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Postcard, postmark 1911,
unknown publisher

Horses and cattle on Monken Hadley Common about 1911, with Hurst
Cottage in the background


Monken Hadley Common (often known locally as "Hadley Woods", or simply "Hadley Common") was created - as a “common” - by the Act of Parliament which enclosedIn English social and economic history, "enclosure" was the process which ended traditional rights such as mowing meadows for hay, or grazing livestock on common land formerly held in the open field system.

Once "enclosed", these uses of the land became restricted to the owner, and it ceased to be common land. [Wikipedia]
Enfield ChaseA “chase” is a hunting ground; Enfield Chase (or Chace) was a royal hunting ground. - the Enfield Chase Act of 1777,17 Geo.III.c.17"17 Geo.III.c.17" identifies the Act of Parliament under which the Common was established.

It means "The 17th Act [c.17] passed during the parliamentary session that started in the 17th year of the reign of King George 3rd"
(The Act can be read online here .)
. Indeed the very name "Monken Hadley Common" derives from, and was first used on, the plan which accompanied the 1777 Act.

"Commons” are generally privately owned land over which some people other than the owner exercise limited rights "in common" with the owner(s) of the land. These people are known as "commoners", and they may, for example, have rights to graze animals, to collect firewood, or to cut turfpeat

 for fuel. Monken Hadley Common is unusual in that under section V of the 1777 Act , the land is not privately owned, but is held in trust for the “Commoners” - the people who still have grazing rights attached to their properties!


Postcard, postmark 1928
"Photo by Clarke's, East Finchley, N.2"

Camlet Way gate, about 1928. (In 1777 it was called "Camlot Way".) Notice the gatekeeper's hut on the right hand side (and the gatekeeper?). The Common has five gates, and their original purpose was to keep livestock from straying. They are now protected structures.

Photo: Les Bedford

Pymmes Brook Trail fingerpost on the bridleway near Folly Bridge


Monken Hadley Common is now the only remaining unenclosed fragment of the former Chase, and is situated north of High Barnet, and immediately to the east of ancient country village of Monken Hadley itself. In 1777 it was in the county of Middlesex; in 1889 it became part of Hertfordshire, and since 1965 it has been within the administrative area of the London Borough of Barnet.

The Common is a roughly wedged shaped tract of land of about 70 ha, about 2.5 kilometres long, tapering from a width of about 0.5 kilometre at its broadest point, close to the white gates beside St Mary's Church, Monken Hadley at the western end ........

London Loop sign at the bottom of Bakers Hill

                                                                   ........ to a narrow point by one of the other sets of white gates at Games Road at the eastern end - about 300m from the Cockfosters Road entrance to Trent Park. It is bounded to the north and south by the residential areas of Hadley Wood and New Barnet respectively.

A public bridleway crosses the Common, joining the end of Games Road, at the east, to the car park at the foot of Baker's Hill at the west. Horse riding and pedal-cycling are permitted along it - although not elsewhere on the Common. The bridleway - the only public bridleway in the Borough of Barnet - forms part of the London LOOP - the London Outer Orbital Path (the walker's M25), and links with the Pymmes Brook Trail near Jack's Lake.






Photo: John Vincent Keogh

The bridleway east of the railway bridge

A rural enclave

The Common has a rural aspect, which is enhanced by being adjacent to Hadley Wood Golf Club and the Covert Way Local Nature Reserve (both in the London Borough of Enfield), and the Hadley Manor and King George's Fields Open Space, the Tudor Sports Ground nine hole golf course, and the playing fields of two schools (all in the London Borough of Barnet).


Photo: John Vincent Keogh

The entrance to King George's Fields from the Common

Approximately 53 ha of the Common are mixed semi-natural deciduous woodland with some open glades and the remainder is open grassland with planted or selected trees.

The Common is listed as a “Grade 1 Site of Nature Conservation Importance” by the London Borough of Barnet, and it lies within the Monken Hadley Conservation Area. It and its trees are designated as being of general amenity value, and the woodland west of the railway line is subject to a Tree Preservation Order.






Photo: Alan Magnus

A profusion of rosebay willowherbEpilobium angustifolium also known as "fireweed".
on the upper Common

A haven for wildlife

The Common is not a nature reserve but it, and the adjacent Covert Way Local Nature Reserve and the open land belonging to Hadley Wood Golf Club, are havens for wildlife. Its importance in this respect is increased by its location on the urban fringe, where pressures on wildlife are considerable.

Photo: Simon West

Broad-bodied ChaserLibellula depressa - one of the most common dragonflies in Europe. dragonfly
"Gladsmuir" pond, Monken
Hadley Common, May 6th, 2011




Photo: Les Bedford

Fly AgaricAmanita muscaria - poisonous and dangerous if ingested, but rarely fatal. growing on poor soil under birch at the western end of the Common, November 2012

 

In 1992 Margaret Melling completed a 'desk study' of the wildlife, which is a useful collation of existing records, listing 12 species of mammals, 83 birds, 20 butterflies and some hundreds of other species of fauna as well as a great many trees, wild flowers, fungi etc. which have been associated with the Common. However, the survey lays no claim to being complete.

