemnly swear to be kind,
And shield and protect from disaster,
This part of the oath, you must bear it in mind,
That you and not she is the master.
[Clerk: "Kiss the horns again, sir."
You shall pledge no man first when a woman is near,
For 'tis neither proper nor right, sir;
Nor, unless you prefer it, drink small for strong beer,
Nor eat brown bread when you can get white, sir.
[Clerk: "Kiss the horns again, sir."
You shall never drink brandy when wine you can get,
Say when good port or sherry is handy,
Unless that your taste on strong spirit is set,
In which case you may, sir, drink brandy.
[Clerk: "Kiss the horns again, sir."
To kiss the fair maid when the mistress is kind
Remember that you must be loth, sir;
But if the maid's fairest, your oath does not bind,
Or you may, if you like it, kiss both, sir.
[Clerk: "Kiss the horns again, sir."
Should you ever return, take this oath here again,
Like a man of good sense, leal and true, sir;
And be sure to bring with you some more merry men,
That they on the horn may swear too, sir.
Landlord. Now, sir, if you please, sign your name in that
book; and if you can't write, then make your mark, and the
Clerk of the Court will attest it.
[Here one of the above requests is complied with.
Landlord. You will now please to pay half-a-crown for
court fees, and what you please to the Clerk.
The necessary ceremony being thus gone through, the
business terminates by the Landlord saying "God
bless the King (or Queen) and the Lord of the
Manor," to which the Clerk responds, "Amen,
amen!" N.B. The court fees are always returned
in wine, spirits, or porter, of which the Landlord
and the Clerk are invited to partake.
It will now be seen what is the meaning of the
old proverb as applied to a knowing fellow:—"He
has been sworn at Highgate." The words are
applicable to a person who is well acquainted
with good things, and who takes care to help
himself to the best of all.
Grose speaks of this whimsical ceremony at
some length in his "Classical Dictionary of the
Vulgar Tongue," published in 1785, and it is
clear from what he says that even in his day the
ceremony was very ancient. Hone's "Year Book"
contains also a full account of the ceremony, as it
was performed in the early part of the present
century at the "Fox," or (as it was then styled)
"The Fox under the Hill," an inn already
mentioned by us. Hone does not throw much
light on the origin of the practice, which, doubtless,
is as old as the Reformation, and was originally
intended as a parody on the admission of neophytes
into religious guilds and confraternities by the
clergy of the Catholic Church.
Grose, being a shallow antiquary, apparently
regarded it as a piece of comparatively modern
tomfoolery, got up by some landlord "for the good
of the house." A correspondent, however, subsequently points out the antiquity of the custom,
and sends a copy of the initiation song, which
varies, however, considerably from our version
It may be added that Grose was in error on
another score, as Mr. Robert Bell observes, when
he supposed that the ceremony was confined to
the lower orders; for both when he wrote, and in
subsequent times, the oath, absurd as it is, has
often been taken by persons of rank and education too. An inspection of the register-books, had
any still existed, would doubtless have shown that
those who have kissed the mystic horn at Highgate
have belonged to all ranks of society, and that
among them the scholars of Harrow have always
been conspicuous—led on, no doubt, like so many
sheep, by the example of their bellwether, Lord
Byron. When, however, the stage-coaches ceased
to pass through Highgate, the custom gradually
declined, and appears to have been kept up at
only three inns, respectively called "The Original
House," the "Old Original House," and the "Real
Old Original House." Mr. Bell, writing about the
year 1860, says: "Two of the above houses have
latterly ceased to hold courts, and the custom is
now confined to the 'Fox under the Hill,' where
the rite is celebrated with every attention to ancient
forms, ceremonies, and costume, and for a fee
which, in deference to modern notions of economy,
is only one shilling."
The old crier of Highgate is said still to keep a
gown and wig ready to swear in any persons who
may wish to go through the ceremony; for the
swearer-in, whoever he might or may be, generally
wore a black gown, mask, and wig, and had with
him a person to act as clerk and bearer of the
Of course there was room for a luxuriance of
comicality, according to the wit of the imposer of
the oath, and the simplicity of the oath-taker; and,
as might be expected, the ceremony was not a dry
one. Scarcely ever did a stage-coach stop at a
Highgate tavern in those days, without a few of
the passengers being initiated amidst the laughter
of the rest, the landlord usually acting as high
priest on the occasion, while a waiter or an ostler
would perform the duty of clerk, and sing out
"Amen" at all the proper places.
Although some ten or dozen pairs of horns are
religiously kept in as many of the chief inns in
Highgate, where they pass along with the house in
the inventory from one landlord to his successor;
yet, singularly enough, none of the register books
in which the neophytes were wont to inscribe their
names after taking the oath, are now known to
exist. Their loss is much to be regretted, as in
all probability, as we have above intimated, an
inspection of them would have shown that many
persons otherwise celebrated for wisdom made
fools of themselves at least once in their lives.
It appears, however, from an article in the Penny
Magazine, published in 1832, that even then the
ceremony had been abandoned by all respectable
members of society.
