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In Saxon Times the area was part of an extensive
wood called Southaw, belonging to the Abbey of St Albans.
The name of the town appears in early deeds as Bergnet, the Saxon word
Bergnet signifies a little hill, monticulus.
Its elevated position is also indicated in its alternate name of High
Barnet, which it bears in many old books and maps, and which the railway
company restored. It is the belief of the older natives the "Barnet
stands on the highest ground betwixt London and York." The town consists
of a straggling street over a mile long, chiefly of small commonplace
houses, with two or three shorter streets diverging from it.
From its situation on the main road, as the centre of an agricultural
district, the seat of a county court and petty sessions, and having a
barracks close at hand., Barnet is a busy-looking place, and has some
good shops; one or two excellent inns, Red Lion and Old Salisbury Arms,
and an undue proportion of public-houses; but on the whole it is a shabby
and not a very picturesque appearance: it is, however, improving. In coaching
days, 150 stage coaches passed through it daily. Since the opening of
the railway, the town has increased considerably, especially on the west
about the Common; or as it is now called, Arkley.
Barnet Church, St John the Baptist, which stands in what was the centre
of the town, was erected by John de la Moote, abbot of St Albans, about
1400, the architect being Beauchamp. It consists of a nave and aisles
separated by clustered colons which support four pointed arches; a chancel
with an east window of good Perpendicular tracery; a vestry, built in
the reign of James I by Thomas Ravenscroft; and at the west end, a low,
square embattled tower.
The living of Barnet is a curacy, held with the rectory of East Barnet
till the death of the late incumbent in 1866, when the livings were separated.
The town also includes parts of the parishes of Monken Hadley and South
The name Barnet comes from Anglo-Saxon, baernet, meaning 'the place cleared
by burning' and was prefixed by Chipping, meaning 'the market' when permission
was granted to the Abbot of St Albans to hold a weekly market in Barnet.
The population of the manor of Barnet in
1348 numbered a mere 350 of which many residents died in the Black Death.
In 1471, Edward IV's army beat those of the Earl of Warwick in the battle
of Barnet, which took place around the Hadley Highstone area where a memorial
column was erected in 1740.
There are many historical buildings in the Barnet area, one of which is
Tudor Hall next to Barnet College in Wood Street. This hall was built
in 1577 and was used as Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School for Boys. This
is the oldest known building in Chipping Barnet today. East Barnet is
a pleasant village 10 miles north from London and 2 miles south-east of
Barnet. It is called East Barnet to distinguish it from Chipping Barnet
and Friern Barnet immediately adjoining. Since the Conquest, East Barnet
has been part of the manor of Chipping Barnet.
The church, St Mary the Virgin, consists of a nave, built by an Abbot
of St albans early in the 12th century; a chancel built in 1663 by Sir
Robert Bartlet, and a modern brick tower at the west end; to which was
added in 1868 a south aisle of Kentish rag with Bathstone dressings, and
at the same time the interior was restored and refitted.
The scenery around East Barnet is pleasing, but the place has lost somewhat
of its rural quite since the opening of the railway. Between the village
of East Barnet and the station many small houses have been built. By the
church is Church Farm, "The Country House," Industrial Schools
for about 100 destitute boys, between the ages of 6 and 13, not convicted
of crime. The farm of 50 acres is cultivated by the boys.
Oak Hill Park, east of the village, is a fine mansion standing on an eminence
and commanding extensive views. Belmont on the north of it, was formally
called Mount Pleasant, and was the residence of Elias Ashmole, founder
of the Ashmolian Museum.
or Monken Hadley adjoins the town of Barnet on the north; one mile north
of High Barnet station, on the Edgware and High Barnet Line. According
to Lysons and others it owes its name to "its elevated situation,
Headleagh signifying in the Saxon a high place." It lies between
the Great North Road and the western of the forest tract known as Enfiled
Chase, and the ley in its designation probably points to it as a clearing
in the high forest land. The manor belonged to the Mandevilles till the
middle of the 12th century, when it was alienated by Geoffrey de Maneville
to the Abbey of Walden - hence the designation Monken (or Monk's) Hadley.
After the suppression of religious houses, Hadley manor was given, in
1540, to Thomas Lord Audley, but in 1544 again surrendered it to the king.
In 1557 Queen Mary granted it to Sir Thomas Pope: in 1574 it was alienated
to William Kympton. It was sold to him in 1582, and remained for a century
in the hands of the Hayes family. It has many times changed owners, and
is now held by H Hyde Esq.
Hadley Church, St Mary, at the entrance of Hadley Common, is a large cruciform
building, perpendicular in style. It is a good example of the style; but
the church was restored, and to a considerable extent rebuilt in 1848
to 1850, under the direction of Mr G E Street, when several windows were
inserted, the mouldings and tracery renewed, and the walls refaced. It
is of black flint and Bath stone, except the tower, in which the red ironstone
is largely used, the quoins being Bath stone.
It comprises nave with aisles, chancel, transcepts, west tower and south
porch, added in 1852 as a memorial to the late rector. The tower has the
date of its erection, 1494, over the west door; but the great west window
and those in the belfry are recent insertions.
At the south-west angle is a newell turret carried well above the parapet.
From it projects the ancient iron beacon, one of the last of its kind
left: it was erected by the monks to guide wayfarers crossing Enfield
Chase by night, and travelers to or from St Albans, or the north. Both
the tower and chancel are partially covered with luxuriant ivy, the stems
of which are of great thickness. The interior of the church is handsome
but in the main new. The chancel and transept arches are of good form,
and proportions; the nave, of four bays, opening into the tower, has depressed
arches resting upon octagonal piers, and the elaborate hammer-beam roof.
Large hagioscopes enable the alter to be seen from the transcepts.
The windows are filled with painted glass: that of the east window by
Warrington, the others by Wailes of Newcastle.
The chancel has carved oak stalls; the seats in the body of the church
are of oak with carved standards. The handsome carved pulpit and font
are recent. In the chancel is a piscina, and there is one in each transept.
Hadley means heath clearing. The name Barnet is usually taken to mean
'clearing by burning', which in an area such as this has an obvious logic.
Nevertheless the meaning is not entirely certain since the same name is
preserved today in the form of Barnard Heath on the outskirts of St Albans,
at the far end of the woodland that once stretched from there to Barnet.
Although Barnet is not named in the c.1005 description, the fact that
the 'bishop's boundary' (see above) already separated the later East and
Friern Barnets indicates that the area name of Barnet was in existence
and predated the division. Perhaps the most interesting name in the c.1005
description is Grendels gate, now prosaically Barnet Gate. This lies on
two boundaries, of Barn et and Hendon and of Hertfordshire and Middlesex,
and it is possible that the choice of Grendel, the monster of the great
Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, may have something to do with boundary protection.
RIVER AND ROADS Two branches of the Pymmes Brook join in New
Barnet between the northern ends of Park and Crescent Roads, and flow
southwards to the Lea. The brook was never anything more than a minor
stream, a source of water but useless for transport or industry. Until
the 19th century long-distance transport was easiest by water, but the
absence of navigable rivers west of the Lea meant that roads northwest
of London played an unusually important role. The Romans were never the
only road makers, and track ways existed long before their arrival and
continued to be created as necessary afterwards.
These sought well-drained ground as far as possible, and Wood Street /
Barnet Road, running westward to Watling Street, is likely to be one of
the earliest. Other early routes, forming an interconnecting network,
include one along Longmore Avenue (until 1931 Long Street) and Cat Hill
and thence eastward across the Pymmes Brook; Church Hill Road, which connected
East Barnet southwards; Potters Lane and Mays Lane; and a northward route
up Hendon Wood Lane, crossing Wood Street at Barnet Gate.
THE GREAT NORTH ROAD The Romans founded London and made it the
hub of a set of radiating arterial roads. Those to the north ran in the
valleys either side of (and outside) our area: Ermine Street on the east
and Watling Street, via Verulamium/St Albans, to the west. In the middle
ages a new main road to the north was created around 1100, coming through
Whetstone, up Barnet Hill and on through Hadley and South Mimms to St
Albans and York. A new branch was formed from Hadley northwards via Hatfield
in the 17th century and it was this, including its southern stretch, which
became known as the Great North Road, the later AI. If the original road
was called anything pithier than the main road to the north, the name
is lost, but during the 18th century it became known as the (London to)
Holyhead Road. Road maintenance was the responsibility of the manor until
the mid-16th century and the parish from then until the 19th. It was a
In 1413 Barnet High Street was 'so blocked with dung, dung heaps, pigs,
pigsties and laying of timber trunks and other filth that the transit
of men was much hindered and some had sustained much damage by falling
with their things and harness there'. Congestion in the town was obviously
an extra difficulty, but lack of maintenance was normal. Some slight help
came from bequests, such as the cluster in 1447-52 when William Redehede,
Richard Bates and Alice Shadd all left money to repair the stretch between
Barnet and Agate. In 1347 'the upright men of the town of Barnet ' were
licensed by letters
patent to collect tolls for five years to repair and maintain the highway
from St Albans to Finchley Wood, collection to be in the town or elsewhere
As the quantity and weight of traffic increased, matters went from bad
to worse, and the idea of tolls
reappeared, although this time on the privatised basis of turnpike trusts.
The Whetstone Turnpike Trust was formed in 1712 to take responsibility
for the stretch of the main road between the Highgate Gatehouse and Barnet
Blockhouse (at Underhill) which, 'through the great traffic and droves
of cattle is become so very ruinous that it is dangerous to people, horses
and cattle'. In 1720 another Act extended the Trust's remit northwards
to the Angel in Enfield Chase (Gannick Corner, and thus on the Great North
rather than the Holyhead Road), with the rather alarming statement that
the one and a half mile stretch between Hadley windmill and the Angel
had never been repaired within the memory of man, because it was within
Enfield Chase and its parish therefore unknown.
