Gothic Mansion on Avenue Road

Number 1 Avenue Road, on the borders of Hornsey, Highgate and Crouch End,will be familiar to many local residents who grew up in the area during the 1960s and 1970s because of its eerie reputation. The neo-gothic mansion was originally erected in 1876, and before the fire which devastated the house in 1969 it was occupied by an elderly Irish lady who some may recall.

There are many accounts on record of the house having an uneasy feel prior to the fire. People who actually spent time inside the house remember it having a creepy atmosphere and wanting to get out of there as soon as they could, despite the friendliness of their host.  The house had a foreboding visage, and after the fire it’s reputation as the neighbourhood’s spookiest building increased.   Strange flickering lights were seen at its darkened windows,  the unmistakeable smell of incense wafted out into the darkened street and muffled chanting could be heard when the moon was full.

Interestingly the Cholmondley Brook runs very near the house, and Avenue Road has in common the presence of an underground water source and an attraction to those wishing to perform magical rituals with another house in Highgate which I will discuss in a future blog.

Post-fire the staircase had not been completely gutted, and it was certainly possible to access the upstairs rooms. Brave gangs of local boys ventured in and found the remains of ceremonial rituals, and the walls and floor daubed with mysterious symbols.

House of Dracula (c) Hornsey Journal

The house became known as a secret meeting place for witches and black magicians, who conducted weird rituals inside its walls at night, and a local newspaper, the Hornsey Journal, even dubbed 1 Avenue Road “The House of Dracula”.

House of Dracula headline (c) Hornsey Journal

Ironically, when later interviewed, the alleged black magicians (two members of a local occult society) confirmed that the house certainly was haunted – but not by them.   They remembered the sound of footsteps and weird bangings when they were alone in the house, an overbearing sense of being watched, and a presence on the stairs.  This is echoed by one juvenile explorer who reported that his friend was chased down the stairs by something invisible inside the house.

By the mid 1970s the house had become an eyesore and the neighbours were concerned about the interest it sparked in bored youths and occultists alike. A competition was suggested by the Avenue Road Residents Association, and eventually in 1977-78 the architects Morden and Knight were commissioned to execute the present block of sheltered flats, which retains the gothic arch and entrance of the 1876 house.

1 Avenue Road in 2013, (c) Redmond McWilliams
1 Avenue Road in 2013, (c) Redmond McWilliams


N.B :~ PLEASE do not harass the residents of the flats for paranormal stories – remember that the sheltered housing development which exists on the site today is private property, and respect the privacy of its residents. 

Have you had a spooky experience at 1 Avenue Road? Share your story below!


5 thoughts on “Gothic Mansion on Avenue Road”

  1. I lived next door at Northern Heights
    A friend and I went into the house after it had been damaged, we walked upstairs and saw the circle in the floor realised it was not good and ran straight out!
    Heard tales that when building the new flats every time the porch was trying to be demolished accidents or machinery stopped working, this was the reason it was designed into the structure

  2. My dad lived there in late 1940s to 1956. Michael Cooper, his Brother Ian ( my uncle )told me all about the Vampire of highgate, I have a photo..

  3. Greetings from the the House of Dracula.Its me again. In my last post I said there was nothing spooky to report but now having thought about it. The reason my flat became available is because the previous tenant died. There have been three further deaths since then. I have only been here 18 months. There are only 12 flats. I wonder if a freedom of info could get Haringey council to give details on the death rate here are they hiding something?

  4. Hello Della, Any relation to David? Stumbled across this site new years eve2015. Excellent! I grew up in Highgate after moving around just moved back in to—–no 1 Avenue road. Kept me awake(what’s that noise). Nothing spooky to report yet ( except me perhaps). Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Mark


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