This prominent mock-tudor building, standing proudly in the centre of Highgate Village, takes its name from the Gate House at which tolls were taken from travellers heading out of London on the Great North Road, through the Bishop of London’s park. The arch, long since demolished, through which stagecoaches used to pass, bridged North Road to the old village burial ground which predates the construction of Highgate Cemetery and now forms part of the grounds of Highgate School.
A public house has stood on this site for hundreds of years, since at least 1552 if not two centuries previously, and it is impossible to gauge just how many thousands of people have passed through it over all this time.
In addition to its history as a dividing point between north and south for the purposes of travelling, the Gatehouse sit on a crossroads, and historically straddled two parishes. Indeed, when it was used as a court house in centuries past a rope was used to prevent those being tried from escaping from the jurisdiction of one authority to another. The boundary stones can still be seen outside the Gatehouse today:
Three stories high, much of the activity reported in the Gatehouse seems to focus on the ballroom, now a theatre called, appropriately, ‘Upstairs at the Gatehouse’. Many live-in publicans and members of staff over the years have reported feeling unwelcome, and even experienced the resident spectre or spectres directly – on one occasion resulting in hospitalisation for shock and on another falling – or perhaps being pushed – violently down the stairs.
Visitors to the pub have also encountered an entity in the rooms which encircle the ballroom. Whilst looking for a public telephone one night in October 1966, having visited the Gatehouse to listen to a jazz band, Mr. Tony Abbott was extremely shaken to see ‘as if from nowhere’ a tall, black clad figure wearing a Guy Fawkes-type hat moving along the passageway ahead of him and entering a small room which sits directly beneath one of the three apexes of the roof.
Upon entering the room Mr. Abbott discovered that the figure had vanished, and he was about to return to the bar when the electric light suddenly went out and the temperature in the room turned icy cold. Immobilised with fear, he was suddenly overcome by a ‘rushing sound’, and the sensation that someone – or something – was attempting to strangle him. It was not until many years later that Mr. Abbott felt able to tell anyone about his terrifying experience, heartened by the discovery that he was far from alone in encountering this seemingly malevolent entity.
Visiting the Gatehouse? Check out their details:
1 North Road, Highgate, N6 4BD.
Phone: 020 8340 8054.
Opening Times: Mon – Thu: 9am to 11pm. Fri – Sat: 9am to 12am.
Have you had a spooky experience at The Gatehouse? Share your story below!