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Potters Bar and South Mimms Heritage

The facts:

Although Potters Bar was transferred to the administration of Hertfordshire County Council area on 1st April 1965, it was not until February 1972 that it was removed from the Enfield West Parliamentary Constituency and transferred to South Hertfordshire Constituency and it was not until 1st April 2000 that it was removed from the Metropolitan Police District to the Hertfordshire Police District which all goes to prove that a change in local government area does not automatically mean, nor require, a change of area for any other administrative function. 

Therefore, there was no need at all for the Post Office to alter Potters Bar’s postal address from Middlesex to “Hertfordshire” in 1965 just because the local government area changed.

Postal addresses are to provide information about one’s geographical location so that the Post Office can deliver mail and other people can find the place they need to get to. They have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with local government.

The Post Office in Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames were well aware of this and did not change the addresses in those places and so, they retain their Middlesex postal addresses and, with them, their Middlesex identity.

The ignorance of the Potters Bar Post Office in thinking they needed to change Potters Bar’s postal address has been the single most damaging blow to the perception of Potters Bar residents’ true Middlesex identity.

Although Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames were transferred to the administration of Surrey County Council in 1965 at the same time as Potters Bar was transferred to the administration of Hertfordshire county Council, they were, fortunately, spared their Middlesex postal addresses and they are, fortunately, amalgamated in a single Borough and a single Parliamentary constituency of Spelthorne which is not combined with any other area and they are divided from the County of Surrey by the River Thames.

Potters Bar, unfortunately, has no river to act as a very obvious natural boundary and it has had its Middlesex postal address taken from it. Until 31st March 1974 Potters Bar was an autonomous Urban District but, from 1st April of that year it was merged with various Hertfordshire districts to become “Hertsmere District” (and, in 1977, Hertsmere Borough), thus further eroding its distinct identity and, at the same time removal from Enfield West to South Hertfordshire Parliamentary Constituency and, in 2000, removal from the Metropolitan Police District to the Hertfordshire Police District.

It seems very much as if someone wants to make very, very certain that the people of Potters Bar should never know anything other than a 100 per cent manufactured and spurious “Hertfordshire” identity.

Why are they so afraid?

Do they think that, possibly, if anyone were actually to discover the true history and identity of Potters Bar and realised that they had been deliberately lied to for the past fifty four years they might have the seeds of a small revolution beginning to germinate and their own false identity that they have been at such great pains to promote since 1965 might actually be threatened.


In 1016 King Cnut of Denmark and Norway came to England to claim the vacant crown to which he had good title. With him came his Standard Bearer Tovi or Tofig the Proud to whom he awarded large tracts of land in the Thames valley, especially in Middlesex, including the manors of Northolt and Greenford Parva (Perivale) as well as the manors of Enfield and Edmonton (which included the outlier (detached part) of South Mimms which also included Monken Hadley. These estates passed to his son Athelstan and then to his grandson Esgar, also known as Ansgar the Staller (standard bearer) although it is not known where he actually lived. Ansgar achieved a position in the Royal Court and was also made the first known High Sheriff of Middlesex and Port Reeve of London.

When the Normans invaded England in 1066 Ansgar led the Middlesex fyrd (military force) and was badly wounded at the Battle of Hastings and had to be carried away on a stretcher by the few survivors of the battle. Despite his injuries Ansgar was appointed Commander of the army and set about defending London against the inevitable Norman assault. When the assault came Ansgar and his Saxon fyrd successfully held London Bridge and prevented the Normans from crossing and capturing London and William, after defeating the Saxons in Southwark on the south side of the river, was obliged to withdraw his forces but before doing so he burnt Southwark to the ground.

William was then forced to make a very circuitous detour to Wallingford, Berkshire where he was able to cross the River Thames and then march to London from the north. He stopped before reaching London and, having heard about the surviving but crippled Sheriff of Middlesex, he sent word to him that, if he would persuade the Witan (the ruling Council of leading noblemen) to surrender London he would spare the country from further bloodshed and allow Ansgar to retain his estates. Ansgar put the proposition to the Witan who agreed to the terms and the Saxons met William at Little Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire and formally surrendered and William was crowned King on Christmas Day 1066 at Westminster Abbey.

William did not, however, keep his promise to Ansgar who was arrested and thrown into prison and was never heard of again. At least not until 1931 when the Freemasonic Province of Middlesex founded the Ansgar Lodge No. 5304 of Hillingdon to keep his name alive.

Ansgar’s Middlesex lands (including Edmonton and South Mimms) were awarded to one of William’s senior lieutenants, Geoffrey de Mandeville (C. 1036 – C. 1100) who also became High Sheriff of Middlesex as well as Constable of the Tower of London and was the third most important noble of King William’s Court. It is not known where de Mandeville had his seat but it might well have been at South Mimms, if that is where Ansgar the Staller had his seat.

When Geoffrey de Mandeville died his son William (1054 – 1129), who was also Constable of the Tower of London, inherited his estates and his son, also Geoffrey de Mandeville,  inherited the estates on his father’s death in 1129. This Geoffrey de Mandeville (the Second) became the First Earl of Essex as well as Sheriff of Essex, Hertfordshire and of the dual Sheriffwick (which commenced in 1130) of London and Middlesex.

It is not certain where Geoffrey de Mandeville II had his seat either but it is suggested that it could have been the “motte and bailey” (a raised earthwork – motte and an enclosed courtyard – bailey) castle at South Mimms on the western side of the Barnet By-pass (now the A1(M) just to the north of Warrengate Lane and just over a quarter of a mile south of the Hertfordshire boundary and which was discovered in 1918. This castle is believed to have been built by de Mandeville C. 1141 by a charter of  the Empress Matilda, wife of King Stephen. It is also suggested that the castle could have been built on the site of an earlier manor house and, if so, it would have belonged to Ansgar the Staller. Mandeville Road in Potters Bar is named after Geoffrey de Mandeville II.

Charters granted to de Mandeville in 1141 mention his” castle on the Lea” which could refer to Hertford Castle but, if so, there is no reason why it would not have been referred to as Hertford Castle . The specialist website on castles called  “Gatehouse” states that South Mimms castle is “clearly a castle of the right date and roughly in the right place although not somewhere of such significance as to be clearly known by name”. Geoffrey de Mandeville did hold land in Bengeo, just to the north of Hertford, but it is not actually Hertford and is not actually on the River Lea and there is no castle at Bengeo,

Geoffrey de Mandeville II’s seat/castle is also claimed to be Camlet Moat on Ferny Hill north of Trent Park in the parish of Enfield and part of Enfield Chace. This is a large island surrounded by a, now drained, moat just a few yards from the road at the top of  Ferny Hill. A well with a paved bottom has been found there and also the remains of two drawbridges and, it has been claimed, the remains of a dungeon/cellar and, in the moat, a forty foot section of wall made of large stones some five and a half feet thick. many tiles have also been found and some silver coins dating to the reign of King Edward IV (1461 – 70). Obviously with stone foundation walls five and a half feet thick, it must have been a substantial and important edifice.

Wherever de Mandeville II’s seat was, he is certainly very much associated with the the South Mimms, Hadley and Enfield Chace areas. It is, of course, quite possible, indeed, probable, that Geoffrey de Mandeville being the most powerful and the richest noble in England at the time, had more than one castle and there is no reason why he could not have had one at South Mimms, one on Enfield Chace and one somewhere on the River Lea. In her book ” Sir Geoffrey de Mandeville and London’s Camelot” (1997) Jennie Lee Cobban states in relation to South Mimms castle “what these castles actually did was to block particularly important roads, cross roads or river crossings, The strategic importance of Geoffrey’s castle at South Mimms has yet to be fully researched.”. It certainly has.

The site of South Mimms castle just off the Barnet bypass (now the A1(M) but then just a country lane) does not seem to be a particularly important or strategic position but, perhaps, in Geoffrey’s day it was. The A1(M) was opened in 1979 and, its predecessor, the Barnet bypass, was constructed in 1927. Before that there was just a country lane called Warrengate Lane (two sections of which still exist adjoining the former bypass now known as Swanland Road leading from South Mimms to North Mimms. Swanland Road was named in honour of either Sir Simon Swanland or, more probably, his son Sir William Swanland. Sir Simon was the M.P. for Middlesex in three separate Parliaments during the 1340s and his son Sir William Swanland of Harefield (Middlesex) and North Mymms (Herts) was a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex between 21/11/1362 and May 1378 and again. between 26/5/1380 and July 1387. He was also M.P. for Middlesex in 1362, 1365, 1379, 1386 and Feb. 1388.

In May 1367 Sir William Swanland was Commissioner of Enquiry for Middlesex, Tax Collector for Middlesex in Dec. 1372 and Surveyor for Tax Assessments for Middlesex in Aug. 1379 and  Commissioner for enforcement of the Statute of Labourers for Middlesex in Dec. 1382.  He might not actually have lived in South Mimms but he certainly comprehensively represented the County of Middlesex for twenty six years and has, since 1979, been duly honoured by the naming of a road in both South Mimms and North Mymms parishes after him.

So what remains of Warrengate Lane and what is now called Swanland Road was once the main road between South Mimms and North Mymms. It could also have been the original route of the Great North Road. Although there is no documented evidence for this suggestion, there is a certain amount of circumstantial evidence to support the theory. The original North Road was Ermine Street which left London from Bishopsgate and went through Shoreditch, Kingsland, Stoke Newington, Tottenham, Edmonton and Ponders End and thence to Hertfordshire. The other northward, or north western route was Watling Street, a lot further to the west. It was only towards the end of the 16th century that the Great North Road was developed from Smithfield along St. John Street in St. Sepulchre parish where  Hick’s Hall (where the Middlesex Quarter Sessions were held) was situated and on to the Angel, Islington, thence to Highbury, Holloway and Highgate then via Southwood Lane and Muswell Hill Road to Muswell Hill and then along Colney Hatch Lane to Friern Barnet and Friern Barnet Lane to Whetstone and onto Barnet.

From Barnet the road crossed Hadley Common and then went along Kitts End Lane to, either Potters Bar via Baker Street or to South Mimms via Wash Lane and then on to St. Albans. where it joined Watling Street. This was the main coaching road to St. Albans before Thomas Telford cut the new St. Albans Road from Barnet in 1830. It would also seem to be the route of the “Roman” (but probably pre-Roman) road called “Camlet Way” which ran from Camulodunon (Camulodunum – Colchester named in honour of “Camulos” the Saxon God of War and equivalent to the Roman Mars) via London Colney to Verlamion (Verulamium – St. Albans) and thence to Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester) in Hampshire. There is a a small residential road just off of Veralum Road (the London Road) in St. Albans still called Camlet Way. The London Road went through London Colney to South Mimms by way of Blackhorse Lane, then along Blanche Lane, Greyhound Lane, Wash Lane and Kitts End Lane to Hadley Green..

From Hadley Green it must have turned left along what is now called Dury Road to Monken Hadley church and then eastwards along what is still called Camlet Way (the way to “Camelot”?) in Hadley Wood to where it meets the later – constructed Cockfosters Road then up Ferny Hill (where Camlet Moat is situated on the “way to Camelot” ?) to the Ridgeway at Enfield then through Enfield to cross the River Lea at the King’s Ford (Cingesford – Chingford) and then through Essex to Camulodunon (Camulodunum – Colchester). The point where the St. Albans road (Camlet Way) crossed Hadley Green and divided into the route east to Colchester and south to Barnet and London was obviously of considerable strategic importance as the other main roads to the north. Watling Street and Ermine Street, were, respectively, much further west and east than the  route via South Mimms and there was no East-West route linking the two most important British tribal capitals and, later, two of the most important Roman Civitates (a group of citizens having their own civic government  i.e. a town) other than the Camlet Way route.

It was precisely here in 1471, that this important road junction became the site of the last battle of the Wars of the Roses – the  Battle of Barnet between Edward IV of the House of York and the Lancastrians led by the Earl of Warwick. The monument on Hadley Green marks the spot where the Earl of Warwick fell and it now stands between Kitts End Lane (the St. Albans road) and the later Great North Road to Potters Bar and the north  The first battle of the Wars of the Roses was, incidentally, in St. Albans. The battle is known as the “Battle of Barnet” because it was fought just outside the town of Barnet but it did not actually take place in Barnet, nor in the parish of Barnet and certainly not in Hertfordshire as most “historians” state,  having been fought entirely within the County of Middlesex in the parishes of South Mimms, Monken Hadley and the two small detached parts of the parish of Enfield situated within Monken Hadley parish. Obviously “Battle of Barnet” is a more convenient name and, one must admit, a more sensible one, although it should really be the “Battle of Hadley Green”,  but that should not lead modern writers to state blatant historical and geographical inaccuracies through ignorance of the actual history and geography of the area they have chosen to write about and it should not excuse them for doing so.

