Highgate is a perfect place for a long walk with lots of architectural highlights – English heritage, schools, old inn and some very modern houses. Here are your things to see in Highgate.
For me, visiting London villages, like Wimbledon, Richmond or Highgate, is tricky. They’re all pretty places and in all of them I can spend a lovely morning or afternoon sipping coffee and enjoying life, but when it comes to exploring, I’m stuck. I feel that wherever I go, I’ll only see the pretty but there won’t be more meaning to it.
That’s why I decided to explore Highgate in a different way. I went there with a purpose of seeing a house in which architect Erno Goldfinger lived with his wife Ursula. By doing that, I knew I’ll see at least one ‘meaningful’ place. Also, I finished my walk in the village rather than starting it there, making sure that I’ll be soaking the atmosphere at the end when I’ve already seen the other parts of the area.
If you’re looking for things to see in Highgate, read on to find out more about my eight choices.
Download the sheet below with a map and most important information about this walk.
Things to see in Highgate: Mount Tyndal
Mount Tyndal is a luxurious residence situated one the border of Hampstead Heath and Highgate. The views of London from there are absolutely stunning. It’s a listed building that contains 7 luxury apartments.
I saw it as I came out of Hampstead Heath extension, and honestly, I thought it was a kind of memorial. The area seems secluded and there’s an odd flower stand on the other side of the road, which made me think that people buy there flowers to lay at the entrance. I was a bit disappointed finding out it was ‘only’ a high-end residence.
However, I must say – it looks stunning inside. You can have a look at some of the pictures on the website of a company that refurbished the interiors.
The real Mount Tyndall (with double ‘l’) is a peak in the Mount Whitney region of the Sierra Nevada in the U.S. state of California. It rises to 4,275 m, and is the tenth highest peak in the state. The mountain was named in honor of the Irish scientist and mountaineer, John Tyndall.
Things to see in Highgate: The Spaniards Inn & Toll Gate House
A few minutes down the road is a place from completely different times. The Spaniards Inn, an old pub, dates back to 17th century. Some sources say it stands there even since 16th century. It was part of the boundary of the Bishop of London’s Estate. Can you imagine that once upon a time this place was a separate thing from London?
Interestingly, today it also stands on the boundary. The inn is in the London Borough of Barnet but the toll gate house at Spaniards Gate, across the street, is already in Camden.
I love finding those surprises as I walk. They make me to think about the past and remind not to take things for granted. It’s also a great place to admire beautiful views of London. Stop at the bus stop and look through the trees!
Things to see in Highgate: Kenwood House
Continue down the road and you’ll come across Kenwood House. I didn’t go into the house but looked at the fields and the garden surrounding it and they’re stunning. It’s an oasis of peace in the heart of the city. I felt as if we’d moved back in time to late 1800s and in a moment I would see a lady with a long dress and a hat relaxing on one of the benches.
The surrounding gardens boast of the ancient woodland, sculptures and sham bridge. The house used to have a dairy, which produced butter, milk, and even ice cream for the household. The three houses that used to have that function have been recently renovated and can be appreciated once again.
Kenwood House is one of those old English houses listed by English Heritage that you can visit without going out from London and the entry is free! According to Trip Advisor, it has stunning interiors and is a home to world-class art collection. It was once owned by Edward Guinness – yes, the brewing magnate, and he gave it to the public.
Things to see in Highgate: Erno Goldfinger’s home
To avoid getting to the village too quickly from Kenwood House, me and my mum strolled through the side streets. We walked through Sheldon Avenue, Denewood Road and View Road, until we reached North Hill, admiring variety of beautiful houses and their gardens in this area.
When we turned in to North Hill, we saw what we came for – one of the houses Erno Goldfinger’s lived in. Erno Goldfinger was a Hungarian architect who came to the UK. He designed one of the most famous brutalist building in London – the Trellick Tower in North Kensington, as well as another tower block – Balfron Tower in Poplar. His surname also gave the name to one of the characters in the series about James Bond. Most of you will know his home at 2 Willow Road, which is now part of the National Trust. Fewer people know that he lived in Highgate for a short while too.
It looks modern and intriguing with bottle glass-like staircase but the two Greek looking statues mess up the effect.
Opposite the Highpoint 1 is much older house with a blue plaque reminding passers-by that Charles Dickens stayed in there once.
Things to see in Highgate: The village
On the approach to the village, on the left, there’s a school which architecturally looks more like part of University of Oxford. It’s CoE Highgate School and a very interesting building to stop by and observe.
But what is for me the heart of the village is the Pond Square. The shops and cafes are tempting but after such a long walk you just want to rest. The square provides perfect place for that. And it’s surrounded by more interesting architecture to admire.
It’s a lovely enclave just on the side from Highgate High Street. If you have a seat on one of the benches, you’ll have a chance to look at the back of the high street shops. My mum went to explore them as I sat and made notes from the walk we’d done that day.
After a short break I was still tempted to explore a bit more. So I went along South Grove. I didn’t get far but even this short addition was worth walking to see this house ….
And to find out about award winning design at the Lawns. The house hides behind the trees but the plaque on the front gate made me curious enough. It says that it’s been awarded Civic Trust award in 2002 and the Regional Architecture Award in 2001 by the Royal Institute of British Architecture.
Indeed, when you look it up on the Internet, it looks like a very interesting project. It was originally built in 1950s and transformed by Elridge and Smerin Architects in 2000. Only a year after it was shortlisted for Stirling Prize, British architecture highest honour. It was up for sale in 2013 for nearly £9m!
Here are some things that make it so special. Lots of natural light, enough space to host a party for 150 people and a sit-down meal for 60. It’s finished with oak and York stone, has bespoke storage, custom-made fireplaces and a Bulthaup kitchen.
It was long walk with a lot of interesting buildings to see along the way. I didn’t intend to make it an architecture walk but it so happened that the highlights of Highgate lay in its architecture. Because this route is long it’s the best to try it out on a weekend or when you have a day off. Share your impressions and findings in the comments below.
Have you been to Highgate? Do you know of any interesting places worth recommending? Share them in the comments below.
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