No. 41 West Hill (Witanhurst) and the site of the Fox and Crown

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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'No. 41 West Hill (Witanhurst) and the site of the Fox and Crown', Survey of London: Volume 17, the Parish of St Pancras Part 1: the Village of Highgate, (London, 1936), pp. 72-76. British History Online [accessed 17 June 2024].

. "No. 41 West Hill (Witanhurst) and the site of the Fox and Crown", in Survey of London: Volume 17, the Parish of St Pancras Part 1: the Village of Highgate, (London, 1936) 72-76. British History Online, accessed June 17, 2024,

. "No. 41 West Hill (Witanhurst) and the site of the Fox and Crown", Survey of London: Volume 17, the Parish of St Pancras Part 1: the Village of Highgate, (London, 1936). 72-76. British History Online. Web. 17 June 2024,

In this section


Ground Landlord.

The property was originally copyhold of the Manor of Cantlowes but has been enfranchised and is now in the ownership of Sir Arthur Crosfield, who resides at Witanhurst.

General Description.

Parkfield was a good early 18th-century house which probably incorporated and certainly occupied the site of a much older building. It had a picturesque range of stabling and was situated in a position adjoining Dorchester House to the west. A view is given on Plate 50a, but the house was pulled down towards the end of last century by Mr. Walter Scrimgeour, who, however, incorporated part of it in the new work. Since that date it has been reconstructed on a large scale by Sir Arthur Crosfield, Baronet, who has also incorporated a small fragment of the front, that used to face West Hill, into the lower portion of the walls of his billiard-room.

The Fox and Crown Inn (Plate 49) stood back from the road on the north-west side of West Hill just below Parkfield. It lay behind an ample courtyard and apparently dated from the late 18th century, although an inn occupied the site from the beginning of that century. It was pulled down by Mr. Walter Scrimgeour, who built a range of stabling on the site.

Historical Notes.

Parkfield, now incorporated in Witanhurst, stood on the site of a house which Peter Sambrooke, apothecary of London, and Sara his wife, conveyed to Simon Baxter, draper of London, in 1665. Its earlier history is obscure, but it was included in the Warner estate (see Section XIV, The Grove) acquired by Sir Robert Payne, and was sold by his mortgagees to Sambrooke in 1663. (fn. n1) Baxter apparently lived here until 1666, when he took out a licence to lease the property which was assessed at 11 hearths for the Hearth Tax. In 1685 it was conveyed by Simon Baxter and Sarah, his wife, to John Hinde, esquire, of Highgate, a goldsmith of London, who had acquired Lauderdale House some five years before. According to Hilton Price's Handbook of Bankers, John Hinde's name appears in 1663 in Alderman Backwell's ledgers as having an account with him, and in 1677 the Little London Directory shows that John Hinde and Thomas Carwood were keeping running cashes over against the Exchange on Cornhill. This may be the John Hinde of Highgate. He was declared bankrupt on 7th November, 1686, having previously mortgaged the house to Anne Gower, the daughter of Richard Gower (of Bisham House). She became the wife of William Rutland, junior, merchant of London, and they seem to have resided here after 1687, in which year she foreclosed and took possession. In 1696 Mr. and Mrs. Rutland conveyed it to John Hart, citizen and merchant of London. With Frederick Hertough he carried on the business of "scarlett dyers" in Clerkenwell, but became bankrupt in 1706, (fn. 97) and the trustee in bankruptcy sold the house in 1708 to Richard Bealing, esquire, of Highgate.

Behind the house was a four-acre field which was probably rented by the occupiers of the house until it was bought by Richard Bealing in 1714 from Francis Pemberton, son of Sir Francis.