To return to South Mimms, Cecil Road (named after the Lord of the Manor of South Mimms at the time, Lord Robert Cecil of Hatfield House (from 1865 Viscount Cranborne and from 1868 Lord Salisbury and Prime Minister three times between June 1885 and July 1902  – Cranborne Road, Crescent and School perpetuate his name as does Salisbury House and Close in Potters Bar High Street) whose predecessor of the same name had purchased the manor in 1606) was constructed only in 1864 to join Mutton Lane to Telford’s St. Alban’s Road which cut right through the centre of South Mimms village making a more direct route between Potters Br and South Mimms. Before the construction of Cecil Road Mutton Lane ended at the junction of Warrengate Lane (which might also have been called Mutton Lane at that time) which turns northwards at this point to Water End and North Mymms where it joined the present Dixon’s Hill Road to Welham Green joining the present Great North Road at the southern end of Hatfield Park. It is entirely conceivable that this was the original route of the Great North Road from Barnet to Hatfield before the new road was constructed for the whole distance along the edge of Enfield Chace and along Potters Bar High Street and northward to Hatfield.

At the South Mimms end of Warrengate Lane, just after it crosses the Mimms Hall Brook, another lane called Water Lane (also called Baker’s Lane) used to run to South Mimms village joining Blackhorse Lane in the centre of the village opposite where the old police station used to stand and just to the north of the Catherine Bourne (a tributary of Mimms Hall Brook) and just before South Mimms workhouse and the Black Horse public house. After Cecil Road was constructed Water Lane (Baker’s Lane) fell into disuse and is now just a public footpath across the fields.

Incidentally the bridge over Mimms Hall Brook in Warrengate Lane used to have a cast iron plate affixed by six large bolts to the brick parapet on the north side of the road. The plate stated that it was a Middlesex County bridge. This plate has now disappeared and, as it was on the north wall of the bridge and only this wall has been, very recently, newly rebuilt but the south parapet is still the original brick, it would seem that it was only the north wall that needed to be replaced, presumably as it was damaged when attempting to remove the plate). If this is the case the plate must have been removed by either Hertsmere Council or, more probably, by Hertfordshire County Council unless the plate was stolen by person, or persons unknown for its scrap metal value.

It would seem rather excessive, however, for someone to destroy the whole parapet wall of a bridge just to steal an iron plate measuring about 18 inches by 12 inches just for its derisory scrap value and it seems very much as if this incident is just the latest measure in the ongoing petty, vindictive and thoroughly shameful crusade to eradicate any, and every vestige of Potters Bar’s and South Mimms’s true Middlesex history and identity by those who have a vested interest in wishing it to be expunged from both history and memory even to the extent of removing an old iron plate situated down a little used narrow country lane. If the parapet of the bridge had been  accidentally damaged by a vehicle and had to be rebuilt why was the the plate not re-affixed after the rebuilding was completed and what happened to it? It should, at least, be given to Potters Bar Museum so people can still see it and be made aware of their history.

If the County of Middlesex sign was not removed on the instructions of the current caretaker County authority whose responsibility it s to maintain and it and if it was, in fact, stolen, all that can be noted is that it was not stolen during more than the hundred years that South Mimms and Potters Bar were under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police. It should also be noted that the the City of London coal and wine duty post in Warrengate Road (Lane) just before the junction with Hawkshead Lane has also recently been removed/stolen. These duty posts were positioned on all roads, canals and railways where they entered the Metropolitan Police District and marked the point at which the duty on coal and wine being taken to the City of London became payable. The posts situated on the Potters Bar section of the Met. Police boundary also marked the county boundary between Middlesex and Hertfordshire.

So it can now be seen that Warrengate Lane, far from being an unimportant country lane as it is now, was, in de Mandeville’s day, the main road not just between South Mimms and North Mymms but also, probably, the Great North road from London to Hatfield and the north as the A1(M) following approximately the same route as today. A castle on this road close to where the the road from Colchester and London divided into two important northerly routes, one north-west to St. Albans and the junction with Watling Street and the other north to Hatfield and beyond, would have been very strategic indeed and would have made South Mimms a place of considerable importance. Potters Bar, of course, was, then, merely an unimportant hamlet before the Great North Road was built from Hadley Green along  Potters Bar High Street rand thence to Hatfield. It runs along the edge of Enfield Chace from Hadley Green to the the north end of Potters Bar High Street where it branches off along The Causeway to Northaw, Cuffley, Cheshunt and Hoddesdon (also a manor in the possession of Geoffrey de Mandeville and on the River Lea where he could, possibly, have had his “castle on the Lea” ?) and on to cross the River Lea at Ware and thence to Saffron Walden where, in 1136, Geoffrey de Mandeville had founded the Priory (later Abbey) of Walden (now the site of Audley End House) and, as part of its endowment he gave the Priory the churches and tithes of Edmonton, Enfield and South Mymms (the ecclesiastical spelling) and also the Hermitage of Hadley. It was important, therefore, to have a connecting route between South Mimms and Walden and this would have been along Water (Baker’s) Lane, Mutton Lane, Potters Bar High Street and then the Causeway to Northaw and onward to Cheshunt and into Essex.

Enfield Chace is first mentioned in 1325 as Enfelde Chacee and was owned by the de Mandeville family. The Chace itself bounded the manor of South Mimms which, C.1140, was divided by Geoffrey into two parts, South Mimms itself in the north and Old Fold Manor, on the edge of Hadley Green to the south. When the Great North Road was constructed at the latter end of the 16th century it ran between the Chace and the two manors of South Mimms and up to Potters Bar High Street. The boundary of Enfield Chace was immediately to the east of Potters Bar High Street.

The present boundary, further to the east,  between Potters Bar and Enfield was established only in 1777 when Enfield Chace was enclosed and divided between the surrounding parishes of Enfield, Edmonton, South Mimms and Monken Hadley thus making South Mimms  and the other parishes much larger than they had been and, hence,  the very artificially straight boundary between Potters Bar and Enfield and the very straight course of the Great North Road from Hadley Green to the North End of Potters Bar.

It has been suggested that the name of Mutton Lane might come from “mooting” the place where the Hundred Moot (meeting) took place – the “moot hill” was a small hill or mound favoured for such meetings and the “moot hall” was the later building in which such meetings were conducted. A “mooting” or “moot court” is also the name given to part of the modern curriculum in many law schools, particularly in the U.S., Canada and Australia whereby lawyers are trained to present an oral case at a simulated trail. The site of the Hundred Moot for Edmonton Hundred is not known but it has been suggested that it could have been somewhere along Mutton Lane in Potters Bar and Mimms Hall would be the obvious place for it.

Mimms Hall, the manor house of South Mimms was near Mimms Hall Farm (which still exists) in Warrengate Lane which is at at the end of Mutton Lane and it is likely that the manor house was on this site in Saxon times (which would seem more likely than the South Mimms castle site) well before Geoffrey de Mandeville’s time (it is conceivable that Geoffrey built his castle where he did not only for its strategic importance but also to be close to the (probably) already existing Mimms Hall and the possible  meeting place of the Edmonton Hundred Moot?). It would seem logical that the Hundred Moot for Edmonton might actually have been somewhere in Edmonton itself  but there is no evidence that this was the case and there is no evidence for a castle ever having existed in Edmonton and, given the importance of South Mimms in Saxon and Norman times, it is not impossible that it was, indeed, Mimms Hall that was the site of the Moot of Edmonton Hundred.

In Feb 1383 John Durham of London and Dyrham Park, South Mimms was elected M.P. for Middlesex and also in Dec, 1384 and, again in 1399. He was Tax collector for Middlesex in Dec. 1384 and Mar. 1404 and Commissioner for Array (responsible for mustering the militia) for Middlesex in Dec. 1399. and Commissioner of Enquiry into treasonous rumours for Middlesex in Jan 1412. He died in 1368.

Thomas Frowyk of Old Fold Manor, South Mimms, was Commissioner to make a proclamation for the arrest of rebels for Middlesex in Jul 1381, Commissioner of Array for Middlesex in May 1418, M.P. for Middlesex in 1419, 1422, 1427, 1432 and 1433 and he was Commissioner to distribute a tax allowance for Middlesex in Jan. 1436. He was the nephew of John Durham of Dyrham Park, South Mimms and the son of Henry Frowyk. There is a Frowyk Crescent in South Mimms in his honour. He died in 1449.

After the death of Thomas Frowke in 1449 the only prominent person of South Mimms parish until 1750, was Thomas Ravenscroft (1563 – 1631) of Fetter Lane, London and Fould Park (Old Fold Manor) on Hadley Green in South Mimms parish. He was M.P. for Monmouth Boroughs in 1621 but not for Middlesex although he was a Middlesex Justice of the Peace C. 1625 -29.

He was also Clerk of the Bridge House (the Bridge House Estates controlled and maintained London bridge) in 1591 and, 1603 -05,  Comptroller (also Clerk or Warden) of  Hanaper, Chancery (an office in the Court of Chancery and keeper of the the “Hanaper” or “Royal Gold Cup” – a solid gold cup which had formerly belonged to several French and English monarchs and from which the word “hamper” is derived). He was also Governor of Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet (Herts.- see next paragraph concerning Barnet’s Middlesex/Herts. boundary) in 1610. His name is commemorated in Ravenscroft Park the park in Wood Street, Barnet (Herts.) and the road running along its northern edge of the park (which is in Middlesex). This road runs along a part of the ancient earthwork of Grimm’s Dyke which forms the county boundary at this point and evidence of the bank can still be seen along the northern perimeter of the park.

From the end of Ravenscroft Park at the commencement  of Union Street (the boundary between South Mimms and Chipping Barnet parishes and between Middlesex and Hertfordshire) Grimm’s Dyke turns sharply to the north and the county boundary follows it as far as the former Methodist church (now the Spires shopping centre) in Barnet High Street where it diverges from Grimm’s Dyke and turns sharply to the east to Cockfosters. This was originally the course of a small stream (a tributary of Pymmes Brook) which is now underground at this point but re-emerges a few hundred yards or so further east at the bottom of South Close and crosses King George’s Fields and then runs behind the back gardens of the houses in Bosworth Road in Hadley and then disappears underground again.

The stream is carried in a pipe across the Great Northern Railway just north of New Barnet station and it  re-emerges at the  southern edge of Victoria Park in New Barnet to join Pymmes Brook behind the back gardens of the houses in Crescent Road, New Barnet. Although this stream is both a parish and a county boundary for most of its length it is not named on modern maps. There are two small tributaries of this stream in King George’s Fields, one running from north to south and the other from south to north and joining the main stream at exactly the same point and both are named on the map (Google maps) as “Shire Bourne” although they are certainly not on the county boundary and do not run in the same direction as the county boundary. Clearly these two tributaries have been incorrectly taken to be the main stream and have been erroneously attributed the name of the main stream which, being the actual county boundary, should obviously bear the name of “Shire Bourne”. It is a great pity that nobody actually understands much about history and geography and an even greater pity that the people responsible for recording the geography and history of an area, either in maps or in history books, cannot be bothered to ensure their “facts” are correct. It makes life difficult for people who are really interested in such matters but far worse than that, it undermines people’s understanding of their local area and their perception of which county they actually live in.

The part of the main stream that re-emerges at the southern edge of Victoria Park is also named “Shire Bourne” and is, presumably, the continuation of the stream in King George’s Fields but, again, is not actually on the county boundary which is further north and runs along the top end of the park just to the south of Lawton Road. It would seem, therefore, that when the houses in Bosworth Road were built (1930s) and the stream was channelled underground, it was also diverted further south emerging at the south of Victoria Park instead of at the north of it but, nevertheless, retaining the original name of  the “Shire Bourne”. Certainly this section of the stream has an irregular up and down pattern for the whole length just south of Victoria Park which looks extremely artificial and suggests that the stream was deliberately re-engineered probably to reduce the risk of flooding.

There can be no other explanation for a stream to be named the “Shire Bourne” when it is not on the actual shire boundary. What has this to do with South Mimms or Potters Bar? Well, as already mentioned, Monken Hadley was, originally, part of the sub-manor of South Mimms and a detached part of the manor of Edmonton. the boundary under discussion is also the Middlesex/Hertfordshire boundary and, therefore, for both reasons, it is , indeed, relevant.

Grimm’s Dyke continues due north to Hadley Highstone, still forming the boundary between South Mimms and Monken Hadley parishes, until just beyond the beginning of Kitt’s End Lane (the old St. Alban’s road). Old Fold Manor house and its moat are  immediately adjacent to the Grimm’s Dyke on the South Mimms side of the boundary and immediately opposite the junction of Dury Road (part of the ancient Camlet Way) with the main north road which is Barnet High Street, and, after leaving Barnet becomes Hadley Green and, exactly at the junction of Dury Road, becomes Hadley Highstone. The siting of a moated manor house on the earthwork of Grimm’s Dyke and at the point where the north road meets the old Colchester to St. Albans road reinforces the strategic importance of this area as already mentioned above.

So it can be seen that both Mimms Hall, the manor house of South Mimms, and Old Fold manor house , the sub-manor of the southern part of South Mimms, were situated at the two most important and strategic road junctions and, therefore, the manor of South Mimms was clearly considered to be a very important and prestigious manor to be the Lord of which is obviously why King Cnut awarded it to his highest ranking noble Tofig the Proud, his standard bearer, and passed down to his grandson Ansgar the Staller and it is why King William awarded it to Geoffrey de Mandeville. The most important people got the most important prizes and South Mimms, in the County of Middlesex, was very clearly one of the most important prizes of all.

