Middlesex: Hornsey with Highgate – Religion


The living of Hornsey was assessed in 1291 and had a priest in 1302, when it was a rectory. Except during the Interregnum, when Sir John Wollaston was patron, it has been in the gift of the bishop of London from at least 1321. There were chapels at Muswell from c. 1190 and Highgate from c. 1387. The Muswell estate of the nuns of St. Mary, Clerkenwell, already subject to special arrangements, was annexed to Clerkenwell parish c. 1540. Part of Hornsey parish was assigned to St. Michael’s, Highgate, in 1834. South Hornsey detached was included in the consolidated chapelry of St. Matthias, Stoke Newington, in 1849. Districts were formed from Hornsey parish for Muswell Hill in 1843, Crouch End in 1862, Brownswood Park in 1875, Ferme Park in 1877, Stroud Green in 1880, and Cranley Gardens in 1910, and from Hornsey and Tottenham in 1892 and 1898 for North and South Harringay respectively. Another four chapelries were formed between 1834 and 1940. In 1976 the old parish was divided between 16 districts and contained 14 churches. Whereas a total of 4,611 attended 4 churches in Hornsey and Highgate on census Sunday 1851, there were 13,808 at 13 churches and 4 missions in 1903, of which 11,848 were in Hornsey and 1,960 in Highgate. In 1976 the demolition of several churches was threatened.

The living was worth 8 marks in 1291 and 1340, £22 in 1535, and £30 in 1547. The income was £92 in 1649 but £20 extra was assigned to the incumbent by the committee for plundered ministers in 1656. It was worth c. £140 in 1749 and £426 in 1851. Tithes amounted to only 22s. in 1535. The relatively low income was due to a modus of 4d. an acre, which yielded £17 in 1726. In 1749 it was believed that an earlier rector had been prevented from challenging it only by death. The composition was said to be customary in 1765, when it was confirmed after the rector had tried to levy tithes in kind. In 1815 tithes from common lands were extinguished and in 1845 and 1850 the rector dissuaded the Tithe Commissioners from making an award, which would have been expensive but not remunerative. The modus, assessed on 2,100 a., yielded only £35 in 1851 and had fallen to £10 by 1889, when it was dwindling annually because it was applied only to land not built on. In 1610 there were 37 a. of glebe and in 1663 40 a. The glebe lay south of Hornsey High Street and east of the modern Church and Tottenham lanes. By 1749 c. 40 a. were leased and there were 5 a., probably the Rectory garden, in hand. In 1804 a strip along Tottenham Lane was sold in redemption of land tax; under the inclosure award 46½ a. were allotted in two fields on Muswell Hill common and in 1851 the total glebe was 89½ a. Some was leased for building in 1881, more was added in 1883, and 75 a. remained in 1889. Offerings of £140 amounted to a third of the stipend in 1851, when they were falling, and c. £100 in 1889.

A rector’s house existed in 1320 and a house and outbuildings in 1610, shortly before they were encompassed by the New River. The rectory house, almost ruined in 1660, was repaired before 1673 at the incumbent’s expense. It contained six hearths in 1664. In 1750, when the previous rector had been non-resident, £400 was needed, but not spent, to make it habitable. In 1830-4, after having been held by another absentee, the Rectory was again in disrepair. In 1826 it was a two-storeyed timberframed building of lath and plaster. A new Rectory existed by 1851 and was extended c. 1890. A large gabled building of brick with stone dressings, in 1½ a. of garden in 1889, it made way in 1962 for St. David’s school. A red-brick house was erected on part of the site c. 1964 and provision was made in 1969 for a future Rectory on the churchyard.

Failure to pay papal tenths resulted in excommunication of the rector in 1302 and an interdict on the church in 1303. The fraternity of Holy Trinity mentioned in 1401 presumably worshipped in the Trinity chapel. Apart from that of the Holy Trinity, there were lights to the Holy Cross in 1411, the rood in 1478, and All Hallows in 1480. A rent-charge of 3s. 4d. from Pitmansacre was left by John Hill in 1500 to endow an obit for himself and his family but in 1547 it had been spent for five years on the poor and the highways. In 1533 another testator sought inclusion on the bederoll and left two cows to the fabric. The origin is not known of the 7-a. copyhold close called Churchfield from which 13s. 4d. rent was being spent partly on church repairs in 1547. Farmed respectively by William and Robert Shepherd, Pitmansacre and Churchfield passed to the Crown on the dissolution of the chantries. The parish lost its rent-charge from Pitmansacre permanently but Churchfield later became a charity estate.

In 1592 Dr. Thomas Skeffington left a £1 rentcharge from copyhold land in Highgate to provide sermons at the parish church at Christmas and Whitsun each year. Robert Willanton, rector 1556- 60, was deprived and Thomas Lant (d. 1688), rector from 1637 and said to have been of blameless character, was ejected c. 1645. In 1649 the cure was served by a minister chosen by the parishioners but Lant was restored in 1660. Between 1719 and 1810 there was a monthly communion and children were catechized in Lent. In 1791, after the curate was so drunk that the congregation asked him not to preach, the vestry complained that it had long desired a curate of whom it could approve; it also tried to influence the rector’s choice. In 1850 it memorialized Queen Victoria against the reestablishment of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England.

The hymn tune ’Hornsey’ was composed by S. S. Wesley, a friend of Canon Richard Harvey, rector 1829-81, who founded six daughter churches and was described as equally unsympathetic towards ritualism and the extreme Low Church. His successor Prebendary J. Jeakes and his curates were considered ultra-Protestant in 1888 and St. Clair Donaldson, rector 1901-4, tried to broaden the services and abolished evening communion. The choice of his successor, Francis Norman Thicknesse, rector 1904-11, was criticized as that of a moderate High Churchman, since Hornsey had an evangelical tradition. The changes which he introduced, including a reredos, a cross on the altar, and a monthly choral communion, were resisted by some choristers and were denounced as idolatrous in a lengthy controversy in the local press. In 1851 736 people attended morning service and 425 in the evening and on one Sunday in 1903 the total congregation at all services was 1,555.

Among the numerous rectors who held other preferments were Walter of London, rector in 1302-3, Robert Harrington, rector 1560-1610, and Richard Harvey, who were prebendaries of Brownswood. Among absentees were Charles Sheppard, rector 1780-1829, who lived at Northampton and William Cole (d. 1782), rector 1749-50, the antiquary. Lewis Atterbury, rector 1719-31 and for 37 years lecturer at Highgate chapel, published sermons and theological tracts. Thomas Westfield, rector 1615-37 and a noted preacher, became bishop of Bristol, St. Clair Donaldson was in turn archbishop of Brisbane and bishop of Salisbury, and H. C. Montgomery-Campbell, rector 1926-33, became bishop of London. There was a curate in 1547, 1749, and 1851. James Moorhouse, curate between 1859 and 1861, was later bishop of Manchester. In 1933 it was considered that rectors of Hornsey were destined for preferment.

The existing church of ST. MARY, a converted hall, is at least the fourth building of that name to serve the parish; only the tower survives from previous churches. The ’ragged surface’ of the first known church, the result of the rubble, bricks, and irregular stones in its construction, may explain a belief that old materials had been re-used. No part appears to have been older than the 13th century. By 1401 the Trinity chapel had been added to the south side of the undivided nave and chancel. Money was left for it to be roofed in 1428, work was in progress in 1452, and in 1460 the Trinity aisle was mentioned, then or later of six bays. The most westerly bay, which served as the vestry from 1749 to 1832, was narrower and opened into the contemporary base of the tower to the north. The tower, towards which a bequest had been made in 1429, contained a bell in 1460 but was unfinished in 1481-2. Money was left towards the steeple in 1499 and the first three stages were apparently completed c. 1501, as they bore the arms of Bishops Savage (1496-1501) and Warham (1501-3), who also glazed the east window. Further legacies were made in 1517-18 towards the tower and in 1533 for finishing the church, but the additional stages apparently contemplated were never built. Of brick faced with stone, the steeple was too big for the church in 1749. Money was left in 1462 for the rood-loft, complete by 1478, and there was a rood-stair to the south. Round-headed windows were substituted for the Gothic ones in nave and aisles between 1810 and 1832, and by 1749 dormer windows had been inserted in the nave roof to light the galleries. In 1631 Samuel Armitage, girdler of London, erected a west gallery and in 1714, when the church was ’beautified’, a small south gallery was added. In 1793 there was seating for only 200 and demand for pews greatly exceeded the number unappropriated. In 1800 it was decided to erect a bigger south gallery and to install the organ given by John William Paul (d. 1795) at the west end of the north gallery. The south gallery, which accommodated singers and servants in 1810, was slightly enlarged in 1815 and eventually covered the whole aisle but in 1831, with only 220 sittings, the church was too small and in disrepair. Except for the tower, of which the top stage was rebuilt to a different plan, the whole fabric was demolished.

