It has the added advantage of having one of London’s most sought-after state comprehensive schools, Fortismere. Parents are happy to pay a premium for a house within the school’s tight catchment area.
Muswell Hill and neighbouring Alexandra Palace are north London suburbs a short distance south of the North Circular Road. Highgate Wood and Queen’s Wood, two areas of wild and ancient woodland, separate them from nearby Highgate to the south. And from the terraces of Alexandra Palace there are breathtaking views over most of the capital.
Famous local residents include opera singer Lesley Garrett - who is married to a local GP; Spandau Ballet musician and ex-EastEnders star Martin Kemp, and film actor Bob Hoskins.
‘It’s an orderly place to bring up a family - parents are happy to pay a premium to live here’
Rowland Slinn of estate agents Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward describes Muswell Hill as: "A well-preserved example of an Edwardian suburb with a village atmosphere."
Properties: the Muswell Hill conservation area covers a large area around the Broadway. There are two- and three-storey Victorian and Edwardian houses and terraces, many with attractive plasterwork detailing. The Ringwood Estate, north of Fortis Green, has large Twenties houses while the Rookfield Estate, south of Muswell Hill, has the feel of a garden suburb with smaller Arts & Crafts-inspired cottages and houses.
Best roads: the most expensive house currently for sale is on Beech Drive on the Ringwood estate. This six-bedroom reconstructed Twenties house is on the market for £4 million through Goldschmidt & Howland (020 8347 2600). Other sought-after roads on the Ringwood estate are: Creighton Avenue, Church Vale, Ringwood Avenue and Twyford Avenue.
But for many people it is the large double-fronted Edwardian houses which epitomise the best of Muswell Hill. The most expensive of these currently for sale is on Muswell Avenue; it has six bedrooms and is on the market for £2.75 million, also through Goldschmidt & Howland. Similar houses can be found around Cranley Gardens, in Grand Avenue and in the roads radiating off Muswell Road.
The area attracts: families come to the area for the many good primary schools. Young professional couples buy flats in converted Edwardian houses, in the blocks of flats near the Broadway and the Edwardian flats on top of the shops in the Broadway itself.
Staying power: families tend to stay and when the children leave home, couples often downsize in the area.
Profusion of postcodes
Postcodes: N10 is the most favoured Muswell Hill postcode, though the popular Ringwood Estate is in N2, the East Finchley postcode. North of Alexandra Palace is N22, the Wood Green postcode, while south of the park it is N8, the Highgate postcode.
Up and coming: to the west of Coppett’s Road there is a small cottage estate off Everington Road where it is possible to pick up a two- or three-bedroom cottage between £250,000 and £385,000. The county roads (Hertford, Bedford, Durham, Huntingdon, Leicester and Lincoln) are an enclave of Victorian terraces and semi-detached houses cheaper than central Muswell Hill: four-bedroom from about £650,000.
What’s new: Pages, by Acorn Developments, is on the corner of Sutton Road and Colney Hatch Road. It includes a new library, four houses and 10 one- and two-bedroom flats. Prices start from £695,000 for the one remaining house and from £295,000 for the three remaining flats. Contact Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward New Homes on 020 8222 7200.
Schools: Muswell Hill has some very good primary schools. The best are: Rhodes Avenue; Coldfall; Muswell Hill; Our Lady of Muswell RC in Pages Lane; Tetherdown in Grand Avenue, and St James Church of England in Woodside Avenue. Norfolk House is a private prep school taking boys and girls from age four to 11.
As mentioned, Fortismere is the state comprehensive school which parents move house to get their children into. It gets above-average results at GCSE and A-level. Alexandra Park in Bidwell Gardens is almost as popular. Both are judged "good with outstanding features" by Ofsted. Greig in High Street, Hornsey, is one of the original city academies. After a shaky start, it is now getting better and is judged "good" by Ofsted. There are two popular private schools in Highgate: Highgate for boys and Channing for girls.
Activity on the hill
Shops and restaurants: Muswell Hill is a busy shopping centre with a good mix of chain stores, independent specialist shops and cafés. Look out for Muswell Hill Bookshop; Feast, a café and deli; W Martyn for freshly roasted coffee; Charli, a boutique; Walter Purkis, a fishmonger; Toffs, for fish and chips, and Sally Bourne for interiors.
On Fortis Green, Emporium is a café which runs craft workshops. In the same parade there is local butcher Midhurst and The Clissold, a popular gastropub. The Bald-Faced Stag is a gastropub on High Road at the junction with Fortis Green.
* MORE ON THE BOROUGH OF HARINGEY:
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Open Spaces: Alexandra Park, with Alexandra Palace at its summit, is a hilltop park of 196 acres with a pitch and putt golf course, cricket ground, skate park, boating lake, rose garden and café. Muswell Hill is renowned for its ancient woodlands: Highgate Wood, Queen’s Wood and the lesser-known Coldfall Wood. The Parkland Walk, on the old railway line from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace, passes through Highgate Wood and Muswell Hill.
Leisure and the arts: north London landmark, Alexandra Palace, hosts conferences, rock concerts, events and exhibitions. The nearest council-owned swimming pool is in Park Road. There are two private gyms: The Manor on Fortis Green and LA Fitness in Hillfield Park. Muswell Hill has an art deco Odeon cinema, and the Phoenix art cinema is in East Finchley.
Transport: residents close to the centre of Muswell Hill rely on the many buses to connect them with the Tube and train service or central London. The W7 goes to Finsbury Park (Piccadilly and Victoria lines and trains to King’s Cross and Moorgate); 102 goes to Brent Cross stopping at East Finchley (Northern line); 134 goes to Tottenham Court Road stopping at Highgate (Northern line); and the 43 goes to London Bridge via Islington and the City, stopping at Highgate. MuswellHill is in Zone 3 - the annual travel card to Zone 1 is £1,208.
Council: most of Muswell Hill is in Haringey (Labour). Band D council tax for the 2010/11 year is £1,494.14.
Buying in Muswell Hill, N10
One-bedroom flat £242,000
Two-bedroom flat £323,000
Two-bedroom house £329,000
Three-bedroom house £492,000
Four-bedroom house £833,000
Renting in N10
One-bedroom flat £200 to £260 a week
Two-bedroom flat £250 to £425 a week
Two-bedroom house £280 to £475 a week
Three-bedroom house £375 to £575 a week
Four-bedroom plus house £525 to £950 a week
Source: Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward
Photographs: Barry Phillips