Sunday, April 3rd 2016
Having spent the morning in leisurely fashion, in the afternoon we went for a stroll in Highgate Village. We’ve been here on sundry occasions before and found that little had changed. The photo shows where South Grove (running away from you in the centre of the photo) meets Highgate High Street. Some of the buses pause here before continuing on their way.
Further down the hill is this large church with a slender tower or steeple. Today it is known as the Highgate United Reformed Church but it is connected with the history of religious dissent and nonconformism in England. Briefly, those who objected to the terms of the 1662 Act of Uniformity, left the Church of England to found their own churches and educational institutions. Ministers of the new Dissenter chapels were not allowed to live within 5 miles of the city boundary and, as Highgate was situated sufficiently far away, many dissenting groups settled here. This church was built by Congregationalists in 1859. (If you want to know more about these tedious religious disputes, you will find information online, e.g. here and here.)
We were intrigued by this small house sited on the corner of a road called Cholmley Park with the main road which, slightly confusingly, changes its name from Highgate High Street to Highgate Hill at this point. I have no knowledge of when this house was built or what its original purpose was though I suspect it might have been a gatehouse at the entrance of the estate of Sir Roger Cholmley who acquired a swathe of land here in the 16th century. If I find out more I will add an update.
The dissenters may have found Highgate a good place in which to live but other religious groups also planted their establishments here. This rather striking edifice is the Roman Catholic Church of St Joseph with a school attached. It was built in 1888-9 and is now a Grade II* listed building.
This tall and stately ecclesiastical building stands on the corner of Cromwell Avenue and Hornsey Lane. I instinctively looked around for the board giving the name of the church but couldn’t see one. Then I realized why not…
The church was built in 1887 and called the Highgate Presbyterian Church. in 1967, however, the Presbyterians joined with the Congregationalists in Pond Square to form Union Church, Highgate or the United Reformed Church as it later became. Now superfluous to religious needs, the church was sold and is today residential.
We now continued along Hornsey Lane and came to the road bridge to which it has given its name. When arriving at the bridge for the first time, you may wonder why it is needed but…
…a look over the rail soon shows the answer. The difference in height between to upper and lower levels is such that without the bridge, a long and circuitous route would be needed by traffic that can today run straight across the bridge, hardly noticing that it is there.
A previous bridge had been built here by John Nash in 1813 but it was replaced by the present one built between 1897 and 1900 to the design of Sir Alexander Binnie. It is Grade II listed.
The age of the bridge is obvious from the care taken with the aesthetic elements, for example this beautiful lamp with an heraldic dolphin curling around the stem. A bridge built today would no doubt be at least utilitarian in appearance if not deliberately ugly.
The height of the drop from the bridge to the road below is such that unhappy souls seeking to end their lives have made use of it to commit suicide. It has thus been necessary to install a barrier to prevent this happening.
This photo, which I took in December 2009 (see Colder than I expected) shows the bridge from the road below. It is also known as the Archway and that name has come to designate, not just the bridge, but the whole of the local area. Though small in comparison with some other road bridges, it has a character of its own and is a much loved landmark.