In 1832-3 a new church by George Smith was built adjoining the tower. Commended by contemporaries, it was of white Suffolk brick with stone dressings in a Gothic style and consisted of a sixbay clerestoreyed nave and chancel with clerestorey and north and south aisles. It stood on a platform containing 38 private vaults, of which 12 were sold towards the building costs. The bishop, the rector, and three others each subscribed £1,000 towards the total cost of £8,400. There was seating nominally for 960 in box-pews or in galleries on three sides, where most of the 480 free places were, but only 600 places were considered tolerable in 1887, when the working classes were practically excluded. The building, considered unfit to be the mother church of such an important parish, was replaced in 1888 but survived unused until 1927, when all of it except the tower was demolished and the vaults were filled in. The site was made into a Garden of Remembrance in 1950 and the bells were later removed from the tower, which had become dangerous. In 1966 money for the tower’s maintenance was contributed by the council but both tower and graveyard remained ecclesiastical property.

To avoid disturbing graves a site was taken from the glebe on the corner of Hornsey High Street and Church Lane, where the new church could not be oriented. Designed in the Perpendicular style by James Brooks, it was of elaborately worked stone and consisted of nave with clerestorey and aisles of six bays, transepts, two-bay chancel and side chapels, and two-storeyed east porch. The body of the church was consecrated in 1889 and the west front and first stage of an intended lofty tower were added by Sir Charles Nicholson c. 1900. The tower was never completed, from shortage of money and later because of the instability of the subsoil. The church contained 1,200 seats, half of them free, and was potentially the finest 19th-century church in Middlesex. As early as 1904 cracks appeared in the masonry and in the 1960s scaffolding was required internally. The church was demolished under the St. Mary, Hornsey, Act, 1969, and the site was used for a school. From 1969 services have been held in the church hall, formerly the National hall, acquired in 1916. Planning permission was repeatedly refused for a church adjoining the old tower.

A secular Dutch table of c. 1700 was used in turn as an altar and credence table. An organ by Henry Willis was restored in 1928 and 1946. A 15thcentury brass inscription commemorates Richard Ruggevale and there is a complete brass for the infant John Skeffington (d. c. 1520) and part of one for Thomas Priestley (d. 1613) and his brother and namesake. Monuments include an incised stone slab of c. 1613 for George Rey of Highgate and his two wives, an obelisk of 1601 for Richard Candish, a wall monument with kneeling figure, broken pediment, and cartouche for Francis Musters (d. 1680), and memorials to Samuel Rogers (d. 1855) by William Behnes and to Mrs. Gazeley, 1795, by Henry Rouw. Richard Ruggevale left 33s. 4d. for a chalice in 1462 and in 1547 there were a silvergilt chalice, copper-gilt pipe and paten, and other vessels of laten. The present silver plate includes two flagons of 1641 given by Lady Musters and William Thatcher’s gift in 1713 of cup and standpaten of 1694 and plate of 1700. In 1557 the church had a sanctus and three large bells and from 1749 six bells, rehung in 1775. In 1937 they were treble, (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), T. Janaway, 1775; tenor, J. Warner, recast in 1880. The churchyard, the burial place of Trotwood in David Copperfield, was several times enlarged and was closed for burials in 1892. Many graves were full of water then and in 1750, when all the poor of the parish were buried there. In 1808 the rector was selling plots for private vaults. Among those interred there was Samuel Rogers (d. 1855), poet. There are registers of births from 1653 and of marriages and burials from 1654.

By 1159 there was a chapel at Muswell, later dedicated to ST. MARY. The chaplain or priest was appointed by the priory of St. Mary, Clerkenwell and first mentioned in 1476, when the priory’s tenants had rendered their tithes and offerings at the chapel or St. James’s church at Clerkenwell and worshipped at the chapel from time immemorial, with the consent of the rector of Hornsey. By 1526-7 the rector was paid 6s. 8d. as annual composition for his tithes. The priory’s bailiff accounted for the oblations, which had totalled £6 9s. 10d. in the previous year. They included the offerings of pilgrims, whom miracles had attracted to Muswell by the late 15th century, particularly at the Assumption (15 August) and Nativity (8 September) of the Blessed Virgin Mary and on Good Friday. Norden recorded an image of the Virgin there and the association of Muswell spring with miraculous cures from the time of a king of Scots, possibly Malcolm IV (1153-65), lord of Tottenham. Papal indulgences, allegedly lost or damaged, were confirmed in 1476 and in 1477 an indulgence was granted to all pilgrims who visited the chapel or priory church and contributed towards the rebuilding of the latter. The priory paid a hermit for selling wax at Muswell and in 1531 pilgrimage there was denounced for ’bawdry’. In 1540 the priest occupied a chamber in the gatehouse. The chapel was included in grants of the dissolved priory’s estate, and by 1598 the district was regarded as a detached part of Clerkenwell parish.

The church of ST. JAMES, Muswell Hill, stands on the corner of St. James’s Lane and Muswell Hill Road on land given by Henry Warner. A chapel committee was formed in 1839 and in 1842 an unoriented church was built. Of white brick and in an Early English style, it was designed by Samuel Angell and had a nave seating 432, a shallow chancel, and diminutive tower and spire. The consolidated chapelry assigned in 1843 included Clerkenwell detached; the chapel stood by itself at an equal distance from several growing settlements. In 1874 the nave was extended and a north aisle added, at a cost larger than that of the original building, to increase the number of sittings to 550. Since the church was too small and in a dangerous condition in 1898, J. S. Alder designed a new church of Ancaster stone, with Bath stone dressings in a Perpendicular style. Chancel, vestries, chapels, and two bays of the nave were consecrated in 1901, the rest of the nave, west end, and base of the west tower in 1902, and the tower and spire in 1910. It was gutted during the Second World War but by 1952 had been restored by Caroë and partners with seating for 800; in the interim services were held in a temporary structure in the nave. In 1978 the church consisted of a chancel with side chapels, an aisled and clerestoreyed nave, and a tower and spire 179 ft. high. In 1851 259 people were at morning service and 198 at evening service and on one Sunday in 1903 677 attended in the morning and 419 in the evening. The living was always in the gift of the bishop of London. Thomas Jackson, the first vicar, later became bishop himself. Prebendary E. A. Dunn, vicar 1931-58, was a noted preacher and Edmund Courtenay Pearce, assistant curate 1899- 1900, was later master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and bishop of Derby. There were new organs in 1842, 1853, 1889, and 1913 and the choir, from 1892 under distinguished choirmasters, enjoyed a national reputation between the World Wars.

The church of ST. MATTHEW was founded as a chapel of ease of St. James’s, with the aid of the Missionary Society, to serve the Coldfall estate. The site, on the corner of Coppetts Road and Creighton Avenue, had been given by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1908. A wooden mission hall of 1925 was replaced in 1940 by a brick church to a plain design by Caroë and Passmore. It consists of a chancel, north vestry, south chapel and tower, and aisled nave and west porch. St. Matthew’s had its own minister from 1932 and became a vicarage in 1940, with the Church Pastoral Aid Society as patron. The parish was described as difficult in 1963, when the electoral roll had fallen from the peak of 200 members.

CHRIST CHURCH, Crouch End, stands on the corner of Crouch End Hill and Crescent Road on a site given by Charles Scrase Dickens. Services in the rented Broadway hall during the rebuilding of the parish church continued after 1833. The hall seated only 170 but on Census Sunday 1851 evening service was attended by 193. A new church was consecrated in 1862, when a district was assigned. A. W. Blomfield initially built a nave, north aisle, and chancel to seat 450, adding a south aisle with a further 243 seats in 1867. A tower and spire were built in 1873, substantial repairs were undertaken in 1881, and, with the impending closure of St. Andrew’s in 1906-7, the south aisle was widened for 120 extra seats and a vestry and three porches were added. War damage was repaired between 1949 and 1952 by P. Willoughby, who presumably whitewashed the coloured brick arcades. In 1976 Christ Church consisted of a chancel, with north tower and spire above a vestry, another north vestry, south organchamber, and an aisled and clerestoreyed nave with north and west porches. Of Kentish Rag outside and brick within, it is in a restrained Decorated style. On one Sunday in 1903 attendances were 509 in the morning and 345 in the evening. There was an organist in 1863 and new organs were provided in 1871 and 1898; organ and choir were prominent in services in 1892 and the church had a fine musical tradition in the years 1914 to 1917 and 1962 to 1964. In 1914 the Revd. C. J. Sharp prevented his own succession by a dogmatic Anglo-Catholic or Evangelical, but Canon Bryan Green, vicar 1934-8, established a militant evangelical tradition. W. R. Matthews, vicar 1916-18, was later dean of St. Paul’s, and W. F. P. Chadwick, vicar 1938-47, became suffragan bishop of Barking. The patron is the bishop of London.

