A dive into the archives: The Chapel
READ ABOUT OUR CHAPEL'S INTERESTING STORY DATING BACK TO MEDIEVAL TIMES
There has been a chapel on this site since medieval times. In the archives is a 16th century copy of an original grant of Highgate Chapel to a hermit in 1364 by the Bishop of London, who as Lord of the Manor of Haringey since Norman times had control over the chapel.
Original chapel was possibly timber framed. First brick-built chapel had a square steeple and was completed by 1578. With Bishop Sandys, a major contributor to the cost was the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir William Cordell (1522–1581).
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, Highgate villagers increasingly attended services at the School’s Chapel because of their remoteness from Highgate’s two parish churches. Over the years, villagers’ expectations rose and as a consequence the Governors used school funds to improve and extend the chapel, and Masters became preoccupied with chapel duties.
In 1615, villagers secured their own preacher and sermons were Puritan in tone; indeed Highgate was a Puritan village and most of the Governors were Puritans. In 1617 the Chapel was licensed to perform marriages and about this time, villagers began to be buried in the Chapel yard.
As the Chapel grew in importance, the School fell into decline. During the 18th century, Masters became consumed by Chapel duties and embroiled in conflicts with the Preachers.
An Act of Parliament was passed on 17 June 1830 decreeing that the Governors had to demolish the Chapel and contribute £2,000 to a new village church (modern day St. Michael’s Church), which was built by 1832.
For the next thirty-five years, the School had no chapel of its own. Boys used to play fives against the ruins of the North side of the old Chapel.
In 1857 the graveyard was closed for public burials.
In 1867 a new School Chapel was built, funded by the family of the former Governor, George Abraham Crawley (Governor 1847-62). The architect was Frederick Pepys Cockerell (1833-1878), a pupil of Gilbert Scott.