A Potted History of N21
A number of interesting books have been written about Winchmore Hill. A selection are listed for those seeking to know more about local history. Wikipedia is also a useful starting point in tracing the roots of many prominent place names and buildings within the locality.
To summarise notable points in our N21 history, around 60BC, the area was occupied by the Belgic Gaul Catuvellauni tribe, who built a hill fort on the site which is now Bush Hill Park Golf Club. Their leader, Cassivellaunus, led the resistance unsuccessfully against Julius Ceasar in 54BC.
From the Roman occupation, throughout the reign of the Anglo-Saxons, right up to the end of the eighteenth century, the locality was largely forested, with native oaks. The earliest recorded mention of Winchmore Hill dates back to 1319, in a deed; spelt as Wysemerhull, which means 'boundary hill', with the modern name of Winchmore Hill first recorded in 1586.
Enfield Old Park, on which Grange Park now stands, was mentioned in the Doomsday Book (1086), as being a park – the preserve of game, owned by Geoffrey de Mandeville, the lord of the Manor of Enfield. Queen Elizabeth l is reported to have regularly hunted on Enfield Chase, sometimes staying at the Manor House, also known as Enfield Palace (the site of the Palace Gardens Shopping Centre) and also at West Lodge. Enfield Town Park is the only remaining part of the Old Park, although Old Park Ridings, Old Park Avenue and Old Park Road serve as a reminder to the area’s history.
The New River, which intersects N21 is not a natural river, but a man-made waterway, opened in 1613, to supply London with fresh water from the River Lea. This was an ambitious engineering project, led by Sir Hugh Myddelton, a wealthy landowner, goldsmith and royal jeweller to James l, who contributed to the building costs.
Following the Civil War, the land on which N21 now stands was granted by Oliver Cromwell to George Monck, 1st Duke of Albermarle and remained in the Monek family until the late eighteenth century, when parts were sold off, as small holdings for agricultural use.
The oldest pub in N21 is believed to be the Green Dragon, on Green Lanes, which was originally built in 1726, on the junction of Green Lanes and Green Dragon Lane, not on its current site, to which it moved at the end of the 18th century, although the Green Dragon as we know it today, was rebuilt in 1935.
Grovelands House, designed by John Nash, was built in 1797 for Walker Gray, a Quaker brewer from Tottenham. With grounds landscaped by the legendary Humphry Repton, the house passed into the Taylor Walker family after Gray’s death and they continued to own it until the First World War, when part of the estate was purchased by Southgate Council to become a public park. The house is now a private hospital, the Grovelands Priory Clinic. Grovelands House has a Grade One listing and the Nash octagonal dining room, decorated to resemble a bamboo bird cage is sometimes opened to the public.
The village of Winchmore Hill grew up around the Green. There was no church in the vicinity until the building of St Paul’s church in 1828, although there was a Quaker community, dating from the 1680s, with the meeting house on Church Hill dating back to 1790. A number of leading Quakers involved in the abolition of slavery are buried in the graveyard.
Highlands Village, the newest residential area within N21 postcode, was also part of the Enfield Chase and more recently, the Highlands Hospital complex from which it has taken its name. Formerly known as the Northern Convalescent Fever Hospital, it was built by the Metropolitan Asylums Board, opening in 1887, it was primarily used as an isolation hospital for the treatment of infectious diseases. After the formation of the National Health Service Highlands became a general hospital, closing in 1986. In 1993 the 53 acre site was sold for residential development, with some of the former hospital buildings being restored and converted into stylish apartments.
Books about the local area
Cresswell, Henrietta – Winchmore Hill – Memories of a Lost Village, 1982, Southgate Civic Trust
Delvin S – A History of Winchmore Hill, 1988, Hyperion Books/Regency Press
ISBN 0721208002 - ISBN-139780721208008
Delvin S – A Look At Winchmore Hill, 2001
ISBN 0952255812 - ISBN-13 9780952255819
Delvin S - More Winchmore Hill Lives (A Further Book of Recollections) 2004
ISBN 0952255847 - ISBN-13 9780952255840
Dumayne, Alan – Fond Memories of Winchmore Hill, 1990, ISBN 0951228625
Dumayne, Alan – Southgate, A Glimpse of the Past, 1987, Macdermott & Chant
Eccleston M - Enfield-Portrait of a London Borough, 1996
Hodge Peter – The Cresswells of Winchmore Hill, 1999, Southgate Civic Trust
ISBN 0905494075 - ISBN 13 9780905494074
Pam, David – Southgate & Winchmore Hill: A Short History, 1982
ISBN 0906076013 - ISBN-13 9780906076019
Pam, David – The Story of Enfield Chase, 1984, Enfield Preservation Society