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Managed and maintained by volunteers – funded by voluntary contributions 

Take a Tour of the Common

Photo: Alan Magnus

Hadley gate

The White Gates - Five white-painted gates stand at the main access points to the Common in Games Road, Hadley Road, The Crescent, Camlet Way, and Hadley Green Road. A gate was first erected in 1779, soon after the Common was created, "between the New Common and the King's Allotment”, to stop “the nuisance of cattle straying”. The gates at The Crescent and Hadley Road are relative newcomers, having been first constructed when these roads were developed after the sale of Woodcock Farm to the British Land Company in 1868; the present design of all five gates probably originated at about that time. The gates are all now included on the statutory list of buildings of historic or architectural merit (Grade II).

Photo: Alan Magnus

Mount House

Photo: Alan Magnus

Mount House garden

Mount House - This fine mid-eighteenth century house in Camlet Way once stood almost isolated in the Chase, and was then known as "Mount Pleasant". Much later, in May 1864, it was sold at auction for £3,400. For many years it was the home of the Dove family, the well known church builders, and is now the Upper School for Girls run by St. Martha's Convent.

Postcard, unposted
Grano series No: 50684
Photochrom Co. Ltd., London and Tunbridge Wells

The War Memorial (early postcard, complete with a picture of a cow!)

The War Memorial - A memorial to those killed in the Wars of 1914-19 and 1939-45 is situated in the upper part of the Common, in the chestnut avenue. It was unveiled by Lt.Col. F. E. Fremantle O.B.E., T.D., M.P. on December 19th, 1920, as an exact replica of the beautiful fifteenth century Mercat Cross at Inverary, and on the face it read “To the ever glorious memory of our men who fell in the War, 1914-1919”, with 48 names underneath. The inscriptions became illegible and a plaque was added to explain the purpose of the memorial, and the inscriptions were recarved in 1998.

Postcard, unposted
E. J. & H. Clarke, East Finchley. N. 63.

Warwick's Oak (early postcard)

Warwick's Oak - The remains of an old oak tree (sometimes referred to as the King Edward IV Oak, and occasionally as Warwick's elm) stood opposite the gate to Hadley Rectory, and in 1903 was recorded as having a circumference of 27 feet (8.23 m). It did not long survive the removal of its protective railings in 1941 as part of the war effort. The tree reputedly marked the spot where the Earl of Warwick ("Warwick the Kingmaker") was killed at the Battle of Barnet in 1471.

Photo: Alan Magnus

Hadley Hurst

Photo: Alan Magnus

Hadley Hurst stable yard

Hadley Hurst -This fine and dominant Queen Anne mansion is reputed to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built in 1700. In front of the house are two magnificent cedars of Lebanon.

The house faces south so that the elevation seen from the Common is actually its rear.

Reproduced by kind permission
of the Foundling Museum

A view of the Foundling Hospital, 1750
© CoramCoram is the UK's first children's charity.

It was established as a refuge for abandoned children by Captain Thomas Coram who, in 1739 opened the Foundling Hospital in Bloomsbury, which was then surrounded by fields.

Artist William Hogarth and composer George Frideric Handel were early supporters.

in the care of the Foundling Museum
The building pictured here was opened in Bloomsbury in 1745, and continued in use until the 1920s; unfortunately no pictures of the Monken Hadley branch survive.

The Hadley (Barnet) branch of the Foundling Hospital“Foundlings” were abandoned children, and in the 18th century the word “hospital” was used in a more general sense than it is today, simply indicating the institution's “hospitality” to those less fortunate.

See here for more information about the Foundling Hospital set up by Thomas Coram in London in 1741 .

The Foundling Hospital was set up in London in 1741 by the philanthropic sea captain Thomas Coram, two years after obtaining a Royal Charter from George II. It was a children's home established for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children”.

In 1762, fifteen years before the creation of the Common, a Barnet woman, Prudence WestPrudence was one of two Foundling Hospital inspectors of children and nurses in Barnet, and a cousin of Colonel Temple West, whose family owned The Blue House and other land in nearby Cockfosters.

