Sunday, January 8th 2017
The morning was taken up with an expedition to Bloomsbury where resides the launderette we patronize, followed by the usual shopping trip to Sainsbury’s. We spent the afternoon lazily because we thought we deserved to rest from our labours. When evening came on and once supper was dealt with, Tigger proposed an outing to Highgate Village as we had not been there for a while and she would like to photograph the lights.
We took the single-deck 214 bus which trundles slowly through Camden Town, Kentish Town and Hampstead then climbs the long hill to Highgate Village. This topography explains the ‘high’ in ‘Highgate’. The ‘gate’ is explained by the toll gate that once stood here to exact money from travellers. There is, however, a rival theory claiming that the village was separated from the Bishop of London’s hunting ground by a fence in which there was a gate and derived its name from this.
We have of course visited Highgate Village before. See, for example, ‘H’ is for Highgate and Hampstead, where you will find a brief history of the area.
Our first stop was at the Gatehouse, a large but rather snug pub with a theatre on the upper floor. We found comfortable chairs and spent some time here drinking tea, relaxing and watching the people.
Then we set out for a short ramble so that Tigger could photograph the lights. The name Highgate Village may give the impression of a small country town, perhaps with the occasional tractor rumbling down the high street. Possibly it was so in the distant past but, if so, it is no longer. Today it is a typical London suburb, though a rather exclusive and somewhat posh one.
During daylight, one can look at the boutiques and the expensive houses but at night there are the lights. Pictures of a few of these appear below.
These trees, decorated with lights, are in the grounds of Highgate School, beside the school chapel.
Here we are looking down Highgate High Street. Highgate deserves its name: all roads lead downwards from here.
Pond Square is so called because there were once ponds here. I believe they resulted from the digging of gravel. There are no ponds now, just a square with buildings around a central garden with trees. Some of these have been decorated with lights.
At the end of our tour we walked down the road to the bus stop, passing St Michael’s Church which was also becomingly and dramatically illuminated. It was designed by Lewis Vulliamy (1791-1871) and opened in 1832.
We reached the bus stop and while waiting, observed the endless streams of cars running up and down Highgate West Hill, most containing only one person, the driver. We really need to do more to get these lazy and selfish people out of their polluting motor vehicles and onto public transport.