The origin of this singular custom is variously
accounted for. One is that it was devised by a
landlord who had lost his licence, and who used it
to cover the sale of his liquors. Another, and
more probable one, is, that "Highgate being the
nearest spot to London where cattle rested on
their way from the North to Smithfield for sale,
many graziers put up at the 'Gate House' for the
night. These men formed a kind of fraternity,
and generally endeavoured to secure the inn for
their exclusive accommodation on certain days.
Finding, however, they had no power to exclude
strangers, who, like themselves, were travelling on
business, these men formed themselves into a sort
of club, and made it imperative on all who wished
to join them to take a certain oath, and bringing
an ox to the door, compelled them either to kiss
its horns, or to quit their company."
The house of greatest dignity and largest accommodation was the "Gate House," so called from
the original building having been connected with a
gate which here crossed the road, and from which,
as we have already stated, the name of the village
is understood to have been derived.
The old "Gate House Inn" still stands, though
the droll ceremony which we have described has
fallen into disuse for more than a quarter of a
century. In the hall of the inn, however, are still
to be seen a gigantic pair of mounted horns, the
same, it is affirmed, which were used in the
administration of the Highgate oath.
In Hone's time the principal inn, the "Gate
House," had stag-horns, as had also the "Mitre,"
the "Green Dragon," the "Bell," the "Rose and
Crown," the "Bull," the "Wrestlers," the "Lord
Nelson," the "Duke of Wellington," the "Crown,"
and the "Duke's Head." Bullocks' horns were
used at the "Red Lion" and "Sun," and ramshorns at the "Coach and Horses," the "Castle,"
the "Red Lion," the "Coopers' Arms," the "Fox
and Hounds," the "Flask," and the "Angel." At
each of the above houses the horns were mounted
on a stick, to serve in the mock ceremonial when
In some cases there was also a pair of mounted
horns over the door of the house, as designed to
give the chance passengers the assurance that the
merry ceremonial was practised there; and Mr.
Thorne states that at one inn in Highgate the horns
are still to be seen on the outside of the house. It
is acknowledged that there were great differences
in the ceremonial at different houses, some landlords having much greater command of wit than
In the good old days, "when George III. was
king," societies and corporations, and groups of
workpeople, who were admitting a new member
or associate, would come out in a body to Highgate, to have him duly sworn upon the "horns,"
and to enjoy an afternoon's merrymaking at his
The only historical fact which has been preserved regarding this singular custom, is that a
song embodying the burlesque oath was introduced in a pantomime at the Haymarket Theatre
If we can put faith in Byron—in the lines quoted
as a motto to this chapter—parties of young people,
under (it is to be hoped) proper superintendence,
would dance away the night after an initiation at
the "Horns." It may be added that similar
customs prevailed in other places besides Highgate, such as at Ware, at the "Griffin" at Hoddesdon, and other villages.
The "Angel Inn," on the crest of the hill, just
opposite the old village forge, is remarkable for its
antiquity, dating probably from before the era of the
Reformation. It is one of the few hostelries now
standing which are built wholly of wood. Doubtless it was originally the "Salutation" Inn; and
when, at the Reformation, the Virgin Mary was
struck out of the signboard, the Angel remained,
and so became the sign.
Whilst on the subject of taverns and houses of
public entertainment, it may not be out of place to
speak of the celebrated "Sunday ordinary, at one
shilling per head," at one of the Highgate inns, to
which in former times the London citizens flocked
in great numbers. A curious print, representing
some of the characters who frequented this ordinary, was published by Harrison and Co., towards
the close of the last century. Mr. Palmer, in
his "History of St. Pancras," tells the following
touching story in connection with this ordinary:—"A constant visitor at this table d'hôte was accustomed to take considerable notice of a very
attractive young girl who waited at table, and
from passing observations drew her at length to
become the partner of his Sunday evening rambles.
After some time he made known his passion to the
object of his affection, and was accepted. He
informed her that his occupation would detain him
from her all the week, but that he should dine at
home on Sunday, and leave regularly on the
Monday morning. He would invest in her own
name and for her exclusive use £2,000 in the
Three per Cent. Consols on their marriage; but she
was not to seek to discover who he was or what he
did, for should she once discover it he would never
return to her again. Strange as were the terms,
she acquiesced, and was married, and everything
went on for a long time amicably and comfortably.
At length her woman's nature could hold out no
longer; she must at all hazards discover her
husband's secret. She tried to suppress the desire,
for she really loved him; but Eve-like, she could
resist no longer; and therefore on his leaving her
as usual one Monday morning, she disguised
herself as well as she could, and followed him from
Highgate to London, when he entered a low
coffee-shop, from whence after a while he issued—yes, her husband—in the meanest possible dress,
and with a broom began to sweep the crossing
near Charing Cross. This was more than she
could bear; she made herself known, and reviled
him for his deceit. After an angry discussion
she saw her husband return to the coffee-shop,
again dress himself in his gentlemanly attire, and
bidding her farewell, depart, no more to return.
