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The Gatehouse, Highgate


There were three main entrances each with a tollhouse leading into the Bishop of London’s Park of Haringeye and The Gatehouse was the tavern at the Highgate entrance. (The Spaniards Inn ,Newgate and East Finchley being the others). Probably the oldest public house in Highgate (though the mock Tudor façade only dates back to 1905), The Gatehouse is reputedly haunted by a murdered widow traditionally known as Mother Marnes.

Though the earliest mention of The Gatehouse is in 1670 when it was owned by Edward Cutler, it is suspected that a pub has been on the site since 1337.

George Walter Thornbury in his Old and New London published 1874, suggested that the Swearing on the Horns ceremony originated at The Gatehouse as an initiation into a club set up by cattle drovers heading to the market at Smithfield.

Another first for the pub included the inaugural meeting of the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution on 16th January 1839. On 25th Sepetember 1871 The Gatehouse saw the consecration of and became the first meeting place for Highgate Lodge No.1366. This Freemason’s lodge would meet at The Gatehouse before moving to other premises in 1891.

The Gatehouse which is now a member of the Weatherspoon chain of public houses has a theatre above it, in an auditorium that dates back to 1895 and has in the past been used as a Victorian music hall and a cinema.

Notable customers have included the illustrator George Cruikshank (born 27 September 1792 – died 1 February 1878), the author Charles Dickens (born 7 February 1812 – died 9 June 1870), Dick Turpin and of course Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron) (born 22 January 1788 – died 19 April 1824).

Haunted?
According to Guy Lyon Playfair in the Haunted Pub Guide (1985) ‘one might hope for a more exciting ghost here than that of a murdered widow known as Mother Marnes, who wears black and is only seen when there are no animals or children in the building…..I always thought animals and children were more likely to see ghosts than human adults, but apparently the rule does not apply here. One former landlord was so upset by his encounter with Mother Marnes that he had to be treated for shock, and was eventually advised by his doctor to give up the job’.

Authorship
Image Copyright: 
Alison Topham

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Ian Topham
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Re: The Gatehouse, Highgate

So who was the widow Mother Marnes, who was murdered for her money? I am not sure, but living around The Gatehouse was a widow called Judith Barnes or “Widow Barnes”. Edward Cutler died in 1680 and it then passed to his brother, Henry Cutler, who in turn sold it to a widow named Elizabeth Marshall. According to the Survey of London: volume 17 by Percy Lovell and William McB. Marcham (1936), Elizabeth Marshall ‘obtained a grant in 1682 of a parcel of waste at the Gatehouse, containing from north to south at the east end 26 feet, abutting north on the manor of Hornsey, east on the king's way to the Gatehouse, and containing from north to south on the west, 36 feet abutting on Hornsey, from east to west on the south 46 feet, abutting west on the house of widow Barnes, and north on the manor of Hornsey. The "Widow Barnes" was Judith Barnes, living at the house now No. 52, South Grove’ She was the daughter of Mr Turner and inherited her home from him. In turn she passed it to her own daughter Dorothy Clenell and her husband Alexander. But apart from the similar sounding names I know of no real link between them.

DavidFarrant
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Re: The Gatehouse, Highgate

Apart from the well known story (legend even?) of "Mother Marnes" the resident ghost that is said to haunt the Gatehouse, can anyone remember the reported outbreak of psychic activity at the pub in the late 1960's? This was the subject of much Press coverage at he time and certainly a talking point among Highgate locals.
I am looking to expand a chapter in one of my books in which I mentioned this haunting, but would like to include any other information on the case for the revised edition.
I was in touch with Finches at the time (then owners of the pub) but they seemed reluctant to discuss the Press reports. Maybe a good sign in a way as this suggests the whole thing was not just a publicity gimmack on the part of the owners.
So, can anybody possibly help?

David Farrant (Author)

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Red Don
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Re: The Gatehouse, Highgate

The David Farrant?  Hi David.  I don't know anything about Highgate ghosts, but didin't you suggest that a ley line runs through Highgate which included the the Gatehouse or Ye Olde Gatehouse?

DavidFarrant
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Re: The Gatehouse, Highgate

Hi Don. Yes its really me!

I did suggest the possibility that a ley line could be connected to the psychic disturbances in the Gatehouse (in fact, "Ye Olde Gatehouse") and might also be responsible for psychic disturbances at other locations along its course: such as an old Roman Settlement in Highgate Wood, the site of an old convent on North Hill, Highgate; the Flask public house (just near the Gatehouse) and Highgate Cemetery.
I still regard that as a strong possibilty.
There was a considerable outbreak of psychic activity at the Gatehouse in the latter part if the 1960's. I missed a lot of the 'hype' about this as I was living in Spain. But its that which I was really enquiring about
But thanks for getting back anyway, and if you come across anything, please let me know. Thank you for your reply.

David Farrant

Andrew Hubbard
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Re: The Gatehouse, Highgate

 Hi, prob no good to you so long after your post, but I just looked up Ye Olde Gatehouse due to an incident when I was there in 1976. I was aged 14 and my mother was relief manager. A function was on in the ballroom and due to my age I was sent to the balcony out of the way. The large old fashioned electricity box turned off (this was about 8 feet from me) All of the lights went out and after a minute or so my mother appeared to throw the handle on the box to "on". as soon as she had done this I saw the handle slowly move back up unaided and all power tripped off again. A little too young to understand or be spooked, I reset the handle myself after my mother running away screaming! I was later told that other incidents had occurred including all of the chandeliers in the ballroom swinging wildly while a young barman was stocking the bar prior to opening time. f this is of any use, good luck with it all.
Regards,
A. Hubbard
 

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Ian Topham
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Re: The Gatehouse, Highgate

Hi Andrew, welcome to the site and thanks for posting.  First hand witness accounts of strange experiences are always valuable.

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Ian Topham
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Re: The Gatehouse, Highgate

I visited The Gatehouse last week whilst collecting photographs of Highgate.  Like many Weatherspoon pubs it is nice and if you have the opportunity to visit you should.  



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