There is a chapter about Prudence and the hospital in “A Caring County?: Social Welfare in Hertfordshire from 1600”A Caring County?: Social Welfare in Hertfordshire from 1600
edited by Steven King and Gillian Gear.
Published by University of Hertfordshire Press
ISBN 9781909291126, paperback, 368pp.

This flyer has more information about the book, which is available for sale in Barnet Museum, and can also be purchased directly from the publisher.
, set up a local branch of the Foundling Hospital in Monken Hadley, which accommodated 40 children. Its exact location isn't known, but it overlooked what was then still Enfield Chase (and is now the Common), it had grazing rights and it may have been somewhere between Hadley Hurst and (what are now) the white gates at the end of The Crescent. After a brief period of only just over five years, on Lady Day (March 25th) 1768, the building was taken over by Monken Hadley Parish for use as a parish workhouse.

Postcard (Anon), postmark 1906

New Barnet [Hadley Road] gate, about 1906.
The gateposts are just visible to the left of the gatekeeper's hut. The large tree in the centre of the picture is Latimer's Elm.

Latimer's Elm - Until the late 1930's a large elm tree grew on the edge of the Common, just above the Hadley Road gate, though by 1934 it had become a "fire-blackened ruinAs described in a London Underground Transport booklet of 1934: "Twenty-Six Miles of Rambles From Cockfosters"".

Local legend claimed that Bishop LatimerHugh Latimer (c.1487-1555) was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge and Bishop of Worcester before the Reformation, and later Church of England chaplain to King Edward VI. In 1555, under Queen Mary, he was burnt at the stake, becoming one of the three Oxford Martyrs of Anglicanism. preached under this tree - but it's simply not credible that the tree pictured about 1906 was venerable enough to have been a mature specimen during the lifetime of Bishop Latimer (c.1487-1555); it's more likely that it was named after a local resident of that name.

Photo: Alan Magnus

The Pound

The Pound - There were, apparently, a number of pounds (or “pinfolds”), and strayfields, situated on the Chase at the time of its enclosure. These were places where stray livestock could be kept in a dedicated enclosure, until claimed by their owners or sold to cover the costs of impounding. They were reserved to the Crown, but the Churchwardens were empowered to move them to a more convenient place and to erect others for impounding trespassing cattle.

Such a pound can be found on the strip of Common between the road and The Crescent; it was used a few years ago to restrain a stray donkey found loose on the Common! The Pound was last repaired thanks to the generosity of Spike Milligan, who lived in Monkenhurst nearby; it's now in a rather poor state again, and needs more money spending on it.

Photo: Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson:
sleeping figure, hadley woods 1986
(no longer exists)

Woodland Art - Over the years a number of sculptures have sprung up on the Common. Many of these have been the work of Ben Wilson, an artist who has worked throughout his life in many different situations, using many different mediums creating a wide range of works from tiny chewing gum miniatures to vast sculptural buildings.

Photo: Ben Wilson

Ben was brought up in Crescent Road, New Barnet, and knew the Common well as a child; he presently lives in Muswell Hill with his family. Though he is now better known as the “chewing gum artist”, Ben continues to work in the medium of wooden sculptural reliefs in various parts of the world.

Postcard (Anon), postmark 1906

"Folly Retreat" (Folly Farm), about 1906. (Notice the donkeys at the right hand side of the picture.)

"The Sunday Morning Star"
Wilmington, Delaware, USA
Sept. 22, 1935

Edna Frusher, Age 11 of Folly Farm,
New Barnet, made life Governor of the
Royal Northern HospitalThe Great Northern Hospital (later to become the Royal Northern Hospital) was founded in 1856, at his own expense, by Dr. Sherard Freeman Statham, an assistant surgeon, who had been dismissed from University College Hospital for smacking a patient's bottom.