Grieved and annoyed, she returned to Highgate;
his marriage bestowment maintained her in comfort,
but it left her solitary and alone."
Close by the old gate, at the summit of the hill,
and opposite the tavern now known as the "Gate
House," stood, till the year 1833, the chapel and
school of Highgate, which dated their origin from
the sixteenth century, as the following minute
records:—"Mdum that the fyrst stone of the Chapell
and free Scoole at Higate was leyd the 3rd day of
July 1576, and the same Chapell and Scoole was
finished in Septr 1578." There had, however, been
a chapel on this spot from at least the fourteenth
century; for, in the year 1386, Bishop Braybroke
gave "to William Lichfield, a poor hermit, oppressed by age and infirmity, the office of keeping
our chapel of Highgate, by our park of Haringey,
and the house annexed to the said chapel, hitherto
accustomed to be kept by other poor hermits."
This institution is noticed by Newcourt, in his
"Repertorium," but he had met with one other, by
which Bishop Stokesley, in 1531, "gave the chapel,
then called the chapel of St. Michael, in the parish
of Hornesey, to William Forte, with the messuage,
garden, and orchard, and their appurtenances,
with all tenths, offerings, profits, advantages, and
emoluments whatever." "Regarding these hermits,"
writes Mr. J. Gough Nichols, in the Gentleman's
Magazine, "we have this further information, or
rather tradition, related by the proto-topographer
of Middlesex: 'Where now (1596) the Schole
standeth was a hermytage, and the hermyte caused
to be made the causway (fn. 10) betweene Highgate and
Islington, and the gravell was bad from the top
of Highgate hill, where is now a standinge ponde
of water. There is adjoining unto the schole a
chapple for the ease of that part of the countrey,
for that they are within the parish of Pancras,
which is distant thence neere two miles.' "
Hughson, in his "History of London," tells us
that, though the site of the hermitage in ancient
times is idealised, little is known about it. Nor is
this wonderful, for does not the poet write—
"Far in a wild, remote from public view,
From youth to age a reverend hermit grew?"
The chapel itself, for some reason or other, was
granted by Bishop Grindal, in 1565, to the newlyfounded grammar-school of Sir Roger Cholmeley,
together with certain houses, edifices, gardens, and
orchards, and also two acres of pasture abutting on
the king's highway.
The edifice was a singular, dull, and heavy nondescript sort of building of brick and stone. It
consisted of a nave, chancel, two aisles, and
galleries, together with a low square embattled
tower at the western end, flanked on either side
by a porch with a semicircular-headed doorway.
Above the lowest window of the tower, between
the two doorways, was a stone bearing the following inscription:—
"Sir Roger Cholmeley knt, Ld chiefe baron of ye
exchequer, and after that Ld chiefe justice of the
king's bench, did institvte and erect at his own
charges this publiqve and free gramer schole; and
procvred the same to be established and confirmed
by the letters patents of queen Elizabeth, her endowinge the same with yearly maintaynance; which
schoole Edwyn Sandys Ld bishop of London enlarged an° D'ni 1565 by the addition of this chapel
for divine service and by other endowments of
pietie and devotion. Since which the said chappel
hath been enlarged by the pietie and bounty of
divers honble and worthy personages. This inscription was renewed anno D'ni 1668 by the governors
of the said schoole."
From the above inscription some doubts were
raised as to the exact date of the erection of the
chapel; and about the year 1822, when the new
church was first projected, a warm controversy
sprung up respecting it. The main subject of
the dispute, however, was the right of property in
the chapel, whether it was vested entirely in the
governors of the school, or shared by the inhabitants. "The truth appears to have been," writes
Mr. Nichols, "that the chapel was actually the
property of the charity, as well by grant from the
Bishop of London, the ancient patron of the hermitage, as by letters patent from the Crown, and
also by transfer from a third party, who had procured a grant of it from the queen as a suppressed
religious foundation; that for the first century and
a half the inhabitants had been allowed to have
seats gratuitously; and that about the year 1723
the pews had been converted into a source of
income for the school."
With regard to the association of the name of
Bishop Sandys with the date 1565, one error is
manifest, for he was not Bishop of London until
1570. Newcourt perceived the incoherency, and
in copying the substance of the inscription into his
"Repertorium," he altered the year suo periculo to
1570. A searching examination which the records
of the school have since undergone, has disclosed
that the correct date is either 1575 or 1576; for
it was in the former year that the rebuilding was
projected; and in the latter, when it had not far
proceeded, Bishop Sandys was translated to the
see of York. The alteration of the date was probably accidentally made when the inscription was
One portion of the old chapel had a very extraordinary appearance; for small round windows
were placed directly over the round-headed long
ones, not unlike the letter i and its dot. These
round windows originally lighted three rooms belonging to the master's house, which, down to near
the close of the last century, stood over the body
of the chapel. The edifice had undergone four
several repairs and enlargements between the years
1616 and 1772, and also, probably, another when
the inscription was renewed in 1668. The repairs
in 1720 seem to have been important, as they in
curred an expense of more than £1,000, of which
sum £700 were contributed by Mr. Edward Pauncefort, treasurer to the charity, and the balance by
the inhabitants of Highgate. Again, in 1772, the
body of the chapel was, in a great measure, rebuilt; and it was then that its ceiling was raised
by the removal of the three rooms above mentioned. Within the chapel was a monument to
William Platt, Esq. (the founder of some fellowships in St. John's College, Cambridge), who died
in 1637; also a monument to the memory of
Dr. Lewis Atterbury (brother of the celebrated
bishop), who was preacher here. This monument,
on the chapel being pulled down for the erection
of the present church of St. Michael,
was removed to Hornsey Church, of
which Dr. Atterbury had been vicar.