This field, called Robinson's close or Baxter's field, is interesting because it was the property of the Cholmeley family. When Sir Francis Pemberton bought Dorchester House he also acquired this field from Mrs. Thomasina Jones, the last of the Cholmeleys (see pedigree in Appendix). As stated elsewhere (see p. 5) Jasper Cholmeley's Highgate property was mostly derived from Sir Roger Cholmeley, and that this was the case with Robinson's close is shown by a case recorded on the Sessions Roll of Middlesex for 5th December, 1563, (fn. 98) when the jury found a true bill that at Highgate, in the parish of St. Pancras, John Crofton, a tailor of London, had stolen a linen shirt belonging to Roger Cholmeley in the custody of William Robinson, one of the Queen's servants, and two linen shirts of William Robinson himself. It may seem somewhat odd to trace the ownership of land through a stolen shirt, but the inference is irresistible that we have here the man whose name became attached to the field in question, now part of the grounds of Witanhurst, southward of the site of Dorchester House. Since the houses in the Grove (Pemberton Row) are built in a terrace with no space between for a horse and cart to reach the gardens behind, the tenants were accustomed to go across this field to their back gardens. When the houses on the one hand and the field on the other passed into separate ownership their rights in this respect were safeguarded by an agreement made between John Schoppens and Richard Bealing in 1716, renewing an agreement made in 1713 between Bealing and Pemberton, whereby Richard Bealing agreed he should not stop or obstruct any of the drains lying in the field belonging to any of the houses, but should permit the respective occupiers for the time being, their servants and workmen at seasonable times, to repair the same, and not to plant trees or erect buildings or set stacks of hay or wood in the field on that part adjoining the back gardens of the houses or do anything that might obstruct or hinder the view, and that Robert Doughty, merchant, and Major Hart, or the tenants of those houses for the time being, might carry dung to their gardens through the close as formerly, during the four months from November to February.

Richard Bealing was buried at Highgate on 19th October, 1724, and his son, Marmaduke Bealing, succeeded to "an ancient messuage and garden" in Highgate, and one acre of land near the messuage heretofore of Sir Francis Pemberton, and four acres heretofore of Francis Pemberton, a parcel of waste with a barn and stable thereon and a parcel of waste lying before the house late of Richard Bealing. Marmaduke Bealing was also buried at Highgate on 18th April, 1726, leaving a widow, Anne Bealing, who sold the estate two years later. The house heretofore belonging to William Rutland, and Baxter's field, went to John World of St. Clement's Danes, while Richard Baker, plumber, of Holborn, had "part of the land where heretofore stood the capital messuage of Henry, late Marquis of Dorchester, containing one acre, abutting north and east on the garden and a passage leading to the house of John Schoppens, esquire, west on the passage leading to the house of — Hill, gentleman, and south on the waste and High Road, and on part whereof late was built a messuage in the possession of Richard Baker, and a parcel of land late waste lying before the last mentioned called the Walk."

Before continuing the story of the house on the site of Parkfield we will trace the subsequent owners of this acre of land definitely stated to be the site of Dorchester House; the earlier history of the house itself will be found in Section XIV. Richard Baker died on 12th December, 1732, leaving a widow, Adreana Baker, and a daughter, Elizabeth, wife of William Pearce, brewer, of Highgate, and of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. Besides owning this house Richard Baker had several leases of farms (fn. 99) in Highgate which his daughter and her husband in 1733 assigned to James Cotton, citizen and haberdasher of London, viz. from Dame Elizabeth Ashurst (i) the Cow and Hare and 50 acres, (ii) the White Hart and four acres, and from the Sons of the Clergy (iii) four fields containing 26 acres, lying between Millfield Lane and West Hill. Thomas Phillips of the Cow and Hare was tenant of (i) and (iii). Mr. and Mrs. Pearce had licence to lease in 1735. Nothing more appears on the rolls about it until 1784, when their grandson, William Pearce of Abingdon Street, Westminster, esquire, came into possession. He left the property in his will (1792) to his mother, Mary Pearce, and his aunt, Elizabeth Jennings, and the latter bequeathed it to Mary Cooper, Mary Ann Gibbs and Ann Poole (1816). In 1818 they, with John Pearce, heir of William Pearce, conveyed it to Charles Augustus Hoare of Queen's Square, esquire, who leased it in the next year to Miss Mary Elizabeth Summersum, for 21 years. She had previously occupied No. 5, The Grove. Charles Augustus Hoare died on 5th November, 1862, bequeathing his estate to Rear-Admiral J. J. F. Newell, who died on 24th December, 1862, bequeathing it in turn to his brother, Henry Edmund Newell, then living at Gibraltar. On the death of the last named on 27th February, 1873, it went to his sister Augusta, wife of Captain Robert Bradshaw, R.N., of No. 3, Lansdowne West, Bath, the occupier then being the Rev. William Douglas Bodkin. It was bought in 1874 from Captain Bradshaw by Peter William Bodkin, esquire, of Merton Lane, who conveyed it a few months later to his son, the Rev. W. D. Bodkin, who married Miss Catherine Elizabeth Rawlins in 1875. It was then known as "Grove Bank" (Plate 50b). (fn. n2)

