Community Focus: The Monken Hadley Trail

By Community Focus | 09 March 2004

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Community Focus is a specialist arts organisation in the London Borough of Barnet. It exists to encourage disabled and older people to participate in the arts in pursuit of education, recreation, personal development and comradeship - cultivating creativity, equality and strength in an inclusive and caring environment.

The name Monken Hadley is first recorded in 1136 and comes from the Anglo-Saxon words 'heah' - high and 'leah' - cleared land and 'Monken' because the land was at one stage owned by the Abbey of Saffron Walden.

Travellers have passed along the Great North Road which runs past Monken Hadley since the Middle Ages and a public stagecoach service ran on the same road from 1637 onwards. The volume of coach travel increased enormously during the 18th century and by the 1830s there were 150 coaches a day passing through.

Although the main economy for many was haymaking, the road was lined with inns, taverns and alehouses offering hospitality to travellers and stabling for horses - so many local people also had employment within this economy as brewery workers, coopers, farriers, harness makers and coachbuilders.

The small village of Monken Hadley was grouped around the church but it grew in size during the 18th and 19th centuries, when many substantial houses were built here by rich London merchants.

Shows a photo of a pink granite drinking fountain.

Drinking fountain

The Monken Hadley Trail begins at the junction of the Great North Road and Hadley Green, where there stands a late 19th century pink granite drinking fountain. If this is not directly linked to the work of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association — which was initiated by Samuel Gurney M.P. in 1859 — then it certainly reflects their concern at that time, which was to ensure that a readily available supply of clean drinking water be available both for human and canine use.

Just behind the fountain is Joslin's Pond and facing that is Ossulston House. This was built in the mid-1700s and was once owned by the Earl of Tankerville, who used it as a family home when visiting London from his estates in Northumberland.

Shows a photo of a black front door around which is a striped black and white arch.

Ossulston House

Further along the road is Hadley House - built in 1707 and standing on the site of a medieval manor house. This house, in common with others along Hadley Road, is representative of Georgian architectural style.

This was heavily influenced by classical architecture and was fired by a generation of aristocratic young men who travelled throughout Europe taking the 'Grand Tour' and absorbing with enthusiasm the influence of Greek and Roman architecture.

Semi-circular fanlights above the front door and sash windows being of differing proportion on each floor — coupled with the use of Ionic, Doric or Corinthian columns — are all representative of Georgian architecture.

Shows a photo of a grand front door, white with pillars and elaborate fanlights.

Hadley House

Moving past Hollybush House and its elaborate fanlight brings one to a house called Grandon. This house was built in 1770 and it carries a blue plaque to commemorate Fanny Trollope.

She was born in 1780 as a daughter of a Hampshire clergyman and when married, brought up a family of six. One of these, Anthony Trollope, was later to be a succesful novelist. Fanny herself began to write when 52 years of age — this being a response to the family financial problems.

She and some of her children travelled to Cincinnati, Ohio, seeking to restore family fortunes by selling imported luxury goods, but the venture failed. On returning to this country she wrote a book entitled 'Domestic Manners of the Americans' (of which she was critical) and this was a huge commercial success.

Shows a photo of a blue plaque on a redbrick wall.

Fanny Trollope plaque

She then began to write more seriously, producing other travel books and many novels which had a focus upon social issues of the time — child labour, church corruption and the plight of factory workers. By the time she died in 1863, she had written 40 books.

Continue past Grandon and one comes to the Wilbraham Almshouses - founded in 1612. These were built by Sir Roger Wilbraham to provide for 6 'poor decayed housekeepers'. He was the Solicitor General in Ireland for Queen Elizabeth I and had homes in both Clerkenwell and Monken Hadley. His family crest is displayed as a tablet on the almshouse wall and the nearby St. Mary's Church has a large memorial tablet representing him, his wife and children.

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The Wilbraham family crest

Facing the almshouses, on the other side of the road, stands Hadley Bourne. This is another 18th century house that was once the home of Colonel Alexander Drury and its main door again typifies Georgian architectural style.

Shows a photo of the fron of a house with a black front door.

Hadley Bourne

Turning to the right, one approaches the focal point of Monken Hadley village - the Parish Church of St. Mary. A church is recorded as having been on this site in 1244 but the existing building is basically 15th century with various small additions and renovations having been carried out since that time.

Shows a photo of a flint church tower.

The Church Tower

Above the front door is a tablet that has a date — 1494 — carved in Arabic numerals. The fours are represented by a figure eight that has been split in half. On either side of the date are a bird wing and a quatrefoil, which are the badge of Sir Thomas Lovell, Treasurer to the Household of Henry VII. It is thought that he may well have been the benefactor as regards restoring the fabric of the church or building the tower itself.

Shows a photo of a stone tablet, engraved with archaic numbers.

The 1494 tablet

The churchyard includes two headstones that have a literary connection — one of these being a memorial to Emily Trollope, a daughter of Fanny who died of consumption at the age of 18. The second is a headstone marking the entrance to the vault of the grandparents of the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.

To the right of the porch entrance of the church are several wooden markers. These were commonly used to mark the last resting place of those whose family or relatives could not afford a headstone.

Shows a photo of old wooden burial markers.

Wooden burial markers

To the right of St. Mary's Church are the Pagitts Almshouses. These were originally founded in 1678 by a lawyer and his wife, Justinian and Antonina Pagitt.

The original buildings were demolished and rebuilt in two stages during 1822 and 1849. The first stage (four rooms) cost £200; the second stage (an additional two rooms) cost £50. It was the Pagitts who also gave land adjacent to the almshouses for the building of the rectory.

Shows a photo of a two-storey flint building with arched windows and door.

Pagitts Almshouse

A few yards away stands a set of large gates. These were one of five that gave entrance to Hadley Common and when in use would have included a gatekeeper and a small booth to give him shelter.

The Common and Hadley Woods are the surviving part of what was once the wooded Royal hunting ground of Enfield Chase. This land is still administered and regulated by trustees appointed under an act made in 1777.

Shows a photo of some gates that are painted white but very tatty.

Hadley Common Gates

If one now retraces one's steps — past St. Mary's Church, turning right into Drury Road and right again along the Great North Road — it leads one towards Hadley Highstone. This is an obelisk erected in 1740 by Sir Jeremy Sambrooke to commemorate the Battle of Barnet, which took place nearby on April 14 1741.

This battle was one of many fought between the rival Houses of Lancaster and York (the Wars of the Roses) from 1455 to 1485. The badge of the House of Lancaster was a red rose and that of the House of York was a white rose. This battle marked the end for Richard Neville — 'Warwick the Kingmaker' — who was the most powerful baron of his time. He died here and the Lancastrian forces fled in defeat.

Shows a photo of an obelisk in a field.

Hadley Highstone

Since 1962 Monken Hadley has been designated as a Conservation Area - with 24 houses listed as Grade II and a further 11 as Grade III. In 1967 the Common, Woods, Green and Hadley Highstone area have also qualified as Conservation Areas.

Community Focus hopes that you have enjoyed this trail. The 'My Life-Our Heritage' project has devised several trails within the London Borough of Barnet and the group hope that other individuals or groups may avail themselves of the Heritage experience that they can provide.

Community Focus can offer guided walks or slide shows related to these trails and if you would like any further information about this - then please contact us at: 020 8346 9789.

All photography and pictures courtesy and copyright of Community Focus.

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