8 of the best things to do in Highgate
Often overlooked in favour of neighbouring Hampstead, north London’s history-packed Highgate village is full of leafy green spaces and beautiful architecture. Check out our guide to things to see and do in Highgate.
Start with one of the best views of London’s skyline on the Kenwood Estate. With 800 acres of woods and parkland, you could spend all day on Hampstead Heath. Drop in to the 18th century neo-classical Kenwood House for its art collection then wander over to the Henry Moore sculpture to the west of the House.
The impressive redbrick Highgate School building dominates the top end of Hampstead Lane. The fee-paying public school was founded in 1565, originally established for the local poor. The Victorian Gothic building dates back to the mid 1860’s and is flanked by a chapel and cloisters. Meanwhile, the row of alms houses in nearby Southwood Lane, first built in 1658 and replaced in 1722, had a dedicated schoolhouse for ‘charity girls’.
Slip down the narrow steps from Highgate High Street into pretty Pond Square. Despite the village pond disappearing in the 19th century, the square is still very charming. Nearby South Grove is home to the Highgate Society, the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution, and Gothic St Michael’s Church.
London’s largest house
Reputedly London’s largest house after Buckingham Palace, soap magnate Arthur Crosfield built Witanhurst 100 years ago. Its most recent buyer purchased it around 12 years ago for £50 million. Just about visible from Highgate West Hill, much of the house – which has 25 bedrooms and a 21m long ballroom – is now shielded from public view.
If you’re looking for an atmospheric English pub, stop by the Flask pub on The Grove or The Gatehouse on North Road. In fact the upstairs hall at The Gatehouse is now home to a fringe musical theatre.
With over 50,000 graves, including 300 war graves, the final resting place for Karl Marx, George Eliot and others is well worth a visit. Soak up the special atmosphere of the East Cemetery (which includes Marx’s grave) where you can wander at leisure. If you want to visit the West Cemetery, you need to book on to a guided tour. Visit Highgate Cemetery for prices and tour bookings.
At the corner of Swains Lane and Chester Road, Holly Village a wonderful example of classic Gothic Victorian architecture. The wealthy philanthropist Baroness Burdett-Coutts built the cluster of ornately decorated cottages in 1865, presumably as homes for her former estate workers or retired Coutts Bank employees.
Exploring Highgate with kids? Squeeze in an hour or two at the very family-friendly Highgate Woods. Highlights? Playgrounds, masses of open space, a café and, of course, den-building in the woods!