The main portion of Mrs. Bealing's estate was sold to John World in 1728. In 1736 it was bought from the executors of John World by William Congreve, esquire, whose wife was Catherine, daughter of Thomas Niccoll, the owner of the Grove House estate (see p. 93), and he conveyed it in 1774 to John Crutchfield, esquire. It remained in the ownership of this family for a hundred years, viz. 1761–76, William Crutchfield, nephew of John Crutchfield; 1776–1820, John Crutchfield, esquire, son of William; 1820–7, Ann Crutchfield, widow of John Crutchfield, who leased the estate to John Routh for 21 years in 1821; 1827–43, John Crutchfield Sharpe of Market Deeping, Lincolnshire (under the will of John Crutchfield). The occupier in 1836 was George Harrison, esquire. It was purchased in 1843 from John Crutchfield Sharpe by Allen Williams Block, esquire, and sold by his son in 1889 to Walter Scrimgeour, esquire, of No. 5, The Grove, Highgate. (fn. 100) The house was then called Parkfield. The conveyance included also The Limes in Fitzroy Park, the Fox and Crown, Sutton Cottage adjoining, and also three cottages at the north end of the yard at the back of No. 1, The Grove. Mr. Scrimgeour made many alterations in the property, rebuilt Parkfield and pulled down the Fox and Crown. In 1892 he bought Grove Bank (on the site of Dorchester House) from the Rev. W. D. Bodkin. It was then leased to the Rev. Joseph Fayrer, the previous occupant having been the Rev. John Bradley Dyne, D.D., Headmaster of Highgate Grammar School. Dr. Dyne was appointed in 1838, when there were only 18 scholars; in ten years the number had increased to 102, and in thirty years to 167. He retired in 1874, having transformed what had been a small village school into an important public school. (fn. 56) Grove Bank was sold by Mr. Scrimgeour in 1898 to Miss Rebecca Lacey of the adjoining No. 1, The Grove, who kept a school for girls. It was pulled down about 1933.

The Fox and Crown inn, absorbed by Mr. Scrimgeour into the Parkfield estate, occupied part of a piece of common enclosed in 1663 and granted to Isaac Odam, an adjoining plot to the south-west having been granted to Elizabeth White, widow, whose daughter, Elizabeth, was married to Isaac's son, Anthony Odam. The widowed mother and her married daughter lived in adjoining cottages on this site, described in the 17th century as "near the Claypits." Southward again of Mrs. White's cottage Philip Butterfeild had built a house on the common and enclosed six poles with hedge and ditch. Thus we have on the Hearth Tax roll for 1665, Butterfeild 2 hearths, Skillett 2 hearths, Widow White 6 hearths and Odam 2 hearths—four houses, of which Mrs. White's was by far the largest. In 1674 the four had increased to seven, viz. William Butterfeild 2, John Tayler 2, Empty 4, Widow White 2, Widow Burden 2, Richard Flinders 2, Anthony Odam 3, and William Lewis 5. Isaac Odam had died in 1671 and was succeeded by his three sons, John, Thomas and Anthony Odam, who divided up 13 poles of the land between John Tayler, labourer, and Frances his wife, daughter of Isaac Odam, William Kirke, labourer, and Margaret his wife, another daughter, Anthony Odam and Elizabeth his wife, while the remainder went to Richard Flinders, basket maker, except a part which Isaac Odam himself had surrendered in 1670 to William Burden, alias Crosse, labourer, and Obedience his wife, another daughter of Isaac Odam. These cottages, with perhaps two exceptions, are not individually of importance, and it is only necessary to note that for two centuries and more a varying number of houses stood on what was originally a wide strip of common at the top of West Hill in front of Robinson's Field, belonging formerly to the Cholmeleys, and that they were finally demolished by Mr. Scrimgeour, who brought forward his boundary to the present frontage of Witanhurst.