The church of ST. ANDREW, Shepherd’s Hill, stood on a site near Montenotte Road given by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. An iron and wooden building by A. E. Billing with seating for 400 and a south-east tower and belfry, it opened in 1890. It was attended on one Sunday in 1903 by 295 people in the morning and 193 in the evening. The population did not grow as expected and there was competition with St. Augustine’s, Highgate. St. Andrew’s therefore remained a chapel of ease to Christ Church and was closed in 1907, whereupon the building became the first Anglican church of St. Andrew, Felixstowe (Suff.).

The church of ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST, Brownswood Park, stands on the corner of Queen’s Drive and Gloucester Road. The district chapelry created in 1875, after changes in 1880 and 1915, has lain almost entirely in the peninsular part of Hornsey south of Seven Sisters Road. Work on the building, to a grandiose design by F. Wallen in a Venetian Gothic style, began in 1869 but was delayed by the builder’s bankruptcy. Two-thirds of the church was consecrated in 1874 and the west end in 1878, when Wallen’s services were dispensed with, and the adjoining Vicarage was erected in 1876. The church has an apsidal chancel with side chapels, transepts, a central tower, of which the upper stages were not built, an aisled and clerestoreyed nave with north and south porches, and an apsidal western baptistery. Extensive repair was needed in 1920 and under-pinning from 1928, and severe war damage was not remedied until 1951. Although founded at popular request in a growing area, St. John’s suffered from dwindling congregations by 1885. In 1903 only 199 attended a service in the morning and 172 another in the evening, in a church that sat 900, and expenses could hardly be met in 1895 and 1913. George Birkett Latreille, first vicar, held the benefice for 47 years. His successor A. C. Turberville was noted for his advanced churchmanship. In 1928 the patronage was transferred from the bishop to the Corporation of London.

The church of HOLY INNOCENTS, on the corner of Tottenham Lane and Rokesley Avenue, was built in 1876-7 to a design by A. W. Blomfield. Of yellow brick with red-brick and stone dressings in a Gothic style, it has a chancel, north chancel, and south tower surmounting an organ-chamber, and an aisled and clerestoreyed nave with south porch, at the west end of which two vestries and a hall are screened off. It contained 860 seats, all free, and on one Sunday in 1903 was attended by morning and evening congregations of 440 and 721. In 1973-4 the western bay was refashioned as a hall, reducing the seating for services to c. 300. In 1877 a district was assigned from the parish of Hornsey and the patronage of the living was vested in the bishop.

The church of HOLY TRINITY, Stroud Green, on the corner of Granville and Stapleton Hall roads, replaced a crowded temporary hall in stages between 1880 and 1885. Designed by E. B. Ferrey in a 13th-century style, it was of brick with stone dressings and had a nave, south aisles, transepts, vestry, south porch, and west spirelet. Although built at only moderate cost, the interior was dignified and spacious. There were 1,200 seats in 1903, when a morning service was attended by 1,051 and an evening service by 1,210. Following war damage the church was declared unsafe c. 1951 and pulled down in 1960. The site was re-used for a hall, Vicarage, and public garden. The adjoining red-brick hall in Granville Road was adapted as the church, with a western portico and spirelet. The congregation was evangelical in 1885, when 2,266 signatories opposed the presentation of the ritualist, Dr. Robert Linklater, vicar 1885-1911. By 1888, however, Holy Trinity was the only Hornsey church with Anglo-Catholic services, which were retained in 1976. In 1881 a district was assigned from the chapelries of Holy Innocents and St. John and from Hornsey parish. The patron is the bishop of London.

The church of ST. PAUL, South Harringay, and its Vicarage and hall occupy the site between Wightman, Cavendish, and Burgoyne roads. An iron church stood in 1883 in Burgoyne Road and by 1886 was served by the London Diocesan Home Mission. The nave of the permanent church was consecrated in 1891 and the chancel and chapel were finished in 1903. Designed by G. M. Silley and built of Peterborough red brick with Bracknell stone dressings, it has a chancel, south-east chapel and bellcot, north vestries, and an aisled and clerestoreyed nave of six bays with north-west and southwest porches. When built the church seated 700 and congregations on one Sunday in 1903 totalled 671 in the morning and 834 in the evening; in 1976 there were no pews in the north aisle. In 1892 a consolidated chapelry was formed from Hornsey and part of Tottenham, with the bishop as patron of the living.

The church of ST. PETER, North Harringay, stands with its Vicarage between Wightman, Frobisher, and Lausanne roads. It originated in 1884 as a chapel of ease to the parish church. The iron chapel was replaced by the present Gothic structure designed by James Brooks and Godsell, of which the western part was consecrated in 1897 and the chancel, organ-chamber, side chapel, and vestries were finished in 1905. The church was of red brick with stone dressings and consisted of a chancel, a north chapel, an aisled and clerestoreyed nave, and south-west and north-west turrets. Extensive war damage had not been repaired in 1958. On one Sunday in 1903 congregations were 559 in the morning and 707 in the evening, and the additions of 1905 increased the seating to almost 1,000, but in 1976 only the south aisle was used for worship and the rest of the building contained fittings from the demolished parish church. In 1898 a consolidated chapelry was formed from Hornsey and part of Tottenham, with the bishop as patron of the living. In 1977 St. Peter’s parish was combined with that of Christ Church, West Green, Tottenham.

The church of ST. LUKE, Mayfield Road, originated in the work of the London Diocesan Home Mission in 1898. An iron church was built in 1898-9 and replaced by the permanent church designed by J. E. K. and J. P. Cutts. Six bays of the nave and aisles seating 500 were completed in 1903, and the chancel, organ-chamber, chapel, and clergy’s vestry were consecrated in 1908. The church is of red brick with stone dressings and consists of a chancel, south chapel and north organ-chamber, an aisled and clerestoreyed nave of five bays, western baptistery, and north-west vestry and south-west entrance; the sacristy and another vestry are beneath the organ-chamber and north aisle. A central turret has been removed. The Vicarage of 1910 stands immediately to the north. As completed the church seated 750, a number since reduced: on one Sunday in 1903 359 people attended in the morning and 326 in the evening. A densely populated district of only 123 a. was taken from those of Christ Church, Holy Trinity, and Holy Innocents in 1903. Pew rents were falling by 1902 and closure was first threatened in 1929. Presentations were suspended in 1968, since which date there has been a priest-in-charge. Incumbents changed from an evangelical to a High Church tradition and in 1976 professed Second Vatican Council Catholicism. The patron is the bishop of London.

The existing church of ST. GEORGE, Cranley Gardens, on the corner with Park Road, occupies a site given by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners c. 1900. Dr. St. Clair Donaldson, however, acquired land on the corner of Priory Road and Park Avenue South, where J. S. Alder designed a church with a chancel, transepts, and aisled nave. The nave and aisles of 1907 seated 400 and were of red brick with yellow Taynton stone dressings, in a late Decorated style with Perpendicular details. In 1910 a district was assigned with the bishop as patron of the living.

The site proved ill chosen but in 1928 a chancel, chapel, and organ-chamber by W. C. Waymouth were added. In 1940 the church was bombed, from 1945 only the chancel and chapel were used for worship, and in 1956 the building was demolished and the site sold. The modern church by Randall Morris was consecrated in 1959. It is not oriented. Of red brick on a reinforced concrete frame with transverse elliptical arches, it has a sanctuary, aisled nave with east vestries, south-east chapel and bell turret, and south porch. The 16th-century font from St. Mary’s was moved from the old to the new St. George’s church. The church was served from 1907 until 1949 by Dr. C. E. Simpson (d. 1961) as curate, priest-in-charge, and vicar.

Highgate did not form an ecclesiastical district until the 19th century, when a consolidated chapelry was created after the building of St. Michael’s church on the St. Pancras side of the boundary. Previously there had been only the chapel of Cholmley’s school, on the Hornsey side, which itself had replaced a chapel of the hermitage. Both chapels had come to serve local inhabitants remote from their own parish churches.

The hermit’s chapel at Highgate existed perhaps in the 1350s and 1360s and certainly in 1387, its keeper being responsible by 1464 for repairing roads. Miracles at Highgate attracted great devotion and resort in 1464, when the pope granted an indulgence to those who would support the chapel, which was dedicated to St. Michael. Local inhabitants, in both Hornsey and St. Pancras, used it for worship in 1503. In that year the vicar of St. Pancras led a procession to Highgate, presumably to assert his own rights. The hermits were appointed by the bishop, who in 1540 made a lease of the former hermitage along with the great park. He gave the chapel and 2 a. to Cholmley’s school in 1565 but in 1577 the Crown granted the chapel, as a concealed chantry, to John Farnham. Farnham soon sold his title to Roger Puleston, the school’s receiver general, who in turn conveyed it to the governors.