Sir Francis Pemberton, Chief Justice
in the reign of Charles II., who died
at his residence in Highgate, was buried
in the old chapel; as also was Sir John
Wollaston, the founder of the almshouses in Southwood Lane. On the
demolition of the chapel, several of the
monuments and tablets were removed
to the new church. The chapel enjoyed some celebrity and popular
favour in the reign of Queen Anne
and George I., when it was the only
place of worship in a rather extensive neighbourhood, and was consequently a centre of attraction
to persons of all classes, who, after service was
over, used to promenade the terraced sides of
the Green. One of its ministers was the Rev.
Henry Felton, D.D., well known as the author of
a learned "Dissertation on the Classics," and sometime Principal of St. Edmund's Hall, Oxford.
THE OLD CHAPEL, HIGHGATE, 1830.
Becoming inadequate to the accommodation of
the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, and part
passing into a state of dilapidation, it was taken
down in 1833. The area of the chapel for many
years formed the burial-ground for the hamlet;
and till 1866 it remained much in its original condition. In it stood, among other tombs, that of
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poet and philosopher, who during the latter period of his life
resided at Highgate, and where he died in 1834.
The tomb itself is now to be seen in the resuscitated chapel of the Grammar School.
DORCHESTER HOUSE, 1700.
Sir Roger Cholmeley, the founder of the Grammar
School, and the great benefactor of Highgate, was
in high favour under Henry VII., who bestowed
on him the manor of Hampstead. He held the
post of Chief Justice under Mary; but was committed to the Tower for drawing up the will of
Edward VI., in which he disinherited his sisters.
He spent his declining years in literary retirement
at "Hornsey"—probably at no great distance
from the school which he had founded—and died
We meet with the following description of the
school and its situation in Norden's "Speculum
Britanniæ:"—"At this place is a free school built
of brick, by Sir R. Cholmeley, knight, some time
Lord Chief Justice of England, about the year of
Christ 1564: the pencion (sic) of the master is
uncertaine; there is no usher, and the schole is
now in the disposition of six governors, or feoffees.
Where now the schole standeth was a hermitage,
and the hermit made the causeway between Highgate and Islington." From the same authority we
learn that Sir Roger Cholmeley "instituted and
erected the schole" at his owne charges, obtaining a confirmation by letters patent from Queen
Elizabeth, who was always ready to welcome
and encourage such improvements, and may be
supposed to have taken a personal interest in one
which lay so close to her own royal chase and
hunting ground. It appears, from Norden, that
the chapel was added in order to enlarge the
school; but how this addition was calculated to
effect such an end does not appear, unless the
pew-rents or endowment of the chaplain were
added to the salary of the schoolmaster, and this,
as we have shown above, really seems to have
been the case.
It is perhaps worthy of note that Mr. Carter,
who was master of the school during the civil wars,
was ejected and treated with great cruelty by the
Puritans. Walker, in his "Sufferings of the Clergy,"
says that he was "turned out of the house with his
family whilst his wife was in labour, and that she
was delivered in the church porch." Another fact
to be recorded is that Master Nicholas Rowe,
the poet and Shakespearian commentator, was a
It would appear from the "Account of Public
Charities," published in 1828, that the forty boys
in the school were then taught no classics, and
that, although the "reader" of the chapel was
charged with their education, the latter performed
his duty by deputy, and that his deputy was the
sexton! It is somewhat sarcastically added by
the compilers of the "Account," that "this forms
the only instance we have met of the conversion
of a grammar foundation into a school of English
literature!" This school, it may be added, has
several scholarships and exhibitions for boys who
are proceeding to the universities, and has for
some years held a high place among the leading
grammar schools of the second class, under Dr.
Dyne and his successor. It now numbers upwards
of two hundred scholars. The school has attached
to it a cricket and football field of about ten acres,
on the north side of the road leading to Caen
Wood and Hampstead Heath. The ground was
in great part paid for by donations of friends of
the school, and an annual payment added to the
boys' fees. A pavilion also was erected by the
donations of "old boys." On this ground the
croquet tournament of all England was held in
1869. The original school buildings, as erected
by Cholmeley, disappeared many years ago. A
new school-house was erected in 1819, but this
having at length become inadequate for the wants
of the pupils, it was, at the tercentenary of the
school which was celebrated in June, 1865, determined to raise new buildings. The old school
was accordingly taken down in 1866, and rebuilt
from the design of Mr. F. Cockerell. It is now a
handsome Gothic structure of red brick, with stone
dressings, and has attached to it a handsome
chapel in a similar style of architecture, and a
spacious library, school-room, and class-rooms.