The situation within Barnet town continued to pose special problems, and
another Act in 1763 allowed the road to be widened between Barnet Blockhouse
and what is now 142 High Street (the parish and county boundary), because
'by reason of the many great loads and carriages of goods and the many
passengers and droves of cattle which daily pass therein [the road has]
become very ruinous and in some part there of is so narrow that carriages
cannot without difficulty and danger pass by each other'. A strip of the
churchyard was added into the road, but the difficulty remained.
Barnet Hill too was a difficulty. Around 1818 the trust straightened the
road there, but without improving the gradient, and in 1823 the Commissioners
of the Holyhead Road (whose main concern was rapid troop movement towards
Ireland, not the strain on horses) ordered the trust to lessen the slope.
This was a major undertaking, and different strategies were suggested.
In the end the idea of lowering the road into a cutting, with the pavements
left on cliff tops above, was rejected, and instead the old road, which
climbed up from Underhill into the town at Victoria Lane, was replaced
by a new causeway slightly further east, raised on earth dug from the
surrounding fields, and leaving cul-de-sacs at Underhill (subsequently
grassed over) and at Victoria Lane.Soon afterwards, in 1828, the difficult
South Mimms stretch of the Holyhead Road was bypassed by the New Road
(since 1934 St Albans Road), driven through north-westward from the top
end of Barnet High Street, and from then on the road northwards through
Hadley was simply the Great North Road.
Barnet Market, Fair and Races Barnet for some people still means 'hair',
via the cockney rhyming slang of'Barnet Fair', and this is some measure
of the fair's former fame and importance.
The fair, though, was a relative latecomer, not started until 1588. The
longer history, and the greater current importance, lie with Barnet Market,
which has recently celebrated its 800th anniversary.
BARNET MARKET On 23 August 1199 King John granted the abbot of
St Albans the right to hold a weekly market every Thursday in Barnet.
For the king, granting such charters was a useful way of raising cash,
but he and his leading tenants were also keen to stimulate trade and economic
growth. Many markets were founded at this period, and those like Barnet
with good locations usually flourished, bringing continuing profit both
to the lord of the manor and to local inhabitants. As we have seen (p.17),
the market gave Chipping Barnet its name and distinctive urban character:
The original market place was at the top of the hill, where the road junction
also provided a conveniently wide area, even larger before the church
was added, probably in the 13th century. Other buildings, permanent stalls
and eventually the market hall, then began to cluster against the church,
forming a Middle Row with narrow streets either side. Middle Row was demolished
in 188990, but even today it is easy to see why the stretch of High Street
along the church's eastern side was long known as 'the squeeze', 'the
bottleneck' and 'the narrow neck'. The market day was changed to Monday
in 1588 and then to Wednesday, probably in the mid-18th century. In the
mid-19th the site was moved off the main road and into a space adjoining
St Albans Road, and an extra market day, Saturday, was added in 1960.
The bare details, and even a visit to today's market, give little sense
of the sights and smells of the medieval market place. Local people came
to buy and sell food and pottery, but the market was also one of the major
trading centres ringing London, selling cattle and livestock, wool and
hides, corn and other grain, in quantities far beyond local needs. Here
country drovers and carters sold their stock on to London dealers, and
although some animals were driven on, others were fattened up and slaughtered
by local butchers, so that Barnet had its Shambles. It was also involved
in even wider trade: in 1333 Barnet was one of the 32 manors which supplied
the prior of the Hospitallers (one of the" military religious orders
initially founded to help recapture the Holy Land) with 380 horses, 399
oxen, 572 cows, 137 calves, 1,201 pigs, 10,353 sheep, 2,620 lambs, 40,
sacks of wool, and 200 marks-weight of silver -vessels for trade to merchants
After 1539 the new lay lords of the manor were equally eager to profit,
and in 1588 Queen Elizabeth (who, like King John, did a lot of this) granted
a new charter renewing the market and adding an annual fair.
The market house, at the southern end of Middle Row, was probably built
soon afterwards: William Linacres, citizen and haberdasher of London,
bequeathed £5 towards its construction in 1588, and Robert Searche
of Barnet bequeathed 5s to glazing one of its windows in 1595. It was
typical of its kind, timber-framed, open on the ground level, and with
a large room on the upper floor, supported on twelve timber posts and
reached by an external staircase. By the mid-19th century the ground floor
had been walled, and it was later used as a shop. It perished with the
rest of Middle Row.The 1588 move to a Monday market seems to have been
particularly helpful to Barnet's role as a meat provider.
In 1592 the inhabitants of Leighton Buzzard complained that it was forestalling
their own Tuesday one, and a draft parliamentary bill, never implemented,
changed it back to Thursday. More seriously, the Court of Aldermen in
London ordered in 1597 that "the Wardens of the Companye of Butchers
shall presentile attend Mr Recorder for his advize in a cause towching
a market of Cattell kepte at Barnett to the preidudice of the markets
within this Citty". The London butchers then began to persuade drovers
to drive the cattle in closer, Barnet protested, and in 1630 the butchers
denied to the Court of Aldermen that this bypassing was making beef dearer.
They also remarked that there was still plenty of corn and coal to be
had there, but the meat must have been central since in 1631/2 "the
restoring of Barnet Market" surfaced in the House of Lords and in
1636 the Privy Council ordered the Middlesex Justices of the Peace "to
consider the consequences of the overthrow of Barnet Market"', noting
that "the object of the butchers was to discontinue Barnet Market
and to establish in lieu thereof a new Monday market in West Smithfield".
All that was new in this was the day, since Smithfield had had cattle
markets and fairs for centuries, but it seems to have been effective,
and Smithfield soon afterwards largely superseded Barnet Market for cattle.
Pigs may have been brought in to help fill the gap; pig drovers were robbed
en route to Barnet in 1682; a stretch of the hill up into the town was
known as Hoggy Lane from the 17th century, and directories of 1823 and
1831 refer to the market's sales of pork and pigs. But probably by 1839,
and certainly by 1850, the market had expired, killed off not only by
Smithfield but also by the increase in coach traffic. Ironically, though,
just at the point when we know that coaches had killed the market, the
railways slaughtered coaching. The London-Birmingham railway line opened
in 1838, with instantaneous effect even before the Great Northern Railway
mainline through Barnet followed in 1850. Coaches rapidly vanished, and
drovers, animals and markets could reclaim the streets, although the hygienic
disadvantages of a town-centre location remained obvious.
At some point in the mid-19th century the lord of the manor finally sold
the market, apparently to local auctioneers. By the mid-1860s the 1st
edition of the Ordnance Survey shows Market Place next to the Green Man
at the junction of St Albans Road, and it was presumably here that the
first re-established cattle market was held in 1869 (not, as used to be
thought, 1849). The present market site, almost next door, came into operation
in 1874, and until the 1940s the cattle market remained very lively. Thereafter
various changes - increased regulation of slaughtering, butchers preferring
to buy ready processed meat from wholesalers, fewer local farms - combined
to hasten its decline, and the last cattle auction was held on 19 August
1959. The gates to the cattle pens and the weighbridge were sold, and
the cleared site became a general, and still flourishing, stall market.
MARY PAYNE'S PLACE From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th
the market was more exclusively concerned with cattle than previously,
and this may explain the success of a supplemental market at Mary Payne's
Place, on the opposite, eastern, side of the High Street just north of
Bath Place, specialising in fruit, vegetables and flowers brought in from
the surrounding countryside. Also known as the Poor Man's Market, this
too operated on a Wednesday, but also on Saturdays when it stayed open
until 11 in the evening, allowing men who were still able to do so to
collect provisions for Sunday lunch. It may have been started by ex-servicemen
after World War I, and closed either in 1929, when John Swain's wanted
to expand over the site, or within the following decade.
BARNET FAIR Like the market, Barnet Fair concentrated
on livestock, particularly cattle and horses.
As with all fairs, there was a big pleasure element, changing over time
but including everything from a racecourse through to boxing booths and
helter-skelter. Although the streets must have been involved, the main
fairground spread extensively along the slope around Underhill. This was
part of Barnet's Common, of which some was enclosed in 1729 and the rest
in 1815, a process which involved some readjustment.
The arrival of the railways (the mainline in 1850 and the suburban in
1872) encouraged increasing numbers of urban visitors bent on amusement.
Many fairs in the 19th century became rather more than local residents
could cheerfully bear, and many died out. In 1888 the non-resident lord
of the manor petitioned the Home Secretary to close Barnet Fair, but it
was still such a vital part of the local economy that he had little support.
Some innkeepers reckoned to cover the whole of their annual rent with
the fair takings. The Barnet Fair Defence Committee, led by W. Osborn
Boys (among other posts Registrar of Barnet County Court), pointed out,
successfully, that some 40,000 cattle changed hands during each fair,
and that drovers and dealers, as well as other visitors, spent considerable
sums locally. 'The public were not inappreciative of [Mr Boys'] efforts.
The tradesmen and licensed victuallers of the town presented him with
a silver salver and testimonial, while the farmers gave him a superb chime
clock and an address bearing the name of nearly every agriculturalist
in the neighbourhood'. Although Joseph Berriman, a horse-dealer, became
known as the Father of Barnet Fair, he never owned it. Instead, for over
60 years until his death in 1930 he continued a family tradition of leasing
the fields from their farmers and then levying rents from the stall holders
and tolls from the animal dealers. The many pictures of the Victorian
and Edwardian fairs are matched by written accounts. Billie Olney remembered
her father taking her the week before the fair 'to watch those mysterious
horse drawn caravans come down Barnet Hill, for they had usually come
from a northern fair. They were breathtaking in their beauty, painted
with strange gaudy designs and colours, and full of shining brass and
ornaments. Pots and pans would be swinging on the outsides. Children and
dogs swarmed everywhere'.
Adults too were impressed: a Daily Telegraph reporter wrote in 1881: 'The
high road in the immediate vicinity of Barnet Station commands an almost
uninterrupted view of the broad spread of hill and dale, where the hundreds
- thousands I should think it might safely be said - of horned cattle
and horses are collected for buyers to pick and choose from, the cattle
being separated from the horse market'.
