This wonderful late-Victorian townhouse lies in the Highgate conservation area on Highgate West Hill in north London. The house is in an excellent position at the edge of Hampstead Heath, with the freshwater swimming ponds just a two-minute walk away. Arranged over five light-filled levels, the internal accommodation unfolds across almost 3,000 sq ft, with five bedrooms. A brilliantly conceived private west-facing garden opens seamlessly from the lower-ground floor living spaces. Contemporary interventions echo elements of the past and blend beautifully with the original plan. The house also enjoys unparalleled views of Parliament Hill across central London from the upper floors’ balconies. Both Highgate Village and the newly rejuvenated Swain’s Lane are a short walk away, each home to countless brilliant independent shops, restaurants and provisors.
Setting the Scene
Highgate West Hill is thought to have medieval origins as a thoroughfare. It formed part of the route to Kentish Town from Highgate Village and bounded the then-manor of Cantlowes. It was recorded as Highgate Hill in the 18th and 19th centuries, and until 1941, it was named West Hill. Many notable residents have lived in Highgate, specifically Highgate West Hill, including the poet, writer and broadcaster John Betjeman, whose childhood home was just a few houses down from this house. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
The house is set back from the road behind a low stucco wall and clipped taxus hedging. Steps ascend to the main deep-set entrance porch; a further separate entrance descends to the lower-ground floor behind a wrought iron gate. The ground and lower-ground floors are rendered in stucco, with the elevation on the upper floors featuring the original brown brick. New four-by-four sash windows are decorated with further stucco dressings and decorative cast-iron low balconettes; fenestration is triple-glazed on the lower and ground floors and double-glazed on the upper floors. Original cast-iron handrails follow both sides of the steps up to the main entrance. Here, a two-panel front door is painted gloss black with a chrome doctor’s knocker and corresponding Banham security locks. There is a camera entry system with an intercom unit on each floor.
The entrance hall is wide set and with high ceilings. Oak floorboards run underfoot while dentil cornicing crowns the space. An entire wall of storage for coats and shoes is set behind oak sliding doors. A clear vista extends from here to the study room and garden beyond. The house is exceptionally light, care of the expansive fenestration throughout the house.
The bipartite living room is some 30 ft deep and has large windows at either end that feature original panelled shutters. The rear space has French windows with a Juliet balcony overlooking the garden. Carrara marble chimneypieces with cast-iron grates are positioned centrally in both spaces. There are also built-in wired speakers in this and most rooms throughout the house. At the rear of the ground floor is the peaceful study room with a glass door opening to the exterior staircase, which leads to the garden.
A brilliantly conceived contemporary oak open-tread staircase with a glass balustrade descends to the lower-ground floor kitchen and ancillary living spaces. The kitchen is by Poggenpohl and has been designed around a generous central island unit with deep white Corian worktops and flush oak cabinetry. The island has double-inset Corian sinks, concealed fridge freezers and a Siemens induction hob. There is room for four bar stools beneath. Further cabinetry along one wall houses additional storage, an integrated coffee machine and double ovens.
At the rear of this space is a comfortable seating area with a wall of additional complementary custom-built cabinetry. The dining area is positioned closest to the garden with bi-fold doors that fully open at a 90-degree angle to the exterior terrace. There is also a generous utility room on this floor with its own entrance, a WC and overflow storage. Underfloor heating features throughout the entire lower-ground floor.
The first floor is home to three bedrooms and a bathroom. The second floor comprises the principal bedroom suite, with a spacious bedroom, walk-in closet and excellent en suite bathroom. Large tripartite folding windows open to a generous balcony spanning the width of the bedroom, with space for exterior seating and enjoying remarkable views directly to Parliament Hill and the South, central London; the perfect spot to enjoy drinks at sundown. There is a further fifth bedroom on the uppermost floor set in the roof’s pitch, also with a balcony, which opens to the beautiful views. This room has excellent storage set in the generous eaves and has sole use of a shower room on the floor below.
The Great Outdoors
The garden is accessed from both the ground-floor study room (via steps) and immediately from the kitchen and lower-ground-floor living spaces, where bi-fold doors open entirely care of a flush threshold to an initial courtyard seating area laid with grey stone tiles, perfect for morning coffee and breakfast in warmer months. The west-facing rear garden catches the sun during the best part of the day. High boundary walls and mature trees afford a feeling of seclusion and privacy.
Steps ascend to the main section of the garden, surrounded by stepped and raised beds filled with ferns, grasses and spring bulbs. A further seating area is positioned around a gas fire pit, brilliant for evening socialising on chillier nights. External lighting has been integrated into some of the low walls, allowing for a subtle exterior light that makes the garden enjoyable from inside all year around. Garden storage is concealed underneath the stoop leading from the ground floor entrance.
Out and About
Highgate West Hill is perfectly positioned for the green spaces of Hampstead Heath, which are two minutes away by foot. The men’s and women’s swimming ponds, which offer year-round freshwater swimming, are almost on the doorstep. Further indoor aquatic pleasures can also be found at nearby Hampstead Heath Lido. Additionally, the heath is home to Kenwood House, Robert Adam’s masterpiece stately home, now open to the public, containing countless important artworks and a charming café. There are countless beautiful walks through the heath’s 790 acres of woodland and meadows, with arguably the best views of London from Parliament Hill.
Swain’s Lane, at the bottom of Highgate West Hill, has been recently rejuvenated thanks to the arrival of several independent shops and cafes. Electric Daisy Flower Farm, Kalendar coffee shop, Roni’s Deli, Superette and Bourne’s fishmongers are all local favourites, as is London stalwart Gails bakery. Highgate Village is nearby and has a wide variety of shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants, including wine shop Bottle, popular pub The Flask, and fruit and veg shop Greens of Highgate. Further local pubs of note include the famed Bull and Last and The Red Lion. South End Green can be reached by foot in 15 minutes, a very pleasant walk across the bottom of the heath and home to further provisors, including Redemption Roasters and Euphorium bakery. The popular Parliament Hill farmers market operates every Saturday morning at nearby William Ellis School.
There are excellent local schools in the immediate area, including Highgate School, Channing School, Highgate Primary School and St Michael’s Primary School. Further local schools include University College School, South Hampstead High School, Henrietta Barnet School, William Ellis School, Parliament Hill School, La Sainte Union Catholic School and Camden School for Girls.
Transport links are excellent and plentiful. The Northern Line at Kentish Town is a 15-minute walk away, providing direct access to King’s Cross, the West End and the City. The station also gives access to Thameslink for fast journeys to key locations throughout London and the Home Counties, including Gatwick and Luton Airports. The North London Overground Line can be accessed at nearby Gospel Oak station, a brisk 10-minute walk away. The 214 bus runs directly from Highgate West Hill to Islington and The City, with the 88 bus running to the West End. Additionally, there are convenient road links to the A1, leading to the M1, A406 and M25.
Council Tax Band: H
This home lies on the very edge of the western side of Hampstead Heath and to the south of Highgate Village. The famed Highgate Cemetery and local Waterlow Park are also a short walk away. The heath was first recorded in 986 AD when Ethelred II, King of the English granted the lands to one of his servants. By 1871 it was agreed that the lands were to be protected under law, and the Hampstead Heath Act was created.
The heath contains the largest single area of common land in Greater London, with a unique topography that allows for incredible views reaching southward for up to 40 miles. Neighbouring Highgate has a rural history of its own, originally being land that adjoined the Bishop of London’s hunting estate.
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