Survey of London: Volume 17, the Parish of St Pancras Part 1: the Village of Highgate. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1936.
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XI—NOS. 45 AND 46, WEST HILL (SITE OF THE WHITE HART)
Ground Landlord, Leaseholders, Etc.
General Description And Date of Structure.
Nos. 45 and 46, West Hill were originally one house, and although they contain no features of special architectural importance the lower part of the external walls is of brickwork of early character. The bricks are very narrow and are laid in English bond. The house can easily be identified on the map of 1804, where it is marked as "Mr. Bowstreed's Nursery," which later passed into the hands of Messrs. William Cutbush & Sons.
These three houses occupy the site of an inn which is first mentioned as the White Hart, in 1664. The ownership can be traced as far back as 1493, when John Leche died and John, his son, succeeded to a croft and garden at Dancope Hill and some 40 acres of land. When the latter died in 1509 the estate passed to his three married daughters, Eleanor, wife of John Pylborough, vintner of London, Margery, wife of Edward Wylle, gentleman, and Katherine, wife of Richard Hawkes, gentleman. In 1523 Edward Wylle's widow married Richard Harriong. In 1533 Margaret Whetnall, widow, died seised of this property (she may have been this same Margery married a third time), leaving a daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Harlakyndon, and two grandsons, sons of Bridgit Bellyngham, another daughter. There was a Thomas Harlakendon, Lent Reader of Gray's Inn in 1525. After 1533 there is a gap in the records until 1599, when Anne Widmore, widow, came into possession of these houses as well as of land between Swain's Lane and High Street (see p. 24). When her son, Nicholas, succeeded in 1635 the property was described as a tenement called Dampoipe Hill, with barn and orchard. A heriot was due on his mother's death consisting of the best beast on the land. In 1659 William Roberts of Willesden acquired the property from Nicholas Widmore, and sold it in 1663 to Peter Sambrooke, apothecary of London, by whom it was conveyed soon afterwards to John Short, draper, of London, being then described as a messuage and field of four acres in the occupation of Roger Andrews, victualler. At the same time (January, 1664) Mr. Short obtained a strip of the waste in front of the house 56 feet long and 4½ feet wide. He died in 1666, (fn. 84) leaving four sons, John aged 15, William aged 11, Daniel aged 9, and Samuel aged 4, in the keeping of their mother, Elizabeth. William Short died at the age of 15 and John Short when 37 years of age, leaving the other two brothers, Samuel and Daniel Short. Samuel Short was a lawyer, being described as of the Inner Temple in 1694, in which year he conveyed his half-share to his brother, Daniel Short, who was a merchant of London. He sold the house and land to Henry Ashurst, esquire, in 1703. In addition to the White Hart with the four-acre field behind, Ashurst bought from Short a house called the Cow and Hare, a meadow called Renkish Hill, and several other fields amounting to 58 acres, late occupied by John Ives and then by Thomas Hart, all of which came to Daniel Short from his father, who had bought them from Sir William Roberts in 1662.
From 1703 to 1770 the Ashurst family owned this estate, which was bought from William Pritchard Ashurst in 1770 by Thomas Bromwich, paper merchant, of South Grove House (see p. 66). Mr. Bromwich's estate was identical with that of Sir William Roberts in 1662 and can be accurately identified from a plan of the property made in 1776. (fn. 85) It came to Robert Isherwood, esquire, in 1812, and the greater part was sold by him in 1815 to Harriot Coutts, wife of Thomas Coutts, the banker. It consisted of all the land between Swain's Lane and West Hill (except the Cow and Hare) northward as far as the land of Dame Sarah Cave, whose land is now the Highgate Cemetery behind St. Michael's Church. The White Hart and what had then become Bowstread's Nursery passed on the death of Robert Isherwood to his only daughter, Mrs. Chester, and was sold by the Chester Trustees in 1856 to the Baroness Burdett Coutts, daughter of Sir Francis Burdett and granddaughter of Thomas Coutts.
The Cow and Hare was the farm-house of a 50-acre farm, leased together with the White Hart and four acres by Mrs. Elizabeth Ashurst in 1722 to Thomas Phillips, innholder of Highgate, for 21 years at £112 per annum, (fn. 86) which two leases were assigned by the executors of William Baker (see p. 73) to William Duffield, gardener of Highgate, in 1733. The Cow and Hare was mentioned as being new erected in 1770, when Mr. Greenwood farmed the land. It was this farm that Mrs. Coutts bought in 1815 from Mr. Isherwood. The Cow and Hare itself was leased by Mr. Isherwood in 1827 to Giles Redmayne, esquire, for 11 years, and when that lease expired in 1838 was conveyed by Mr. Harry Chester and his wife to Richard Barnett, esquire, who died on 15th December, 1851, aged 72. On the site his sister, Anne Barnett (who died on 1st July, 1868, aged 85), erected at her sole charge the church of St. Anne, Brookfield, Highgate Rise, in his memory. (fn. 25) In 1780 Mr. Bromwich had licence to lease the White Hart and five acres to William Bowstread. In 1822 it was occupied by Mr. Cutbush, and the firm of William Cutbush and Son remained there about 100 years, their place of business being the present No. 47, which then had a door opening straight on to the road in the northern part, while the southern part (under the gabled roof) was a shop. The frontage southward of the house was occupied by a greenhouse, with wooden railings in front, and an entrance in the middle. The shop was closed in 1918 but the nursery gardens were in the old kitchen gardens of Kenwood for some years. They are now at Barnet.