Nos 39-76 High Street (site of the Old Forge)

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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'Nos 39-76 High Street (site of the Old Forge)', Survey of London: Volume 17, the Parish of St Pancras Part 1: the Village of Highgate, (London, 1936), pp. 105-106. British History Online [accessed 19 June 2024].

. "Nos 39-76 High Street (site of the Old Forge)", in Survey of London: Volume 17, the Parish of St Pancras Part 1: the Village of Highgate, (London, 1936) 105-106. British History Online, accessed June 19, 2024,

. "Nos 39-76 High Street (site of the Old Forge)", Survey of London: Volume 17, the Parish of St Pancras Part 1: the Village of Highgate, (London, 1936). 105-106. British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024,

In this section


Ground Landlord, Etc.

These houses were all originally copyhold of the Manor of Cantlowes but have now been enfranchised.

General Description.

The houses between Pond Square and the High Street are all numbered in the latter; all except one seem to have been rebuilt, but a few years ago their backs presented a most picturesque appearance towards the Square. Nos. 39 and 41 occupy the site of the old forge—an extremely picturesque structure of which a view is given on Plate 87a.

Historical Notes.

From the Angel to the Gatehouse the eastern side of Highgate Green was formerly open to the road. At the beginning of the 17th century the edge of the common bore the attractive name of "The Bank before the Elms," suggesting a row of elm trees between the pond and the road. Successive enclosures provided sites for the existing houses and shops, of which the earliest was built in the reign of James I. In 1619 Robert Atkinson was granted for 21 years a cottage which he had lately built in a place called the Bank before the Elms, in which he lived. To-day Nos. 47, 49 and 51, High Street, stand on this site. Atkinson in 1621 leased the cottage for 20 years to John Hudson, who added to it a building made of timber. In 1648 it was owned by John Flood or Lloyd, "cordwainer," and in 1672 by his son John Lloyd, labourer, with his wife, Frances, and son, John. John Flood conveyed it in 1680 to John Graves, barber, and in 1689 it was conveyed by Graves to Edward Townsend, brewer, of Highgate, whose house stood on the site of the House of Mercy (formerly Park House) at the top of North Hill. Probably this indicates the date of its conversion to an inn, though it is not unlikely that the occupiers before then had sold ale in addition to their other means of livelihood, as is still the case in many a village to-day. In 1694 Townsend conveyed the house to Edmund Mullins, yeoman, of Tottenham, who bequeathed it in 1720 to his kinsman Thomas Clark of Tottenham, a child of 3½ at that date. It was then described as the King's Head, late in the occupation of Mrs. Warner, deceased.

At the age of 21, Thomas Clark, then a periwig maker, conveyed it to Edward Smith, victualler, of Tottenham, as "the King's Head, now called the Carpenters' Arms, in the occupation of William Thorne, victualler." His rent was £16 a year. Probably Thorne was the last to occupy the premises as an inn, since it was described in 1785 as a cottage, etc., heretofore in the occupation of Robert Upton, "wheeler," which for some years past had been converted into two tenements in the occupation of John Hillyard, poulterer, and Henry Atwell, painter. They were both succeeded by their widows, who were the tenants when Benjamin Mitchell, farrier, acquired the property in 1799. He owned several houses in Highgate and lived at No. 51, North Hill. Two houses were added by him to the pre-existing two. He died on 26th March, 1816, as appears from a notice in The Times of 5th May, 1834, to his creditors. His daughter and her husband, Abraham Bennett, conveyed the four houses to George Moore in 1851, and he to George Watson in 1865. Mr. Watson died on 22nd July, 1866, and left them to his wife and second son, Robert Watson, schoolmaster, who lived at No. 98, North Road. The property was then known as No. 5, York Place, with a cottage at the rear, leased to William Rawlins; No.6, York Place, occupied by Hannah Walters; and No. 7, York Place, occupied by James Attkins, pork butcher.