Photo: "Peter aka anemoneprojectors"
Photo taken 3 May 2013, St Nicholas Park, Stevenage

Muntjac deer
 Muntiacus reevesi


Green and/or greater spotted woodpeckers will probably be heard if not seen. If you are very lucky, you may also see the shy and elusive muntjacThe muntjac (Reeves's Muntjac) is a very small deer, growing to only about 50cm high at the shoulder.

Small, stocky, russet brown in summer, grey brown in winter, they were first introduced from China to Woburn in the early 20th century. Following deliberate releases and escapes from Woburn, they are now widely spread in south and central England and Wales.
deer. Butterflies, including the white-letter and purple hair-streaks, may be observed, and in the late evening Daubenton's bats Daubenton's bat (Myotis daubentonii, named after the French naturalist Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton) is a medium-sized to small species - typically 45 to 55 mm long - with quite short ears. The bats have reddish-pink faces and noses, but the area around the eyes is bare; their fluffy fur is brownish-grey on the back and silvery-grey on the underside, and they have dark brown wings and tail membranes. Juveniles have darker fur than adults.

Daubenton's bats can live for up to 22 years, and form colonies which are always near water.
may be seen skimming low over Jack's Lake. There were numerous sightings of the harmless grass snake in the summers of 1996 and 1997. Many wild flowers and fungi add to one's enjoyment.



Postcard, unposted
Blum & Degan "Kromo" series, No: T 21914

"Pond in Hadley Woods"
Blum & Degan postcard, about 1906

Recreation and relaxation

Monken Hadley Common was created in 1777 to provide pasture for the animals owned by the inhabitants of the village of Monken Hadley. After the coming of the railway in 1850 the land to the south began to be developed for housing, which resulted in a steady reduction in the demand for pasture, and also an increased demand for recreation, not only from those living in the new houses in the immediate vicinity but also from people travelling to the Common by rail and bicycle from further afield.



Reproduced by kind permission
of Barnet Museum

Advertising poster.
Trams ran from North FinchleyAccording to Pamela Taylor in "Barnet and Hadley Past". ISBN 0 948667 78 8 between 1907 & 1938 (but only as far as High Barnet Church).



Blum & Degan logo on
"Kromo" Series postcards


By the beginning of the 20th century use of the Common for recreation was in full swing, and a significant number of postcards featuring pictures of it were evidently produced and sold (these regularly come up for sale on the Internet). The earliest known onesIn 1894, British publishers were given permission by the Royal Mail to manufacture and distribute picture postcards which could be sent through the post.

The earliest known postcards of the Common date from about 1906, and were published by Blum & Degan as the “Kromo” Series. They were printed in Saxony from hand-tinted black and white photographs, and bear a great similarity to some of the postcards printed in Dresden a few years later by Stengel & Co, which suggests that the “Kromo” series may, in fact have been both tinted and printed by Stengel & Co. (who went on to become the largest producer of postcards in the world).

There are several examples of “Kromo” series postcards, and one example of a similar-looking Stengel postcard (circa. 1913) reproduced on this website.

As an asideAs an aside, it seems curious, to modern eyes, that the "Kromo" series postcards are marked “Printed in Saxony”.

Though the Kingdom of Saxony - with Dresden as its capital - was incorporated into the new German Empire in 1871, it continued in existence as a separate entity until the foundation of the Weimar Republic in 1918, at the end of World War I.
.......
- by Blum & Degan - date from about 1906






Postcard, unposted
Wildt & Kray, London, E.C.   Series No. 2800

Wildt & Kray postcard




 


The Common's attraction as a place of recreation and relaxation was also boosted by the funfair and tea rooms run by the Frusher family at Folly FarmFolly Farm was a pig farm and slaughter house run by the Frusher family, which doubled up as tea rooms and a funfair. Pigs for slaughter would arrive by train at New Barnet station and be herded down Margaret Road towards the woods.

The Frushers also had a butchers shop on East Barnet Road, the outside of which was adorned with a neon pig. It is said that during the war, they were less than scrupulous about their adherence to wartime regulations.
(on the right, between the railway bridge and Jack's Lake, on the site of what is now JCoSSJCoSS (Jewish Community Secondary School) is a state-funded Jewish secondary school in New Barnet.

Established in 2010, it is the first Jewish cross-denominational secondary school in the UK.
) and by the boating on Jack's Lake, run by East Barnet Urban District Council.

Its heyday as a visitor attraction seems to have been in the decade following the 2nd World War: in 1953 it was recordedRecorded in a Coronation Souvenir Book presented to all the residents of Monken Hadley on June 2nd, 1953. that “over a recent Whitsun Bank Holiday no fewer than 40,000 people visited Hadley Woods”(!).