The chapel, built in remembrance of Mr. George
Abraham Crawley, a governor of the school, was
the gift of his widow and family; the expense incurred in the erection of the library was mostly paid
for by funds raised by former scholars.
Southwood Lane is the name of a narrow and
irregular road which runs in a south-easterly
direction across from the back of Sir R. Cholmeley's
school to the "Woodman," and leads thence to
Muswell Hill. In this lane, in the year 1658, Sir
John Wollaston founded six almshouses, which he
devised, with their appurtenances, to the governors
of the Free School, "in trust for the use of six
poor alms people, men and women, of honest life
and conversation, inhabitants of Hornsey and Highgate." In 1722 the almshouses were doubled in
number and rebuilt, as a stone over the entrance informs us, at the expense of Mr. Edward Pauncefort,
who likewise founded and endowed a charity-school
for girls. The school, however, appears, through
some neglect, to have lost much of the endowment
designed for it by the founder. The Baptist
chapel in this lane is one of the oldest buildings in
the parish, having been founded as a Presbyterian
chapel as far back as 1662. In course of time
the Unitarians settled here, when the chapel had
among its ministers David Williams, the "High
Priest of Nature," and founder of the Literary
Fund, of which we have spoken in our notice
of Bloomsbury Square. (fn. 11) Dr. Barbauld and Dr.
Alexander Crombie were also ministers here.
Early in the present century the chapel passed into
the hands of the Baptists.
On the north side of the lane stands a large
modern brick mansion known as Park House. The
Asylum for Idiots was founded here in 1847, by
Dr. Andrew Reed; but about eight years later was
transplanted to more spacious buildings at Earlswood, near Red Hill, in Surrey. In 1863, Park
House was purchased, and converted into the
London Diocesan Penitentiary.
The new Church of St. Michael stands at some
little distance from the site of the old chapel, on
the summit of the hill,. overlooking the cemetery
on the one side and Highgate Grove on the other;
and, as we have stated in the preceding chapter, it
occupies the site of the old mansion built by Sir
William Ashurst, who was Lord Mayor of London
in 1694. It is a poor and ugly sham Gothic
structure, though the spire looks well from a
distance. It was built from the designs of Mr.
Lewis Vulliamy, and was thought to be a wonderful triumph of ecclesiastical art when it was
consecrated in 1832. At the end overlooking the
cemetery is a magnificent stained-glass window,
representing the Saviour and the apostles, the gift
of the Rev. C. Mayo, many years preacher in the
old chapel. It was executed in Rome. The
border contains several coats of arms from the
windows of the old chapel. There are a few
interesting monuments removed hither from the
former edifice; but that which is most worthy of
notice is a tablet erected to the memory of Coleridge, of whose tomb we have spoken above. It
bears the following inscription:—
Sacred to the memory of
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE,
Poet, Philosopher, Theologian.
This truly great and good man resided for
The last nineteen years of his life
In this Hamlet.
He quitted "the body of his death,"
July 25th, 1834,
In the sixty-second year of his age.
Of his profound learning and discursive genius
His literary works are an imperishable record.
To his private worth,
His social and Christian virtues,
James and Ann Gillman,
The friends with whom he resided
During the above period, dedicate this tablet.
Under the pressure of a long
And most painful disease
His disposition was unalterably sweet and angelic.
He was an ever-enduring, ever-loving friend,
The gentlest and kindest teacher,
The most engaging home companion.
"O framed for calmer times and nobler hearts,
O studious poet, eloquent for truth!
Philosopher, contemning wealth and death,
Yet docile, child-like, full of life and love."
On this monumental stone thy friends inscribe thy worth.
Reader! for the world mourn.
A Light has passed away from the earth!
But for this pious and exalted Christian
"Rejoice, and again I say unto you, Rejoice!"
S. T. C.
Besides the celebrities whose names we have
already mentioned, Highgate has been the home
of many others. Lord Southampton had a mansion
here, called Fitzroy House, which was situated in
Fitzroy Park, adjoining Caen Wood. It was built
about the year 1780, and is said to have been a
handsome square brick building. Lord Southampton was the Lord of the Manor of Tottenhall, or Tottenham Court, in whose family it still
remains. In the rooms of the mansion were
portraits of Henry, the first Duke of Grafton;
George, Earl of Euston; and Charles, Duke of
Grafton. The Duke of Buckingham resided at
Fitzroy House in 1811. In 1828 the mansion
was taken down, and the park sub-divided and
improved by the erection of several elegant villas.