The school’s statutes of 1571 required the master to read prayers every Sunday except the first in the month, when worshippers should attend their own parish churches. The governors raised subscriptions for a new chapel, towards which Hornsey parish made a small contribution, and completed it in 1578. From 1593 Highgate chapel was often called a chapel of ease. The master continued to act as reader and there was also a lecturer from 1637, when William Platt left him £10 a year by a codicil, or earlier. The lecturer or preacher was sometimes called the chaplain and was appointed, presumably from the first and certainly from 1731, by the governors. By the 1630s the chapel was used as a parish church, where baptisms, marriages, and burials were performed. In 1639 it served the inhabitants on Highgate Hill who otherwise would have to go to Hornsey or St. Pancras, in 1719 people seldom travelled to their own churches, and in 1781 a former resident who had moved to Muswell Hill was asked to give up his pew. The status of the chapel was questionable, and was complicated by disputes between reader and lecturer, by claims of the rector of Hornsey and vicar of St. Pancras, and by doubts whether school funds should be spent on the periodic enlargements of the chapel or the master’s time on pastoral work as reader. The question who should receive the fees was resolved by a governors’ order of 1720, dividing them proportionately. The division of pastoral responsibility between reader and lecturer was much at issue in the 1720s when the lecturer, Dr. Lewis Atterbury (d. 1731) was rector of Hornsey. Thereafter the lecturers tended to hold benefices at a distance and, being often styled simply ’morning preacher’ from 1750, to yield some of their preaching duties to the reader. The division between the reader and the two parochial incumbents, however, remained in contention.

When in 1821 the governors promoted a private Bill for a larger chapel, the resulting controversy ended in a judgement that the chapel had not been intended for general use. It was accordingly replaced in 1832 by a new church, which also served the school until 1867 and in 1834 was assigned a consolidated chapelry from Hornsey and St. Pancras parishes. The last master to serve as reader, appointed in 1816, served the church until 1838. Thereafter the living was a perpetual curacy, styled a vicarage from 1868, in the bishop’s patronage.

The hermits presumably depended on small bequests, recorded from 1461, and on alms. Under the statutes of 1571 the master received £10 a year for all his duties. By 1586 the governors paid slightly more and bonuses thereafter were occasionally granted. A master was appointed in 1746 at a salary of £20, soon increased by one half and in 1757 to £100 on account of higher rents obtained for the chapel estate. A further rise was refused in 1771, when the profits from still higher rents were devoted to building repairs. As reader he was entitled to £10 a year by the gift of Edward Pauncefort and also profited from pew rents and chapel fees. In 1728 the master complained that his fees were being taken by Lewis Atterbury and suggested that gifts by Platt, John Smith (d. 1655), and Sir John Wollaston (d. 1658) had been misappropriated. The lecturer enjoyed annual payments of £10 from Platt and Wollaston and £1 from both Platt and Smith for a sermon, in addition to whatever the governors might offer. A statement in 1750 that the chapel was endowed with c. £80 a year presumably referred to the salaries of both reader and lecturer. Atterbury received £60 a year by 1723 and his successors the same until in 1789 Dr. John Strachey, having given great satisfaction for 16 years, was granted an additional £30. When a consolidated chapelry was formed the lecturer’s endowment was transferred to it. In 1859 the income of St. Michael’s was £550 a year and in 1892 it was £600.

There was no glebe, although a parsonage house was built in 1856 on land given by the bishop of London on the north side of Hampstead Lane, where a datestone survived in 1977. The house, with 4 a. of garden, was sold in 1936 and later replaced by Highgate Close. No. 68 Southwood Lane was the Vicarage from 1936 until its sale in 1972. The vicar then moved to no. 10 the Grove, which had been left to the parish by Miss A. Barber.

Thomas Carter, master and reader from 1639, was accused of opposing the protestation oath in 1641 and of drunkenness in 1644. He was then ejected by the parliamentarian governors, who included Wollaston, Sir Richard Sprignell, and later Henry Ireton. In 1661 Carter complained that he had been imprisoned for having read the prayers laid down in the school’s statutes and was reinstated. Although the governors asserted in 1729 that the master ought to serve no cure but Highgate chapel, William Felton, master 1746-81, was also rector of Wenden Lofts and Elmdon (Essex). In 1750 Felton, ’Methodistically inclined’, was not allowed to preach by the lecturer but there is no sign that any master was thought inadequate as a pastor.

Daniel Latham, who had been rector of Orsett and vicar of Grays Thurrock (Essex), apparently held no other position when lecturer at Highgate, where he made his will. Most of his successors, however, were pluralists who obtained the lectureship early in their careers. Lewis Atterbury preached at Highgate before his appointment on Latham’s death in 1695 and Edward Yardley (d. 1769), who married a beneficiary under Atterbury’s will, preached there before succeeding Atterbury in 1731. Yardley was soon rector of St. Florence (Pemb.) and from 1739 archdeacon of Cardigan. John Strachey, appointed in 1773, was already rector of Erpingham (Norf.); he had become a royal chaplain, archdeacon of Suffolk, and prebendary of Llandaff before surrendering the lectureship in 1793. James Saunders, who followed, was the son of Thomas Saunders, a governor of the free school. The last lecturer was Charles Mayo, formerly Rawlinsonian professor of Anglo-Saxon, who was appointed in 1803 and lived mainly at Cheshunt (Herts.). Two later incumbents of St. Michael’s, C. B. Dalton, 1854-78, and H. Edwards, 1946-73, were prebendaries of St. Paul’s. From the late 19th century there has normally been an assistant curate.

A salaried clerk was paid by the governors for 1640-1 and was probably the man who received two years’ wages for ’his pains about the chapel’ in 1636. John Hartwell was churchwarden in 1670, when another man was clerk of the chapel, but by 1672 had apparently secured the clerkship for himself. In 1692 the governors appointed his son and namesake and in 1731 a William Hartwell was succeeded by his son, William, who was still clerk in 1759. A man was paid yearly for minding the clock in 1648 and also for ringing the bell on winter evenings in 1669, although the clerk was responsible for the clock in 1709. There was a salaried organist before 1747, when a new one was appointed at the same rate.

The statutes of 1571, reaffirmed in 1729, enjoined the master to say morning and evening prayers on every Sunday and holy day, except the first Sunday in the month, morning prayers with the litany on Wednesday and Friday, and evening prayers on Saturdays and the eve of holy days. The altar was deemed to have been suitably railed off in 1637 but ritualism was discouraged by William Platt, who stipulated that the gospel should be ’powerfully and purely preached’. A book of homilies and other works were required in 1685. In addition to the two Sunday services there was a monthly communion in the mid 18th and early 19th centuries. An anti-ritualist tradition at St. Michael’s in the mid 19th century was perhaps inspired by the Evangelical T. H. Causton, perpetual curate 1838-54. Causton was followed by C. B. Dalton, son-in-law of Charles Blomfield, bishop of London. Dalton, who confessed that he could not love dissenters, caused offence by placing a small cross on the altar. On his death the living was offered to Daniel Trinder, vicar 1878-88, as a moderate High Churchman free from ritualism. Dalton established a fund in 1857 for a scripture reader, who also taught evening classes at the National school, and in 1860 a parochial nurse was appointed. A railway labourers’ mission, with a chaplain appointed by the London Diocesan Home Mission from 1863, was also supported by Dalton and included Highgate’s high street among its weekly meeting-places. The parish magazine, founded in 1863, had a circulation of more than 8,000 by 1871. Attendances at St. Michael’s were said to average 1,300 in the morning, 500 in the afternoon, and 1,000 in the evening in 1851, when the church was still used by Cholmley’s school, and were 527 in the morning and 279 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903.

The hermitage was thought by Norden to have stood on the site of Cholmley’s school. Probably it did so, having been next to the bishop’s park in 1387 and close to the parish boundary in 1503, when the hermit barred the way to the procession from St. Pancras. The chapel seems to have been substantial, perhaps as a result of the gifts solicited in 1464, since the hermit sought refuge in its steeple in 1503. A garden and orchard formed part of the premises in 1531 but the building itself was ruinous by 1577. There was no known connexion with the Hermitage in West Hill, where William and Mary Howitt lived.