In 1750 Admiral John Byng (1704 – 1757), son of Rear Admiral George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington of Southill, Bedfordshire purchased the land between Hadley Green and  Ganwick Corner and commissioned the building of a mansion which he named Wrotham Park after his family estates in Wrotham, Kent. The house was completed in 1754 but it is doubtful whether Admiral Byng  actually lived there and, if he did, it was certainly not for very long as he was on duty commanding the Channel Fleet by 1755 and he was Court-martialled and shot on board  H.M.S. St. George in Portsmouth harbour on 14th March 1757 for failing to sail to try to prevent the French from capturing the island of Minorca in contravention of a direct order from the Admiralty.

Admiral Byng had written to the Admiralty to advise them that the French had already landed on the island and were besieging Fort St. Philip and to attempt to land the 700 reinforcements he was carrying from Gibraltar would have been futile and a needless waste of manpower (and lives) and that it would be better to wait until he could gather a larger force to make re-capture of the island feasible. Despite Byng’s eminently sensible, if somewhat cautious, assessment of the situation, the Powers in England were furious and King George II said “this man will not fight”, after which, Byng’s fate was sealed. The Government needed a scapegoat for the loss of Minorca and Admiral Byng was it and thus it was that he never enjoyed his new mansion in South Mimms,

George Byng (1735 – 1789) of Wrotham Park, South Mimms, Grandson of Admiral George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington (1663 – 1733) and nephew of Admiral John Byng (1704 – 1757) was M.P. for Middlesex 1780 – 1784. George inherited Wrotham Park from his uncle who was unmarried and had no heir. The house remains in the hands of his descendants to this day.

George Byng of Wrotham Park, South Mimms (1764 – 1847, son of Robert Byng (1703 -1740 and  third son of Admiral George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington), was elected M.P. for Middlesex in 1790 and held the seat for 57 years until his death in 1847. He was also Deputy Lieutenant of Middlesex and a Justice of the Peace for the County of Middlesex.

George Henry Charles Byng, 3rd Earl of Strafford (22/2/1830 – 28/3/1898). Eldest son of George Byng. 2nd Earl of Strafford of Wrotham Park, South Mimms was M.P. for Middlesex between 1857 and 1874 and he was Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex 1884 to 1888. There is a Byng Drive in Potters Bar and a Byng Road in Barnet Mymms Side but it is not certain which member or members of the Byng family they are named after but probably after a more recent member of that family who still own, and inhabit, Wrotham Park. There is also a Strafford Gate in Potters Bar and the Strafford Arms pub in Mutton Lane, Potters Bar, just past Mimms Hall Road.

So South Mimms/Potters Bar has a very long history of important people representing the County of Middlesex. In fact, it would seem almost as if South Mimms was THE most important place in Middlesex after London, certainly between 1066 and 1449, but again between 1757 and 1888. Hertfordshire County Council have been in charge in South Mimms for only 54 years so perhaps it is too early to expect any very significant contribution to its history from the occupying force of Hertfordshire County Council but it seems highly improbable that there will be very many, if any, such notable people connected with this part of MIDDLESEX in the future as there have been in the past.

The physical connections of Potters Bar and South Mymms to Middlesex and the transfer to the administration of Hertfordshire County Council

The Greater London Area and the body that was to administer it, the Greater London Council, were created by the London Government Act of 1963 (effective 1st April 1965). Unlike the former London County Council Area which was created by the Local Government Act of 1888 (effective 1st April 1889) and was known as the administrative (but not geographical) County of London, the L.C.C. area was NOT called a “county” (either an administrative one or any other kind) and neither was its replacement body of 1st April 2000, the Greater London Authority area.

The G.L.C. came about through a meeting of the Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London held in 1957 and its findings which were published in 1960. It recommended the establishment of 52 new “London Boroughs” but ended up with only 33. Certain areas on the periphery of the recommended G.L.C, area successfully fought to be excluded from it, supposedly opposing it “because they feared increased local taxation”. If increased local taxation had been a likely prospect then, surely, every area that was to be included in the new G.L.C. would have fought equally hard to keep out of it. This is, of course, assuming that the people of these areas were even consulted on the matter which seems doubtful. It seems more probable that these peripheral areas were regarded as not sufficiently urbanised at that time to constitute a “London borough” on any kind of similar footing to the other areas and, had they been added to any of the other areas, those new boroughs would have been even larger and even more unwieldy, than those already planned so,  no longer being within their previous county council areas, they were transferred, purely for administrative purposes, to adjacent county councils.

The areas that resisted inclusion in the new G.L.C. area were the Urban Districts of Chigwell in Essex and Staines, Sunbury-on-Thames and Potters Bar in Middlesex. There were other areas in the County of Surrey that that were originally recommended for inclusion in the new area but were not finally included and these were the urban Districts of Epsom & Ewell, Caterham & Warlingham and Esher, and Weybridge. So, over a thousand years of history and identity either saved or expunged from history by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen. Some were lucky and some were not, and the Essex and Surrey places were lucky but the Middlesex places, although avoiding being part of the new G.L.C. area, lost their true county identity anyway by being assigned to the administration of their adjacent county councils. Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames, luckily, were allowed to retain their Middlesex postal addresses and, therefore, also their Middlesex identities but Potters Bar was not (see elsewhere on this website).

Why it was decided that Potters Bar should be placed under the administration of Hertfordshire County Council rather than be part of either the new London Borough of Enfield or Barnet (which would not have increased the size of either of those boroughs to make them any larger than the very large new boroughs of Bromley or Havering which they obviously found to be perfectly acceptable) is hard to grasp. Probably Potters Bar was given no choice in the matter and the government of the day decided for them.

It would certainly not seem to be much to do with possible “increased local taxation” as each borough sets its own rate anyway and, before the new larger London boroughs were created by amalgamations of several former municipal boroughs and urban districts, those constituent municipal boroughs and urban districts had the same combined population receiving (presumably) the same services and paying (presumably) the same rates for them as would be the case in the new large amalgamated boroughs so there was not going to be any additional expense directly because of the amalgamations and, IF the advocates of large administrative area are to be believed, amalgamations into larger administrative units were, they told us, going to reduce costs because of economies of scale). 

If the people of Potters Bar, or Potters Bar Council itself, did have any say in the matter there can be only one possible motivation for choosing to be known as “Hertfordshire rather than “London” and that is simple snobbery.

I have heard it said by more than one person in Potters Bar, and I have also read it in the local Press on more than one occasion, that being “in Hertfordshire” (as they wrongly believe themselves to be)  “sounds better” than being part of  “London” (and all that that implies) and, they believe, that the higher value of their properties which they imagine would result from being “in Hertfordshire” rather than “London” is far more important than over a thousand years of history… even if  it were actually true. However, it is  fairly certain that house prices in Hadley Wood, Totteridge and many other places in “Greater London” are a great deal higher than anything in Potters Bar and, now, being an appendage to Borehamwood cannot have enhanced the situation one bit and anyone with any insight at all back in 1965 would surely have foreseen this inevitable development on the horizon given bureaucracy’s obsession with creating ever larger local government units.

Whether the people of Potters Bar were actually consulted at the time I cannot say (it would seem highly unlikely) but, if they were, to what extent were their opinions actually taken into consideration? Generally speaking, the Powers that be do exactly what they want to do irrespective of public opinion, and it would seem strange if this instance were any different to any other. If Potters Bar had actually been consulted it probably did not extend beyond consultation with the Urban District Council rather than the residents themselves but, of course, the members of the U.D.C. were all local residents themselves anyway and there is no reason why what they considered to be in their own self-interest would be any less persuasive than for any other local resident.

Nevertheless, if Potters Bar had been forced to choose between “Hertfordshire” or “London” there was a very good case for it to have been “London” (i.e. either the Borough of Enfield or the Borough of Barnet). Historically Potters Bar has little, if anything at all, to do with Hertfordshire (other than Barnet). Between 1834 and 1930 South Mimms (Inc. Potters Bar) was in the Barnet Poor Law Union (P.L.U’s were combinations of parishes surrounding a “central” workhouse and they sometimes transcended county boundaries but this did not affect the counties in any way whatsoever – South Mimms, Finchley and Friern Barnet were in Barnet P.L.U but Cheshunt and Waltham Holy Cross were in Edmonton P.L.U, It made no difference to the county boundaries nor did it mean that South Mimms, Finchley or Friern Barnet were actually in “Hertfordshire” any more than Cheshunt and Waltham Holy Cross were in “Middlesex” – people understood things better in those days than they do now and didn’t have, or need to create, a problem with it – counties were where people lived and administrative areas were government inventions for several different purposes and each of differing extent and the same is true today).

The Poor Law Unions were also the bodies responsible for civil registration of births, marriages and deaths after the compulsory registration was introduced in 1837. and, therefore, each P.L.U. was also a Civil Registration District. It should be noted that, between 1837 and 1851 Barnet Registration District came under the Registration County of Hertfordshire but, between 1851 and 1946, it was under the Registration County of Middlesex. From 1946 to 1965 it went back to the Registration County of Hertfordshire (but, after 1939, Potters Bar, Finchley and Friern Barnet were no longer part of it). Yet again, it will be very evident that, in the field of local government administration, it is whatever suits the current requirements and convenience of local government that is what is considered to be important and definitely not geography or history or the wishes of the people being governed.  As previously noted, people understood these things then and it didn’t affect anything else and it does not threaten anything else and it did not require pages and pages of complicated explanation to try to make people understand it.

Barnet Union workhouse was in Wellhouse Lane, Barnet, Herts. When the 1834 Poor Law was repealed in 1930 and the institution of the workhouse was abolished, the old workhouses (which also had their own infirmaries) became hospitals and the Barnet Union workhouse became Barnet General Hospital and it continued to be, and still continues to be, the main, and the closest, hospital for Potters Bar. Obviously the next nearest is Chase Farm Hospital on the Ridgeway at Enfield and formerly part of Edmonton Union workhouse. There is a hospital in Welwyn Garden City and one in St. Albans, but it is difficult to believe that these would be the first choice to go to should hospital treatment be required and definitely not for emergency treatment.

There is little else in Hertfordshire that anyone in Potters Bar might need, apart from, possibly, the Galleria shopping centre and cinema complex and that didn’t exist before 1991. Before that, any shopping one required in Potters Bar was adequately provided by the shops in Darkes Lane or the High Street (before every shop became an off-licence, hairdresser, body piercing establishment or a charity shop). Darkes Lane, in those days had every kind of different shop that could possibly be needed for all everyday shopping requirements and the only shop it didn’t have was a bookshop (although Wheeler’s the stationers would order any book on request) otherwise the nearest W.H. Smiths was in Barnet and that was really the only reason it was occasionally necessary to go there unless one wanted to go to Barnet Market or, possibly to Burtons or John Collier if they needed a suit and Wilson’s in Darkes Lane or Hodgkinson’s in the High Street couldn’t manage to fit them out.

Before the Galleria cinema complex opened, people from Potters Bar had their own cinema; the Ritz in Darkes Lane but, if there was nothing on there that one wanted to see, there was plenty of choice not too far away, the Odeon and the Gaumont in Barnet, the Essoldo in East Barnet, the Regal in New Barnet, plus other cinemas in Enfield, Southgate, Finchley and Muswell Hill but no need, or desire to go north into Hertfordshire. For a larger selection of clothes shops or furniture shops there was Wood Green or Holloway, or the “West End”, nobody went to Hertfordshire. If one wished to go to a dance hall there was one in Southgate and one in Tottenham or the “West End” and there really was no reason whatsoever to go to anywhere in Hertfordshire at all, other than Barnet. for anything at all.

Just as well because one couldn’t get there in the days before everyone owned a car. All the bus routes from Potters Bar went to Barnet (134), Southgate (29) or Enfield (313) and only the 242 went into Herts. and then only to Cheshunt via Northaw, Cuffley and Goff’s Oak. The 84 went to St. Albans from Barnet via South Mimms although, later, the 84a sometimes ran through Potters Bar and South Mimms to St. Albans as well. There was no bus route from Potters Bar to Hatfield and still isn’t and there was no bus route to Borehamwood until the year 1999 when Sullivan Buses started to operate one, but nobody wanted to go there anyway.

Apart from the convenience of the 134 bus route between Potters Bar and Barnet the simple fact is that Barnet was a great deal nearer to Potters Bar than anywhere else in Hertfordshire to the north or west of Potters Bar and this was true even if one was not dependent upon public transport. Even now, it is a lot easier and quicker to drive into Barnet from Potters Bar than it is to drive to St. Albans, Watford or even Hatfield. They all seem a lot further away, possibly because there is nothing in between except countryside and the almost total lack of shops in Hatfield and the distance to St. Albans or Watford did, and does, nothing to encourage anyone to want to undertake the mission to get to any of those places. Potters Bar’s links and affinity were, and still are, firmly to the south!

