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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The Survey Committee has long contemplated the production of this volume on Highgate, and Mr. Percy Lovell, our Secretary, and Mr. W. McB. Marcham have been collecting the material for many years. We are fortunate in having their collaboration, for Mr. Lovell has been intimately acquainted with the beautiful houses that have made this one-time hamlet so attractive, and Mr. Marcham has studied its court rolls and local records down to the smallest particular. Historically, the village is interesting as an example of a very early residential neighbourhood, developing by reason of the beauty and other natural advantages of its site, and acquiring an individuality not derived from the usual parochial or manorial centre. Highgate is an outlying part of the extensive parish of St. Pancras, and although the chapel of its Grammar School (situated just within Hornsey) was used as a place of burial and even assumed, for a time, an unofficial parochial character, it was not until recent years that a church was built and Highgate became a separate eccesiastical parish. The area occupied by the village was part of the Manor of Cantlowes, the endowment of the prebend of that name in St. Paul's Cathedral, a donation of the pre-Conquest period. Its name and those of Kentish Town and Ken Wood are still open questions for the philologist, and they are probably not related to one another. It is interesting, however, to note that succession in the Manor of Cantlowes was by gavelkind, a custom closely associated with the Kingdom of Kent.
The architecture of Highgate derives its interest not only from the beautiful surviving examples of late 17th and early 18th century buildings, but also from the problems afforded by many of its vanished houses. Dorcester House had an almost unique plan for and Elizabethan dwelling. Ashurst House may have been a final evolution from the Banqueting House where Lord Bacon died, and its successor in the grounds of Arundel House. Its latest form, together with the skilful designs for the Hospital founded by William Blake, raises an intriguing question of authorship. Among the existing examples of fine architecture the mansion of Ken Wood, with its splendid Library by Robert Adam, is easily the most notable.
In this volume of the Survey the Joint Publishing Committee of the London County Council and the Survey Committee have introduced certain changes in order to reduce the weight of the book and to decrease its bulk, which in recent issues has assumed uncomfortable dimensions. The letterpress is printed on a lighter paper, and the illustrations occupy both sides of the paper. It is hoped that this change may commend itself to the public and make the Survey less formidable to house and easier to handle.
Acknowledgment of very kind assistance must be made to the owners and occupiers of the various properties described, and also to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Iveagh Trustees and to many others who have assisted with information or illustrations, whose names appear in the text and elsewhere.
Walter H. Godfrey.