By the mid 1960's grazing had completely ceased, boating had been discontinued, and in 1969 Folly Farm was sold to East Barnet Urban District Council, which developed the site for use as a school. But well before then, the area round Jack's Lake had become a meeting place for teddy boysTeddy Boys date back to the late nineteen forties when, following the war, a generation of youngsters with money to burn appropriated the Edwardian (Teddy) clothing style currently in fashion on Savile Row and cranked it up a notch.

In the beginning there were drapes and drainpipe trousers. Then that look was customised: the drapes with collar, cuff and pocket trimmings, even narrower trousers, crepe soled shoes or beetle crushers and hairstyle heavily greased into a quiff and shaped into a DA, or as it was popularly called, a "duck's arse" as it resembled one!
- and, as the verseWith apologies to Jimmy Kennedy OBE (1902-84). went at the time:

If you go down to Hadley Woods today, you'd better go in disguise,

In drainpipe trews and fancy shoes and something intense in ties.

Don't bother to wash - it's sure to rain;

Remember your cosh and bicycle chain;

Today's the day the Teddy boys have their picnic.

The Common hit a low point ............

Photo by kind permission of Hadley Angling
and Preservation Society (HAPS)

Young fisherman at Jack's Lake

A new beginning:  In 1981 a new constitution was adopted for the management of the Common, and thanks to the hard work put in by successive Curators, Conservation Volunteers and members of the Management Committee, and to the generous financial support afforded by the Friends of Hadley Common, the Common has gone through something of a renaissance.

A year later, in 1982, the fishing of Jack's Lake was licensed to the newly-formed Hadley Angling and Preservation Society (HAPS), which also did a lot to improve the parts of the Common round the lake, as well as the fishing and the lake itself. The fishery, which is still managed by HAPS, is open to all, with 27 of the 44 pegs being fishable on day tickets. HAPS organises Junior Angling Competitions - open to anyone aged 16 or under - and continues to do a first-class job in maintaining both the fishery and its environment.




Though the days of mass visitors, which were seen fifty years ago, are clearly over, the Common is still a highly-valued resource for walkers, dog walkers, bird watchers, botanists, joggers, cricket lovers, anglers, families picnicking and playing gamesOrganised games require the written consent of the Curators, pedal-cyclists enjoying the safe cycling along the bridleway, and people just spending some quiet time in the countryside. The Common is also coming to be more appreciated again by people living further afield, not least by people walking the Pymmes Brook Trail, which starts on the Common, and by those following the London LOOP, which crosses it.

Monken Hadley Common is not a privilege for the few, but a very necessary source of "quiet recreation" for the many.


Photo: James Cridland

Monken Hadley CC vs. Botany Bay 2nd XI
July 28, 2007




Cricket:  The present Monken Hadley Cricket Club, which has its pitch on the grassland at the western end of the Common, was formed in 1954, and has performed continuously since then.

The earliest known record of a match being played on the Common appeared in the Barnet Press, and relates to a game against the Privy Council Office C.C on June 14th 1862. There's also a reference in an Anthony TrollopeAnthony Trollope (1815-82) was one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era.

Some of his best-loved works, collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, revolve around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. He also wrote perceptive novels on political, social, and gender issues, and on other topical matters.

 novel “The Bertrams”, which, though written in 1858/59, was set in the 1840's; it therefore seems very likely that cricket was first played on the Common before 1862. (Anthony's mother, Fanny - who was also an author - lived for a time in Hadley.)

Snapshot taken from a recording of the performance made by The Space

Scene from Henry VI, Part 2 -
The Houses of York and Lancaster
Monken Hadley Common, August 24th, 2013




Shakespeare's Henry VI:  In the summer of 2013, Monken Hadley Common hosted Shakespeare's Globe's fourth and final open-air "battlefield performance" of the Henry VI trilogy, directed by Nick Bagnall, and the event was greatly appreciated by those hardy souls who managed to brave the continuous rain.

All three plays were streamed live on the Internet, thanks to The Space (which was funded by the Arts Council England and the BBC), though unfortunately the awful weather conditions, and a power outage during Part III, mitigated against the technology, and the live stream was subject to frequent interruptions. Good recordings of all three performances were available on The Space's website until the The Space pilot serviceThe Space - the online partnership between Arts Council England and the BBC - is planning to re-launch in eary Summer 2014, though it's not clear whether the online recordings of the Henry VI trilogy will be re-instated on their website. came to an end on 31 October 2013.

Do come and enjoy the Common!            


Public Notice, 1891

All we ask is that, for the benefit of all the other visitors,
you respect the following RULES:

RULES


● No fires

● No vehicles or motor-bikes (except on roads)

● No horse riding or cycling (except on roads
   or on the bridleway)

● No dumping or litter

● No grazing (except by commoners)

● No camping

● No shooting

● No damage to or removal of trees, plants,
   turf, timber or wildlife

● Dogs should be kept under effective control
   at all times

1934