Work on the chapel for the free school started in 1576 and ended in 1578. The building was of brick, with its north wall abutting the schoolhouse. It was enlarged with help from local subscribers in 1616, consecrated in 1617, perhaps for the first time, and again enlarged in 1628. Soon afterwards it had a battlemented west tower and a gabled south wall, which presumably survived until further additions were made in 1719-20, largely at the expense of Edward Pauncefort. An easterly extension measuring 40 ft., apparently the breadth of the old chapel, by 24 ft. was consecrated in 1720, forming a ’sort of chancel’ with a higher ceiling and the altar in a semi-domed recess. Probably the south wall was refaced at that time and its square-framed windows were replaced by tall round-headed windows beneath oval lights. Such was the appearance of the chapel in 1750, when it was as large as Hornsey church and also had a vestry north of the chancel and porches flanking the tower. There were north and south aisles, a gallery along the north wall, and another gallery, with an organ, at the west end; the altar stood on a marble step beneath an ’arched cupolo’ with gilded lettering. A new organ was installed in 1753. The roof of the older, main, part of the chapel was lower than that of the east end until 1772, when the whole structure was reroofed out of the accumulated funds of the school estate. Thereafter hipped roofs ran the length of the building, rising behind a plain parapet which had replaced the gables along the south wall; the battlements on the tower were also replaced by a parapet, with globes at the corners.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries Highgate chapel was often portrayed, perhaps because it stood opposite the Gatehouse and had links with eminent residents. William Cole remarked on its fine monuments in 1750, when he singled out those to William Platt (d. 1637) and his wife, Sir Francis Pemberton (d. 1697), and Lewis Atterbury (d. 1731), although in 1816 the building itself was considered humble and to have a ’trifling’ tower. On the chapel’s closure in 1832 five 18th-century monuments were transferred to the new church, as were the plate and registers. The Platts’ monument, restored at the expense of St. John’s College, Cambridge, was installed in the old church of St. Pancras, while Pemberton’s memorial was moved to Trumpington (Cambs.) and Atterbury’s to Hornsey parish church. The old chapel was then dismantled, part of it becoming overgrown with ivy and part serving as a five court until the site was cleared for rebuilding in 1865. The burial ground, closed in 1857, contained 17th-century slabs in 1976 but the remains of Coleridge, in a vault beneath the new school chapel, were removed to St. Michael’s church in 1961.

The existing church of ST. MICHAEL is set back from South Grove on the crest of Highgate Hill, facing south-east and, with its spire, dominating the skyline. The building is of pale stock brick with stone dressings and consists of an aisled and clerestoreyed nave with three galleries, western tower with octagonal spire, and chancel with vestries beneath. A plan of 1822 to rebuild the old chapel a little farther north was abandoned when the school’s governors had to end their responsibility and in 1830 Charles Barry proposed a church on the site of Sir William Ashurst’s decayed mansion. There the new church, built to the design of Lewis Vulliamy, was consecrated in 1832. Half of the total cost was met by the Church Building Commissioners and one-fifth by the governors of the school. Vulliamy’s mixed Gothic style has generally won praise for its elegance, although in the late 19th century many considered it impure. The nave, with its octagonal piers, is light and spacious. Buttresses and crocketed pinnacles adorn both the spire and the body of the building, increasing its resemblance to Vulliamy’s demolished Christ Church, Woburn Square.

The original seating capacity was for 1,520, including places for the poor and for Cholmley’s school. There was an eastern vestry until 1880-1, when the chancel was built by C. H. M. Mileham under a faculty of 1878 and seating for the choir was introduced. The nave and aisles were reseated at that time. A new reredos had been installed in 1873 and enrichment and further alterations at the east end were begun in 1903 under Temple Moore and included the provision of a side chapel at the end of the south aisle. The spire was struck for the third time by lightning in 1903, when the church had temporarily to be closed, and was again damaged, with much of the fabric, by a flying bomb in Waterlow Park in 1944. Restoration was carried out in stages between 1946 and 1954.

An organ was installed in the west gallery in 1842, lowered in 1859, and replaced by one behind the choir in 1885. The original east window was replaced in 1889 by one by C. E. Kempe, who later designed glass for the side chapel. Temple Moore’s embellishments included the addition of saints’ figures and colouring the reredos in 1903 and the erection of a screen on the south side of the chancel in 1905. Kempe’s east window was largely destroyed in 1944 but some pieces were placed behind the organ in the east wall of the chancel aisle and a new east window, one of the last works of Evie Hone, was dedicated in 1954. The first memorial designed for the church was that to Coleridge (d. 1834). The most imposing of the monuments from the old chapel is one for John Schoppens (d. 1720) and his wife. The others commemorate Rebecca Pauncefort (d. 1719), Sir Edward Gould (d. 1728), Samuel Forster (d. 1752) and his wife, and John Edwards (d. 1769). The church has one bell, cast in 1847 by G. Mears and given, with the clock, by George Crawshay of Ivy House.

By 1676 Highgate chapel possessed a cup and cover, bought by the governors in 1636, a paten, perhaps acquired at the same time, and two flagons given by Mrs. Jane Savage. The plate was all of silver and was the responsibility of the lecturer, who in 1695 deposited it at Sir William Ashurst’s house. William Thatcher later presented a silver paten, Edward Pauncefort paid for all the plate to be gilded, and a silver-gilt spoon of 1773 was inscribed to the chapel with the date 1774. Much if not all of the old plate passed to the churchwardens of St. Michael’s, who in 1900 held a paten datemarked 1636, a flagon of 1668, Thatcher’s plate of 1710, and the spoon of 1773. In 1908 the vestry declined to return them to the school, on legal advice, and thereafter retained them, with other pieces presented in the 19th century. The registers, which are complete, contain baptisms from 1634, marriages from 1635, and burials from 1633.

The needs of new residents after the opening of Highgate station led to evening services at Francis House, North Hill, in a room rented from a carrier named Cokeham, in 1863. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Lord Mansfield gave a site where the church of ALL SAINTS, with a curate-in-charge, was consecrated in 1864. It remained within St. Michael’s parish until 1874, when the building’s enlargement secured the creation of a consolidated chapelry out of St. Michael’s, St. Mary’s, Hornsey, and St. James’s, Muswell Hill. The living then became a vicarage, in the patronage of the bishop. Heavy expenses were incurred by the need to provide access from both North Hill and Archway Road along All Saints’ (later Church) Road, where tolls were levied by lessees of the Archway Road Co. until 1876. Consequently the church was built with only c. 300 sittings, although William Gladstone paid for a plan that allowed for future additions. The church, of stone, was designed in a 14th-century style by A. W. Blomfield, the Revd. C. B. Dalton’s brother-in-law, as a small cruciform building with an eastern bell-turret. A north porch was added in 1864 and an organ-chamber in 1865, while the north transept served as a clergy vestry. In 1874 Blomfield added the south aisle and increased the seating to c. 550. There were attendances of 345 in the morning and 219 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903. John Stockdale added a north aisle and south-east vestries in 1912 and the chancel was restored in 1938, but damage was caused during the Second World War and by a fire in 1945. The church, whose north aisle had been blocked off, was restored by W. C. Waymouth and rededicated in 1953. In 1977 the north aisle, separated from the body of the church by folding doors, served as a parish hall.

A Sunday school and institute opened in 1866 in Cokeham’s rooms, an iron schoolroom was dedicated in 1873 on land bought by Dalton at the corner of All Saints’ Road and North Hill, and in 1876 no. 1 North Hill Terrace (later no. 109 North Hill) was rented as a mission house. In 1880 the mission used a new building adjoining the iron room and designed by C. H. M. Mileham, who was a churchwarden. A brick schoolroom was built in 1882, when the iron one moved to become the first church of St. Augustine. A convalescent home occupied the upper floor of the mission house from 1880 and was extended over the schoolrooms in 1884. It was further extended in 1911, accommodated 20 in 1921, and closed in 1924. The vicarage, immediately east of the church, was dedicated in 1875 and replaced by a smaller house in 1963, when most of the old garden was sold to Middlesex C.C.

In 1881 the vicar of All Saints bought a part of the former Winchester Hall estate in Archway Road, with help from the Bishop of London’s Fund. All Saints’ iron schoolroom was moved there in 1882 and consecrated as the temporary church of ST. AUGUSTINE, a few weeks after services had started at no. 4 Northwood Road. The iron church was enlarged in 1884. The chancel and one bay of the nave of an adjoining permanent church were consecrated in 1888 and the nave, with a temporary facade towards Archway Road, was opened in 1896. A consolidated chapelry was formed in 1898 out of All Saints’ and St. Michael’s parishes, with the curate of All Saints as vicar and the bishop as patron. There were attendances of 174 in the morning and 242 in the evening on census Sunday 1886 and of 283 in the morning and 307 in the evening in 1903. The church, of red and yellow brick with stone dressings, was designed in a 14thcentury style by J. D. Sedding. It was to seat more than 700 and to have an aisled nave, a north chapel, and a clergy vestry south of the sanctuary, with rooms underneath. The chapel was completed by Henry Wilson in the 1890s and the west end, with a bell-tower higher than originally planned and a two-storeyed north-west porch, was dedicated in 1914. J. H. Gibbons, who designed the west end, restored the fabric after a fire in 1924. The west front is adorned with a life-size stone Calvary, which, with the church’s ceremonial, led to a Protestant demonstration in 1914. Most of the fittings were replaced after the fire by the Revd. J. H. Hodgson, ’an absolute Catholic’, and in 1976 included the Stations of the Cross and many carved figures.

The foundation stone of St. Augustine’s Vicarage, Langdon Park Road, was laid in 1901. Both the Vicarage and the red-brick parish hall, opened between it and the church in 1905, were designed by J. S. Alder, who was a churchwarden.


