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Muswell Hill is a suburb of north Londonmarker, mostly in the London Borough of Haringeymarker. It is situated about north of Charing Crossmarker.

Muswell Hill is in the N10marker postal district and mostly in the Hornsey and Wood Green parliamentary constituencymarker.


The earliest records of Muswell Hill date from the 12th century. The Bishop of London, who was the Lord of the Manor of Harringay, owned the area and granted 65 acres (263,000 m²), located to the east of Colney Hatch Lane, to a newly formed order of nuns. The nuns built a chapel on the site and called it ‘Our Lady of Muswell’.

The name Muswell is believed to come from a natural spring or well (the "Mossy Well"), said to have miraculous properties. The traditional story tells that a Scottish king was cured of disease after drinking the water of the spring/well. The area became a place of pilgrimage for healing during medieval times. The River Mosellemarker, which has its source in Muswell Hill and Highgate, derives its name from this district; it was originally known as the Mosa or Mosella.

In the 18th century Muswell Hill was a scattered village consisting mainly of detached villas in large gardens. In 1787 it was said that nowhere within 100 miles of London was there a village so pleasant or with such varied views. Little had changed by the middle of the 19th century. One of the houses of the time was The Limes. This house occupied the angle of Muswell Hill Road with Colney Hatch Lane and was a three-storeyed house with portico and two-storeyed wing approached by a double carriage drive through impressive gateways. The large grounds of the house extended to Tetherdown and included a lake. Opposite The Limes was Muswell Hill pond and beyond that the Green Man inn, built of stone. Further down the hill past the Green Man was the Elms a squat three-storeyed house later improved by Thomas Cubitt standing in 11 acres, part of the grounds of which were laid out by Joseph Paxton. A short distance down the north side of Muswell Hill was the Grove, which was three storeys high and had nine bays with pedimented projections at each end. It stood in 8 acres of grounds which contained a 200 yard avenue of oaks. In 1774 the house was occupied by Topham Beauclerk. A little farther down the hill stood Grove Lodge, also in wooded grounds. Altogether there were eight properties in Muswell Hill worthy of note in 1817.

Parallel with Muswell Hill was a track known as St. James's Lane which ran across a triangle of wasteland. By the middle of the 19th century houses were already dispersed along the lane at the foot of which was Lalla Rookh, a two storeyed villa with a wide verandah. Other buildings there were apparently cottages or huts, both single and in terraces.

It was not until the end of the 19th century that Muswell Hill began to be developed more densely from a collection of country houses to the contemporary London suburb it is today. The development was spurred by the opening of a branchline railwaymarker with connecting services to Finsbury Park and Kings Cross stations. Most commercial development was initiated in the early 20th century when the current street pattern was set out and elegant Edwardian retail parades were constructed. The centre included a music hall (later demolished with the site redeveloped as a supermarket) and several churches for various denominations. The 1930s saw the construction of an art deco Odeon cinema. The site of the Ritz, a cinema formerly at the top of Muswell Hill, has been redeveloped as offices.

Until the reorganisation of London's local government in 1965, Muswell Hill formed part of the Borough of Hornseymarker within the administrative county of Middlesexmarker. The area subsequently became part of the London Borough of Haringeymarker.

Notable people

The area was the birthplace of musicians Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks, who began their career here and helped immortalize it with their 1971 album Muswell Hillbillies. A plaque and memorabilia in the Clissold Arms pub in Fortis Green commemorate Ray and Dave's first public performance there. It was home to Samantha Janus also for a time.Just down the road from the house where the Davies brothers grew up on Fortis Green is a house called Fairport. This was the family home of Simon Nicol, and his band, Fairport Convention, was named after it.

James Walbourne, current guitar player for The Pretenders, is from Muswell Hill. The Pretenders cover two songs from Ray Davies, also from Muswell Hill.

Johnny Borrell from the band Razorlight was born and grew up in Muswell Hill. Carl Barât also lives there.

Oscar Nominated Actress Sophie Okonedo lives in Muswell Hill as does the best selling classical singer Katherine Jenkins

BBC's Blue Petermarker TV programme co-presenter (from Sept. 2008), Joel Defries, was educated in Muswell Hill, at Fortismere Schoolmarker.