THE CATTLE FAIR Councilor Olney recalled that in the
1870s Wood Street was also used during the three-day fair, with booths
and stalls along one side of the street, a roundabout outside the Bull
inn, and the cattle on what is now Ravenscroft Gardens. And he also remembered
a one-day cattle fair on the same ground in November. Amidst the enjoyment
there was one painful memory, the outbreak of rinderpest in 1868 which
meant (in the words of Mr Stratton) that 'hundreds of beautiful beasts
Herefords and Shorthorns perished in the fields round Barnet (it was fair
time) and many were buried in quick lime under [what later became] the
mounds on the South Herts Golf-links'.
DECLINE In the 1920s the decline in the use of horse-power
largely killed the demand for horses, but (unlike Hampstead) the fairground
too was vanishing. High Barnet railway line and station opened in 1872
on part of the horse fair site, and in the 1920s when the Meadway estate
began to be developed over the'rest, it moved west, near the other fairs
in the fields between Bedford A venue and Mays Lane.
In December 1929 the Barnet Press reported 'Now this estate is to be developed.
Barnet Fair will have to find another venue, and fields now available
are fast disappearing'. The cattle fair ceased but the horse and pleasure
fairs continue on fields further west and on a modest scale.
BARNET RACES Closely associated with the horse fair were Barnet
Races, for which subscription lists and newspaper advertisements exist
from 1751 onwards. The aristocracy were involved and the prizes considerable,
but this was no guarantee of quality. In 1762 William Toldervy noted 'The
annual horse racing such an exhibition of bad horses, and worse riders...not
to be seen at any other course in England 'Tis notorious, that more misfortunes
generally happen at Barnet Races than at any other horse race whatever'.
Perhaps this is what Horace Walpole meant when he wrote a decade later'
attended by no accident except an escape from being drowned in a torrent
of whores and apprentices at Barnet races'. At this period there were
also occasional one-off events, such as the one advertised in the Public
Advertiser in May 1764: 'Thursday next a match will be run on Barnet Course
between Mr Brown's bay mare Beadle-legs and Captain Harrison's bay gelding
Draper for 100 guinea s'.Perhaps luckily, the course's heyday was short:
even in 1793 The Times noted that the races had been 'miserably attended',
and matters were not improved by the enclosure of the site along with
the rest of the Common in 1815, even though the course was relocated east
of the Common.
In 1867 the GNR laid on special trains on the mainline, but in 1871 the
new suburban line and station were being built across the track. The final
races, in 1870, were far from glorious, featuring only three events, of
which two were walkovers, while in the third only three horses ran, of
which one bolted.
GAMBLING The fair and races attracted a lot of illegal
gambling, a particular focus of the ire of the Barnet Association. It
noted in 1798 'that the most illegal means had been resorted to, by the
promoters of the late horse races at Barnet, for raising money to be run
for, by encouraging a great number of E.O. tables [gains and losses depended
on a ball falling into a series of niches marked E or 0], to be brought
upon the race course, from London, by persons who subscribed a considerable
sum to the plates, or stakes, in consequence of permission being granted
them to erect booths or tents on the race ground, in defiance of the law,
and to the ruin of the unwary, whose losses were reported to have been
very considerable'. The members resolved 'to take every legal means in
their power, individually and collectively, to prevent the repetition
of so great an evil as the introduction of this easy and commodious means
of gaming to the inhabitants of this neighbourhood (particularly the lower
classes), which, as it tends to their ruin, must consequently tempt them
to use improper means for supplying their losses by depredations, either
public or private'.
They resolved to offer a reward of £10 'for the apprehension of
every person who shall be convicted of keeping an E.O. table, or any other
table of the same kind or use', ordered handbills to be made and distributed,
and drew the Justices' attention 'to this growing evil, and desiring that
they will take such steps as shall seem to them most proper for preventing
its progress'. Trying to prevent illicit activities was an expensive business.
In 1799 six constables put in their account' for attending Barnet Fair,
day and night'; in 1807 the petty constable of Cashio Hundred must have
had his work cut out attending Barnet during fair week to keep the peace
and 'prevent all manner of gaming as well in alehouses as in other houses
and places of public resort'; and in 1831 the Liberty of St Albans (in
another medieval left-over, still then responsible for the former abbey
estates) appointed a committee to see if the costs of policing Barnet
and Northaw Fairs could be lowered, and/ or passed to the respective parishes.
The boundaries between legal and illegal are of course mutable. James
Ripley, the letter-writing ostler at the Red Lion, wrote disapprovingly
of wagers on gentlemen riding two miles at full gallop standing upright
in their stirrups. The 1756 guide to Barnet races routinely records cockfighting
OCCUPATIONS Serving travelers as well as market-goers,
the town's inhabitants practiced a variety of trades. Within its first
30 years (1246-75) the Barnet Court Book's copies of the manor court rolls
give over 35 different surnames taken from trades and crafts. These include
merchant, brewer, baker, vintner, butler (in its original sense of responsibility
for a wine cellar), butcher, huckster (peddler), spicer, skinner, tanner,
fuller, tailor, weaver, draper, dyer, hat-maker, shoe-maker, cobbler,
smith, brass worker, wheeler, potter, charcoal-maker, innkeeper, taverner,
cook, courier, driver and carter. A tax return of 1334 shows the particular
concentrations: eight hostelry keepers, two tavern keepers, nine bakers,
four butchers, three cooks and/ or fishmongers, twelve malt mongers, three
tanners, two shoemakers, two smiths and fifteen brewers. There was some
doubling up - all the hostelry keepers were also brewers - and most of
the traders also had agricultural land.
STRESSES AND STRAINS Although it was a town by every
economic criterion, medieval Chipping had no way of separating itself
from the St Albans manor of Barnet. It never acquired legal urban status,
and most of its inhabitants therefore remained classed as un free peasants,
whatever their occupation. Barnet was far from unique - Westminster was
the same - but the situation always caused resentment. While burgesses
held their land freely and could convey it as they wished, un free land
was technically (though only technically) held at the lord's pleasure,
and had to be transferred through the manor court. Transferring outside
the court was the most frequent offence recorded in the Barnet rolls,
and there is a splendid glimpse in 1344 of William atte Penne not only
manufacturing transfer deeds but smoking them over his fire to age them.
Then in the winter of 1348-9 came the Black Death, which killed between
a third and a half of Barnet' s population, an almost unimaginable catastrophe.
Survivors, though, discovered that with land. now plentiful and labour
scarce the balance of economic power had shifted, and attacks on the lords'
control increased. The lords responded by insisting on maintaining the
THE PEASANTS' REVOLT The inevitable result was the Peasants'
Revolt of 1381, in which the men of Chipping Barnet played a leading role,
captured for us by the horrified St Albans chronicler. On entering London
on 13 June, the Kent and Essex rebels sent a message to St Albans via
men from Barnet, and the next day Barnet men were again prominent in the
St Albans contingent which headed to the capital and returned with the
message that 'there would no longer be serfs but lords'. During the following
week the rebels attacked the symbols of the abbot's lordship, broke into
his prison, woods and warrens, burnt the hated court rolls and, in a startling
piece of theatre, staged a mock mass, placing torn-up documents instead
of bread on the tongues of the (un)faithful. They also forced the abbot
to issue charters for each village: 'The people of Barnet came with bows
and arrows, two-edged axes, small axes, swords and cudgels and obtained
a similar charter of liberties as those of the people of St Albans, including
free hunting rights, fishing rights, and rights of erecting hand mills'
[milling was the lord's monopoly].
After this they demanded' a certain book made from the court rolls' so
they could burn it because it contained evidence that' almost all the
houses of Barnet were held by the rolls'. The ab bot prevaricated' promising
it within three weeks, and thus saved the book for posterity. The revolt
was over in London on 20 June, although total suppression took longer.
On 28 June royal commissioners arrived in St Albans, but there was still
some resistance: '300 bowmen from the surrounding villages, especially
from Barnet and Berkhamsted'. Nevertheless the rebels knew they were beaten.
On 15 July Richard II arrived in St Albans and annulled all the abbot's
enforced concessions, and on 20 July received oaths of fealty from all
the inhabitants of Hertfordshire
LATER RESISTANCE The abbot's tenants had concentrated on specific
grievances rather than the more general revolutionary formulations emanating
from London, but with none of these addressed, pressure soon began to
rebuild. Illegal land transfers continued, and in 1417 there was another
violent revolt, with royal justices eventually sent because' the bondmen
and tenants in bondage of the abbot of St Albans at Chipping Barnet have
leagued together to refuse their due customs and services'. Specifically,
on 19 April they had 'bound themselves by oath to support each other,
refused to attend the manor court, and resisted with arms against the
abbot and his officials'; in May and June the abbot sent his cellarer
and bailiff, who found themselves threatened with death and mutilation.
The sheriff of Hertfordshire also found it difficult to bring the rebels
to trial, and the case was not finally heard until October 1418.The abbot
won, of course, but behind the rhetoric and the fines there was actually
some accommodation. He had to face the impossibility of running the manor
without the support of its leading families. The revolt. involved both
'bondmen and tenants in bondage', an important distinction since nominally
un free land had in fact became a normal part of the land market, and
men who were personally free were investing in it but irked by its restrictions.
Many of those involved in 1381 were not peasants at all, but men of substantial
property. The Barnet rebels in 1417 included twelve freemen, among them
a citizen of London. The general solution which gradually emerged during
the 15th century was the disappearance of personal unfreedom.and its associated
services and indignities - and refusal of such services had long been
another constant in the Barnet rolls. Once personal status was no longer
an issue, the actual copyhold tenure, that is land held by copy of court
roll, ceased to be resented, and lasted until the 20th century.