A seminary priest, Leonard Hyde, was arrested at Highgate in 1585. Recusant gentry included Francis Yates of Highgate in 1587, and, from Hornsey, George Mackworth in 1589, Mary Jerningham in 1593-4, and Catherine, wife of Anthony Kitchen, in 1594. The foremost was Sir John Arundell (d. 1591), of Lanherne (Cornw.), confined for three years to Alderman Rowe’s house at Muswell Hill but in 1590 allowed to choose another place near to London. Sir John was host to young Mr. Stourton and young Mr. Arundell, both listed as papists, in 1588 and his daughter Elizabeth married John Charnock, a local gentleman fined for recusancy in 1593-4. Another prominent recusant was Jane, Lady Lovell, of Highgate. In 1608 the rector presented Walter and Nicholas Henningham for non-attendance at Highgate chapel. Arundel House was also suspect as a centre of Roman Catholic intrigues: inquiries were made in 1615 about food which had been procured by the earl of Arundel’s servants for Henry, prince of Wales (d. 1612), on the May Day before his death.

After Lord Arundel’s public profession of Pro testantism in 1615 there was little evidence of recusancy, even in Highgate. The gardener of one Heveningham was said to be in touch with visiting papists in 1679 but the parish contained no reputed Roman Catholics in 1706. A ’few’ were recorded later in the century and sixteen in 1767. Martin Hounshill, chaplain to the duke of Norfolk, was buried at Hornsey in 1783 and two French emigré priests lived at Highgate in 1797.

For most of the 19th century Roman Catholics worshipped outside Hornsey. From 1858 a wide area was served by St. Joseph’s retreat, on Highgate Hill. In 1869 its chapel was often crowded, especially with Irish from Upper Holloway, many of whose children attended St. Joseph’s or, later, St. Aloysius’s schools. The Passionists of St. Joseph’s opened St. Mary’s chapel and school in Tottenham Lane in 1871 but apparently did not maintain them for long.

Many new residents of Stroud Green had no desire to retain links with the mission at Eden Grove, in less prosperous Holloway. In 1892 they formed a committee, which in 1893, as Stroud Green Catholic association, began to raise funds for a church. Coombe House, at the corner of Womersley and Dashwood roads, was bought in 1894, when mass was celebrated there. It was designated St. Augustine’s, since canons regular of St. Augustine were intended to serve the mission, but was soon committed to canons regular of the Lateran, who changed the name to St. Peter-in-Chains. A red-brick church, in a Gothic style, was founded in 1898 and completed in 1902. There were attendances of 473 in the morning and 125 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903. The church was still served by canons regular of the Lateran in 1976.

Muswell Hill was included in the new East Finchley parish from 1898. Sisters of St. Martin of Tours arrived in 1904, a separate parish was formed in 1917, and the temporary church of Our Lady of Muswell opened in 1920. The church, accommodating 300 and designed for future conversion into a hall, was so called because it stood in Colney Hatch Lane, near the medieval estate of the nuns of Clerkenwell. A permanent church was first used for worship in 1938 and consecrated in 1959. It was built of brick in the Byzantine style, to the designs of T. H. B. Scott, and seated 600.

Harringay was served from West Green in Tottenham, originally called the parish of West Green and Harringay, until the purchase of the Methodists’ church in Mattison Road. Mass was celebrated in the adjoining hall in 1963, when a priest-in-charge of Harringay district was appointed, and the parish of St. Augustine of Canterbury was created in 1964. The former Methodist church was used for worship from 1964.

Pastoral work among West Indians in Haringey and neighbouring boroughs was undertaken by the Revd. John Robson from 1972. No. 416 Seven Sisters Road was later acquired as the Caribbean pastoral centre and adapted for worship and social activities.


Highgate, the home of Parliamentarians and just beyond the limits imposed by the Five Mile Act, was a natural resort for dissenters. John Storer, formerly lecturer at Stowmarket (Suff.), was licensed as a Presbyterian at his house in Highgate in 1672, when Hezekiah King, ejected from Fowlmere (Cambs.), was similarly licensed in Hornsey. The Quaker William Mead entertained George Fox at Highgate in 1677 and 1678 and Daniel Latham, ejected from Orsett (Essex), made his will there in 1691. A meeting-house in Southwood Lane was said to have been founded in 1662, although the first recorded minister was Josiah Sprigge (d. 1684). His successor William Rathband had property in Highgate from 1662, was registered as a preacher in 1689, when he had no particular charge, and was buried there in 1695.

The 18th-century congregation in Southwood Lane claimed descent from that of 1662, although the next known minister, Thomas Sleigh, was recorded only c. 1729. Among its regular members was John Wilkes’s father Israel (d. 1761), a rich Clerkenwell distiller. Ministers included David Williams, founder of the Royal Literary Fund, Rochemont Barbauld, husband of the writer Anna Letitia Barbauld, the biographer John Towers, and the philologist Alexander Crombie. Many were unorthodox and none stayed for long: the deistic Williams withdrew in 1773, Towers left on the opening of a rival chapel in 1778, and dissension grew when a successor introduced his own liturgy. The old and new meeting-houses, on opposite sides of the lane, were described as Presbyterian and Methodist respectively. The first closed on Crombie’s departure in 1798, to be reopened briefly by Unitarians in 1806 and sold to the Baptists by 1814. Its later history was that of a Baptist tabernacle, while the rival meeting-house, where Methodists probably did not worship for long, was replaced by a forerunner of Highgate Congregational church.

At Crouch End, a village previously ’without the gospel’, a small building was opened for worship in 1806. It might have been the place attended by a few Methodists in 1810 or that registered by Baptists in 1819, and was later known as Broadway chapel. John Wesley had preached at Highgate in the 1780s and Independents had registered rooms at Hornsey in 1794, ’Highgate House’, jointly with Baptists, in 1797, and a greenhouse at Hornsey in 1806. At Muswell Hill, where the Baptist Dr. Samuel Stennett (d. 1795) had lived, part of a house was registered by dissenters in 1822. Stennett’s house was bought in 1826 by the philanthropist William Brodie Gurney (d. 1855), who attended Highgate Baptist chapel but held Sunday evening services in his own drawing-room until 1830. Worshippers at Muswell Hill, led by Gurney’s missionary friend Eustace Carey (d. 1855), were said to number 150-200 in the summer months.

Baptists, at Crouch End and in Southwood Lane from the early 19th century, Methodists, earlier but more briefly in Southwood Lane and at Crouch End in 1810, and Congregationalists, arising from groups of Independents, were the longest established denominations. All three opened chapels as housing spread and in 1873 the Methodists created a Highgate circuit out of part of the area served from Islington. The Hornsey and Highgate Free Church Council was formed in 1896; it was renamed after the withdrawal of Highgate’s churches in 1901 and a separate council for Muswell Hill was established in 1903.

The attraction of churches just outside the parish, such as the Methodist churches in Archway Road and Holly Park, obscures the strength of nonconformity in Hornsey and the relative popularity of the sects. In 1903 slightly more than half of the 29,329 worshippers were Protestant nonconformists, the Anglicans accounting for 13,015 and the Roman Catholics for 598. Baptists had as many as 5,056, followed by Congregationalists with 3,983 and Wesleyan Methodists with 3,566. Presbyterians numbered 1,652, Brethren 674, and Primitive Methodists 428. Later arrivals included the Moravians, the Salvation Army, Christian Spiritualists, and Mennonites. A few churches were closed or rebuilt after the Second World War and others were closed on the union of Congregationalists with Presbyterians as the United Reformed Church.

Crouch End chapel, afterwards Broadway hall, was opened by Baptists in 1806 and soon used for two Sunday services, a weekday lecture, and a Sunday school. Dissenters at Crouch End had a small place of worship in 1810 and 1816 but it is not known if they used the later Broadway hall or the meeting-place registered by Baptists in 1819 and made the centre of an open communion in 1822. The later Broadway hall was used in turn by Congregationalists, by Anglicans during the rebuilding of St. Mary’s, and again by Baptists from 1879 until the opening of Ferme Park chapel in 1889. The hall had once been a farm building of Crouch Hall and had only 170 sittings in 1851 when under lease to the rector, who added Gothic windows and a short tower with a cupola. Broadway hall afterwards served the Universalist Church and the British Legion, until a fire in 1923 led to its demolition in 1925. Its site was covered by the forecourt of Hornsey town hall.

Campsbourne Road church first met in an iron chapel, leased in 1873 and registered in 1876. After dissension a group left to found Westbury Avenue church, Wood Green, and in 1892 Campsbourne’s remaining members joined Ferme Park church, which rebuilt the chapel in Campsbourne Road as a mission, started several institutions, and by 1903 had raised the attendance to 158 in the morning and 195 in the evening. In 1907 a brick hall, seating 600, and two smaller halls were opened in the Campsbourne, next to three houses (nos. 3 to 5) which had been given to the mission. The hall in Campsbourne Road was thereafter used for adult education and, later, as an institute and a scouts’ headquarters. In 1954, with help from Ferme Park, Campsbourne chapel again became independent. It retained the hall and two converted houses in the Campsbourne in 1976.