Michael Mcintyre (comedian) lives in Muswell Hill, near Sainsbury's (according to the TV show Live At The Apollo)

Tony Hadley lead singer of 1980s band Spandau Ballet lives in Muswell Hill and has been known to perform with other local musicians at the annual Muswell Hill Festival.

Bernard Jewry, known as Alvin Stardust, was born in Muswell Hill before moving to Mansfieldmarker at an early age.

Adam Ant (born Stuart Leslie Goddard) briefly lived in Muswell Hill with his wife and her parents.

Mike Leigh, the film director, lives in Muswell Hill.

The serial killer Dennis Nilsen carried out some of his murders in 23 Cranley Gardens in Muswell Hill during the 1980s. He lived in the top floor flat.

In the popular 1970s BBC TV comedy series Porridge, the principal character, Norman Stanley Fletcher, played by Ronnie Barker, hailed from Muswell Hill. In one episode he returns home briefly and is busted as a resident of Fortis Green Avenue, where the police station stands on the corner... In the short-lived sequel Going Straight, Fletcher returned to live in the neighbourhood after his release from HMP Slade, though in that series external shots suggested that his house was in Colney Hatch Lane, opposite the top of Muswell Road.

Comedian Barry Took, who collaborated with Marty Feldman as a writer for numerous radio shows including Round the Horne, was born in Muswell Hill in 1928.

Many EastEnders actors live in the area including Perry Fenwick who plays Billy Mitchell.

Tracy Brabin actress and writer has lived in Muswell Hill for the past five years.

Maureen Lipman has been a long-time resident.

The snooker player Anthony Hamilton currently lives in Muswell Hill.

Comedian, TV and former LBC 97.3 presenter Iain Lee currently lives in Muswell Hill.

Star of Pirates of the Caribbean and The Office (UK) Mackenzie Crook currently lives in Muswell Hill.

The Russian ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko who died in 2006 from polonium-210 radiation poisoning lived in Muswell Hill. He lived in Osier Crescent.

Children's author Gary Crombie currently resides on Pages Lane in Muswell Hill

Crispin Bonham-Carter; 'Mr Bingley' in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice currently lives in Muswell Hill.

Sociologist Eric Gordy relocated to the area in June 2008.

Vivian Stanshall, artist, poet, writer, performer, and a founding member of Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, made his last home in Muswell Hill, dying there in a fire in March 1995. His wife, the novelist Ki Longfellow-Stanshall often lived there with him.

Crouch End Festival Chorus (founded 1984) famous for performances at BBC Proms, multiple film scores, and promotion of its own concerts of varied classical and modern music rehearse at Fortismere Schoolmarker every Friday night. The choir collaborated with Ray Davies for his 2009 album The Kinks Choral Collection.

Oliver Tambo, ANC leader, lived in exile with his family in Alexandra Park Road from 1960 to 1990. There is a bust of Oliver Tambo in Albert Road Recreation Ground and a plaque on the house where he lived with his family on the corner of Alexandra Park Road and Windermere Road.

Muswell Hill forms part of the setting for the Ally's World Series by Karen McCombie.

Muswell Hill Golf Club (Par 71, 6438 yards) was founded in 1893, and is still played on today.

Muswell Hill is the main setting for the 2006 'Doctor Who' episode The Idiot's Lantern.

Ed Byrne and Michael Mcintyre, the comedians, both have mentioned living in the Muswell Hill area.

90s TV funnyman Bob Mills of 'In Bed With Me Dinner' fame lives in Muswell Hill.

The artist Ben Wilson is often seen around Muswell Hill Broadway painting Chewing Gum masterpieces

Actor Daniel Brocklebank (Shakespeare in Love, RSC, Emmerdale, The Hole) also lives in Muswell Hill.

Scottish Actress Allison McKenzie, former star of the Scottish Soap-Opera River City currently lives in Muswell Hill.

References in popular culture

Madness mention Muswell Hill in their 1982 hit, Driving in My Car -
"I drive up to Muswell Hill,
I've even been to Selsey Bill"

Rock band The Kinks in 1971 recorded the LP "Muswell Hillbillies" which included the song "Muswell Hillbilly". Southern Culture on the Skids has covered this song.