Mrs. Caroline Chisholm has lived at Highgate,
on the Hill, for some years. A native of Wootton,
in Northamptonshire, she was born about the year
1810. Her father, Mr. William Jones, was a man
of most philanthropic character, which his daughter
inherited from him. The energy of her character
was exercised for the benefit of the needy of her
own neighbourhood, until her marriage with
Captain Alexander Chisholm, of the Indian army,
removed her to a more extended sphere of usefulness. The name of Mrs. Chisholm will be best
remembered as the champion of the cause of
emigration in various social phases, when grievances
of any kind required to be redressed. Among her
efforts in this direction may be mentioned the
consigning of two shiploads of children from
various workhouses to their parents in Australia at
the expense of the Government. A similar success
attended her efforts on behalf of convicts' wives,
who had been promised free transmission, in
certain cases of meritorious behaviour on the part
of their husbands. Her greatest achievement,
however, was the establishment of the Female
Colonisation Loan Society, for the promotion of
In 1724, died at his house in the Grove, Dr.
Henry Sacheverel, (fn. 12) the great leader of the Tory
party in the factions of 1709. He was a bigoted
High Churchman, and his sermons were the brands
to set the Established Church on fire. For expressions in his writings he was impeached and
brought to the bar of the House; but far from
disowning his writings, he gloried in what he had
done. His trial lasted three weeks, and excluded
all other public business for the time, when his
sermons were voted scandalous and seditious libels.
The queen was present as a private spectator.
His sentence prohibited him from preaching for
three years, and his sermons were ordered to be
burnt by the common hangman. The following
anecdote is recorded:—A portrait of this divine,
with the initials S. T. P. attached to his name
(signifying Sanctæ Theologiæ Professor), was hanging
up in a shop window, where some persons looking
at it, asked the meaning of the affix, when Thomas
Bradbury, the Nonconformist minister, hearing
the inquiry, and catching a glimpse of the print in
passing, put his head among them, and adroitly said,
"Stupid, Troublesome Puppy," and passed on.
Sir Richard Baker, author of the "Chronicles"
which bear his name, died at his residence in
Highgate at the commencement of the seventeenth
century; as also did Sir Thomas Cornwallis, a man
who had acquired considerable eminence in the
reigns of Edward VI. and Queen Mary. Here
lived Sir Henry Blunt, one of the earliest travellers
in Turkey, and also Sir John Pettus, a distinguished
mineralogist. The great Arbuthnott seems also to
have been at one time a resident here, for it
appears from a chance expression in one of Dean
Swift's letters, that he was obliged to quit Highgate
by the res angusta domi.
Dorchester House, a large mansion of note here,
was formerly the seat of Henry Marquis of Dorchester, and was used in the middle of the last
century as a ladies' hospital. Part of Grove Row
covers the site of this house, which was devoted
by its owner, William Blake, a draper of Covent
Garden, to a most excellent charity, the failure of
which is deeply to be lamented, as its only fault
appears to have been that it was in advance of the
selfish age which witnessed its birth. The mansion
bore the name of its former owner, the Marquis of
Dorchester, from whom Blake purchased it early
in the reign of Charles II., for £5,000—all that
he possessed—with the intention of establishing it
as a school or hospital for forty fatherless boys and
girls. "The boys were to be taught the arts of
painting, gardening, casting accounts, and navigation, or put out to some good handicraft trade.
The girls were to learn to read, write, sew, starch,
raise paste, and make dresses, so as to be fitted for
any kind of service, thus anticipating the orphan
working schools of our own time. When he sunk
his money in this purchase, he hoped, and no doubt
believed, that the benevolence of the wealthy would
furnish the means for its support. But here he
was doomed to disappointment." Far from being
so fortunate as Franke of Halle, or the Curé d'Ars,
or Müller of Bristol, he found charity much colder
than he expected. Having exhausted his own
resources, he made earnest appeals to the titled
personages and city ladies of London, but in vain.
For some time, indeed, his generous establishment
struggled on. In 1667 there were maintained and
educated in it thirty-six poor boys, dressed in a
costume of blue and yellow—not unlike that of
the boys of Christ's Hospital. It still existed in
1675, but it cannot be traced later than 1688, or
about twenty years. In order to describe and
recommend the institution which lay so near to
his heart, Blake wrote and published a curious
book, called "Silver Drops; or, Serious Things."
It is written in a most eccentric style. He speaks
of the place as meant "at first only for a summer
recess from London, which, having that great and
noble city, with its numerous childhood, under
view, gave first thought to him of such a design."
Mr. Howitt infers from the style, which is "almost
insane," and from the "nobility of soul struggling
through it," the piety and spirituality, the desire to
have the boys taught the art of painting, and
finally from the name of William Blake, that the
"strange and good" founder must have been the
grandfather or great-grandfather of the "eccentric
but inspired writer-artist" of the same name, whom
we have already mentioned more than once in our
account of the neighbourhood of Oxford Street,
and whose father is known to have been a hosier
in Carnaby Market, not far from Covent Garden.
A view of the mansion is engraved in Lysons'
"Environs," and in the Gentleman's Magazine, (fn. 13) and
also in William Howitt's "Northern Heights of
Part of the site of Dorchester House is now also
covered by Pemberton Row, in which, says Mr.