Ferme Park Baptist church was formed largely through the efforts of John Batey, minister at Broadway hall. Land had been bought at the corner of Weston Park and Ferme Park Road in 1888 and a chapel, with schoolrooms and seating 630, was opened in 1889. A building on the plan of a Greek cross, seating 1,250 and with marble baptistery and vestries, was opened in 1900, when the older one was converted into halls and a flat. Ferme Park, which administered many societies, had Hornsey’s largest Baptist attendances in 1903, with 1,052 on one morning and 1,036 in the evening. Members, who belonged to the London Baptist Association in 1928, numbered 1,205 in 1914 and 1,029 in 1939. From 1973 they worshipped in Park chapel, belonging to the United Reformed Church, while awaiting the rebuilding of their own church, which was demolished in 1974.

Archway Road Baptist church, on the later corner of Wembury Road, was promoted by the London Baptist Association. Building began in 1885 and continued in 1888 but the congregation temporarily disbanded before the opening of a new chapel, on the same site, in 1894. Attendances numbered 323 in the morning and 398 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903 and there was seating for 700 in 1928. The chapel had closed by 1941 and later was replaced by Highgate district synagogue.

Emmanuel church, Duckett Road, probably originated as Hornsey Park Baptist chapel, registered at no. 114 Turnpike Lane in 1892 but vacated by 1896. In 1903 there were 166 worshippers on one Sunday morning and 178 in the evening at Duckett Road. Emmanuel church had closed by 1928.

Muswell Hill Baptist church was also promoted by the London Baptist Association. A chapel in Duke’s Avenue, with a hall beneath, was founded in 1901 and registered in 1902. It was attended by 314 on one Sunday morning and 372 in the evening in 1903 and had seating for c. 800, later reduced to 750. The building is of red brick with stone dressings, in a Decorated style; its tower is surmounted by an octagonal lantern, with a spirelet. A hall for young people was opened at the rear of the church in 1957.

Strict Baptists.
Highgate Baptist chapel or tabernacle originated in a mission sent by the church of Eagle Street, Holborn, in 1809. The old meetinghouse in Southwood Lane stood empty in 1811 but had been acquired for worship, with help from Eagle Street, by 1814. It may have been the Ebenezer chapel registered by Christopher Miller, a Highgate butcher, in 1829 but was later rebuilt and was registered by Particular Baptists in 1861. In 1851 there were 190 sittings, 50 of them free, and a congregation on census Sunday of 95 in the morning, 55 in the afternoon, and 118 in the evening. By 1903 attendances were 66 in the morning and 122 in the evening, the smallest at any of Hornsey’s six Baptist churches. After numbers had fallen further, the chapel was registered as Highgate tabernacle by members of the London Baptist Association. Although refurbished in 1960-1, the building was disused in 1971 and served as a photographic studio in 1977, when it retained its galleries and presented a stuccoed and pedimented front, with round-headed windows, to Southwood Lane. It was bought by Highgate School in 1977.

Stroud Green chapel, Stapleton Hall Road, was established in 1878 and registered as Crouch Hill chapel by Particular Baptists in 1884. A red-brick building in the Gothic style, with adjoining halls, was founded in 1889. There were 280 worshippers in the morning and 396 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903. There were 475 seats in 1928, by which date the church had joined the London Baptist Association, and 460 in 1975.

Highgate Congregational chapel was founded in Southwood Lane, where in 1827 a site was sub-leased by the Revd. John Thomas to trustees who were to erect a chapel for the Village Itinerancy or Evangelical Association for the Propagation of the Gospel. The chapel was built in 1834, when the neighbouring building of 1778 was demolished, and in 1844 was called Highgate Congregational church. In 1851 there were 400 sittings, 300 of them free, and the average attendance was 320 in the morning, including 70 Sunday-school children, and 200 in the evening. It housed a British school from 1860 until 1874. A building in South Grove, with a schoolroom underneath, was opened in 1859 to replace the chapel of 1834 and was later enlarged. It seated 720 by 1894 and was attended by 312 in the morning and 203 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903. Under Josiah Viney, minister in 1859, the chapel was active in local life. The building was retained for regular worship, with seating reduced to 600, until the formation of Highgate United Reformed church in 1967. The stone Gothic chapel in South Grove in 1976 temporarily housed Highgate district synagogue. Highgate chapel established a mission at no. 33 North Hill in 1872; it was described as undenominational in 1936 but again as Congregationalist in 1951, when it seated 180. The hall was later acquired by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Park chapel, at the foot of Crouch Hill, was opened in 1855 and registered by Independents in 1856. Alterations raised its seating to 1,017 in 1877 and 1,430 by 1894. After further extensions it had 816 worshippers in the morning and 671 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903, the largest Congregationalist attendances in Hornsey. The chapel and its halls formed a popular social centre, accommodating Hornsey British school until 1877 and later being described as a ’great church’. From 1973 Baptists from Ferme Park shared Park chapel, by then a United Reformed church and still seating c. 1,400. The original Gothic building, with a corner turret and small spire, had faced east along Haringey Park. In 1976 it formed part of an impressive stone range and was the northern end of a larger north-south chapel; at the southern end stood a church parlour, built in 1886, and on the north the Corbin hall, dated 1892. The Grove mission was apparently established in 1881 and served from Park chapel in 1951, although a Grove united mission was also listed as undenominational.

Mount View Congregational church was founded to serve Stroud Green, where land on the corner of Mount View and Granville roads was acquired with help from Park, Highgate, and Tollington Park chapels. A hall was opened in 1887 and used for worship until the completion of a building in the Decorated style, of red brick faced with terracotta, which in 1893 was to seat 1,000. The pastorate was said to be prosperous and on one Sunday in 1903 there were attendances of 330 in the morning and 231 in the evening. The church was closed and demolished in 1935.

Muswell Hill Congregational church presumably originated in Union church, Tetherdown, registered in 1891. Union church stood opposite Page’s Lane and may have been only a hall, as a church at the corner of Queen’s Avenue was begun in 1898 and the first registration of 1891 was cancelled in 1912. The new church, on land given by James Edmondson, was registered in 1901 and was a Gothic building of brown roughcast with stone dressings. There were 850 sittings and attendances on one Sunday in 1903 of 603 in the morning and 568 in the evening. The building accommodated members of the former Presbyterian church from 1973 and seated 257 in 1976.

Middle Lane Wesleyan Methodist church was founded in 1873, with help from the new Highgate circuit. The iron Trinity church in Hornsey High Street was used until the opening of a brick building at the corner of Middle Lane and Lightfoot Road in 1886. It seated 1,000 and on one Sunday in 1903 there were attendances of 322 in the morning and 427 in the evening. The church, in an early Gothic style, was demolished in 1975 and replaced by one of red brick and concrete, seating 200.

Finsbury Park or Wilberforce Road Wesleyan Methodist church opened in 1871 in an iron building on land bought by Sir Francis Lycett at the corner of Wilberforce and Seven Sisters roads. A permanent church was used from 1875, being assigned to the new Finsbury Park circuit, and near-by stables, acquired for a Sunday school, were replaced by a hall in 1901. An offshoot was founded in 1878 in Gillespie Road, Islington. The main church, later in Stoke Newington, had attendances of 630 in the morning and 495 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903. The building, seating 1,000 in 1894, was of brick with stone dressings, in the Gothic style, and had a north-west tower and spirelet. Between 1959 and 1976 it was replaced by a yellow-brick block, with the church behind, near the corner site.

A Wesleyan mission room at no. 66 Gordon Road, Hornsey Vale, was registered from 1884 until 1896. Possibly the same room was used by the Church of England in 1908.

Willoughby Road Wesleyan Methodist church opened as a Sunday school chapel in 1885, on land acquired in 1882 near the corner of Hampden Road. Classrooms were built in 1889 and a church, perhaps replacing an iron one, was opened on the corner site to the east in 1893. A lecture hall and more classrooms were added to the north in 1903, when on one Sunday there were attendances of 822 in the morning and 1,124 in the evening. The congregation, which belonged to the Finsbury Park circuit, was joined by many from Mattison Road in 1963. After a fire in 1973 Willoughby Road church was replaced by a yellow-brick structure which, with the adjoining schoolroom in Hampden Road, seated 300. The brick hall opened in 1903 was bought with the empty corner site by Haringey L.B. and survived in 1976.

Mattison Road, later Harringay, church opened as an iron tabernacle in 1891 and was replaced by a permanent church and halls in 1901. A schoolroom was registered in 1900. Originally sponsored by the Caledonian Road circuit of the Primitive Methodists, it joined the Finsbury Park circuit after the Methodists’ union in 1931. There were attendances of 188 in the morning and 240 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903, when membership was rising and Mattison Road was described as the chief Primitive Methodist church in London. A minister was shared with Grange Park from 1931 to 1942 and thereafter with Finsbury Park. The church, seating 400, was of brick with stone dressings, in a Decorated style. It closed in 1963 and became a Roman Catholic church.