I lived in Potters Bar between 1949 and 1960 and, again. between 1974 and 1979 and I had never ever been to Borehamwood until the 1970s and I have still only ever been there about three times in my whole life.  I only went to Hatfield once when I was child to go to Hatfield House and about three times to St. Albans, once to see the Verulamium Museum and the other couple of times when my parents dragged me to St. Albans Market on  a Saturday morning and I certainly did not enjoy that and neither did my parents because I moaned all the time we were there. As far as I, and everyone I knew, were concerned, Borehamwood was a very distant and obscure place and the lack of any transport connection did not bother us one bit as nobody wanted to go there anyway. We didn’t even go to New Barnet or East Barnet but we did go to High Barnet, Finchley , Enfield, Southgate and Muswell Hill, not just because of the bus routes but also because we felt some sort of affinity to those places which we never felt for anywhere north of South Mimms which was like a foreign country as far as we were concerned.

I do not live in Potters Bar now, but I do not believe things would have changed very much even though it is now possible to get a 398 bus to Borehamwood and even to Watford and who wants to go to Watford either? It was, of course, always possible to get to Hatfield by train from Potters Bar but, again, what is there to actually go there for apart from Hatfield House and how many times does one wish to visit Hatfield House?

The plain fact is that Potters Bar has no natural connection with Hertfordshire and no natural affinity with it either despite 54 years of the local governing bodies doing all they possibly could to promote such connections and such affinity and even the eventual establishment of the 398 bus route (which was probably launched because the local authority requested Sullivan Buses to do so) hasn’t achieved it and it is likely that its main use is by people coming TO Potters Bar FROM  Borehamwood and not the other way round. Basically, if Hertfordshire were to suddenly disappear down the Water End sink holes, I can’t imagine that too many people in Potters Bar would actually realise it had gone and, if they did, that they would really miss it very much.

This is not to say that there is anything wrong with Hertfordshire or that one wishes it any harm. I am merely making the point that there is no natural connection between Potters Bar and Hertfordshire and the people of Potters Bar have no natural affinity with it. The enforced and wholly artificial local government “Hertfordshire” identity is not natural and, I believe, not felt by most people, and certainly not if they believe that affinity should be based firmly upon history and on a continuity with the past. Hertfordshire is a lovely county and its history and identity should be preserved just as much as that of Middlesex and, of course, every other British county, but Potters Bar is NOT part of it and never will be! Nor, of course, is the local government non-metropolitan County of Hertfordshire anything more to do with the REAL County of Hertfordshire than Timbuktu or Outer Mongolia and the identity of the REAL County of Hertfordshire is being undermined as well by official distortion of the true facts.

It is, of course, also essential for the sake of Hertfordshire’s own history and identity that its own true geographical boundaries are maintained and recognised, and its own history not distorted to include places that do not belong to it. It is just as bad for true county identity to have bits which don’t actually belong added on as it is to have bits which DO belong shorn off. Potters Bar does NOT belong in Hertfordshire but it DOES belong in Middlesex and the sooner everyone recognises that fact the better for the continued heritage and identity of BOTH counties and Hertfordshire County Council would do well to bear that in mind and start promoting the identity of the real County of HERTFORDSHIRE, the continuing identity of which they hold in trust for present and future generations (and thereby also that of MIDDLESEX), instead of that of the artificial and transitory local government area they are, for the time being (at least until the next Local Government Act abolished them as well), in temporary custody of. Perhaps, by doing so, they might even gain the respect and admiration of the people they are there to serve which distortion of the truth, bullying and brainwashing will never achieve.

The Post Office and Potters Bar’s and South Mimms’ identity crisis

The one thing that, more than anything else gives most people their sense of identity and belonging to an area is their postal address. It is, or should be, a very specific (not to mention accurate) description of the geographical location of where one lives and is unique to each individual person and their home. It gives their house number, their road name, their town or village name and, of course, it gives (or should give) their correct county name (i.e. their historical and geographical county and not their local government or postal one) and it ensures that their mail is delivered correctly to that unique spot on the earth’s surface (even a post code doesn’t quite do that). It also ensures that anyone needing to visit them, who might not be familiar with the area they live in, can find them easily on a map. This might not be so important any longer with post codes and sat. nav., but it is still important for those of us technophobes not yet slavishly dependent upon a little black box constantly telling us where we should go and also for those of us who don’t wish to be sent down a narrow country lane (because that it is the nearest direct route to reach (hopefully) the desired destination) only to meet a combine harvester coming the other way with nowhere to reverse into and, so, still choose to rely on maps or, even better, that ancient, amazing and generally infallible navigation instrument – one’s nose!

Apart from any purely practical function, a postal address is still exceptionally important for the continued recognition of our history, heritage and identity; to coin a phrase, not everyone wants to be just a number or, indeed, just a post code, only differing from anyone else by a merely a different combination of numbers and letters (and who can possibly remember anyone’s post code anyway apart from one’s own?). Postal addresses give us a unique individuality as well as our identity of place. A sat. nav. might allow you to get somewhere and is obviously useful to an extent, especially in a town that is unfamiliar, but it will not tell you, before starting the journey, where that “somewhere” actually is, or give any idea of how far that “somewhere” actually is from where you currently are and, of course, it still incorporates a map anyway so it is really just a very small map with a very annoying voice telling you what, for most of the journey, you already know or can readily deduce from road signs and a basic knowledge of British geography (which, unfortunately, most people these days seem to lack). It also causes great risk of a collision whilst trying to look at it whilst one is driving and should be watching the road and not the little box stuck on the dashboard.

The important point about postal addresses though, is that they are not merely to enable you to find a particular geographical location but ARE (or should be) a fixed historical point of reference for all sorts of purposes (and most particularly for general travel and historical information and, especially for  family history research) and they do not, or should not, be constantly altered just because the administrative unit that happens to be responsible for their local government is suddenly altered and called by a different name in order to satisfy the current perceived “convenience of local government administration”. In 1965, when Potters bar was transferred administratively to the jurisdiction of Hertfordshire County Council, it was not dug up and physically moved to the geographical county of Hertfordshire; it is STILL where it has always been – IN THE GEOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL THE COUNTY OF MIDDLESEX! Nothing changed in 1965 except administrative and postal bureaucracy – geography and history was not altered, and people’s identity, or their perception of it, should not have done either!!!

The widely held, but totally misguided, belief that, because of changes made to local government areas solely for the requirements of local government administration, everything else must also be changed – postal addresses, maps, guide books, road signs, boundary signs etc., etc., is ridiculous! Apart from being totally unnecessary and extremely costly (and these local government alterations now happen even more frequently than they did in the past – more or less every ten years or so), they distort and undermine centuries of geography and history and lead to considerable misunderstanding and confusion. A particularly good example of this absurdity is the case of Colnbrook in the south west of the County and this can be found on this website under “Spelthorne Heritage”.

Not only do these frequent name changes to local authorities mean additional cost to the ratepayers in changing official stationery, local boundary signs, local guidebooks etc., etc., but, because map makers, and everyone else misguidedly believe that local government changes affect everything else as well, all maps, guide books and road signs on a national scale “have to” (???) be changed as well (or they ignorantly believe this to be the case) and that costs everyone a great deal more money. This is all absolutely unnecessary and totally ridiculous. Plain common sense should show that retaining continuity with the past is not only highly desirable for the heritage and identity of an area and the people who live there but it does not cost tax-payers and rate-payers a penny and, for that reason alone, should be a very popular course of action to take.

Up until 1st April 1965 there was no doubt whatsoever in the minds of anyone who lived in Potters Bar or South Mimms as to which county they lived in and where their natural affinities lay. They had a Middlesex postal address (except the southern part which the Post Office found more convenient to incorrectly term as  “Barnet, Herts” and that postal address, above anything else, told them (sometimes correctly and sometimes incorrectly) what county they lived in (according to the Post Office at least).

It is not known exactly when “post towns” were invented by the General Post Office but they must have originated in the early days of the mail coach roads where mail would be delivered to the larger towns on route and then collected, or re-distributed, from those towns but “post towns” in the modern sense probably did not emerge until after the “London” Postal Area was created in 1857 and postal sorting offices started to be built in other towns throughout the country. A postal sorting office would be allocated a geographical delivery area which was purely a convenient area for postal delivery from that office and did not follow any existing parish or county boundaries. Inevitably, the Post Office also introduced their own “postal counties” which were, of course, based upon their post towns irrespective of actual geography or any other consideration. Again these “postal counties” bore little relationship to actual geographical counties nor were they co-terminous with any other existing administrative area.  So now everyone lives, or works, wherever the Post Office says they do even if not geographically true.

Originally these “conveniences” for the sorting of mail were not intended for public use but it was soon realised that, if they could get the public to put the “postal county” name on envelopes INSTEAD OF the real county name and the postal town name as well, a large part of their sorting work would be done for them. The same applied to the “London” postal area and the inclusion of district numbers in postal addresses was encouraged and the public perception of being in “London” instead of in Middlesex, Surrey or Kent soon took root and the true identities of millions of people was very quickly eradicated, as were the true identities of many, many other places through the country which happened to fall within the area of a post town that was situated in a different geographical county. Hence Cockfosters, Monken Hadley, Hadley Green, Hadley Wood, Barnet Mimms side and half of the remainder of South Mimms parish all became, postally, “Barnet, Herts.” and still are today and the people that live in these places actually believe that they live in “Hertfordshire” – how could the Post Office not know in what county a place is situated???

The Post Office probably knows very well in what county all places are situated but they DO NOT CARE and are only concerned with their own interest in sorting and delivering the mail so their own fictitious “postal counties” are the only “counties” that exist as far as they are concerned. Even the residents of Cockfosters and Hadley Wood who actually pay their rates to the London Borough of Enfield and NOT to the London Borough of Barnet still believe this lunacy despite the very plain incongruity. Totally absurd it most certainly is but “officialdom” can make people believe anything it wants them to believe and all common sense and logic are miraculously suspended because “officialdom” must automatically know best and should be trusted implicitly however crazy and outrageous their dictates might be. The story of “the Emperor’s new clothes” could have been written specifically for the people of Great Britain whose shameful gullibility seems to know no bounds.

As far as South Mimms parish was concerned, the inaccurate “Barnet. Herts” postal address would have affected only the southern part of the parish mostly comprising scattered farms and, of course, the manor house of Wrotham Park. The village of South Mimms itself and Potters Bar had the correct Middlesex postal addresses up until 1965. The incorrect “Barnet, Herts.” postal address also affected the south eastern corner of the parish known as Barnet Mimms Side which was the part of the urban area of Barnet that had spread into South Mimms parish after the construction of Thomas Telford’s New Road from Barnet to St. Albans in 1828. This area was, however, until 1894, still distinguished from the rest of Barnet by the name of Mimms Side but, after this area became the separate Civil parish of South Mimms Urban and was included in the newly created Barnet Urban District in that same year, this distinction soon disappeared and, with the inaccurate “Barnet, Herts.” postal address as well, no possibility at all of preserving the area’s true identity would remain.

There was, and is, a small area immediately east of Galley Lane and to the north of Wood Street, Barnet, (both of which roads form the county boundary between Middlesex and Hertfordshire) which was, and still is, in South Mimms parish and was not included in South Mimms Urban civil parish or in Barnet Urban District in 1894. This area comprises the following roads; Argyle Road, Granville Road and Queen’s Road in (all constructed 1898) and King’s Road, Grimsdyke Crescent, Cavendish Road and Old Fold View (all constructed between 1920 and 1939). These roads also, have the incorrect “Barnet. Herts.” postal address and, of course, just like the people of Cockfosters and Hadley Wood, the people who live in these roads believe that they actually do live in Barnet, Hertfordshire even though they pay their rates to Hertsmere Borough Council and not to the London Borough of Barnet.

These poor people must be trebly, or even quadruply, confused as, administratively, they are in the Borough of Hertsmere and come under the administration of the Non-metropolitan County of Hertfordshire. Postally they are “Barnet, Hertfordshire” but Barnet itself is NOT, of course, in the Non-metropolitan County of Hertfordshire but in the London Borough of Barnet which is within the Greater London Authority Area. The only access to these roads is from Wood Street (in the London Borough of Barnet) and they have no direct connection to anywhere else in the Borough of Hertsmere. The nearest named settlement is actually Arkley (also in the London Borough of Barnet) but the area in question has neither any administrative connection, nor any historical or geographical connection at all with Barnet. What chance, then, do the people who live in these roads have of knowing, or understanding, that they actually live in South Mimms parish in the County of Middlesex??? Why should well over a thousand years of geography, history, identity and heritage be abolished for the temporary “convenience of local government administration”???