In the sixth episode of That Mitchell and Webb Look, Muswell Hill is referenced as a prospective area for house-hunting.

Muswell Hill is the supposed setting for the episode of the Doctor Who episode The Idiot's Lantern but in reality the terraced streets filmed in the episode are nothing like the leafy avenues of the actual Muswell Hill.

During a stand-up round of Mock the Week, Ed Byrne mentioned that he used to live in Muswell Hill and that despite its fairly central location, taxi drivers would refuse to drive him home. He also mentioned this previously on his DVD "Pedantic and Whimsical".

In the famous sitcom Porridge, the main character, Fletch is from Muswell Hill.

The comedians Bill Bailey, Ed Byrne and Michael McIntyre have also mentioned living in Muswell Hill.

Parts of the film Shaun of the Dead were filmed in Muswell Hill.

References in literature

"And utterly ruined the cook's nerves at Mr Brewer's establishment at Muswell Hill." -- Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf.

There is reference to Muswell Hill in Samuel Richardson's Clarissa published in 1748. Clarissa Harlowe and Robert Lovelace take a tour in a carriage from Highgate to Muswell Hill.

Anthony Horowitz also mentions Muswell Hill in 'Horowitz Horror'.

Hilaire Belloc's Charles Augustus Fortescue "... became immensely Rich, And built the Splendid Mansion which Is called The Cedars, Muswell Hill, Where he resides in affluence still."


Primary schools

  • Coldfall Primary School
  • Hollickwood JML School
  • Muswell Hill Primary School
  • Norfolk House Preparatory
  • Our Lady of Muswell RC Primary School
  • Rhodes avenue Primary School
  • St James C of E Primary School
  • Tetherdown Primary School

Secondary schools

Transport and locale

Close to Alexandra Park and Highgate Woods, with something of a village atmosphere, Muswell Hill has developed from the staid suburb it was in the 1950s to become fashionable with a host of trendy bars, restaurants, coffee shops and delicatessens. Muswell Hill Broadway and Fortis Green Road, the main shopping streets, still maintain their Edwardian splendour with many of the original facades preserved and three churches (one now converted into a bar) adding to the streetscape. Some parts have spectacular views over London, and the area is home to a large number of actors, journalists and other media people. House prices remain high, owing partly to the quality of the local schools, and this is also reflected in the influx of upmarket shop brands like Space.NK, Maison Blanc and Whistles. There is also a weekly farmers' market at the foot of Muswell Hill in Alexandra Parkmarker

Bustling shops in Muswell Hill Broadway.

At the top of a hill, Muswell Hill is not directly served by any tube or other railway stations, despite being a popular place for central London commuters to live. Most commuters reach London by bus (there are direct routes both to the Citymarker and the West Endmarker 24 hours a day), or they use the nearest underground stations Highgatemarker, Bounds Greenmarker, Finsbury Parkmarker or East Finchleymarker, all of which have convenient bus links from Muswell Hill. There are also mainline train services (the Great Northern Electrics runs into King's Crossmarker and Moorgatemarker from Alexandra Palacemarker and Hornseymarker).

Until the mid-20th century there was a rail branch line, the Muswell Hill Railway, from Highgatemarker which passed through Muswell Hill, terminating at a station at Alexandra Palacemarker, and there was a plan to integrate this into the London Underground Northern Line; some contemporary tube maps (e.g. the 1948 map) showed the line as being under construction. However, this plan was cancelled after the 1939-45 war, and the railway line was abandoned in 1954. The line was later converted to become the Parkland Walkmarker.

Nearest places

Places of interest

Nearest stations

Muswell Hill Broadway

There are no London Underground stations in the immediate district, but the nearest are Highgatemarker, Bounds Greenmarker and East Finchleymarker. The stations are roughly equidistant.

See also

  • Hornsey marker for the local government unit of which Muswell Hill was part from medieval times to 1867
  • Municipal Borough of Hornseymarker for the local government unit of which Muswell Hill was part from 1903 - 1965

References and notes

External links

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