The hospital amalgamated with the Royal Chest Hospital in 1921, was merged with the Whittington Hospital in 1963, and by 1980 it had 262 beds, including 23 for private patients.

However, during a period of amalgamation in the NHS, it lost out to other hospitals, and was closed in 1992.

Folly Farm - Alongside the bridleway between Pymmes Brook and what is now the railway bridge, Thomas Turpin built Folly House (later called Folly Farm) in the seventeenth century.

Postcard, postmark 1913
O. F[lammger]. (Stengel & Co. Ltd.) Post Card Publ., London N. No: E34414

Donkey rides on the bridleway, about 1913. Folly Bridge - then with wooden parapets rather than the present masonry ones - is on the left hand side of the picture

At the beginning of the 20th century the property was developed into an entertainment centre by the Frusher family to serve the many visitors to the Common who, on bank holidays, journeyed out from London on the Great Northern Railway. There was a prominent helter-skelter tower, some caged animals and big sheds in which teas were served to cyclists and the day trippers from London. Donkey rides were also on offer.

The East Barnet School was built on the site in the 1960's and remained there until 2010. The site is now occupied by the new Jewish Community Secondary School (JCoSS) which will ultimately have 1300 pupils.

Postcard, postmark 1942
Photochrom Co. Ltd., Royal Tunbridge Wells No: 72670

Jack's Lake, about 1942

Jack's Lake - This lake, the lowest of a series of three fish ponds created on the Monkey Mead Brook, is partly on the Common and partly on land which is now owned by the Hadley Wood Golf Club. Over the years the lake has had a number of different names: during the 18th century, when it was still on Enfield Chase, it was known as "New PondNew Pond was referred to in the 1777 Enfield Chase Act as a “fishery called New Pond within the Monken Hadley Allotment”; at that time the other two of the three ponds were known as “Middle Pond” and, furthest upstream, “Tail Pond”. The origin of the “New Pond” is shrouded in the mists of history, though it is known to have existedFor example, New Pond is shown (though not named) between “Bernet” and “Ludgraues” on the map of “MIDLE-SEX” by the Dutch engraver Pieter van den Keere (1571-1646).

The map, which originally dates from about 1605, was republished in London in 1627, and the 1627 version can be viewed here.
as early as about 1605.

The Monken Hadley “New Pond” is not to be confused with another, somewhat larger, pond of the same name - another fishery - “within the Enfield Allotment”. (This other New Pond was located on, or close to, land which now forms part of Crews Hill Golf Course.)
", and though it appears as “Beech Hill Lake” on most modern maps, it is known locally as Jack's LakeThese names derive from Charles Jack (“Squire Jack”), the owner of Beech Hill Park until his death in 1876, and the man who was responsible for the building development in Hadley Wood. For a time he rented the part of the lake which is on the Common, and thus during this period the whole of the lake, along with part of the Common immediately surrounding it, was effectively part of Beech Hill Park - hence the name "Beech Hill Lake".

The estate was purchased by the Hadley Wood Golf Club, and a new golf course was designed in 1922; the original 1781 mansion became the clubhouse.

Until sometime after the war, the part of the lake on the Common was leased to East Barnet Urban District Council and rowing boats were available for hire. The lake is now maintained by the Hadley Angling and Preservation Society to whom the fishing is licensed by the Trustees and the Hadley Wood Golf Club.

Photo: Anon

Ludgrove Hall

Postcard, postmark indistinct
Blum & Degan "Kromo" series, No: T 21918

Ludgrove School (Ludgrove Hall),
about 1907. The circular railings surround an old pond, probably badly silted up even by then. Though no trace of the pond remains, the present footpath still skirts around its site!

Ludgrove Hall - in 1971 describedin the Victoria County History as “a plain early-19th-century stuccoed building, with a large late-19th-century red-brick extension to the south and a still later addition of c. 1900, with a mansard roof” - is situated at the Cockfosters end of the bridleway. More recently the Hall and its grounds have been converted (some would say rather unsympathetically) into a gated development, with apartments in the old Hall, and houses standing on the former gardens.