The site of Nos. 39–45 seems to have been the next piece of land to be enclosed. For many years the most attractive feature on this side of the High Street was the old forge which stood at the corner of South Grove facing the Angel Inn (p. 28), and was eventually removed in 1896, being replaced by a printing works. The earliest reference to this site is in 1664, when Thomas Sconce or Conce, blacksmith, was granted " a parcel of the waste in the Bank before the Elms," on which he built a house, and dying on 7th November, 1674, left his property to his wife. When she died the shop, stable, and forge went to their son, Thomas Sconce, and the adjoining house, in which they had lived, to the other son, Henry Sconce. The only child of Thomas Sconce was a girl, Anne, who was four years old when he died, in 1685, and 13 years old when her mother died. At that time, 1694, the forge was in the hands of John Hix. At the age of 18, when she was the wife of John Allen of London, surgeon, she conveyed it to William Jewkes, draper, of St. Clement's Danes, the tenant being William Poulson, blacksmith, and the dimension from north to south being recorded as 40 feet. This agrees with the frontage of the present Nos. 39, 39a and 41. The subsequent owners are hardly of sufficient interest to record here, but the tenants mentioned are John Bostock (1733) and John Dodd in 1782, 1808 and again in 1845, probably not the same individual. From 1854 until the end of the century it was owned by the Broadbent family. The house adjoining the forge and blacksmith's house passed at the death of Henry Sconce in 1692 to his brother Lawrence, the occupiers then being Ann Hatton, junior, widow, and William Jones, spurrier. Laurence Sconce, labourer, conveyed it to John Orton, bricklayer, in 1692. The Orton family lived on the site of Ridgemont Terrace, Nos. 1–11, North Road, in a house on the north side of the Mitre. (fn. 22) John Orton died on 14th October, 1716, and his daughter, Mary, wife of Thomas Woolford of Pangbourne, Berks., pattern maker, sold the property to Robert Harrison, bricklayer, in the following year. By that time the number of houses had increased to three and there were four in 1728, as shown in the settlement on the marriage of Harrison and Penelope Turlington, dated 2nd December, 1728, where they are described as being in "Middle Row." (fn. 113) They remained in the possession of his family until 1807.

The next enclosure was in 1685, when Elizabeth Brogden was granted a piece of the waste northward of the house occupied by John Graves, barber, which house, as we have seen, occupied the site of the present Nos. 47–51, High Street. Eventually Mrs. Brogden's land came into the hands of Charles Lyne, at whose death in 1825 the occupiers were Love, Sones and Attkins. To-day Mr. Attkins, a descendant, owns and occupies Nos. 55 and 57. The adjoining No. 59 is on the northern extremity of the plot granted to Elizabeth Brogden.

On the site of No. 61, facing the end of Southwood Lane, used to stand the Cage or "lock-up" and the Watch House. The Cage stood on the site of No. 59 until the year 1811, when Charles Lyne in a petition to the lord of the manor stated that he owned "a small tenement in the occupation of a man of the name of Pickles situate at Highgate on the west side of the High Road . . . extending backwards towards the Ponds there; that there is a small bit of unenclosed and useless ground lying at the north end of Pickles's house between the same and a little erection there called the Cage and which piece of unenclosed ground is already the property of your Petitioner"; and "that there is also a dwarf building adjoining the Cage on the north which is called the Watch House and used as such." He urged that it would be no sort of detriment to the public if he were permitted to remove the Cage at his own expense to the other and north side of the Watch House and that this would be a great accommodation to him, for such removal would open a space between Pickles's house and the Watch House which, in addition to the unenclosed plot mentioned, would be sufficient to contain another small tenement. "So far from inconveniencing anybody (it would) add strength to the road and that side of the Ponds and be ornamental to the neighbourhood." The result was that Mr. Lyne built a cottage on the site, now No. 59. The frontage of the Watch House was 17 feet and the depth 14 feet 6 inches. The Cage thus removed from the south to the north was 8 feet 6 inches wide in front and 12 feet deep.

Adjoining the Cage northwards was a plot 11 feet 10 inches wide and 21 feet deep, granted to Robert Colson in 1828, now No. 63. Between this and the passage to Pond Square was a plot granted in 1811 (enlarged in 1813) to the parish of Hornsey "for the purpose of erecting thereon an engine house" which the parish leased to Robert Colson in 1814 for 35 years on condition that he spent £200 in erecting a building. This is now No. 65. The ground north of the passage was enclosed in 1828.


  • 22. Court Rolls of the Bishop of London's Manor of Hornsey, W. McB. and F. Marcham (1929).
  • 113. Land Reg. Midd. Mem., 1728/1/396.