THE HOLY TRINITY GUILD Chipping Barnet gained its own
church, probably in the 13th century, and in 1449 obtained permission
to found the Guild or Chantry of the Holy Trinity within it such guilds
provided a focus of common activity and civic identity, particularly valuable
in non-borough towns such as Barnet. They not only supported the church
and chaplain but also, like the craft guilds, acted as dining, drinking
and burial clubs. When the guild was wound up in 1547 its assets, including
the Brotherhood House, the Brotherhood Priest's Chamber, four other houses
and around 50 acres of land, were sold, and the priest, then aged 80,
COACHING When all travel was on foot or by horse or horse
drawn vehicle, journeying was slow and many
staging posts were needed. Chipping Barnet, eleven miles from London,
was well situated, and must always have accommodated travelers. Traffic
built up gradually, but there were no public stage-coaches until the 1630s
and they did not become common until the mid-18th century. The Post Office
began replacing post boys with a mail coach service in 1784, and started
its London to Holyhead route via Barnet in October 1785. The mail coaches
kept to a strict timetable, carrying travelers as well as mail sacks.
By 1817, when John Hassell (whose aquatint provides this books dust jacket)
described Barnet as the 'second posting town in the kingdom, giving precedence
in that line only to Hounslow', 150 coaches a day were passing through.
COLLAPSE In 1839 Pigot's Directory prefaced its listing
of the Barnet coaches with the warning' As the Railways are opened, the
number of Coaches will not only be diminished on this road, but the time
of those remaining will, in all probability be altered'. By 1851 a traveler
rushing past Barnet on the new Great Northern line reminisced:'See how
peacefully the place lies now ...sleeping in the sun. .its street is no
longer noisy with the rolling of wheels, or disturbed by the crack of
the coach-driver's whip. A few years since, four-horse coaches and traveling
chariots streamed through Barnet like a torrent Now, its streets are silent,
its capacious inns and posting houses are deserted, and it has subsided
into a quiet out-of-the way, country town'. This implies that Barnet was
enjoying its somnolence, but whereas motor traffic seldom benefits the
settlements through which it passes, this was not the case in horse-drawn
days, and towns which had depended on the trade faced great economic hardship.
Nor was the problem limited to coaches. In 1839 Cox's and Flitt's carts
set off daily for London at 8am from Hadley and Wood Street respectively,
while 'The Waggons of the principal land carriers, to and from London,
Bedford, Biggleswade, Birmingham, Boston, Daventry, Hitchin, Leeds, Leicester,
Luton, Market Street, Northampton, Nottingham, Oundle, Peterboro', Potton,
Sheffield, Shefford, Silsoe, Stamford, Torrington, Towcester,.and Woburn,
pass regularly through Chipping Barnet and Whetstone daily, but have no
particular inns or warehouses' .Traffic did not entirely cease. There
were still visitors to the market and fair, still some road travelers,
and still, until roughly the 1914-18 war, carting, both local and between
the Hertfordshire farms and London. Nevertheless many blacksmiths and
shopkeepers must have suffered, and the area found itself heavily oversupplied
INNS As the medieval lists show, there were various levels
of drinking house. Alehouses were the earliest, in an extension from ordinary
domestic brewing, and alewives feature regularly in the court rolls, as
do the rather inadequate regulatory attempts of the manorial ale conners.
Regulation increased in later centuries with the granting of licences
(hence licensed premises), but enforcement by local constables always
allowed a wide degree of latitude. By the 18th century, when the word
'tavern' conjures the worlds of Hogarth, Richardson or Dickens, taverns
sold wine and sometimes provided food and lodging while inns, the top
of the range, supplied food, drink and lodging. In practice even alehouses
sometimes illicitly sold spirits and accommodated guests. With an eye
to billeting, the War Office in 1756 compiled a national list of inns
with beds and stabling.
There were 25 along Barnet Hill and High Street, ranging in size from
the Green Man, with 18 beds and stabling for 31 horses, the Red Lion (15/28),
and the Harts Horns (12/50), down to the Bulls Head and W woolpack with
one bed apiece and no stabling. In 1762 William Toldervy wrote that 'Chipping
Barnet ...consists chiefly of one street, in which are some good inns,
particularly the Mitre and Red Lion'. Somewhat later, Charles Dickens
(whose meal at the Red Lion had once been cut short by the news that his
wife had given birth to a daughter) described Oliver Twist limping into
Barnet and' crouching on a step for some time wondering at the great number
of public houses, (every other house in Barnet was a tavern, large or
small)...'. And it was here that he met the Artful Dodger, probably not
the only criminal in town.
In 1810 the Postmaster General reported that the bags of mail had been'
stolen from the mail-box about ten o'clock on the same night, supposed
at Barnet by forcibly wrenching off the lock whilst the horses were changing',
and offered a reward of £100.The inns benefited from short stops
while horses were being changed, but because rutted roads and highwaymen
made traveling after dark hazardous, many south-bound coaches and their
travelers spent the night there before venturing across Finchley Common;
others slept at St Albans and set off early, stopping for a late breakfast
at Barnet before carrying on into the city. At the height of the coaching
era there were probably about thirty inns - a later sketch map produced
a total of forty-three, but some were never concurrent.
These are still staggering totals, not least because they exclude most
of the continuation through Hadley, as well as the various taverns and
alehouses. In 1667 Pepys enjoyed' some of the best cheesecakes that ever
I ate in my life' at the Red Lion, but travelers' reports are not uniformly
favourable. The Hon. John Byng recorded around 1790 that the Lower Red
Lion was' a very bad inn, with a puzzle-headed Irish waiter',
the Green Man served very tough chops, and the Mitre was' of all inns
the nastiest'. There were also the usual tricks of the trade. In 1828
in The Travelers' Oracle William Kitchener warned those traveling by mail
coach that when he had stuck to his own choice of inn at Barnet the post
boy 'expressed great concern [and] candidly told me it would make a difference
to him of half a guinea. Had I allowed him to take me to their own house.he
should have received that sum from the Landlord'. Kitchener found this'
a very extraordinary system', but although the postal involvement strikes
a distinctive note, substitute taxi drivers or street urchins and you
recognise what is still in many parts of the world a commonplace.
THE PHYSIC WELL In the 17th century there was a brief
possibility that Barnet would become a spa town. The curative properties
of natural springs were always highly regarded (as in other countries
they still are), and particularly from the 17th to early 19th centuries
new springs were discovered, evaluated, and sometimes became centres of
fashionable resort. The spring on Barnet Common, first mentioned in June
1652, rapidly followed this route. In August 1653 Diana Osborne wrote
of Lady Diaha Holland:'she has bin ill of a Paine in her stomack and has
bin drinking Barnett waters and has founde her self better since.
I thought they had bin soe Lately founde out that nobody had knowne what
they had bin good for yet, or had ventur'd to take them'.
The water was soon agreed to be a mild purgative 'by stool and urine',
due to allum or magnesium salts, and its praises were widely sung. Pepys
recorded his first visit in 1664, dining first in Barnet then riding 'to
see the Wells, half a mile off; and there I drunk three glasses and went
and walked, and came back and drunk two more. The woman would have had
me drunk three more; but I could not, my belly being full - but this wrought
me very well; and so we rode home... and my waters working at least seven
or eight times upon the road, which pleased me well'. Most spas were run
by entrepreneurs, but perhaps because Barnet's was on the Common, it was
run by the parish, which makes it all the more frustrating that the churchwardens'
accounts survive so spasmodically.
A well-house was constructed and by 1656, after recurrent break-ins, there
was a keeper, who from 1658 was allowed to sell beer, 'strong water' and
tobacco 'provided he shuld suffer no disorder'. Those who took the waters
made a donation which covered the costs, with any surplus distributed
among the parish poor. In 1658 eighty benefited, but the next year bottling
and selling at distant markets was temporarily halted, possibly because
the spring was affected by drought. By 1663, though, the Angel and Sun
in the Strand was advertising fresh Barnet well water.
In 1676, some twenty-five years after the initial discovery, John Owen,
a London alderman, gave £270 to the Fishmongers' Company for investment,
part of whose proceeds were to go to the well's repair. This was timely
because receipts were slipping. Despite Thomas Fuller's recommendation
in 1684 that 'The Water coagulateth Milk, and the Curd thereot is an excellent
Plaister for green Wounds', receipts that year were only £4, not
enough to pay the keeper. In the 1660s a woman, probably the well-keeper'
s wife,served Pepys the water, but by the 1690s visitors served themselves.
In 1689 the Queen Elizabeth School, Owen's main beneficiary, diverted
his well endowment, although it made occasional disbursements thereafter.
By 1724 Defoe noted that the well, 'formerly in great request, being very
much approved by physicians', was' almost forgotten'.Some of the reasons
are obvious from Celia Fiennes' account of her visit in 1697, written
in her usual inimitable style. She set out from Barnet, which 'seemes
to be a very sharpe air, its a large place and the houses are made commodious
to entertain the Company that comes to drink the waters, which certainly
if they be at paines to go once and see would have but little stomach
to drink them..., I stood at the lowest step above the water to look into
it, its full of leaves and dirt and every tyme they dip it troubles the
water, not but what they take up and let stand looks clear but I could
not,taste it...it appears not to be a quick spring as Tunbridg or the
Spaw or Hamsted waters, which have all fine stone basons in which you
see the springs bubble up as fast, and by a pipe runs off as clear and
fast...'.Because the spring is slow-running the water was more likely
to collect debris and be cloudy, but there were probably other reasons
for the decline.
The fashionable crowd may have enjoyed Chipping Barnet's facilities but
not the windswept common, particularly if purgation was rapid. Equally,
since fashion deIl\ands exclusivity, Barnet, like Hampstead, may have
been too accessible to the lower orders. Local residents had access as
part of their commoning rights, rights enshrined when the surrounding
part of the Common was enclosed in 1729.The well was cleared and repaired
in 1796, and the problem of the debris was solved around 1808 by building
an enclosing arched chamber and adding a pump, but other difficulties
Dr William Trinder of Arkley, author of a range of treatises and sermons,
was a passionate advocate of the Barnet well, presumably with some success
since his book extolling its virtues, The English Olive Tree... with miscellaneous
remarks on the prevention and cure of various diseases, gout, rheumatism,
diabetes etc, went through three editions. (The year of ;the first is
unknown, but a second enlarged edition came out in 1802 and a third in
1812.) The book included his scientific analysis of the well's water,
and claimed that it cleansed the system, cleared the skin, cured hangovers,
and helped flagging appetites for both food and ,'sex.
