Situated on the border of zones two and three of North West London, Highgate is a place where the famous gather. Whether living in the vast houses where the likes of Kate Moss reside, or dead, in the sprawling, gothic Highgate Cemetery.
#VillageLondon hopped on the Northern line to find out why Highgate has become such a popular location for the affluent and famous.
A Familiar Feel
In many ways Highgate Village feels remarkably like Richmond with its perfect mixture of hills, greenery and picturesque décor. The Mock Tudor storefronts and houses lend themselves to that sense of the serene, of a tranquility often absent in most parts of London.
[We] have a very strong community spirit, we’re like a family.Phyllis Harper - Highgate Butchers
Phyllis Harper owns and runs Highgate Butchers, which has been there for a staggering 40 years. In that time she’s seen her son Lee become an integral part of the family business. But to her, Highgate is very much home.
She says, “We’re not busy busy but there’s a lovely energy here. It’s a really lovely place, my children were brought up here and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Part Of The Furniture
Phyllis, like many of the local shop owners, also lives above her business and knows the importance of cultivating relationships with other locals: “Local independent shops have a very strong community spirit, we’re like a family. You don’t get that in many places anymore.”
A few doors up from Highgate Butchers is Walter Castellazzo Design, a furniture shop that stands out from the rest. WCD is run by Walter’s wife Avril who tells us that they started in Camden Market before moving to Highgate 21 years ago. Avril has some concerns about the direction London is heading but points out that WCD is still doing things the right way.
Shaping London The Highgate Way
Avril says, “It’s difficult to find makers in London these days. They don’t want artisans here anymore. Without people like our designers, everything becomes homogenized, it becomes sterile, it becomes soulless. You go to Rome and right in the middle of the city you have people forging, framing, restoring paintings. You have to have people like that in a city to make it vibrant and interesting.”
With their workshop based in nearby Tufnell Park, WCD is certainly continuing that long tradition of artisans who call London “home”. For Avril, while the city is changing, Highgate still maintains a sense of nostalgia. “There’s a big dog-walking community here, which is such a great thing about Highgate Village and all the pubs let dogs in.”
All the pubs let dogs in.Avril Castellazzo - Walter Castellazzo Design
This mentality seems to strengthen on the weekends with Avril pointing out how busy they get. “Lots of people come from all over the place. They come here walking, to see the cemetery. They come here because they call it ‘Contained Country’ or ‘Urban Countryside’. You get a lot of people and it becomes a great atmosphere come the weekend.”
For many there is a concern in London about the big brand shops coming in and ousting the independents. This is already happening to a certain extent, but there is a unique twist to how they settle in the area which Avril has spotted.
“Although we have chain shops around here, we’ve made them local. It’s quite an interesting phenomenon. They keep the same staff, so I can go in and they know me, know how I like my coffee etc…The chains have been clever here, they’re fitting into the community rather than trying to force the community to fit in with them. It makes things feel more independent and keeps a degree of identity.”
That last point is a rarity in London, that while most places bend to the will of change, Highgate is bending change to suit its own unique brand.
According to Property Detective Highgate Village has:
14 Primary Schools ranked Good to Outstanding nearby.
18 Secondary Schools ranked Good to Outstanding nearby.
14 Private Schools.
12 Nurseries ranked Good to Outstanding.
Ranked as 45% Good for starting a family, putting it in the top 60% of locations nationally.
A large number of Supermarkets and Convenience Stores nearby.
Good number of local amenities.
Broadband speed ranked Good.
According to Transport For London – Journey Times.
From Highgate Tube to Charing Cross = 18 minutes
From Archway Tube to Charing Cross = 15 minutes
Average Property Price Sale August 2014: £908,000
Average Property Price Sale July 2015 : £1,103,000
In the last year average property prices in Highgate have risen 17.7%