As for the northern portion of South Mimms parish including the actual settlements of South Mimms and Potters Bar which, until 1965, the Post Office correctly recognised as MIDDLESEX, “officialdom” could not possibly allow such inconsequentialities such as truth or common sense to prevail any longer and the 1963 Local Government Act gave them the EXCUSE, although NOT the AUTHORITY, to amend this, for them, intolerable situation. After the transfer of the administration of Potters Bar Urban District from Middlesex County Council to Hertfordshire County Council in April 1965 the local Potters Bar Post Office decided that Potter’s Bar’s postal address should also be changed from Middlesex to “Hertfordshire”. Whether this was due merely to a tragic misunderstanding on the part of the Post Office as to what, exactly, the Local Government Act of 1963 was intended (or, indeed, legally able) to do (altering people’s postal addresses not being one of them) or whether the local Post Office was acting upon the direct instructions of some other authority (even though that authority did not possess any actual authority in this regard); Hertfordshire County Council being the most likely candidate, is not known but that seems the most probable explanation for such an unnecessary and unprecedented change; they being the only possible beneficiary of such a change.

The fact is that it should NOT have been done at all (and certainly not because any government or local government body ordered it to be done). There was no legal requirement, nor any legal authority to do so as the Local Government Act 1963 was solely concerned with local government administration and conferred no power over the internal organisation of the Post Office nor over anything else that was not directly connected with local government matters. Clearly, however, in the case of Potters Bar, it was not deemed sufficient to just transfer the local government functions to Hertfordshire County Council; they wanted to make absolutely certain that their own “Herts. Identity” was well and truly established and stamped upon the area they were now governing and, therefore, the former Middlesex identity had to be totally eradicated. The first, and most important, step in giving a place its identity is it’s postal address and this was, therefore, the very first thing to be altered by the usurping authority. Other measures to eradicate Potters Bar’s history and identity (as discussed elsewhere on this website) could, and most certainly would, come in later stages but the main assault on Potters Bar’s identity had to be accomplished immediately.

In Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames, which had been transferred to the administration of Surrey County Council at the same date as Potters Bar was transferred to the administration of Herts. County Council, the Post Office did NOT feel constrained to alter the recommended postal addresses in either of those places as had been done in Potters Bar and, so, very fortunately, they retained their correct Middlesex addresses (and still do so today) and, thus, also their true Middlesex identities.

The example of Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames (which were amalgamated to become the Borough of Spelthorne in 1974) proves absolutely, not only that changing postal addresses as Potters Bar did in 1965, was NOT NECESSARY and NOT OBLIGATORY either, but also that it is THE single most vital element in people’s perception of their local identity. Staines and Sunbury were permitted to retain theirs but Potters Bar and South Mimms were not! The people of Staines and Sunbury still know that they live in Middlesex but the people of South Mimms and Potters Bar are not allowed to know their true county identity. The only other examples in history of such deliberate and contemptuous obliteration of people’s history and identity are Revolutionary France between 1789 and 1799 and the mad Dictator Pol Pot’s “Year Zero” regime in Cambodia between 1975 and 1978. At least Hertfordshire County Council hasn’t yet massacred millions of innocent people in pursuance of its lunatic doctrines, at least, not as far as we are aware.

Even today, after 54 years of Surrey County Council’s control over Spelthorne (including the erection of erroneous “Surrey” signs on the main roads entering the Borough (just as Herts. Co. Council has done in Potters Bar by erecting erroneous “Hertfordshire” signs), the residents of Spelthorne know very well that they still live in Middlesex because their postal address is still Middlesex. The people of Potters Bar and South Mimms, unfortunately, have no such advantage to preserve their true identities and, apart from a few old people who know better and a very few younger ones that actually take an interest in such things, there are few residents of Potters Bar and South Mimms that have known anything other than a false and inaccurate “Hertfordshire” identity enforced by 54 years of indoctrination by both of the local government bodies which administer them – Hertfordshire County Council and Hertsmere Borough Council.

If Hertfordshire County Council is ever abolished (as is highly possible and as several other county councils elsewhere in the country have already been) will the people of Potters Bar, or of anywhere else currently administered by Hertfordshire County Council still believe in the existence of an administrative area known as “Hertfordshire”???  Or will they then accept the true historical and geographical County of Hertfordshire instead? THEN, perhaps, they will finally realise that geographical counties DO continue to exist with, or without, the administrative variety, and that POTTERS BAR IS NOT PART OF EITHER!!!

There is, however, one particularly satisfying aspect to this administrative and postal “game of musical chairs” at least as far as Spelthorne is concerned and that is, because the Post Office (in this part of the County at least) acted correctly and did not alter the postal address from Middlesex to “Surrey” in 1965, every letter and every Council Tax demand that Spelthorne Borough Council or Surrey County Council send to their ratepayers in Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames is addressed to MIDDLESEX and Spelthorne Borough’s own official stationery also bears MIDDLESEX in their own address.

Whether the use of the Middlesex address in their “occupied territory” of Spelthorne galls the politicians in Kingston-upon-Thames is not known but, perhaps, as their own headquarters is within the Greater London Authority Area and NOT within the Surrey County Council administrative area anyway (Kingston is NOT in the Non-metropolitan County of Surrey but in the Greater London Authority Area), they might have got used to the idea that local government is a matter of administrative convenience and not one of geographical or historical accuracy and, consequently, do not feel any need to worry about it unlike their paranoid Potters Bar/Hertsmere colleagues.

Unfortunately, even this small measure of satisfaction has now been taken away from the people of Spelthorne as the Post Office’s policy (sine 1996) is now not to use any county names in its recommended postal addresses at all but solely the street name and the post code and they have decreed that county names (even incorrect postal ones) are no longer necessary. It should, of course, be borne in mind that “not necessary” does not mean “compulsorily abolished” and there is no obligation not to use county names just because the Post Office says they are not required any more.  Nor is it any more obligatory on people not to use correct county names now than it was to use incorrect ones previously just because it suited the Post Office for people to do so. All the Post Office cares about now is post codes. The people, however, should care about their history and identity and ensure that their true county names are not entirely erased from memory by continuing to use them at every opportunity.

The obsessive need to imprint the alien “Hertfordshire” identity on Potters Bar is nothing short of paranoia and one can only wonder why it is felt necessary to go to the lengths that have been employed to attempt to enforce it and, even after 54 years, to continue to attempt to enforce it. New geographically inaccurate and misleading signs stating “Hertfordshire – County of opportunity” have been erected, only quite recently, on all roads entering Potters Bar. The previous, no less geographically inaccurate, signs merely stated “Hertfordshire” and nothing else, so it would seem that the “opportunity” referred to on the new signs can only be the opportunity to add the erroneous word “county” as yet another part of the ongoing brainwashing campaign by the “Identity Enforcement Department” of Herts. County Council and make people believe that they are actually entering a “county called Hertfordshire” when this is patently untrue and what they are entering is merely a “local government administrative area” which has been given the inaccurate and misleading name of “Hertfordshire” and the inaccurate and misleading title of “county”!!!

It should also be noted that the new “Hertfordshire’ signs facing the oncoming traffic which is driving on the left hand side of the road are all located on the RIGHT HAND SIDE of the road!  Is this merely another “mistake” on the part of Hertfordshire County Council or is it some sinister (or perhaps “dexter”) preparation in anticipation of  an even more costly and ridiculous and insidious changeover to driving on the right hand side of the road as part of enforcing further conformity and integration with the E.U.? Hopefully this mad idea will be abandoned after 31st October 2019??? Evidently it is not only our county history, heritage and identity that somebody is fervently intent on eradicating! One wonders whether, after 31st October 2019, even more public money will be expended in moving these unnecessary and misleading signs to the correct sides of the roads. Better to just REMOVE them to the scrap metal yard!

This “fake county of Hertfordshire” not only includes Potters Bar which does not belong to it but is also missing parts which DO belong to it … Barnet, East Barnet and Totteridge so how can they call their make believe “county” area “Hertfordshire” when one look at a pre-1965 map will quickly demonstrate how utterly wrong they are? Or do they really believe that it is perfectly acceptable to eat one’s cake and, yet, still have it? If they truly believe that the area they currently administer and term “the County of Hertfordshire” is, indeed, “the County of HERTFORDSHIRE” then what do they think existed before 1st April 1965 that included the additional areas of Barnet, East Barnet and Totteridge but did not include Potters Bar??? was this the County of Hertfordshire also in their warped imaginings?

They certainly BOTH can’t be the “County of Hertfordshire” because they are not the same geographical area. What do these people consider to be more important – possession of part of Middlesex that does not belong to the true County of Hertfordshire and, at the same time,  the loss of Barnet, East Barnet and Totteridge from the true County area OR retaining, recognising and promoting the proper historical and geographical area of the actual County area of Hertfordshire? There is, and can only be, ONE real County of HERTFORDSHIRE and if Herts. County Council are promoting their own distorted version of it, then they are not upholding the history and identity of the true County which it should be their duty to do and they are being deliberately disingenuous in claiming otherwise. They do not and clearly have no desire, to represent the true County of Hertfordshire any more than the current Shetland Islands Council, or any other “county” authority anywhere in Great Britain does!

All this totally unnecessary administrative nonsense costs money of course, and it is the ratepayers of Potters Bar and South Mimms that have to contribute financially towards it. There are, most certainly, many far more important and essential matters that such money could be used for so perhaps it is time that the Government finally woke up and put a stop to, not only this continuous cause of widespread confusion but also to the atrocious waste of public funds at the expense of far more essential necessities and abolished the Local Government Boundary Commission once and for all!!!

To return to postal addresses, and just to prove beyond any doubt just how ridiculous what the Post Office terms “postal counties” actually are,  is perfectly demonstrated by the Post Office’s introduction of six digit post codes between 1967 and 1974 so that the “postal town” of Barnet, which had previously appropriated and destroyed the identities of places such as Bentley Heath and Hadley Wood by falsely claiming them to be part of “Barnet”, now, itself,  has an “EN” (Enfield) post code. So, by the Post Offices own very strange rationale, and, of course, the public’s blind obedience to it, Barnet should now be regarded as being in “Enfield, Middlesex”! Perhaps, then, the people of Hadley Wood might be encouraged to adopt a new form of recommended postal address along the lines of  … “Hadley Wood, Barnet, Herts, London Borough of Enfield, Middlesex EN4 ***”. This might just be sufficiently ridiculous and confusing to find favour with the Post Office???

Would that be TOO silly to be true, even for the Post Office? Well not a lot sillier than what they have already done successfully all over the country and some examples of which have already been given in this article. If the people of Hadley Wood or Cockfosters can be persuaded to believe that they actually live in Hertfordshire despite paying their rates to the London Borough of Enfield (and postally Middlesex) and that Hadley Wood and Cockfosters, both in the London Borough of Enfield, are actually in the County of Hertfordshire but Enfield itself (in the London Borough of Enfield) is still actually in the County of Middlesex geographically AND postally and they believe all these things to be entirely true simultaneously just because the Post Office tells them to and see nothing contradictory or illogical whatsoever in any of it, then it is a truly amazing achievement by the Post Office and one that is eminently worthy of or, indeed, surpasses the amazing and totally unfathomable mental deceptions of Derren Brown.

A street name and a post code might be sufficient for Post Office or sat. nav. technology to identify a place from but it is not sufficient for a human being to identify a place, even if a town name is included as well. A full postal address including the correct county name gives everything necessary to identify any, and every, geographical location. People cannot remember dozens and dozens of post codes but they can remember dozens of addresses. Post codes might be helpful for machines to sort mail but they are not at all helpful for people (not even postmen). By including the correct county names as well, every person is contributing the continued recognition of that place’s history and identity. It is far, far more than just a description of a geographical location. It is a proclamation of pride in one’s history and identity and a personal choice in wishing to maintain that history and identity and no government, local authority or the Post Office, the media or any other institution should be permitted to undermine or destroy it.

It really is high time that the Post Office realised, or was made to realise, that the primary requisite of a postal address is as an accurate and helpful description of geographical location and identification of an individual property and to distinguish that property from any other property anywhere else in the world. The Post Office should also realise, or be made to realise, that a person’s address is a statement of their own unique location on the planet and of their individuality and, unlike a post code, something that is capable of being memorised (and not merely one’s own) and something, also unlike a post code, that can be quickly and accurately found on a map. The Post Office, instead of being totally selfish and utterly dismissive and contemptuous of everyone’s history and identity, could be the saviour of that history and those identities. They could state that postal addresses should include correct county names as well as the post code as the additional information of a county name can do no harm whatsoever and might actually prove useful if the post code has been given incorrectly. They could even issue a gazetteer of places and their proper geographical counties as they have previously done for their fake “postal counties” and this would go a very long way indeed to correcting all the misunderstanding and confusion of the past 130 years and preserve and protect our 1,200 years county heritage in a way that has never been done before. Unfortunately such a thing will never happen but why not??? Why does the government refuse to state clearly and openly what the 1888 Local Government Act was actually intended to achieve and what it actually meant???

Notable people born in or associated with South Mimms and Potters Bar

It should first be noted that, because of the confusion caused by local government alterations since 1888 and by the unnecessary and incorrect alterations of postal addresses by the Post Office and of maps by Ordnance Survey (and copied by all other map publishers) and because of the appalling ignorance of the general populace due to an almost total lack of education in the history and geography of our nation, it is extremely difficult to know exactly where anyone was actually born.