Prickett in his "History of Highgate," a part of
the materials of the old building seem to have been
utilised; for "on examining the elevation of Dorchester House with Pemberton Row, a remarkable
similitude will appear in the character and style of
the pedimented dormers, cornices, and heavy roofs."
Among the early occupants of the houses erected
after the removal of Dorchester House, was Sir
Francis Pemberton, a distinguished judge of the
seventeenth century. Sir Henry Chauncy gives a
very high character of him in his "History of Hertfordshire," and there is a portrait of him among
the "Council of the Seven Bishops." The row of
houses has since borne his name.
Dorchester House itself stood on the west side
of the Grove or Green, and the house occupied
by Mr. Gillman, the surgeon, who had Coleridge
as his inmate, stands on another portion of its site.
Charles Lamb and Henry Crabb Robinson were
frequent visitors of Coleridge whilst he was living
here; in the "Diary" of the latter, under date of
July, 1816, we read:—"I walked to Becher's, and
he accompanied me to Mr. Gillman's, an apothecary
at Highgate, with whom Coleridge is now staying.
He seems already to have profited by his abstinence from opium, for I never saw him look so
well." Mr. Thorne, in his "Environs of London,"
describes the house in which Coleridge lived as
"the third house in the Grove, facing the church,
a roomy, respectable, brick dwelling, with a good
garden behind, and a grand look-out Londonwards.
In front of the house is a grove of stately elms,
beneath which the poet used to pace in meditative
mood, discoursing in unmeaning monologue to
some earnest listener like Irving or Hare, or an
older friend, like Wordsworth or Lamb. The house
remains almost unaltered; the elms, too, are
there," but, he adds, "some Vandal has deprived
them of their heads." It was in his walks about
Highgate that Coleridge one day met Keats. He
thus describes him:—"A loose, slack, and not
well-dressed youth met me in a lane near Highgate.
It was Keats. He was introduced to me, and
stayed a minute or so. After he had left us a little
way, he ran back and said, 'Let me carry away the
memory, Mr. Coleridge, of having pressed your
hand.' 'There is death in that hand,' I said,
when Keats was gone; yet this was, I believe,
before the consumption showed itself distinctly.'"
Coleridge was called by De Quincey "the
largest and most spacious intellect, the subtlest
and most comprehensive that has yet existed
among men;" and Walter Savage Landor admits
the truth of the statement with a reserve in favour
of only Shakespeare and Milton. Charles Lamb
calls him "metaphysician, bard, and magician in
one." If he had written nothing but the "Ancient
Mariner," his name would have lived as long as
English literature itself, though Southey denounces
it as "the clumsiest attempted German sublimity
that he ever saw." It was after a visit to Coleridge, at Highgate, in all probability, that Shelley
thus wrote of him:—
"You will see Coleridge: him who sits obscure
In the exceeding lustre, and the pure
Intense irradiation of a mind
Which, with its own internal lustre blind,
Flags wearily through darkness and despair,
A cloud-encircled meteor of the air,
A hooded, eagle among blinking owls."
Almost everybody knows the general outline of
the story of the wasted life of Coleridge. How in
early manhood he enlisted into the 15th Light
Dragoons, but was released from the uncongenial
life he had chosen by friends who accidentally detected his knowledge of Greek and Latin; how
even when he had gained a name and a position
as an essayist, he refused a handsome salary for
regular literary work, declaring that he "would not
give up the pleasure of lazily reading old folio
columns for a thousand a year," and that "he
considered any money beyond three hundred and
fifty pounds a year a real evil." But this lazy
reading of folios led, in his case, to confirmed idleness, an indolent resolution to gratify the mind and
sense, at the cost of duty. "Degenerating into
an opium-eater, and a mere purposeless theoriser,
Coleridge wasted his time, talents, and health, and
came, in his old age, to depend on the charity of
others, and at last died; all his friends and many
others besides regretted that he had done so little
worthy of his genius."
Before he died Coleridge composed for himself
the following epitaph, most striking for its simplicity
"Stop, Christian passer-by! stop, child of God!
And read with gentle breast. Beneath the sod
A poet lies, or that which once seemed he;
Oh, lift a thought in prayer for S. T. C.!
That he who many a year, with toil of breath,
Found death in life, may here find life in death;
Mercy for praise—to be forgiven for fame.
He asked and hoped through Christ. Do thou the
Highgate Green, or Grove, is situated on the
summit of West Hill, opposite St. Michael's Church.
Until within a few years ago, when the Green was
completely enclosed with dwarf iron railings, and
planted with shrubs by a committee of the inhabitants, aided by the assistance of the vestry of St.
Pancras, it was an open space, having several seats
placed for the convenience of those who were
weary. The green was formerly a favourite resort
of the London folk, as it afforded space for recreation or dancing. Almost in the centre of this
Green stands the "Flask" Inn, which was formerly
one of the head-quarters of revellers at Highgate,
as was its namesake at Hampstead.
In a comedy, published in 1601, entitled Jack
Drum's Entertainment, on the introduction of the
Whitsun morris dance, the following song is given
in connection with the hostelry:—
"Skip it, and frisk it nimbly, nimbly!