By then the salts could be purchased from a local chemist, thus helpfully
reducing the required amount of water to half a pint. Nevertheless in
the 1812 edition Dr Trinder noted that the well was now less sheltered
than in 1800 and that as a result the water's powers had 'much degenerated'.
Perhaps un surprisingly, the well-house was demolished in 1840, and after
a horse had fallen down the steps the entry was filled in.
In the 1920s Walter Bell noticed the pump and a nearby ladder-head in
a field on Well-house Farm, descended the ladder and r ediscovered the
chamber. This feat aroused considerable interest, not least because the
farm was on the verge of development. In October 1927 The Times reported
that the Wellhouse estate of some 180 dwellings was being built, and that
the well's historic interest would be commemorated by 'a new brick structure
with fountains, appropriate garden walks and flower beds, and two approaches
to be named Well Road and Pepys Crescent'.
The street-names are there, but the plans seem to have been modified by
the time the present mock-Tudor well-house was built in 1937. Beneath
this curious superstructure, though, still lies the original chamber,
one of the very few to have survived unaltered.
'THE BETTER INHABITANTS. 'From Tudor times at least'
wrote Cass in his History of Hadley' the better inhabitants of Hadley
were mainly drawn, as at the present day  is still the case, from
the professional and mercantile classes of the metropolis', and he went
on to lament that the resulting constant changes of ownership and occupation
made tracing the tenurial histories of the various houses extremely laborious.
Cass was still part of an historical tradition, and world view, which
unquestioningly limited local history to such families and their houses.
Today the tendency is to focus more or less entirely on what used to be
termed the lower orders, which corrects the balance, but taken too far
distorts the more hierarchical past of which Cass is entirely representative.
The point is important in this area because for centuries it contained
a disproportionate number of wealthy families. The concentration of Georgian
mansions in Hadley still bears witness to this, and Oak Hill and Osidge
are survivors of an equally notable number in East Barnet.
This concentration was not simply of architectural significance, but influenced
all aspects of community life.
THE PEOPLE The arrival of merchants started well before the Tudors.
From at least the 13th century, when the Frowyk family of goldsmiths built
a manor house at Old Fold, London's rich sought country estates within
easy reach of the city, and from then on are to be found in ever increasing
numbers in all districts within this sort of radius from the capital.
They were attracted particularly to areas with good transport links, and
to healthy gravel-topped plateaus such as Hadley. As the draw of London
increased, merchants wanting rural retreats were joined by gentry and
upwards whose main seats were elsewhere but who wanted another residence
within commuting range.
Many property transactions were also purely for investment: Henry Parker,
citizen and painter-stainer of London, who acquired Little Grove in East
Barnet in 1653, in his death-bed will of 1670 ordered his wife to sell
it to pay debts incurred 'through the late Conflagration and other the
Providences of God upon the Cittie [the Great Plague of 1665 and Fire
of 1666] and my losses thereby'. Cass on occasion devotes pages to families
whose activities were centred elsewhere, but following him down those
paths is unnecessary.
He also garnered plenty of evidence for residents who played significant
roles, whether nationally, locally or both, and who provide a series of
snapshots which can be accumulated into a more general sense of local
Previous success or the fortune of birth allowed a wider stage to such
people, who in turn, in a world without television, radio or general literacy,
brought a breath of outside events into the locality.
ROYAL VISITORS Chipping Barnet lived with the continuous
excitement of the main road, but the other areas were also sometimes involved.
At her accession in 1558 Elizabeth I stayed at Hadley manor house on her
journey from Hatfield to London, and in 1611 Lady Arabella Stuart (or
Seymour) was detained locally. Inheritrix of a claim to the throne through
her father, Arabella was seen as a threat by both Elizabeth and James
I, and spent much of her life under virtual house arrest in various places.
On the road in 1611, she stayed for sixteen days in an unspecified Barnet
inn, where the costs included 30s (£1.50p) 'for glasses broken and
TRANSPORT AND GROWTH Transport and housing have always been linked,
but not always in the same way. The early settlements in our area were
strung out along main roads, but primarily in order to supply the needs
of other travelers. The wealthy, the first to live here in some sense
as commuters, did not travel into London on a daily basis, and anyway
had their own horses and carriages. Despite coaches and omnibuses, daily
commuting from this. distance until rail and tram links existed would
have been unusual.
THE MAINLINE The London to Birmingham line, whose opening in
1838 spelled the end of coaching, ran west of our area. By 1845 three
schemes were being touted involving Barnet. The proposed Eastern Counties'
spur from Tottenham and the Barnet & North Metropolitan Junction Railway's
plan for a line up through Hendon, both terminating at Barnet,rapidly
hit the buffers, but the London to York Railway Company obtained Parliamentary
approval for its plans in 1846 and, by now named the Great Northern Railway
Company (GNR), opened its line in 1850. Avoiding Barnet Hill, the line
and Barnet station (renamed New Barnet in 1884) lay a mile and a half
to the east.
Privately run buses, particularly Parsloe's to Hadley, Clarke's to Arkley,
and Bryant's to his inn, the Red Lion, helped bridge the gap. So too did
the new Station Road and a well-used footpath, now Meadway. Mainlines
were not particularly intended for commuter travel, but the company soon
realised their potential, and another station was opened on the edge of
the expanding suburb of Oakleigh Park in 1873.
THE NORTHERN LINE The GNR was also developing suburban
routes. In 1862 it became involved with the Edgware, Highgate & London
Railway Company scheme for a line from Finsbury Circus through Muswell
Hill to Finchley and thence northwards. The first branch, through Mill
Hill East to Edgware (by then entirely GNR-owned), opened in 1867.
The second, through Whetstone to Barnet, proved slower to arrive, and
even when it finally opened in 1872, the location of the terminus near
the foot of the hill was a severe blow .A decade earlier, in March 1862,
a local committee had waited on the GNR to see if it would build a spur
from its mainline, and had also decided that if possible the station should
be sited at the back of the Star Coffee House 'for not only is it the
most central that can be obtained for the town of Barnet itself, but it
is best suited for the outlying districts...the inhabitants of Hadley
could have no cause to complain; and for the residents upon Barnet-common
and neighbourhood, a direct line of communication would be open to the
station via Union Street'.
The 'coffee house was almost opposite Union Street, and a plan was drawn
up with a station rather lower, at the bottom of Moxon Street. The company
opposed this and a projected spur by the Edgware Highgate & London;
in 1864 it obtained parliamentary approval for a spur from its mainline
to a station behind the Salisbury Arms, with a road down to an elevated
Moxon Street, but then did nothing.
In 1866 once again three companies submitted rival schemes. The Midland
proposed a station behind Moxon Street with a line proceeding through
Friern, Finchley and Golders Green to Cricklewood. The GNR suggested a
loop from the mainline , running south through Potters Bar, Barnet and
Totteridge to join the Edgware, Highgate & London line near Finchley;
Barnet's station would have been behind Christ Church, but in the face
of protest this was altered to the south end of Barrack Field, near the
Black Horse on Wood Street. The Edgware, Highgate & London proposed
more or less the current High Barnet branch, but with a station west of
the main road at Underhill. It was this last which received parliamentary
approval, but the company was promptly swallowed by the GNR, which proposed
looping the line further west to a terminus (again) near the Black Horse.
This was approved but two years of inactivity-followed until, in 1869,
the GNR won a two-year extension, and there were the first signs of action.
By August 1870 almost all the purchasing was done, but only as far as
the top, or' close to the top', of Barnet Hill. The westward continuation
to B'arnet Common, apparently unprotected by contract, was dropped as
too expensive and 'If the line is extended at all, of which Mr Oakley
(the general manager) says there is not the least doubt, it will be continued
across the fields to Hadley, and thence to Potters Bar'. By May 1871 the
Barnet Press reported 'The customary twigs with their scraps of paper
attached, are now to be seen in the horse-fair field ...giving an approximate
idea of the site of the future station'.
The branch opened in 1872, and the station (despite its lowly position)
was named High Barnet. Even in the 16th century the cartographer John
Norden used High, instead of Chipping, Barnet but the name remained relatively
uncommon until chosen by the railway. (Chipping, however, is now staging
a comeback.) As part of the London Passenger Transport Board's rationalisations,
the line was incorporated into the Northern Line via a new connecting
tunnel to Archway in 1939, and the previous route to Finsbury Park discontinued.
The track was also electrified up to East Finchley in 1939, and to High
Barnet in 1940.
A FATALITY "Railway construction was dangerous,
and in 1871 the Barnet branch claimed a victim. At the inquest his fellow
navvies reported that Henry White, aged 23, was running his barrow along
a plank when he slipped and fell fourteen feet, pulling both the plank
and barrow down on top of himself. Many navies were Irish, but White was
from Oxfordshire, and it an interesting insight into life before telephones,
widespread literacy, or rapid transport that his father had neither seen
him for four months nor known where he was working, but was contacted
immediately the accident occurred. The Barnet Press noted that this was
'the first fatal accident which has happened during the six months the
railway has been making, among between six and seven hundred men' and
that all the funeral expenses 'were kindly paid by the contractor, Mr
Smith; who said deceased was a very respectable and steady young man,
and one of the best in his employ'.
NEW BARNET The belief that railways always brought instant
suburbia was and is unfounded, but there were significant connections.