Ludgrove Hall was originally part of the Ludgrove (or Ludgraves) estate, the existence of which was recorded as early as 1423, and was once owned by Sir Roger Wilbraham who, in 1612, founded Wilbraham's almshouses for ‘six decayed housekeepers’ on Hadley Green.

The Ludgraves estate may have been named after John Lightgrave, a London goldsmith, whose son transferred it to trustees in 1423. In former times the estate included: Ludgrove House, described in 1596 as a 'very fair house' in a valley near Enfield Chase; Blue HouseUntil well into the 20th century a property known as Blue House Farm stood next to Ludgrove Hall at the end of Games Road. The original Blue House, which dates back at least to 1686, was somewhere in the vicinity, possibly on the same site as the farmhouse, or possibly on the site now occupied by the Hall.

The farm buildings are now gone, and the house & bungalows - Nos. 52, 54 & 56 Games Road - are in its place.
; lands in both Hadley and East Barnet; and (by 1714) “a brick house called Cockfosters”.

Source: Wikipedia

William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, 1st Baron Herbert of Cardiff, KG
(c. 1501-1570)

Over the years, the estate passed through a number of hands, including those of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, (c. 1501-70), and in 1611 it was purchased by Sir Roger Wilbraham, (1553-1616) a prominent English lawyer who served as Solicitor-General for Ireland under Elizabeth I, and held positions at court under James I, including Master of Requests and surveyor of the Court of Wards and Liveries.

In the 18th century, the estate came into the possession of Vice-Admiral Temple West (1713-57), a naval officer best known for his role as second-in-command to Admiral John Byng in the Battle of MinorcaThe Battle of Minorca (20 May 1756) was a naval battle between French and British fleets. It was the opening sea battle of the Seven Years' War in the European theatre. . Following the battle, Byng was court-martialled and found guilty of failing to "do his utmost" to prevent Minorca falling to the French, was sentenced to death and shot by firing squad - an act later satirised by Voltaire in his novel Candide: “Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres”"In this 'ere country [England] it's good to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others." . West, on the contrary, was received as a hero, and was appointed a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty, and promoted to Vice-Admiral.

The Ludgrove estate has long had educational connections, going back well before the establishment of Ludgrove School in 1891. A Mr. Atkinson kept a "school for young gentlemen" at Ludgrove House from 1636 until it was closed soon after 1679, and another boys' school was being run by Rev. David Garrow, the Rector of Monken Hadley, in 1747 (though it's not clear in which building). And in 1949 a residential teachers' training college (now part of Middlesex University) opened in Trent Place, and Ludgrove Hall was later acquired for use as a hostel.

Arthur Tempest Blackiston Dunn (1860-1902)

Ludgrove School - In 1891, Arthur Dunn, a centre forward who twice captained England at football, established a large preparatory boarding school - Ludgrove School - using both Ludgrove Hall and the Blue House Farm buildings next door. (In 1937 the school was moved to its present location near Wokingham, and Princes William & Harry both spent time there.)

Source: Wikipedia

Old Etonians F.C.

Arthur Tempest Blackiston Dunn was born in Whitby, where his parents were on holiday, and after education at Eton and Cambridge - where he gained a football “blue” - he joined Old Etonians F.C., who in 1882 defeated the then mighty Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup Final. Arthur also played three times for England, twice as captain. He established Ludgrove School in 1891, and following his premature death in 1902, was succeeded by two other England international football captains, G.O. Smith, often referred to as "the first great centre forward", and William Oakley, a full back, who became joint headmasters. (For more about Arthur Dunn, see here, and for more about Ludgrove School as it is now see here.)

Concern by amateurs about the declining influence of the amateur game, and opposition to the introduction of the penalty led to the formation of the Arthur Dunn Cup in 1903, following Arthur's premature death the previous year. This amateur cup competition, which is still in existence, is between old boy teams of some of the game's founding public schools.