Tickle it, tickle it lustily!
Strike up the tabour,
For the wenches' favour,
Tickle it, tickle it lustily!
Let us be seen on Highgate Green,
To dance for the honour of Holloway;
Since we are come hither,
Let's spare for no leather,
To dance for the honour of Holloway."
The following story is told connecting Hogarth's
name with this Green:—"During his apprenticeship he made an excursion to this favourite spot
with three of his companions. The weather being
sultry, they went into a public-house on the Green,
where they had not been long, before a quarrel
arose between two persons in the same room, when,
one of the disputants having struck his opponent
with a quart pot he had in his hand, and cut him
very much, causing him to make a most hideous
grin, the humourist could not refrain from taking
out his pencil and sketching one of the most
ludicrous scenes imaginable, and what rendered it
the more valuable was that it exhibited the exact
likenesses of all present." The "public-house"
here mentioned, no doubt, was the "Flask."
A large part of the Green was formerly a pond,
which was fringed on one side, at least, by farm
buildings. Once a year, at fair-time, its surface
was covered—if tradition speaks the truth—with
little sailing vessels, which made the place quite
gay with an annual regatta.
It is perhaps worthy of a note, by the way, that
this village, or hamlet, was not unrepresented at
the "Tournament of Tottenham"—real or imaginary—recorded by Warton, in his "History of
Poetry," for we read that among those who re
paired to it, either as spectators, or to bear a part
in the lists, were
"—all the men of that country—
Of Iseldon (Islington), of Hygate, and of Hakenay."
HORNSEY WOOD HOUSE, 1800.
Church House, on the Green, close by the
entrance to Swaine's Lane, was, in the middle of
the last century, the abode of Sir John Hawkins,
author of a "History of Music," of whom we have
spoken in our account of Westminster. (fn. 14) At the
time when Sir John Hawkins lived here, the roads
were very badly kept; indeed, so difficult was the
ascent of Highgate Hill that the worthy knight
always rode to the Sessions House, Hicks's Hall,
in a carriage drawn by four horses. Pepys tells us
how that Lord Brouncker found it necessary to put
six horses into his coach in order to climb Highgate
Hill. The capacious coach-house and stables belonging to the house now serve as the lecture-hall
and offices of the Highgate Literary Institute.
Prior to the construction of the roadway over the
hill, the whole of this district was only known as a
portion of Hornsey, and was for the greater part
covered with the woods of Hornsey and Haringey
Park; indeed, it is affirmed that it originally formed
part of the Forest of Middlesex, wherein King
Henry VIII, indulged in (he sports of the chase,
as may be seen by the following proclamation
issued by him in 1546:—
Yt noe person interrupt the Kinges game of partridge
or pheasant—Rex majori et viccomitibus London. Vobis
Forasmuch as the King's most Royale Majestie is much
desirous of having the game of hare, partridge, pheasant,
and heron, preserved in and about his manour at Westminster
for his disport and pastime; that is to saye, from his said
Palace toe our Ladye of Oke, toe Highgate and Hamsted
Heathe, to be preserved for his owne pleasure and recreation;
his Royale Highnesse doth straightway charge and commandeth all and singular of his subjects, of what estate and
condition soev' they be, not toe attempt toe hunte, or hawke,
or kill anie of the said games within the precincts of Hamsted, as they tender his favour and wolvde eschewe the imprisonment of theyre bodies and further punishment, at his
majestie's will and pleasure.
HORNSEY CHURCH IN 1750. (From a Contemporary Print.)
Teste meipso apud Westm. vij. die Julij anno tercesimo
septimo Henrici octavi 1546.
Of Hornsey Wood itself, the chief portion left
is Bishop's Wood, extending nearly all the way
from Highgate to Hampstead; a smaller fragment,
known as Highgate Wood, lies on the north side
of Southwood Lane, near the "Woodman" Tavern,
but this was much cut up in forming the Highgate
and Edgware Railway; another piece, somewhat
less encroached upon, lies at the end of Wood
North Hill, as the broad roadway north of the
"Gate House" is called, is cut through what was
once part of the Great Park or bishop's land, and
joins the main road about half a mile beyond Southwood Lane. The road may be said to form part
of the village of Highgate, for its sides are almost
wholly occupied by villas and rows of cottages,
among which are several public-houses, including
the "Red Lion," one of the principal coaching
houses of former times, and one where the largest
number of persons were "sworn on the horns," as
The "Bull Inn," on the descent of the Great
North Road towards Finchley, is worthy of note
as one of the many such residences of the eccentric
painter, George Morland, to whom we have frequently alluded. It is recorded that he would
stand for hours before this hostelry, with a pipe
in his mouth, bandying jests and jokes with the
drivers of all the coaches which travelled by this
route to Yorkshire and the North.
We may observe, in conclusion, that, in the opinion
of many persons, Highgate does not possess the
same variety of situations and prospects as Hampstead, nor is it so large and populous a place; but
its prospects to the south and east are superior to
those in the same direction from Hampstead.