A Wesleyan church in Inderwick Road belonged to the Finsbury Park circuit by 1898 and had attendances of 70 in the morning and 147 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903. It belonged to the Highgate circuit in 1906 and apparently closed soon afterwards.

Muswell Hill Wesleyan Methodist church occupied a wooden building at the foot of the Avenue, Wood Green, in 1898 and moved to the corner of Colney Hatch Lane and Alexandra Park Road in 1899. The nave and transepts were built in that year and other parts in 1904. The church belonged to the Highgate circuit and had attendances of 349 in the morning and 305 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903. The building is of red brick with stone dressings, in a Gothic style, and has a corner turret terminating in an octagonal lantern.

Highgate or Jackson’s Lane Wesleyan Methodist church was opened in 1905, twelve years after a site had been obtained at the corner of Archway Road. The building included a Sunday school and was of red brick with stone dressings, designed in an early Gothic style by W. H. Boney of Highgate; the church seated 650 and the schoolroom 400. Although well known in the 1960s for its counselling centre, the church had closed by 1976.

Highgate Presbyterian church, at the corner of Hornsey Lane and Cromwell Avenue, was built by the church extension committee of the London presbytery and opened in 1887. There were attendances of 473 in the morning and 362 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903. The building, of stone in a Decorated style, was known as Highgate United Reformed church from 1967 and seated 400 in 1976.

Muswell Hill Presbyterian church, at the corner of Prince’s Avenue and the Broadway, was registered in 1899 and completed in 1903, when on one Sunday there were attendances of 489 in the morning and 328 in the evening. The church was built of flint and terracotta, to the designs of G. Baines, with late Gothic and art nouveau features, including a corner tower surmounted by a copper spirelet. Its materials and style later won widespread attention and led to a campaign for its preservation after the Presbyterians joined the Congregationalists in 1973. The building, seating c. 600, was unused in 1976.

Cholmeley hall, in Archway Road opposite Cholmeley Park, was registered in 1890 by undesignated Christians. Brethren worshipped there in 1903, when on one Sunday there were 195 in the morning and 200 in the evening. Their fellowship, believed to have come from Clapton hall, Hackney, was renamed Cholmeley Evangelical church in 1966. The yellow-brick building, seating c. 250, included a hall and youth centre in 1976.

By 1886 Plymouth Brethren, perhaps unconnected with Cholmeley hall, had a mission room in Archway Road. In 1903 Brethren also met at no. 88 North Hill and no. 45 Woodstock Road, with morning attendances of 85 and 43 and evening attendances of 68 and 32 respectively; smaller groups worshipped in the drill hall, Southwood Lane, and no. 33 Stroud Green Road. Plymouth Brethren registered the assembly rooms in Middle Lane, Crouch End, from 1916 until 1922 and a mission hall at no. 59 Park Road from 1921 until 1934. They also met at Coleridge hall, Coleridge Road, in 1936, when no. 45 Woodstock Road was used by an unspecified denomination. Alexandra hall, built on the parish boundary in Alexandra Road by 1901, was a meeting-place of Brethren in 1968.

In 1923 Brethren from Cholmeley hall had an iron room in St. James’s Lane, Muswell Hill, which was registered from 1929 until 1935. After its demolition they used temporary meeting-places before buying a site in Wilton Road, Friern Barnet, where Wilton chapel was opened in 1952.

The Salvation Army.
Assembly rooms in Middle Lane were registered by Salvationists in 1907. The registration was cancelled in 1912, presumably on the foundation of a citadel in Tottenham Lane, opposite Elmfield Avenue, which was registered in 1913. The building, of red brick with stone dressings, was damaged in the Second World War but it reopened in 1944 and remained in use in 1976.

Hornsey Moravian church, in Priory Road, was founded in 1907 and consecrated in 1908. Its congregation separated from the Moravian church in Fetter Lane, London, in 1910. The church, of red brick with stone dressings in a 14th-century style, has a corner turret and spire. In 1976, when the first major alterations were planned, there was seating for c. 270. An adjacent hall was rebuilt in the 1930s.

Felix hall, Crouch End, was used briefly by Spiritualists from 1925 and a shop in Church Lane, Hornsey, from 1936. Christian Spiritualists registered nos. 56 and 58 Wightman Road for a few months in 1933.

Muswell Hill Spiritualists met at a house in Tetherdown in 1936 and at the Athenaeum from 1939 until its demolition. From 1965 they hired a hall of Crescent Lodge hotel, Crouch End, until in 1968 they moved to no. 36 Waldegrave Road. In 1976 the house, also used as a dancing school, seated c. 40.

Society of Friends.
Meetings were held at the Athenaeum, Muswell Hill, in 1924 and a meetinghouse in Church Crescent was built in 1926 and survived in 1976. At Highgate Quakers were established in 1953 and rented part of Davies’s school of English, at no. 17 North Grove, in 1975.

During the Second World War relief work was undertaken by Mennonites in Shepherd’s Hill, where, at no. 14, the London Mennonite Centre was founded in 1954. It served as an information centre and students’ hostel, and had a chapel with an average Sunday attendance of 20 in 1976.

Other denominations and unspecified missions.
Highgate Wood Cottage, Jackson’s Lane, was registered by Christians in 1851 and Christ Church, in Coach and Horses Lane, by Episcopalian dissenters from 1853 until 1896. The Free English Church built the iron Trinity church in Hornsey High Street c. 1872 but sold it to the Methodists in 1873. The drill hall in Southwood Lane, later used by Brethren, was registered by home missionaries in 1882.

The Grove united mission registered a room at no. 14 the Grove, Crouch End, in 1878. Perhaps it occupied premises near the corner of the Grove and Lynton Road, recorded in 1886 and attended by 51 in the morning and 58 in the evening on one Sunday in 1903, although the original registration was cancelled in 1896 and a hall in the Grove was again registered, by undesignated Christians, in 1912. The Grove united mission survived in 1936 and presumably was not connected with the Congregationalists’ mission, which still existed in 1951.

Shortly before the foundation of Highgate Unitarian church in Despard Road, Islington, in 1885 Unitarians, including girls from Channing House school, worshipped in the drill hall at Crouch End.

Hornsey tabernacle, Wightman Road, was registered for undenominational worship in 1893. In 1903 it was used by ’disciples of Christ’, with an average attendance on one Sunday of 58 in the morning and 118 in the evening, and in 1912 it was registered as Hornsey Church of Christ. Members joined Harringway Congregational church to form Harringay United church, Tottenham, in 1969, whereupon the Wightman Road site was sold to the United Apostolic Faith Church.

Broadway hall served the Universalist Church by 1903 and in 1910. Unspecified Christians registered Park Road hall in 1929, a room at no. 44 Coleridge Road from 1942 until 1949, and no. 88 North Hill from 1944 until 1949.

Christian Scientists were at no. 137 Stroud Green Road from c. 1912 until 1923 and thereafter at nos. 60 or 58 Crouch Hill until the Second World War. They also had a reading room at no. 13 Topsfield Parade, Crouch End, in 1936.

The Chapel of the Divine Love, a room at no. 83 Claremont Road, Highgate, was registered by the Evangelical Catholic Communion from 1938 until 1964.

Jehovah’s Witnesses acquired no. 33 North Hill as a Kingdom hall by 1964 and retained it in 1976.

The United Apostolic Faith Church bought and renovated the former Hornsey tabernacle in 1970.

A hall, offices, and premises for the Evangel Press were added in 1971 and flats in 1972. The church was called the Gospel Centre in 1977, when it seated c. 200 and was the headquarters of the group, which belonged to the Pentecostal movement.


Defoe found Highgate a favourite retreat of wealthy Jews, who lived there ’in good figure’, served by their own butchers and other tradesmen. He also heard that there was a private synagogue, which presumably was part of a house. Jewish residents, such as the Da Costas, probably led Hyman Hurwitz to open his school by 1802. A synagogue adjoined Hurwitz’s buildings but did not survive the school’s closure.

Public worship was confined to neighbouring parishes until a temporary building was opened by Hornsey and Wood Green affiliated synagogue in 1920. A new building on the same site in Wightman Road, seating c. 200, was founded in 1958 and opened in 1959. In 1976 the congregation remained a local synagogue, affiliated to the United Synagogue in Upper Woburn Place, St. Pancras.

Highgate district synagogue, so called from 1947, originated in a community which bought no. 88 Archway Road in 1929. A synagogue for c. 400 was opened in 1937 but superseded by no. 200, on the corner of Wembury Road, in 1950. The building, a converted Baptist chapel partly refaced with yellow bricks, was damaged by fire in 1975. Services thereafter were held in a room attached to St. Augustine’s church and in the former Congregational church in South Grove, while new premises were sought.

Muswell Hill Jews at first worshipped in hired halls and a house in Methuen Park. In 1946 they registered a hall on the ground floor of the Athenaeum and in 1962 they bought a site at no. 31 Tetherdown, for a synagogue to hold 500. The congregation formed a district synagogue of the United Synagogue by 1962 and a constituent synagogue from 1976.

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