When the" GNR was purchasing the land for its track in the 1840s,
instead of limiting itself to the usual corridor, it bought the whole
of the Lyonsdown estate which happened to be on the market (roughly the
land between the early roads of Potters Lane to the north and Long Street,
now Longmore Avenue to the south), took what was needed for the line and
station, and immediately sold the rest to the British Land Company for
development. The resulting suburb, New Barnet, previously simply part
of East Barnet, grew slowly over the next half century, beginning with
the main web of major routes, Station Road, Lyonsdown Road and East Barnet
Road, and moving on to the infill. It was also extended northwards after
the British Land Company added the Woodcock Farm estate, purchased in
1868. With areas nearer to London not yet full New Barnet was far from
a runaway success, but it remains an oddity, an island of Victorian and
Edwardian housing surrounded by inter war development. It was also far
less homogeneous than its later neighbours, with a deliberate range from
cramped terraces east of the track to larger mansions further west and
on the northern slopes near Hadley Common.
19th-CENTURY CHIPPING BARNET AND HADLEY Situated at a road junction
and plateau edge, Chipping Barnet's development was for centuries entirely
ribbon-like, confined to Barnet Hill, the High Street and Wood Street.
The first deepening began in the 1830s, just before the railways destroyed
coaching, when Tapster and Moxon Streets were laid out on the east and
Union Street (1837) put through on the west, the first stage in the fairly
slow process of developing the arc between the High Street and Wood Street
as far north as the still new St Albans Road. In the early to mid-century,
following Barnet Common's 1815 enclosure, a number of new cottages were
built around its edges along Mays Lane and Wood Street, and also at Hadley
Highstone which, like the Hadley end of Barnet High Street, became an
alternative and more populated focus to the old village centre. None of
these developments was related to the prospect of commuting, at least
initially, and the stations' eventual locations were unhelpful. Manor
Road, the first new road across the former common, was laid out from Wood
Street down to Mays Lane in 1867, but by the 1890s neither this nor Bells
Hilt a far earlier lane, was fully developed. Nevertheless development
slowly gathered pace. North of Wood Street a sale catalogue was advertising
plots in Salisbury, Carnarvon, Strafford, Alston and Stapylton Roads by
1881. Also around 1880 the Ravenscroft Park estate was developed slightly
further west behind Wood Street; and the 1890s OS maps show similarly
upmarket development beginning along Granville Road and Queens Road.
Union Street developed into something approaching a new town centre, with
a significant concentration of churches and schools, a meeting room and,
from 1889-1912, Barnet Town Hall.
REDUNDANT INNS, AND TEMPERANCE Even the increasing population
could not justify the concentration of inns along the High Street (although
in fact across the whole area the number per head of population was on
the low side), drink was seen as a major social problem, and the Balfour
Act of 1904 allowed licence renewal to be challenged on the grounds of
redundancy - an opening gladly seized by the Temperance movement. The
Balfour Act was the basis of the 'Barnet comb-out' of 1927_8, which ended
the Castle, Woolpack, White Horse, Queen's Head, Bulls Head, Hart's Horns
and old Green Dragon in the High Street, and the Three Horseshoes and
Queen's Arms at Underhill (although a successor to the last reopened on
the opposite side of the road in 1937). Closures have continued, including
the Wellington in 1964 and Salisbury Arms in 1988, and the Two Brewers
at Hadley in 1992. The Cat at East Barnet was demolished after a fire
As Richard Baxter noted in 1669 'the town [Barnet] consists of so much
of inns and alehouses, which are very seldom Nonconformist', and since
the antipathy was mutual, the area's strong 19th-century nonconformist
presence ensured a strong temperance lobby. In 1909 H.E. Tidmarsh, the
artist best known for his London street scenes, living in Marriott Road
and (contrary to stereotype) a committed Methodist, called a meeting of
'the newly formed Barnet Temperance Council' at the PSA (Pleasant Sunday
Afternoon, a nonconformist movement) Room in Union Street to consider
the proposal that 'the temperance forces of the town, in order to do something
more practical in combating the drink evil, should start a well equipped
Coffee Tavern in a central position'; but the idea seems to have foundered.
In 1928 the applicant for an off- licence noted that' a new town had sprung
up around the Bells Hill district - there being 600 to 700 houses in the
locality - and the only means the inhabitants, who were generally of the
respectable working class, had of obtaining intoxicating drinks was by
going to public houses at the top of the Bells Hill or farther into town'.
264 people supported the claim but the objectors, predictably, were the
licensees of the two pubs in alliance with the Temperance Council of the
Christian Churches and the British Women's Temperance Association. Even
the magistrates thought it odd that the temperance advocates preferred
men to walk some distance to the pub, with the risk of a delayed return.
TRAMS AND TROLLEYBUSES Succeeding where the railways had failed,
the Metropolitan Electric Tramways line, which had reached Whetstone in
1905 and the county boundary on 4 August 1906, finally conquered Barnet
Hill on 28 March 1907. The many postcards recording the opening day probably
reflect real and widespread rejoicing. This terminus was at the top of
the hill, just south of the church, and the line was never extended northwards.
Trams were at first known only by their individual car number, and those
on the Highgate to Barnet route also carried the prominent letter B. Car
numbers continued to be used, but other routes were soon added and route
numbers appeared; by the end of 1913 route 38 ran from Highgate through
North Finchley to Barnet and route 44 from Cricklewood through Golders
Green and North Finchley to Barnet.
Better and faster prototypes were also built, particularly car no 318,
the 'Bluebell', which was built at Hendon and entered service in March
1927 Just three months later it ran into the back of a lorry halted by
road works at the Underhill junction. The tram driver died, but the badly
damaged car was rebuilt in a somewhat different form, and continued working
until sent for scrap in 1936, when trams were being replaced by trolley
buses. The last tram from Barnet to North Finchley ran on 6 March 1938,
with the same
driver and conductor, W. Lowe and F. Mardell, who had taken the first
tram up to Barnet in 1907.Not only were the routes never extended northwards,
but neither did any run east or west through Barnet - slightly surprisingly
given the importance of New Barnet station.
Thanks to the Tally Ho junction it was North Finchley which acquired eastward
and westward connections and became an important hub, with the associated
boost to shops and other leisure facilities. This situation continued
with the trolley buses: despite various route numbers, there was only
the single spur up the Great North Road beyond North Finchley. The trolley
buses also continued to use the old tram terminus at Barnet, since the
powers that had been obtained to build a loop via Wood Street, Union Street
and the High Street were never used.
BUSES Trolley buses ended in 1961-2, when they were, replaced
by diesel buses, but buses, even if disconnected from stage coaches, have
a longer history. A horse-drawn omnibus route linked Barnet and Finchley
from 1898, but the first London & General Omnibus Company motor bus,
plying from Golders Green through Finchley and Barnet to St Albans, started
Another route from Watford through Elstree to High Barnet followed in
1922. In the 1920s private operators tried to fill some of the obvious
local gaps. First on the scene was Charles Dunsford, proprietor of the
Parkbridge Nurseries in Park Road, New Barnet, who, trading as Barnet
Motor Services and with a garage in East Barnet Road, began running a
bus from the Two Brewers at Hadley Highstone via Station Road to the Prince
of Wales in East Barnet in 1923 (route 352), and another (route 354) also
from the Two Brewers but to Whetstone and thence eastwards to Wood Green
Route 352 was extended northwards to Hadley Wood station in January 1925,
and route 353 diverted from Wood Green to Totteridge and renumbered 354,
but Dunsford ceased trading at the end of that year, the 352 ended with
him, and the 353 less than a year later.
The most successful private bus fleet was the Admiral, run by A.T. Bennett,
which started further east on the pre-existing LGOC route 29, but pioneered
an all-year round daily service northwards to Hadley Woods, previously
only served at peak times for day trippers. All the bus companies were
taken over by the new London Passenger Transport Board in 1933-4.
20th-CENTURY CHIPPING BARNET, ARKLEY AND HADLEY The tram line
ensured that the main thrust of Edwardian development was near Barnet
Hill. The plots on Manor Road were finally sold, and the triangle between
it and Barnet Hill speedily filled with Fitzjohn and Normandy A venues
and their neighbours. At the same time, and perhaps because of its seclusion,
Arkley acquired a number of substantial detached houses. The inter war
years brought in filling. Meadway, previously the well-trodden footpath
to Barnet Station, was developed from 1929; the Grasvenor Estate, built
around 1932, filled the gap between Underhill and the Whetstone boundary;
and new houses filled in the spaces at the lower ends of the roads that
link Mays Lane and Wood Street.
Moving outwards from the available transport links, the process would
have doubtless have continued until Arkley and Hadley had become versions
of East Barnet, but the war intervened in 1939, and the Green Belt was
imposed thereafter. The Hadley Ridge estate, just north of Bath Place,
is one of the few that straddles the war period. The inter war ribbon
development along Barnet Road to Arkley has also continued, but there
are still fields behind it, and genuine farms at the western ends of Mays
Lane and Barnet Road.
There are plenty of examples of post-war' housing, whether in small blocks
of flats in and around Manor Road, brick and stuck-on timber executive
closes at Arkley, or 1990s houses with mix and match architectural features
of all periods and none at Hadley Highstone, but these have usually occurred
through the piecemeal replacement of earlier buildings. At the upper end
of the previous scale, large Victorian and Edwardian mansions requiring
a permanent abundance of cheap domestic labour have been particularly
vulnerable, and many of the flats and closes in Barnet and Arkley shelter
behind earlier garden walls. At Hadley Highstone, in contrast, various
small cottages have gone. Among these were some wooden ones at Mill Corner
(part of the cholera-hit Enfield enclave of the mid-19th century), and
Grocott Cottages just south-west of the Highstone. The latter were pulled
down in 1958, although the scheme to replace them by Council housing was
defeated by the newly (and specifically) formed residents' association.
Common lodging houses too, both at Hadley and at Underhill, have vanished.
