Silkmercers'' Almshouses, Highgate, London, 1826
Artist: Scharf, George senior
Medium: Pencil on paper
The name of the medieval hamlet of Highgate originates from the Bishop of London's toll gate on top of the hill. The area lies on the main route out to Scotland and the North of England and has consequently been visited by a number of very important people. Henry VII, for instance, marched into Highgate victorious from the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Elizabeth I came here in 1589 and Mary, Queen of Scots was detained at nearby Holloway Hill. In 1666 the fields that comprised most of the area became a temporary haven for Londoners fleeing the Great Fire. The writer John Evelyn remarked that there were " 200,000 people of all ranks and decrees dispersed, and lying along by their heaps of what they could save from the fire, deploring their loss". By the 18th century the place had found favour with aristocrats and rich city merchants who were eager to escape the dirt and noise of the expanding City of London. One of the world's best known cemeteries remains at Highgate and is home to magnificent Egyptian-style catacombs and picturesque walks. Numerous notables are buried here, such as Michael Faraday, Karl Marx and George Eliot.