The two exceptions referred to above are the Fox and Crown alehouse, which lay back from the road, and the house on West Hill at the southern corner of the passage leading up to the inn, called Sutton Cottage, in 1889. The inn itself, after the death of Isaac Odam, was sold to Richard Flinders, basketmaker (died 1704), and then went to Robert Bulkley and his wife Frances, niece of R. Flinders (1704–15), being for the first time referred to as the Fox and Crown in 1704. Frances Bulkley conveyed it in 1715 to James Crompton, carpenter, who mortgaged it in 1730, when the tenant bore the apposite name Mathias Tipler. In 1753 it was bought by John Southcote, esquire, from Francis Gillow, brewer, the tenant then being George Frost. In 1801, when John Southcote's two widowed sisters-in-law sold it to Augusta Frances Drummond of Finchley, the tenant was Ann Cartland. Mrs. Drummond (died 1832) left it to her son, who leased it in 1833 to John Turner. His tenancy became memorable in local annals by an incident narrated in the following extract from the Estates Gazette of 21st May, 1904: "The death on Saturday of Mr. James William Turner, of Highgate, recalls a thrilling incident in the life of Queen Victoria. His father kept the Fox and Crown, a quaint little tavern, which until then had been known as the Fox under the Hill. On July 6, 1837, Her Majesty and her mother were being driven down the hill in a carriage drawn by four horses ridden by postillions, when the horses became restive and plunged violently. Being without a drag chain, the carriage pressed upon the horses, which greatly increased their fright. At this juncture Mr. Turner sprang forward, and in the most intrepid manner, succeeded in blocking the wheels of the vehicle. Her Majesty, who was naturally much alarmed, alighted from the carriage and sought refuge in the tavern. The horses were quieted and a drag chain having been secured, the journey to Kensington was resumed. In addition to a handsome present, Mr. Turner was granted a licence to mount the Royal Arms outside his house. Underneath was placed the inscription:— 'This coat of arms is a grant from Queen Victoria for services rendered to Her Majesty while in danger travelling down this hill.' This board has now been placed in the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution." In 1835 the inn was bought by Douglas Charles Gardiner from Mr. Drummond and was sold by his son to Allen Williams Block, thereafter remaining in the same ownership as Parkfield. Mr. Scrimgeour placed an inscription relating to it on the stables he built on the site.