EAST BARNET New Barnet apart the 19th-century railways
stimulated little development. Jackson and Capel Roads were laid out in
the 1880s to link the village towards Oakleigh Park station, and a few
houses were built in Oakhurst, Alverstone and Rosslyn Avenues in the opening
years of the 20th century, but these remained exceptional. In the inter
war years, though, when all the land nearer to London had been fully developed
and East Barnet's turn was increasingly inevitable, the process was hastened
by the extension of the Piccadilly line from Finsbury Park to Cockfosters
in 1933, just east of the Barnet boundary but easily accessible. The population
statistics tell the story:
East Barnet Urban District (including New Barnet) contained 13,514 souls
in 1921, 18,549 in 1931, and 34A80 in 1939. A Gallants Farm Estate catalogue
of 1934 claimed that its 46 acres were 'the last undeveloped land within
10 miles of London', and described the' comfortable farmhouse and homestead'
which were, of course, doomed. Across the rest of East Barnet and Cockfosters
the Greenhill Park and Belmont estates carried on the names of the mansions
they replaced around 1930-1, with the Russell Lane estate following in
Rows of houses struck out across the hills and dips of what must previously
have been a spectacularly beautiful landscape. Although all the plans
and designs were there, not all the estates were complete when building
was stopped by the start of the Second World War in September 1939. Some
houses are therefore post-war, but do not look it.
Private housing in the 1930s was cheaper relative to income than at any
other period before or since, allowing a whole new swathe of society into
its benefits. Changes in design also meant that the houses had better
light levels, and often larger gardens, than their pre-1914 predecessors,
but cheaper building processes and the concentration on a fairly narrow
section of the market made inter war semis monotonous, and they were also
extravagant in land use. For all their advantages, districts such as East
Barnet lack the pleasures of architectural variety available in more slowly
COUNCIL HOUSING Not all estates were private, and council
housing too made a significant contribution, beginning when Barnet
Urban District availed itself of the Housing of the Working Classes Act
of 1890 to build 22 houses in Barnet Lane in 1910 and 30 in Mays Lane
in 1913. After the First World War, with Homes for Heroes conspicuously
lacking, legislation and motivation improved. Between 1918-39 Barnet VD
undertook seven schemes, of which the Chesterfield and Wellhouse Estate
with 324 dwellings, and Grange estate with 110 were by far the largest.
East Barnet VD embarked on its first two: 164 houses at Conyers Park,
and at St Wilfrid's Road a slum clearance scheme of 30 houses and flats
to replace some of New Barnet's worst jerrybuilding.
Again, some schemes were in storage during the war, and both councils
continued to build after 1945. The only post-war developments with more
than a hundred units were Barnet' s Stanhope (193), Whitings Hill (431)
and Little Larkins (115), and East Barnet's Bevan (130) and Cockfosters
(419) estates. The London Borough of Barnet contributed the Dollis Valley
estate on the former sewage farm site at Underhill in the late 1960s,
before central government destroyed the system.
BREWERIES There were plenty of alewives (and some men)
brewing for sale in medieval Barnet, but larger scale commercial breweries
(where women scarcely feature) are rather later. Barnet Brewery operated
intermittently in Wood Street from at least the 18th century until closure
in 1909; council offices replaced it in 1912, leading Councilor Olney
to remark 'Now a different kind of froth is produced on the site'. Another
brewery, the Phoenix, was operating in Barnet High Street from at least
1866-86, but had vanished by 1896.Hadley Brewery later claimed to have
been founded in 1700, and in 1795 moved to a site at the northern end
of Hadley Green. It was acquired in 1887 by J. Harris Browne, and rebuilt
in 1890. Artesian wells beneath the brewery supplied the water for making
ten bottled and ten casked beers, a pale ale and Hadley Stout. In the
standard pattern, the brewery was sold to Fremlins in 1938 and brewing
ceased although it continued to be used as a distribution centre; in 1967
it was sold again to Whitbread's, who ended its use entirely in 1969.
It was demolished in 1978.
PUBLIC SERVICES Public services is a catch-all title
for a whole range of provision that underpins daily life.
Despite the range described here - policing, fire, sewage disposal, gas
and electricity, health everyone will be able to think of omissions. Some
- education, poor relief, housing, cemeteries - can be found in other
chapters, but the number is simply too vast to cover fully. There are
some reasonable rules of thumb to help bridge the gaps. In earlier times
the manor or parish was responsible for delivering most of the few statutory
services, and local government has always continued to be a main provider.
The range of services and providers moved sharply upwards in the later
19th and 20th centuries. Many facilities were highly local, so that the
opening dates of primary schools (see next chapter), welfare clinics,
branch libraries, parks and playing fields, are likely to coincide with
LAW AND ORDER Barnet and Hadley are now leafy, relatively
law abiding suburbs, but were once far less tranquil. Crime was never
confined to the town or to outsiders, but Chipping Barnet with its travelers,
markets and fairs was particularly prone to disorder, and the situation
was worsened by the area's location along the county boundary. The higher-level
forces of law and order were county bounded, so that a quick flight across
the border (much practiced by the fighting fraternity, (see pp 121-2))
was often useful.
A few examples are given of various types of crime.
ROBBERY John Broade, a yeoman of East Barnet, stole a
blue coat worth 2s.6d. from John Cooke at East Barnet in November 1589,
but seems to have had a positive vendetta against John Smyth, also of
East Barnet, gentleman.
From him he stole a holland head sheet worth 10s (SOp) and a double rail
worth 8s, both on 4 January 1591; two days later he returned and made
off with a sheet (26s. 8d), a yard-kerchief (4s. 4d), a currall (Is) a
piece of woolen cloth (2s), a crimson satin hood (6s 8d) two silver whistles
and a silver bell (2s); then, though by now a labourer of Hertford, he
came back to remove a crimson hood (2s), silver whistle (Is) and coral
The last time, surely oddly, he was found not guilty; after the 4 January
episode, and to the modern mind equally oddly,he was one of the many who
managed to exploit the loophole (a medieval leftover) that anyone who
could read was a cleric and therefore not answerable in the civil courts.
Two labourers, both from other areas, who respectively stole a brown cow
(40s) and 27 sheep (£10) in 1589 and 1593 successfully pleaded likewise.
Highwaymen, the muggers of their day, targeted lonely commons. Crossing
Finchley Common was therefore the main terror on the Great North Road,
although there was the occasional incident at Hadley. Barnet Common too
was dangerous: the Bishop of Sodor and Man was robbed in 1755 of 'upwards
of twenty guineas by a highwayman masked and extremely well mounted',
while in 1807 Sir David Baird was relieved of £100.
MURDER In 1220 Alice Black confessed that she was present
with her husband at the slaying of three men and a woman at Barnet, and
was ordered to be burnt. In 1601 Alice Fulwood, wife of a barber in Chipping
Barnet, was indicted for the murder of Mary Harwood, aged 16, by witchcraft.
The local inquest had found that Alice was commonly thought to be a witch
and had on several occasions bewitched Mary so that the back of her head
was bruised, causing her death, but she was in fact found not guilty at
the next Assize.
ASSAULT In 1797 William Hoskin, a labourer discharged
from the foot guards as wounded and unfit for service, described how he
was assaulted by Michael Walsh, the landlord of the Bull in Barnet, and
flung out, only to be assaulted by several fishermen who carried him into
the Market House and beat and kicked him there, also stealing clothing
from his bundle and a tin box containing his discharge and one and a half
guineas. (It would be interesting to know if the landlord was the same
as the Michael Welch whose wife accused him in 1788 of assaulting her
in the grounds of Green Grove near Chipping Barnet where he was then a
gardener to the Duchess of Rutland.)
POLICING Until 1840 there was a two-tier system of local
law enforcement. At the local level was the manor, increasingly replaced
from the 16th century by the parish. In areas like this where the manors
remained strong, the hand over was never absolute, and at Hadley particularly
constables, head boroughs and beadles were appointed interchangeably.
A man born in 1848 remembered the beadle: 'his uniform was a large blue
coat with gold-coloured buttons; a wide, red collar edged with gold braid,
and he carried a thick cane with a gold knob.
He was a terror to us boys. Public punishment aimed to act as a deterrent,
and Hadley bought a whipping post and cucking stool in 1677.
It also acquired new stocks in 1787, rebuilt in 1827 but reduced to a
vestigial stump by 1935 when they were accidentally destroyed in the bonfire
celebrating George V's jubilee. Hadley also had a pound for animals and
a cage for humans. Barnet's lock-up was in Middle Row. The counties not
only had courts and the justices of the peace, but also another layer
of constables, particularly prominent during Barnet Fair
THE BARNET ASSOCIATION Policing in London was overhauled
in 1792, but Barnet was way outside. Local associations were a standard
response to law and order problems, and one was therefore formed the same
year to cover Chipping and East Barnet. Its aim was the capture and conviction
of offenders, and it was deemed so successful that in December its area
was extended to cover Hadley, South Mimms and other adjacent parishes.
The association's role, though, was limited to fund-raising and lobbying,
and enforcement continued as before. Hadley, which had appointed paid
watchmen in 1786, was doing so again in the 1820s.
THE MET Robert Peel formed the Metropolitan 'Police in 1829,
but Barnet was again outside and again responded by forming its own association,
this time specifically to police the district. Two officers were engaged
to patrol a limited area, later extended. Finally in 1840 the area was
incorporated into the Metropolitan Police District.Even this did not solve
all problems. One of the nonconformist missionaries active at Barnet Fair
in 1854 noted: 'On more than one occasion we met with drunken policemen
who were rushing about where accidents occurred more calculated to increase
than prevent injury'. Sectarianism too stirred up conflict.
According to the same, notably biased, source, when a drunken Roman Catholic
attacked the missionaries and scattered their tracts, two policemen arrived,
but were both Irish' and immediately leaned to the Roman Catholic notwithstanding
his violence. They said that we had no business to be there and if we
did not go they would remove us. This is but a specimen of the folly of
placing any confidence in any Roman Catholic in any official capacity
when the question has anything to do with the state of their church'.
The site of Barnet's first police station is uncertain, though it was
almost certainly in rented premises, possibly 85 High Street which was
found at demolition to contain a cell door with a grille. In 1861 26 High
Street was acquired, and a purpose-built station and section house constructed;
then in 1909 28-32 High Street were also bought and demolished, and a
new station built across the whole site around 1912. This was again rebuilt
in 1974-6, and survives. East Barnet Police station was opened on the
junction of Margaret and Edward Roads in 1884 and closed in 1933, although
the building continued in other guises until demolition in 1985.