A lot of the following information has been obtained from Wikipedia which, although notoriously unreliable, is the only readily accessible source available for most information. Wikipedia, of course, merely follows modern local government areas with no concern whatsoever for historical geographical county boundaries so will describe Potters Bar as “Hertfordshire” or “North London” but very rarely as Middlesex and, if they do, they also add inaccurately – “now Herts”. They also include anywhere close to Potters Bar as being in Potters Bar even if it is not in Potters Bar at all. 

For example, according to Wikipedia, the actress Letitia Dean (Eastenders) was born in “Potters Bar, Hertfordshire”. Well “Hertfordshire” is correct but “Potters Bar” is not! Letitia Dean was actually born in a cottage on the estate of the novelist Barbara Cartland near Essendon, Hertfordshire in the Hatfield registration district. So it is certainly not safe to take Wikipedia information, or any other modern source of information, at face value.

Registration information for births and deaths is useful but not always particularly helpful as they give only the registration district where the event was registered and not the actual place the subject lived in. Potters Bar (or, rather the civil parish of South Mimms until 1934) was in the Barnet registration district from 1837 to 1939 and, so, anyone born there in that period would be registered as having been born in Barnet.

However, the “registration county” that each registration district was in was altered at various dates and, as with all purely administrative functions, did not always accord with the proper geographical counties. Because the registration districts were originally based on the Poor Law Unions, themselves transcending geographical county boundaries, they were considered to come under the county where the workhouse was situated which meant that because South Mimms and also Monken Hadley, Finchley and Friern Barnet, being in the Barnet Poor Law Union also came under the Barnet registration district which, from 1837 to 1851 was considered to be in the” registration county” of Hertfordshire. Therefore all children born up to 1851 would have birth certificates showing “Registration District  – Barnet in the County of Hertfordshire”.

From 1852 to 1946 , however, Barnet registration district was, for reasons unknown, assigned to the “registration county of Middlesex” so all birth certificates for that period would show “Registration District – Barnet in the County of Middlesex” and, as well as children born in South Mimms, Monken Hadley, Finchley and Friern Barnet having birth certificates correctly showing their births as being in the County of Middlesex, the children born in Chipping Barnet, East Barnet, New Barnet, Elstree, Ridge, Shenley and Totteridge would also have birth certificates showing that they were born in “Barnet in the County of Middlesex”.

Absurd certainly, but no more absurd than showing South Mimms, Monken Hadley, Finchley and Friern Barnet as “Barnet in the County of Hertfordshire”. It is, nevertheless, marginally more absurd, at least after 1939, inasmuch as form that date Potters Bar (and South Mimms) was transferred to the Registration district of Edmonton – Middlesex and Finchley and Friern Barnet to the registration district of Hendon – Middlesex thus leaving Monken Hadley in the registration district of “Barnet – Middlesex” and also Chipping Barnet, East Barnet, New Barnet, Elstree, Ridge, Shenley and Totteridge still in “Barnet – Middlesex” as well.

All of which clearly demonstrates that administrative bureaucracy does whatever suits its own inscrutable purpose and pays no heed whatsoever to geographical logic or reality and no heed either to whether their lunacy creates widespread confusion and misunderstanding and very definitely no heed to such trivialities as the history, heritage, identity and loyalty of the people they govern.

From 1946 to 1965 Barnet registration district was, once again, assigned to the “registration county of Hertfordshire” which was. almost, correct apart from the incorrect retention of Monken Hadley but, as Monken Hadley had been transferred to the administration of Hertfordshire county Council in 1889 and was, therefore, incorrectly perceived to be part of the “County of Hertfordshire”, there was no way that it was going to be included in the correct “registration county” either. At least Potters Bar and South Mimms were, for a short period at least, back where they properly belonged for civil registration purposes and the children born in those places, such as myself, got birth certificates with their true county name on them.

Even though Potters Bar was back in Middlesex for civil registration purposes from 1939 to 1965, it was still not very clear where anyone was actually born. From 1939 to 1946 Potters Bar was in the Edmonton registration district so a birth certificate would show “Registration District – Edmonton in the County of Middlesex” but, from 1947 to 1965 Potters Bar was transferred to the registration district of Wood Green so birth certificates for that period showed “Registration District – Wood Green in the County of Middlesex”. Just to make things even more confusing, if that were possible, registration districts were divided into sub-districts and so children born in Potters Bar between 1947 and 1965 would have birth certificates showing “Registration District – Wood Green in the County of Middlesex – sub – district of Southgate”.

So all very confusing and not very geographically accurate and very unhelpful for the family historian (or any other kind of historian) unless one knows about the intricacies of civil parishes, registration districts and geographical parish and county boundaries which they cannot possibly be expected to understand. This is why a geographically accurate postal address is so important as that is the only way to know where somebody actually lives but, because the Post Office has its own geographically inaccurate “postal counties’ postal addresses also do not always reflect the correct geographical county any better than any other bureaucratic institution whose only consideration is their own administrative” convenience (?)”.

Therefore, unless one has an actual address and also knows in which actual geographical county (as opposed to the fictitious “postal county”) that address is located, there cannot be absolute certainty of the accuracy of any information concerning as to where anyone was actually born, lived or died. As correctly as possible, therefore, the notable people connected with South Mimms and Potters Bar are as follows;-

Amanda Abbington

b. 28/2/1974 in “London”. Lives in Potters Bar. Actress.

Sergeant Keith Deamer “Tex” Banwell BEM

b. 8/10/1917 Newport, Essex – d. Sep. qtr. 1999 Enfield reg. dist. Middlesex.

His father went to Australia on 1920 and served with the Australian Imperial Force. Keith returned to England in 1936 and joined the Coldstream Guards. later transferring to the Hampshire Regt. and

served in India where he fought the Pathans on the North West Frontier. He also served in Palestine and Egypt as a temporary physical training instructor where he was given the nickname “Tex”. (reason not explained).                                

On the outbreak of WWII he volunteered for special service and joined 52 Middle East Commando and then the Long Range Desert Group. He was captured during a raid on Tobruk but he and a friend stole a German truck and escaped back to the British lines. He was captured a second time on an operation on Crete but escaped again with some friends stealing a fishing boat which ran out of fuel and they drifted for nine days before reaching the North African coast.                                               

Banwell spent three months in hospital suffering from exposure and sun stroke and, whilst there, his similarity to Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery was noticed. He then spent some time being driven around in a staff car in the uniform of a Field Marshall impersonating Montgomery to confuse the Germans. Banwell was not, however, the first person to impersonate General Montgomery a previous and more famous impersonation of the General was by another soldier M.E. Clifton-James in 1940 and the 1958 film “I was Monty’s double” was based on this episode.

Keith Banwell was a “man of action” and soon got bored with his role as General Montgomery and requested a transfer to something more exiting and more useful. He joined the 10th Bn. of the 4th Parachute Brigade and was part of “Operation Market Garden” the landing at Arnhem, Netherlands, to attempt to capture the bridge across the River Rhine. Whilst standing at the door of the aircraft over Arnhem waiting to jump his plane was repeatedly hit by enemy fire and the port engine was wrecked and then the starboard engine burst into flames. Then the plane was hit by enemy fire again and six paratroopers inside the plane

were killed. The pilot tried to control the plane but had now descended to 500 feet and Banwell gave the order to abandon the aircraft and he jumped out followed by the rest of his platoon.               

Whilst on a patrol to search for food Banwell was shot in the right hand taking off the tops of two fingers. The following day Banwell was informed of the British intention to withdraw from Arnhem but during the withdrawal Banwell and another man got separated from their unit and failed to make the assembly point to cross the Rhine and so they attempted to swim the river but decided the current was too strong and returned to the eastern bank which would soon be occupied by the Germans.                                   

The following morning whilst searching for food Banwell was captured for the third time and sent to a temporary P.O.W. compound outside of Arnhem. That evening Banwell was put in cattle truck with other prisoners to be sent to another P.O.W. camp. On the journey Banwell, Staff Sergeant Alan Ketley of the Glider Pilot Regt. and a Canadian officer Lt. Leo Heaps of the 21st Bn, the Parachute Regt., escaped from the train by cutting the glass and wire in a porthole of the truck with a pair of nail clippers and climbing through it.                              

They found a farmhouse and, after ten days having hardly eaten anything were given their first proper meal. They were introduced to four members of the Dutch Resistance. The Dutchmen had a Bren gun that had been dropped by the R.A.F. but did not know how to strip it and re-assemble it and they asked Banwell if he could postpone his escape in order to teach them how to use the weapon. The following day Banwell took part in an ambush on a German convoy.

Sgt. Banwell killed most of the Germans in the first two vehicles with the Bren gun and they captured a wounded German officer who had an envelope with him marked top secret (the contents have not been disclosed). They discussed shooting the wounded German but eventually he was reprieved and put in a wheelbarrow and left near a German army post.

After this the Germans set fire to several local buildings and executed seven Dutchmen and sent 590 others to concentration camps of whom only 44 survived. Banwell had been hiding in the cellar of

one of the burnt buildings and nearly died from smoke inhalation. He again contacted the Resistance and took part in several more operations with them. By 21st November Banwell was hiding in a brickyard with an American airman. It was bitterly cold and the snow would give them away if they attempted to move so they stayed where they were under Banwell’s one blanket that he had with him.

Eventually an S.S. patrol searched the brickyard and the American stood up and said “I’m an American don’t shoot” whereupon he was gunned down by a machine gun and left to die in the snow. Banwell was not harmed but, instead, marched to Velp for interrogation even though he was so frozen he could barely move. When he was stripped it was noticed that he had clean underwear on and, therefore, had not been living rough and must have been sheltered by the Resistance

whereupon he was handed over to the Gestapo. The Gestapo had a remarkably accurate dossier of Banwell’s military career and took him to Berlin for repeated interrogations.

Banwell refused to give the names of the members of the Dutch Resistance he had been in contact with and twice was put against the wall in front of a firing squad but still refused to divulge any

information. He spent the next four months in Auschwitz concentration camp in a six foot square cage on a starvation diet until finally being released by the Red Army in March 1945 having lost half his normal body weight.

After the war Banwell re-joined the Parachute Regiment when it was re-formed as a Territorial Army init in 1947 and continued parachuting as a hobby making his 1001st and final jump over

Arnhem in 1994 for the 50th anniversary when he was 77. Banwell was extremely fit and competed in cross country running, canoe racing and was a black belt judo champion. In 1959 he competed in, and won, a charity march from Birmingham to London in 30 hours and, on another occasion, he marched for charity in full army kit from John O’ Groats to Lands End.

He was awarded the B.E.M. in 1969 and the Dutch Resistance Memorial Cross in 1982 and his wartime experiences are recounted in the 1977 book “The grey goose of Arnhem” by Leo Heaps, the Canadian officer he escaped with in 1944.

Keith Deamer Banwell lived in Rushfield, Potters Bar, Middlesex from 1948 until at least 1965 and, possibly, until his death in 1999.

Bernard Stanley “Acker” Bilk

b. 28/1/1929 Pensford, Somerset d. 2/11/2014 Bath, Somerset.

Lived in The Avenue, Potters Bar from the 1950s to the 1970s. Traditional Jazz clarinettist (Stranger on the shore), vocalist and bandleader.

Basil John Blackett

b. 23/6/1886 Potters Bar, Middlesex (Barnet reg. dist.) – d. 22/4/1927 Pinner, Middlesex.

WWI flying ace. He was educated at Eton College and joined the 2nd Bucks. (Eton College) Volunteer Rifle Corps attached to the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry rising from Private to Colour Sergeant. In 1907 he joined the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps and, in 1909, he was transferred to the Ceylon Mounted Rifles. By the outbreak of WWI Blackett was working in

Australia as a racehorse trainer and jockey and on 11th August he volunteered with the Australian Imperial Force.

On 19th August he sailed with the Australian Naval & Military expeditionary Force for the occupation of German New Guinea. He served at Gallipoli and was wounded in the right knee.

On 22nd March 1917 Blackett was selected for training as an air gunner with the Australian Flying Corps and, on 25th June, was posted to 25 Squadron Royal Flying Corps as an observer/gunner and he is credited with shooting down five enemy aircraft. In July 1918 Blackett was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre by the King of the Belgians.

Blackett was also a keen cricketer and played for the Middlesex 2nd XI  in 1903 and for Eton College  1904 – 05 and he was a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, St. John’s Wood, Middlesex and played  numerous matches for them between 1906 and 1926.

Philip Scott Burge MC, MM

b. 29/3/1895 Potters Bar, Middlesex (Barnet reg. dist.) – d. 24/7/1918 west of Seclin, France.

WWI fighter pilot and flying ace. He won the Military Medal whilst fighting in the infantry in France and was commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 bringing down a total of eight enemy aircraft solo plus three shared victories with another pilot. On 24th July 1918 Burge was killed when his plane was set on fire by enemy action. He is buried in Dud corner Cemetery, Loos, Pas-de-Calais, France. On 16th September 1918 he was posthumously awarded the Military Cross.

Bernard Joseph Butler

b. 1/5/1970 Stoke Newington, Middlesex. Is, or was, a Potters Bar resident.

