The original estate, dating from 1774, was known as Parkfield. The current house, built between 1913 and 1920, was designed by architect George Hubbard for soap magnate Sir Arthur Crosfield on an 11-acre (45,000 m2) site. The mansion is Grade-II* listed, meaning it has been judged to be of national historic or architectural interest. English Heritage has in the late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century placed the property on its [Buildings at Risk Register].
Witanhust was used as the location of BBC's Fame Academy talent show from 2002 to 2004. During its use in Fame Academy, Witanhust was on English Heritage's list of buildings "at risk". In 2002, during the first series of Fame Academy; nine portable buildings, a television studio and generators were erected in front of Witanhurst without the requisite consent required for a listed building. The production company Endemol withdrew their application to use Witanhurst for a planned third series of the show in 2004 following a critical report by planners from Camden London Borough Council.
The mansion has not been regularly occupied for some years and no attempts have been made to preserve the estate. The local council have announced that they will be requiring the owners to take steps to stop the deterioration, although it is not known if they will actually enforce the listed building requirements. On 19 July 2007 local newspapers reported the mansion had been sold to private developers, the St John's Wood-based Marcus Cooper Group, for an estimated £32m ($65.6m). The developers announced their intent to convert it into a £150m ($307m) home; however, the property remained in a state of decay.
Witanhurst was bought for £50m in 2008 by an offshore company called Safran Holdings, located in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands. The identity of the ultimate beneficial owners is unknown, but they are believed to be from Eastern Europe.
In September 2009 The Sunday Times erroneously stated that Witanhurst had been bought by Elena Baturina, the wife of the former Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, via an offshore front company. Baturina sued the papers owners; Times Newspapers, a subsidiary of News International. Times Newspapers apologised for the story and paid damages to Baturina in October 2011.
The redevelopment of Witanhurst has received widepread attention in the media, much of it focusing on the large basement extension to the main house that extends for two storeys below the entire footprint of the building. 
It has 65 rooms spread across three floors, including 25 bedrooms. One of the largest is the Grand Ballroom, measuring 70 feet (21 m) long with a height of 20 feet (6.1 m). It has oak flooring and the timber wall panels are in walnut, with carved cornices embellished with gold leaf.
Other rooms are the Drawing Room, Study, Entrance Hall and staircase, and most of the bedrooms are all in an opulent classical style. Other richly decorated rooms include the Dining Room, Chinese Room, Billiard Room, and the Gallery hallway. Access to the property is via a three-fingered gatehouse.
Witanhurst has been used on several occasions as a filming location by various production companies including the BBC, to shoot films and television programmes such as The Lost Prince, Tipping the Velvet, and Fame Academy.
- Rebecca Allison (22 January 2004). "Big brother could evict Fame Academy". The Guardian.
- Ruth Bloomfield (3 December 2012). "The £100 million Highgate home". Evening Standard.
- Josh Halliday (20 October 2011). "Sunday Times apologises to Russia's richest woman over mansion story". The Guardian.
- "Move over Buckingham Palace! Furious locals, a massive underground extension, and the mystery owner of London's most incredible home". Daily Mail. June 24, 2011.
- "£100m? Not such a bargain basement". London Evening Standard. June 21, 2011.
- Brennan, Zoe. "Move over Buckingham Palace! Furious locals, a massive underground extension, and the mystery owner of London's most incredible home", Daily Mail, London, 24 June 2011. Retrieved on 25 February 2012.
- "Titles With Location Matching "Witanhurst House, Highgate West Hill, Highgate, London, England, UK", imdb.com