FIRE In 1751 Chipping Barnet's leading residents started a subscription'
towards Purchasing aNew Invented Fire Engine', and the next year proudly
took delivery of the engine, 80 foot of pipe and a dozen leather buckets.
The Local Board bought a Merry weather machine in 1868, and, moving on
from another High Street location, the still remembered station at the
Hadley end was opened in 1890. East Barnet formed a volunteer brigade
around 1870, housed at 3 Hope Villas, but went over to paid firemen and
a proper fire station (at the junction of Lytton and Leicester Roads)
in 1903. Fire brigades became increasingly professionally trained and
equipped during the 1930s, providentially given their vital role during
the Second World War. The formation of county based brigades in 1948 led
to the closure of the Barnet station, and the East Barnet one was replaced
by the current premises on Station Road in 1991.
NATURAL HISTORY The Barnet Natural History Society started
in 1905, hoping 'to promote and popularise a taste for the study of natural
history and archaeology, to develop and foster social and friendly intercourse
among naturalists, archaeologists and others of congenial tastes, and
generally to encourage a love of the beautiful in nature'. It would hold
monthly evening meetings each winter' when informal papers on scientific
matters and natural phenomena of local interest will be read by the members,
objects (eggs, moths etc) collected during the season exhibited and discussed,
photographic slides and natural objects shown, meteorological reports
handed in etc'. Natural history societies were among the few which sometimes
crossed class barriers, but this one charged 2s 6d a meeting, roughly
a quarter of an unskilled man's weekly wage. Nevertheless the society
got off to a rip-roaring start, with around 150 members within the year
(and some of them women).
It continued successfully too until 1939, but at the outbreak of war all
public meetings were banned and many halls requisitioned, and this society
was one of those which never reassembled. To found anything similar today
would be unimaginable: it is a classic example of the profit and loss
account of the parochial versus the global village.
LOCAL HISTORY Local history is one of the few interests
which remains necessarily local, and it has therefore survived rather
better. B.R. Leftwich's letter to the Barnet Press in 1927 was prompted
by his concern that 'Barnet is fast becoming a suburb of London; all its
old landmarks are fast disappearing, and there is a danger that in a few
years' time all trace of them may be lost'. He suggested founding a society
'to collect all documents relating to the Barnets', by (pre-photocopier)
transcription and photography as well as by actual collection, and the
Barnet Record Society was duly formed. Despite inflation since 1905, the
entry fee this time was a non-prohibitive 2s 6d a year for working members.
There were monthly meetings, to which members should bring something of
local interest, and excursions.
Membership climbed steadily, from 60 in the first year to 180 in 1936
and 226 in 1957, and although it fell in the 1960s, stands today (2002)
at around 300. The society, renamed the Barnet and District Local History
Society in 1967, has the most obvious presence of any because of its museum;
the collection started in 1928, and has been charmingly (if not exactly
spaciously) housed in 31 Wood Street since 1938.
DRAMA There is also still life in local drama and music,
but once again wider horizons have fundamentally shifted the balance.
Not that the past was ever static. The 'Great Room' upstairs in the Red
Lion where Pepys ate his cheesecakes in 1667 (see ill. 36), later became
the Assembly Rooms, used both for public meetings and as a theatre. According
to a report in the Barnet Gazette in 1858, 'The Barnet Theatre was largely
patronised in particular by the late much-respected family ofWrotham Park
and the then residents at Trent Park, by whom plays were frequently selected
"By Special Desire".' The less exalted could also enjoy the
theatre 'very neatly fitted up after the London style', and the annual
appearances of Osborne's Company over many years. But' the fittings were
taken down and sold nearly fifty years ago, from which period the drama
rapidly declined in Barnet, and has now become obsolete.
The last performance in this room took place on 30 March, 1835, the pieces
being The Rivals, 5th Act of Richard Ill, and Timour the Tartar, by a
company of strollers of considerable ability, but whose exertions over
a season of several weeks were nightly productive only of a beggarly account
of empty benches'.Like the professional touring companies, local amateur
productions have had a variously successful history. During his 33 years
as a reviewer, from 1945-78, Bill Gelder saw 78 groups over a somewhat
wider area, most of which had disbanded by the 1980s.
But as he noted, even before modern pressures the Barnet Amateur Dramatic
Society ceased to exist in 1881 'for want of sufficient support'. At the
other end of the scale, the Barnet Arts Club (since 1965 the Barnet Borough
Arts Club), founded in 1921 and the oldest in his book, still flourishes.
So too does the Old Bull Theatre, founded in 1975. Two of the disbanded
groups were offshoots - the Dramatic Section of the New Barnet Lit, which
started in 1920 and closed in 1957, and the St Peter's Players, a church
group. Beyond the regular groups there were also many special drama and
music events, ranging from the choir competitions and musical performances
at the Barnet District Industrial Exhibition through to concerts of various
sorts. The concerts could be ends in themselves, but were often part of
the endless fundraising activities which, apart from their intrinsic worth,
helped mop up quantities of middle-class female energy. Many such activities
were church-based, but others were more generally philanthropic, such
as the Evening of Songs and Fairy Tales held in aid ofthe Barnet Provident
Club in 1911. Miss Dora Byfield, one of the organisers, was the capable
daughter of East Barnet Council's Clerk who, had she been a man, would
have had an equally successful career. As it was, a whole range of local
organisations (and some appeals for wider charities) benefited from her
CINEMA Even for the Victorian and Edwardian period the image
of every family diligently making its own amusements round the piano is
greatly exaggerated. But it is certainly true that for all classes in
a world without cinema, radio or television and, for most, little travel,
entertainment was far more family- and community-based than now. The first
widening of horizons, and corresponding weakening of participatory activity;
came with the cinema, from the 1910s until the advent of mass television
in the 1950s 15y far the most popular form of entertainment. Films were
something for which people were prepared to travel, so that Finchley as
well as Barnet houses feature in local reminiscences. Barnet's own earliest
was the Cinema Palace, opened in the silent era in 1912 and renamed the
Barnet Cinema in 1926, when it was operating two evening houses and a
Saturday matinee. Taken over by the Odeon circuit in 1936 and renamed
the Gaumont in 1955, it closed in 1959 to be demolished and replaced by
a Waitrose supermarket. Similarly, the Dominion in East Barnet Road, which
opened in 1938 with a guest appearance by Gracie Fields, became the Essoldo
in 1950 and closed in 1967, also to be replaced by a supermarket.In New
Barnet the Lytton Road Assembly Rooms (built by E. Fergusson Taylor c.1870)
were converted into a small cinema, the Hippodrome, which ran for three
months in 1925, was re launched later the same year as the Kinema, and
was then replaced with a purpose-built house, the New Barnet Picture Theatre,
in 1926. It became the Regal in 1933 and was converted to bingo in 1966
and quasar thereafter, before demolition in 1999. The only local cinema
today is the Odeon at Underhill, which opened in purpose built splendour
in 1935 and was converted to a triple-screen complex in 1974.
ABBEY FOLK PARK In 1934 John Ward established an open-air
museum at Hadley Hall, 89 Park Road, New Barnet which featured a prehistoric
village, a 13th-century tithe barn from Kent, and a 17th-century well.
This became the nucleus of the English Folk Park, to which in 1935 he
added an Ethnographical Folk Park. The Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret
were among its many delighted visitors. Ward began as an Anglican clergyman,
but then transferred to the Orthodox Catholic Church of England, in which
within two days in October 1935 he graduated through all the stages from
baptism up to priest and bishop. Alongside the museum he also ran a community,
the abbey of Christ the King, which shared many of the characteristics
of other such sects revolving around charismatic leaders.Jn May 1945 he
was charged with enticement and in October, by now Archbishop of the British
Empire of the Orthodox Catholic Church, came close to bankruptcy. He went
abroad shortly afterwards. The site continued as an arts centre in various
guises. Much of the ethnographic collection was in Cyprus from 1945 and
has since 1986 formed part of the Abbey Museum in Queensland, Australia.
GENERAL MONK'S VISIT As with the battle of 1471, so General
Monk's eventful night in Barnet in 1660 was entirely due to the road.
On 2 February, in the final phase before the restoration of Charles 11,
Monk marched southwards from St Albans and stayed overnight at Barnet,
probably at the Mitre.
One of his chaplains, John Price, recorded that the general 'took up quarters
only for himself and his domestique retinue...much business was here dispacht;
orders were distributed for our next day's march into town [ie London],
and that our soldiers should demean themselves civily in their quarters,
and pay for them; for our money held out still'. The alternative scenario
if military money had run out hovers like a chill in the air, not least
because Price reported that 'The next day, before we came to Highgate,
the general drew up his forces, which consisted of four regiments of foot
and three of horse their number being 5,800, allowing 1,000 to each regiment
of foot and 600 to each regiment of horse, besides officers'.
This time, though, the excitement was limited to Thomas Scot, one of the
commissioners sent by Parliament to keep Monk under surveillance, who
at around midnight burst in after what must have been a brisk run through
the streets, clad only in night gown, cap and slippers, to relay news
from London that soldiers there 'were fallen into a high mutiny, and that
there was a danger that they would joyn with the [ap ]prentices, who cryed
upon the streets for a Free Parliament, [and] passionately desired, or
rather by his authority required the general immediately to beat his drums
and march'. Keeping his head, Monk 'calmly answered him, I will answer
for this night's disturbance and be early enough in the morning to prevent
He did agree to send a messenger immediately, who reported that the uproar
had been soon quashed, thus strengthening the suspicion that Scot's dramatic
performance and' motion for such a hasty march was... an artifice.. .so
as to mingle the soldiers of both armies that they might be the less at
the general's devotion'. How all Monk's troops were billeted is hard to
imagine, but a century later the War Office billeting returns of 1756
offer a handy guide to the Barnet and Hadley inns.