Sutton Cottage replaced two cottages occupied by John Taylor and Frances, his wife, (daughter of Isaac Odam), which were conveyed in 1707 to Robert Rogers, draper, of St. Clement's Danes, who died on 8th October, 1710. His sons conveyed them to William Bridges, esquire, of Highgate, afterwards of Barton Segrave, Northamptonshire. When the latter conveyed the estate in 1736 to William Waines, gentleman, of Whitby, the two cottages had been replaced by a house occupied by the Rev. Edward Yardley, B.D., who had been appointed Minister (preacher) of Highgate Chapel on 5th November, 1731, in place of Lewis Atterbury, LL.D., Rector of Hornsey, deceased. The Rev. Edward Yardley, who was collated Archdeacon of Cardigan on 26th May, 1739, died on 26th December, 1769, and was buried at Highgate. In 1746 the house passed, on the death of William Waines, to his nephew, William Waines of Beverley, who conveyed it in 1747 to John Gregory, timber merchant, of Holborn, from whom it passed in 1764 to Henry Woodfall of Islington, esquire, being then in the occupation of a Mr. Greenwood. In literary circles Mr. Woodfall would be more generally recognised by his description of citizen and stationer of London. His widow, Mary Woodfall, immediately sold the house to John Jaques of Highgate, in Hornsey, butcher. Henry Woodfall made his will on 13th December, 1768, and added a codicil dated 15th February, 1769. (fn. 101) It was proved 17th March, 1769. He bequeathed the business of printing the Public Advertiser to his son, Henry Sampson Woodfall. The Letters of Junius, which occupy so important a position in English literature and political history, 70 in number, were published in the Public Advertiser between the 21st January, 1769, and the 21st January, 1772, and were reprinted two months later by Henry Sampson Woodfall. He was prosecuted for printing and publishing one of the letters on 16th December, 1769, but was acquitted on a technical point. Mr. Greenwood's successor was a Miss Harvey, and in 1778 the occupier was William Owen, butcher, of Cannon Street, who bought the house in 1787 from John Jaques. The subsequent owners were James Richardson, esquire, of New Inn (1800–4), Robert Wells (1804–9), Richard Hollings, pork butcher, of Blackman Street (1809–31), James Hollings, son of Richard (1831–5), Douglas Charles Gardiner (1835–61). The occupier after James Richardson was Edward Gutteridge, who was followed by Thomas Chapman and then by A. Fenner. Allen Williams Block bought it in 1862 from the son of Mr. Gardiner, when the tenant was James Hill.

It will be observed from the older maps that a footpath formerly ran along the front of Grove Bank next to No. 1, The Grove, leading to a yard running northward at the west end of that house up to three cottages which lay behind No. 1. All this was altered by Mr. Scrimgeour and Mr. Bodkin. The cottages were swept away, and by an order of Quarter Sessions on 7th July, 1890, the highway in front of Grove Bank was closed, thus enabling the present frontage to be formed.


  • n1. Peter Sambrooke also acquired from the Draper family the estate known in later times as Kentish Town House, south of Swain's Lane, facing west to Highgate Road opposite Parliament Hill Fields.
  • n2. Grove Bank was a boarding-house for boys attending the Cholmeley School, Highgate. The Rev. W. D. Bodkin, M.A., was for many years a master at the School. His father, Mr. William Peter Bodkin, J.P., D.L., Middlesex, lived at West Hill Place, Highgate, from 1874 to 1900, and took up his residence there on the death of his father, Sir William Henry Bodkin, Assistant Judge of Middlesex 1859–73, and Recorder of Dover 1832–72.
  • 56. The History; Topography and Antiquities of Highgate in the county of Middlesex, by John H. Lloyd, Honorary Secretary of the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution (1888). Printed by subscription on behalf of the Library Fund in celebration of the Jubilee of the Institution. This well-written work, though free from the cramping pedantry that sometimes tends to make such publications a bald précis of records, is not always reliable as to facts, and contains statements which research has shown to be unfounded. Two outstanding errors are the statement adopted from Prickett that Arundel House stood on the east side of the High Street in Hornsey, and the assumption that Sir William Bond's house was Arundel House—which lead to some confusion as to the place and time of certain events. His errors regarding Cromwell House were rectified in the London Survey Committee's monograph on the house. Lloyd's work contains much of interest concerning local inhabitants at the end of the last century.
  • 97. P.R.O., C 54/4962 (6).
  • 98. Middlesex County Records I, p. 50.
  • 99. Land Reg. Midd. Mem., 1733/2/326.
  • 100. Ibid., 1890/2/326.
  • 101. Will of Henry Woodfall. P.C.C. 109 Bogg.