Song writer, record producer and guitarist with “Suede”.

Admiral John Byng

bp. 29/10/1704 Southill, Bedfordshire – d. 14/3/1757 Portsmouth, Hants.

Rear Admiral R.N. in 1745 Vice Admiral in 1747 and full Admiral on 1st June 1756.

It was John Byng who established the family seat on Potters Bar. He frequently travelled on the Great North Road from London to his family home in Southill, Bedfordshire and took a liking to an estate known as “Strangeways” but formerly as “Pinchbank” (and first recorded in Middlesex

in 1310) which was situated just north of Barnet, in the parish of South Mimms in the County of Middlesex. Byng decided that he wanted buy the property and to re-build the house “Strangeways” that stood there. In 1754 he commissioned Isaac Ware to build a new mansion in the Palladian style which he named Wrotham Park after his family estate in Wrotham in Kent. It is not known when the new house was completed and it is uncertain whether Admiral Byng ever actually lived in it but, if he did, it could not have been for little more than a year as he was a sea in 1756 in command of the Channel Fleet.

In early 1756 Byng was with the Channel Fleet but was ordered to sail to the Mediterranean to relieve the garrison at Fort St. Philip, Port Mahon on Menorca which was under attack from the French. He protested to the Admiralty that he had not sufficient time to organise and equip the expedition properly and that his force was insufficient for the task but to no avail. After five days delay at Portsmouth necessary to assemble crews for all his ships Byng was able to set sail. By the time he arrived off of Menorca the French had already landed 15,000 troops on the island and Fort St. Philip was under siege and, before he could attempt to land any troops from his fleet, the French Squadron appeared.

The following morning (20th May) Byng’s fleet engaged the French Squadron but after badly damaging two of Byng’s ships the French withdrew. Byng, with the backing of his fellow officers, decided that it would be futile to attempt to land his troops and considered it would be better to return at a later date with a larger force capable of re-capturing the island. Byng returned to Gibraltar to repair his damaged vessels and to reinforce his fleet with four additional ships but, before he could set sail a ship arrived from England with a despatch relieving Byng of his command and ordering him back to England.

Admiral Byng was court-martialled at Portsmouth and found guilty of not doing his utmost to relieve the Menorca garrison for which the mandatory sentence was death. Nevertheless the jury made a unanimous appeal for clemency and the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Elder, also petitioned the King for clemency, all of which the King refused. and Admiral Byng was shot

on board of H.M.S. Monarch in Portsmouth harbour on 14th March 1757.

The epitaph on his tomb in Southill church, Beds. reads:-

To the perpetual Disgrace of PUBLICK JUSTICE The Honble. JOHN BYNG Esqr Admiral of the Blue Fell a MARTYR to POLITICAL PERSECUTION March 14th in the year 1757 when BRAVERY and LOYALTY were Insufficient Securities For the Life and Honour of a NAVAL OFFICER

The Admiralty, naturally, escaped any culpability in the matter and Admiral George Byng was their scapegoat in this utterly shameful episode in British naval history,

George Byng

b. 1735 – d. 27/10/1789.

A nephew of Admiral George Byng who inherited Wrotham Park at Potters Bar, Middlesex after the execution of his uncle who was unmarried and had no heir. He was M.P. for Middlesex from 1780 – 84.

George Byng

b. 17/5/1764 – d. 10/1/1847 Wrotham Park, Potters Bar, Middlesex

Son of George Byng (1735 – 89). He inherited Wrotham Park in Potters Bar, Middlesex on the death of his father in 1789. He was Whig M.P. for Middlesex for 57 years from 1790 until his death in 1847. He was also a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex and Deputy Lieutenant for Middlesex (dates unknown).

Field Marshall John Byng, First Earl of Strafford (the third creation of the title)

b. 1772 at Berkeley Square, St. George Hanover Square, Middlesex.

d. 3/6/1860 Grosvenor Square, St. George Hanover Square, Middlesex

John Byng was the younger brother of George Byng 1764 – 1847) who had no heirs and so John inherited the estate at Wrotham Park at Potters Bar, Middlesex.

He commanded a brigade at the Battle of Vittoria in Spain 21st June 1813 during the Peninsular War and he commanded the Guards Brigade at the Battle of Quatre Bras 16th June 1815 and at the Battle of Waterloo 18th 18th June 1815. He was promoted to Field Marshall on 2nd October 1855.

He was created Baron Strafford of Harmondsworth in the County of Middlesex on 8th May 1836 and Viscount Enfield in the County of Middlesex and 1st Earl of Strafford (third creation) on 28th August 1847.

George Stevens Byng, 2nd Earl of Strafford and Viscount Enfield in the County of Middlesex

b. 8/6/1806 – d. 29/10/1886 Wrotham Park, Potters Bar, Middlesex.

Eldest son of Field Marshall John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford (1772 – 1860)

He inherited Wrotham Park at Potters Bar, Middlesex on his father’s death in 1860.

He was a Politician who represented several seats between 1830 and 1852 and then summoned to the House of Lords. He was Comptroller of the (Royal) Household 1835 – 41 and Treasurer of the (Royal) Household from June to August 1841. He was also Joint Secretary to the Board of Control (the government office responsible for overseeing the British East India Company) 1846 – 47.

George Byng, 3rd Earl of Strafford and Viscount Enfield in the County of Middlesex

b. 22/2/1830 – d. 28/3/1898 St. James’s Square, Westminster, Middlesex.

Eldest son of George Byng 2nd Earl of Strafford (1806 – 1866).

He inherited Wrotham Park at Potters Bar, Middlesex on his father’s death in 1886. He was elected M.P. for Tavistock, Devonshire in 18532 and for Middlesex in 1857. He served with the Middlesex Militia and was Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex 1884 – 1888 and was the first President of the Middlesex County Cricket Club 1866 – 76 and, again between 1877 – 98.

Henry Byng, 4th Earl of Strafford and Viscount Enfield in the County of Middlesex.

b.21/8/1831 “London” – d. 16/5/1899 after being hit by a train and decapitated at Potters Bar railway station, Middlesex. Apparently he suffered from catalepsy and the Coroner’s Court returned a verdict of death by misadventure rather than suicide. Quite how he managed to walk down the

slope of the platform and then into the path of the oncoming train is a mystery unless he had “somnambular catalepsy” and was also stone deaf!!!

He was the second son of George Byng, 2nd Earl of Strafford (1806 – 86) and younger brother of George Byng, 3rd Earl of Strafford (1830 – 98). His brother had no heirs so Henry inherited his title in 1898.

Francis Edmund Cecil Byng, 5th Earl of Strafford & Viscount Enfield in the County of Middlesex.

b. 15/1/1835 – d. 18/1/1918 Wrotham Park, Potters Bar, Middlesex.

He was the third son of George Byng, 2nd Earl of Strafford and younger brother of George and Henry, 3rd and 4th Earls of Strafford. He inherited Henry’s title in 1899 as Henry had no heirs.

Francis took Holy Orders and became Rector of Little Casterton in Rutland 1859 – 62 and Chaplain at Hampton Court, Middlesex 1862 – 67. He was appointed Honorary Chaplain to Queen Victoria in 1867 and Chaplain-in-Ordinary (part of the Royal Household) in 1872. He was also Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons 1874 – 1889.

Edmund Henry Byng, 6th Earl of Strafford and Viscount Enfield in the County of Middlesex.

b. 27/1/1862 Stamford, Lincs. – d. 24/12/1951 Wrotham Park, Potters Bar, Middlesex.

He was the second son of Francis Byng, 5th Earl of Strafford from his first marriage to Florence Louisa Miles. His elder brother Arthur died in childhood and so Edmund inherited the title of Earl of Strafford. He was a County Alderman for both Middlesex and Hertfordshire.

Upon his death in 1951 he was succeeded in his title, but not his estates, by his nephew Robert Cecil Byng as 7th Earl of Strafford and Viscount Enfield in the County of Middlesex. His estate of Wrotham Park at Potters Bar, Middlesex was bequeathed to his eldest daughter Lady (Florence) Elizabeth Alice Byng.

She married one Michael William M. Lafone from Kenya in 1928 and they had a son, Julian Michael Edmund Lafone n 1928. Lady Elizabeth divorced her husband in 1931 and reverted to her maiden name of Byng and continued to live at Wrotham Park. In 1951 Julian Lafone also changed his name by deed poll to his Matronymic name of Byng and attempted to evict his mother

from Wrotham Park. After a lawsuit Julian Lafone (now Byng) inherited Wrotham Park but quite how he managed this is not explained or possible to comprehend. Lady Byng was moved to Bridgefoot House, another residence owned by the Byng family in Bridgefoot Lane near Dugdale Hill, Potters bar Middlesex.

Lady Florence Elizabeth Alice Byng died at Potters Bar, Middlesex on 14th January 1987 probably at Bridgefoot House, Bridgefoot Lane, Potters Bar, Middlesex. Michael William Lafone died in 1966 at Marylebone, Middlesex.                                    

Julian Michael Edmund Byng (formerly Lafone)

b. 20/10/1928 St. Martin-in -the-Fields, Middlesex.

He acquired Wrotham Park, Potters Bar, Middlesex from his mother, Lady Florence Elizabeth Alice Byng (formerly m. Lafone) – see Edmund Henry Byng (above).                                            

Julian Michael Edward Byng married Eva Finola Wellesley-Wesley on 28th October 1960 in Wood Green reg. dist, Middlesex so, in Potters Bar, Middlesex as Potters Bar at that time was in Wood Green reg. dist.).

Robert Michael Julian Wentworth Byng

b. 30/7/1962 Marylebone, Middlesex.

He is the current owner and occupier of Wrotham Park at Potters Bar, Middlesex but, as his father Julian Byng seems to be still alive (as at July 2019), it is uncertain how he came to be so.

Ivo Francis Byng

b. 20/7/1874 Kensington, Middlesex – d. 11/6/1949 Wrotham Park, Potters Bar, Middlesex.

He was the son of the Rev. Francis Edmund Cecil Byng, 5th Earl of Strafford from his second marriage to Emily Georgina Kerr.

Field Marshall Julian Hedworth George Byng, 1st Viscount Byng of Vimy GCB, GCMB, MVO

b. 11/9/1862 Wrotham Park, Potters Bar, Middlesex – d. 6/6/1935 Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex.

His father, George Stevens Byng, 2nd earl of Strafford, did not think that he could afford a regular army commission for his youngest son (he was the seventh son and thirteenth youngest child) so, in 1979, Julian was sent to join the militia instead and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Middlesex Militia (The Edmonton Royal Rifle Regiment).

In 1822, at a meeting of the Jockey Club, Byng’s father was asked about his sons by his friend Albert Edward, Prince of Wales. Upon hearing that Julian had not yet found a permanent career, the Prince offered him a place in his own regiment, the 10th Royal Hussars. This was the most expensive regiment in the British Army and the Earl of Strafford could only afford to give his son

£200 of the necessary £600 annual allowance he would need to be an officer in the regiment.

Julian himself managed to find the necessary funds by buying polo ponies cheaply and by using his excellent horsemanship, train them and then sell them at a profit and, less than three months later, he joined the regiment in Lucknow, India.

In 1884 the regiment was returning to England from India when it was diverted to the Sudan where, at the Battle of Tamai on 13th March, Byng’s horse was killed under him. Byng himself was mentioned in despatches for his service in the campaign.

Byng served with the British Expeditionary Force in France and at Gallipoli. Commander of the Canadian Corps at Vimy Ridge, Vimy, Pas-de-Calias, France and, from June 1917, Commander of the British Third Army. On 17th October 1919 Byng was elevated to the Peerage as Baron Byng of Vimy of Thorpe-le-Soken in the County of Essex. He served as Governor General of Canada from 2/8/1921 to 5/8/1926. In January 1928 Byng was created Viscount Byng of Vimy of Thorpe-le-Soken in the County of Essex.

Martin John Freeman

b. 8/9/1971 Aldershot, Hampshire. Former Potters Bar resident & former husband of Amanda Abbington. Martin Freeman is an actor.

Thomas Law

b. 17/12/1992 Potters Bar, Middlesex.

Television actor (Peter Beale – Eastenders).

Terry Lightfoot

b. 21/5/1935 Potters Bar, Middlesex (Barnet reg. dist.) – d. 15/3/2013 Milton Keynes, Bucks.

Traditional Jazz clarinettist and bandleader.

Thomas Meehan

b. 21/3/1826 Potters Bar, Middlesex – d. 19/11/1901 Germanstown, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Nurseryman, botanist and author. He worked at Kew Gardens 1846 – 48 when he emigrated to Pennsylvania where his botanical career literally flourished.

Thomas George Pett

b. 3/12/1991 Potters Bar, Middlesex.

Professional footballer Potters Bar Town (Middlesex) Youth 2003 – 09 senior 2009 – 2012, Wealdstone (Middlesex) 2012 – 14, Stevenage 2014 – 18 and Lincoln City 2018. England C team 2013.

