Tucked away in a valley in the hills surrounding north London, Crouch End feels like a place apart, and with no Tube or railway station close to the town centre, it cultivates this sense of isolation which is a large part of its charm.
'The area is particularly popular with actors and arty bohemians in the media and music industries'
Crouch End has a mixture of period Victorian and Edwardian houses, good state schools, and a Broadway, full of busy independent shops attracting an arty and creative crowd.
Actors such as Simon Pegg, who shot cult movie Shaun Of The Dead in the streets of Crouch End, Tamzin Outhwaite and Hollywood star James McAvoy and his wife Anne-Marie Duff all live in the neighbourhood.
Crouch End was considered the poor relation of nearby Highgate and Muswell Hill. Prices are still cheaper in Crouch End but poor it is not - when Woolworths closed it was snapped up and reopened by upmarket Waitrose; when Muswell Hill’s Woolworths shut it opened up as a pound shop.
It is also the location of one of London’s most bizarre urban myths. The story goes that Bob Dylan came looking for his friend Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame, but knocked on the wrong door. Dylan asked for Dave, but Dave the plumber who lived there was on a call; his wife asked him to wait and made him a cup of tea. Dave the plumber returned to find Bob Dylan drinking tea in his living room.
Properties: the most expensive house currently for sale in Crouch End is on Wolseley Road, in the area between the Broadway and Highgate, where estate agent Prickett & Ellis Underhill (020 8340 8900) is selling a six-bedroom detached Victorian house for just short of £1.7 million.
Architect John Farrer was responsible for sought-after Edwardian red-brick houses in Cecile Park, east of Crouch Hill. Farrer also laid out and designed some of the houses in the triangle between Park Road and Tottenham Lane. Many of Crouch End’s large houses have been divided up into large and spacious flats, which can sell for up to £500,000 with a garden.
Best of Crouch End
Even though it has better transport links, Stroud Green, to the south-east of Crouch End, is 20 per cent cheaper. There are houses in the gothic and Queen Anne styles. The houses along Mount View Road have views over London and the
reservoir. Along Ridge Road they look north to Alexandra Palace.
The area attracts: families; and is particularly popular with actors and arty bohemians in the media and music industries.
Staying power: once settled in Crouch End, people tend to stay.
Best postcode: Crouch End is in N8, the Hornsey postcode, and Stroud Green is in N4, the Finsbury Park postcode.
Best streets: the roads west of Crouch End Broadway bounded by Coolhurst Road, Berkeley Road, Wolseley Road and Coleridge Road, are the most desirable, although the section of Weston Park closest to the town centre and Cecile Park come a close second.
Up-and-coming: the triangle north of Priory Road, bordering Alexandra Park, is undervalued. There are good two-bedroom purpose-built Edwardian maisonettes in the small ladder of roads between View Road and Beechwood Road which sell for between £300,000 and £360,000.
What’s new: New River Village is a large awarding-winning development by St James Homes, part of the Berkeley Group, alongside the New River on a 14-acre former Thames Water site. There are 622 flats ranging from studios to four bedrooms in seven blocks in an arresting modern style by architects, Stock Woolstencroft. The late Victorian pump house has been converted into a restaurant and art gallery.
Schools: Crouch End is an area where middle-class parents support their local state schools. Almost all the primary schools get excellent results. They are: Rokesley in Rokesley Avenue; Coleridge in Crouch End Hill; St Gildas’ RC in Oakington Way; and Weston Park in Denton Road.
The two state secondary schools get average exam results. Hornsey School for Girls in Inderwick Road is judged outstanding by Ofsted; but Highgate Wood, a popular co-ed school set in spacious grounds, is only judged satisfactory. Highgate has two highly regarded private schools: Channing for girls aged four to 18 and the co-ed Highgate for ages three to 18.
Life and culture
Shops and restaurants: the clock tower and the listed Art Deco Hornsey Town Hall are landmarks in the bustling town centre. As well as the new Waitrose, there is a Thorntons and a Budgens which stocks local produce and has a bike home delivery service. Old-fashioned high street shopping includes the long-standing baker, Dunn’s; two butchers, a fishmonger and a greengrocer.
Indish sells stylish modern furniture and accessories. In Middle Lane, Sally Bourne may have moved her shabby-chic shop to Muswell Hill, but she now runs popular craft workshops from her old shop.
There are numerous cafés and bars, most notably Crouch End institution Banner’s, Italian restaurant Spiazzo, with its large outside terrace and St James, owned by Winkworth estate agent James Ballard.
* MORE ON THE BOROUGH OF HARINGEY:
For more local restaurants, pubs, bars, theatres, cinemas or attractions; or to book a table or tickets for a night out, visit LondonLive.co.uk/Haringey.
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Open Spaces: Crouch End is blessed with plenty of green space. Priory Park has a Green Flag award. Alexandra Park marks the northern boundary of the neighbourhood. Highgate Wood and Queen’s Wood offer country-like walks; while the surprising Parkland Walk, on a disused railway line, is a local nature reserve.
Leisure and the arts: the Park Road Leisure Centre has an indoor pool and a heated outdoor lido. The King’s Head pub has live music and comedy. But for theatre and cinema, Crouch End residents must travel outside their beloved homeland.
Transport: Crouch End is in zone three. Buses are the only means of public transport out of the centre. The W7 goes to Finsbury Park Tube station with access to the West End via the Piccadilly and Victoria lines. The W3 runs down Ferme Park Road also to Finsbury Park.
The No 91 bus runs from Crouch End Broadway to Trafalgar Square via King’s Cross. Hornsey and Harringay stations on the eastern edge of Crouch End have respectively a 13- and 11-minute journey to King’s Cross. An annual Zone one to three travelcard costs £1,208.
Council: Crouch End is in Haringey (Labour-controlled) and Band D council tax for the 2010/11 year is £1,494.14. Stroud Green is in Islington (also Labour-controlled) with a Band D council tax for 2010/11 of £1,271.69.
Average sale prices: Crouch End
One-bedroom flat: £235,000
Two-bedroom flat: £329,000
Two-bedroom house: £300,000
Three-bedroom house: £584,000
Four-bedroom house: £698,000
Average rental prices: Crouch End
One-bedroom flat: £250 to £300pw
Two-bedroom flat: £300 to £400pw
Two-bedroom house: £350 to £450pw
Three-bedroom house: £450 to £550pw
Four-bedroom house: £600 to £700
(Source: Greene & Co)
Pictures by Barry Phillips
All details correct at time of publication (30 June, 2010)