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.