Elizabeth Marian “Dolly” Shepherd

b. 19/11/1886 Potters Bar, Middlesex (Barnet reg. dist.) -d. Sept. qtr. 1983. Eastbourne, Sussex.

Born in Barnet Road, Potters Bar, Middlesex.

Parachutist (from hot air balloons) and fairground entertainer. Holder of the Guinness World Record for the first mid-air rescue on 9th June 1908 when the parachute of another girl who jumped with her failed to open and she had to grab hold of Dolly and wrap her arms and legs around her and they descended on one parachute. Because of the additional weight the descent was too rapid and Dolly was injured on landing and paralysed. Dolly spent weeks in hospital where she was given electric shock treatment. On one occasion the doctor accidentally gave Dolly a stronger shock than he intended which jolted Dolly out of her bed and onto the floor. amazingly the extra powerful jolt realigned the vertebrae in Dolly’s back after which Dolly returned to her career as a parachutist.

Dolly had been scheduled to make a jump at Coventry on 9th July 1910 but, for some reason, was replaced by another girl, Edith Maud Cook. A freak gust of wind made Edith’s parachute collapse

and she was blown onto a factory roof and she died from her injuries. Later, Dolly herself had a lucky escape from death when she was descending near Grantham, Lincs. and almost landed on a steam train but the driver had the forethought to blow steam from the funnel and it blew Dolly into the adjacent canal. On another occasion Dolly’s parachute failed to detach itself from the hot air balloon and she drifter, hanging to the parachute frame, for six hours whilst the balloon ascended higher and higher until eventually descending back to earth by itself. There were, of course, no breathing aids in those days.

During WWI Dolly Shepherd was a driver and mechanic with the Women’s Army Auxilliary Corps both in Britain and in France. She became the driver to an army officer Percy Sedgwick whom she married in 1919.

It should be noted that the parachutes used by Dolly Shepherd and others at that period had no harnesses and merely consisted of a triangular bar which the parachutist held onto and a sling beneath the legs to take the weight of one’s body. As the parachute was limp it took a free-fall drop of some 250 feet before opening. The courage required to do that is hard to contemplate.

There is a mural in tribute to Dolly Shepherd at Alexandra Palace, Wood Green, Middlesex where she had once been a waitress and also performed several parachute jumps. Her story is told in the

1996 book “When the chute went up” by Peter Hearn and Molly Sedgwick (Dolly’s daughter).

N.B. There is no memorial of any kind to Dolly Shepherd in Potters Bar, not even a plaque on the house in Barnet Road where she was born. In fact, there are no memorials of any kind in Potters Bar or South Mimms to ANY of their notable residents at all. This is just further demonstration, if any were needed, not only the total lack of recognition by those that govern Potters Bar for their true County history and identity but, a total disinterest in commemorating the remarkable achievements and, in several cases, considerable courage and sacrifice for their country, of the several noteworthy men and women who were born in, or who lived in, Potters Bar and South Mimms. Such contempt and callousness is utterly DEPLORABLE!

Storm Elvin. Thorgerson 

b. 28/2/1944 Potters Bar. Middlesex – d. “London” 18/4/2013

Graphic designer who designed many classic records covers including Pink Floyd’s “Dark side of the moon”.

Richmond Makepeace Thackery

b. 1/9/1781 in South Mimms

Secretary of the Board of Revenue of the British East India Company in Calcutta where he died from a fever on 13/9/1816. He was the grandson of Thomas Thackery (1693 – 1760) a clergyman who was Headmaster of Harrow School, Middlesex from 1746 – 1760 and he was the father of the

novelist and poet William Makepeace Thackery (18/7/1811 – 24/12/1863).

William Tinsley

b. 13/7/1831 South Mimms, Middlesex – d. 1/5/1902.

Publisher of many of the leading novelists of the time, He died at his home in Wood Green, Middlesex. It is not certain that he actually lived in Wood Green or whether it was actually Potters Bar and the death was merely registered in Wood green registration district in which Potters Bar was included at that time.

Barnet – Mimms Side (or South Mimms – Barnet Side)

The south east corner of the parish of South Mimms really commenced after 1828 when the new road from Barnet to St. Albans was constructed by Thomas Telford. The first section from Barnet High Street to South Mimms village was completed in 1828 and cut right through the centre of South Mimms village to join the old St. Albans Road (Black Horse Lane) at Ridge Hill. This new road by-passed the old route to South Mimms along Kitt’s End Lane , Dancers Hill Lane and Wash Lane and then Greyhound Lane into South Mimms village.

Soon after the construction of this new road the part of South Mimms parish (Middlesex) adjacent to Chipping Barnet parish (Hertfordshire) began to develop into a residential area and, in 1845 (completed 1852), a chapel of Ease to St Giles South Mymms, Christ Church – Barnet, was constructed in the new St. Albans Road and also a village school next to the church.

The new urban development of this part of South Mimms parish became known as Barnet – Mimms Side or occasionally, South Mimms – Barnet Side. Union Street (formerly Hart’s Horn Lane) was laid out in 1835 (most of it being in South Mimms parish as the parish and county boundary ran, and still runs, from the Post Office yard in Barnet High Street and crosses Union Street about half way along towards the northern edge of Ravenscroft Park hence the name “Union Street” marking the union of the two parishes and the two counties). By C.1855 houses (or, rather. cottages) had been built on both sides of the St. Albans Road as far as Christ Church. By 1864 Staplyton Road, Alston Road (formerly Dearman’s Lane) and The Avenue (also formerly Dearman’s Lane) had been laid out and by 1897, Strafford Road (named after the Earls of Strafford whose seat was at Wrotham Park), Carnarvon Road and Salisbury Road (after Lord Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury who was Lord of the Manor of South Mimms at the time and also Prime Minister), The Drive, Calvert Road, Sebright Road, Ravenscroft Park and Marriott Road had all been laid out and, by that date, the number of houses in Barnet – Mimms Side were almost four times the number in South Mimms village itself.

The first step to the future appropriation of South Mimms parish by Hertfordshire came in 1863 when the Barnet Local Government District was formed. It was established under the 1858 Public Health Act and managed by a Local Board of Health and was intended to make local public health administration more efficient. It covered the more urbanised part of Chipping Barnet parish (Herts.) but also included the urbanised parts of Monken Hadley parish (Hadley) and South Mimms parish (Mimms Side) both in Middlesex. These areas were not removed from their parishes and the L.G.D.

was merely a co-operative arrangement between parishes and, like the Poor Law Unions, transcended county boundaries but did not affect those boundaries.

Under the Public Health Act of 1875 the Local Government Districts were re-constituted as Urban Sanitary Districts. They were the same areas as the earlier Local Government Districts but were given more public health responsibilities such as the provision of clean water, sewage disposal, street cleaning and slum housing clearance and were governed by a Sanitary Authority. The same Act also created Rural Sanitary Districts which comprised the same area as the Poor Law Union but minus the area of the Urban Sanitary District. The Barnet Rural Sanitary District comprised the major part of Chipping Barnet parish that was not part of the Barnet U.S.D., and the parishes of Ridge, Shenley, Elstree and Totteridge in Hertfordshire and the major part of South Mimms parish that was not part of the Barnet U.S.D and the parishes of Finchley and Friern Barnet (until 1884 when it formed its own U.S.D.) in Middlesex.

In 1894 the Local Government Act of that year did away with the voluntary associations of local boards and districts and created new local government areas with elected councils. The Urban Sanitary Districts became Urban Districts and the Rural Sanitary Districts became Rural Districts.

It was under this Act, as well as the 1888 Local Government Act, that civil parishes could be transferred to the administration of another local government area and another local government administrative county. Hence the ecclesiastical parish of Christ Church Barnet was created a civil parish – South Mimms Urban and transferred to Barnet Urban District and also to Hertfordshire County Council. Hadley, the part of Monken Hadley parish in Barnet Urban Sanitary District was also created a civil parish and also transferred to Barnet Urban District and Herts. County Council at the same time. The remainder of the civil parish of Monken Hadley had already been transferred to East Barnet Valley Urban Sanitary District and Herts County Council in 1889 so there was no need for anything further to be done to sever (administratively) Monken Hadley from Middlesex.

1896 saw the transfer of a further, much larger, chunk of South Mimms parish to the civil parish of South Mimms Urban and, thus, to Barnet Urban District and to Herts County Council. This was the last piece of land grabbing by Herts County Council and by Barnet Urban District Council for nearly 70 years until 1965 when Herts. County Council finally got its hands (administratively) on the rest of South Mimms parish but lost Barnet, East Barnet and Totteridge in the process which went to join the G.L.C. Poetic Justice one might say! It would certainly have been a real tragedy if Herts. County Council had gained the whole of South Mimms and Monken Hadley and also retained Chipping Barnet, East Barnet and Totteridge.

Nevertheless some misguided Hertfordshire fanatics still want to be greedy and claim both South Mimms/Potters Bar AND Barnet as well as parts of their gross distortion of “Hertfordshire! In several books on what they choose to call “Hertfordshire” both Barnet AND Potters Bar are included without the slightest hint of inconsistency by the authors. One particularly guilty party, who refuses to acknowledge, not only his inconsistency but also his utter his stupidity, is the ex-B.B.C newsreader Richard Whitmore who includes Photographs of both Potters Bar and Monken Hadley in his 1985 book “Victorian and Edwardian Hertfordshire from old photographs”.

As it was pointed out to him at the time, even if he likes to believe that Potters Bar is now in “Hertfordshire”, it most certainly was NOT in Victorian and Edwardian times and, if he does wish to claim Potters Bar as “Hertfordshire” territory on the basis of the 1965 administrative transfer he cannot also claim Barnet, East Barnet and Totteridge to still be in Hertfordshire as they were administratively transferred to the G.L.C. in 1965. He can’t have it both ways and simple logic dictates that one automatically excludes the other. Even when this absurd irrationality was pointed out to him he refused to admit anything wrong with his serious misperception of history and geography and steadfastly attempted to defend his completely untenable position and the fact that HIS idea of the county of “Hertfordshire” which he purports to support and promote is neither the real geographical county nor is it the real post 1888 administrative one so, whichever one he was supposedly writing about in his book, he was most definitely and unforgivably WRONG!!!

Unfortunately Mr. Whitmore is not the only writer on “Hertfordshire” guilty of such ridiculous dichotomy and, sadly, there are quite a few others.

On 22nd January 1870 the Freemasonic Provincial Grand Chapter of Middlesex was consecrated at the Clarence Hotel in Teddington, Middlesex. On 7th May 1870 the very first lodge of the new Province of Middlesex; “Acacia Lodge (1309)”, was consecrated at the Sebright Arms Tavern, Alston Road, South Mimms, West Barnet, Middlesex. In 1871 the Lodge moved to the Railway Hotel by the station, Darkes Lane, Potters Bar, Middlesex. Very sadly, and totally unfathomably, today’s Freemasons from Potters Bar and South Mimms have rather a long journey to Lodge meetings as the “Potters Bar” Lodge meets in Radlett and the Mimmine Lodge, supposedly representing residents of Potters Bar, Barnet, Little Heath, North Mymms and South Mimms meets in St. Albans.

The Potters Bar (Railway) Hotel might have been demolished but, surely, there must be somewhere else more local than Radlett and St. Albans to hold their meetings??? Possibly, as they are both affiliated to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Hertfordshire, they, or the Provincial Grand Lodge itself, insists that they should actually meet WITHIN the County of Hertfordshire!!!

During the 1850s a Militia barracks was built in Barnet, Mimms Side along Stapyleton Road between Salisbury Road and Bruce Road, and the site of the present Spires shopping Centre. The address was 14, Union Street which is the building immediately to the left of the entrance to the yard of the Victoria Bakery. It is not actually on the barracks site so must have been some sort of office or Headquarters belonging to the barracks. Between 1859 and 1880 the 12th Middlesex (Barnet and Hadley) Rifle Volunteer Corps (formed by Mr. Wilbraham Taylor of Hadley Hurst) drilled at the barracks. From 1876 to 1881 the 2nd Middlesex Militia was based at the barracks and in 1902, F. Co. of the 1st Volunteer Bn., The Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regt. was based there.

In 1914 the 7th Bn. Royal East Middlesex Militia and also the Army Service Corps – Middlesex Brigade Co. Divisional Transport & Supply Column was based there. The only remnant of the militia barracks now is the alley way between 99 & 103 High Street which is still called Barracks Lane that used to lead to the barracks.

The early days of Barnet Football Club have strong connections to Barnet Mimms Side and to Middlesex.

The first Barnet F.C. was known as Woodville F.C. formed by ex-scholars of Cowley College (somewhere in New Barnet, Herts.) and Lyonsdown Collegiate School (New Barnet, Herts.) in 1882. The name “Woodville” presumably comes from Woodville Road which is in Monken Hadley parish, Middlesex which is, presumably, where they played their matches. In 1885 Woodville F.C. changed its name to New Barnet F.C. and, in 1888, to Barnet F.C. In 1889 they moved from Woodville Road to Ravesncroft Park in Queen’s Road, Barnet Mimms Side. They were inaugural members of the North London League in which they played in the 1892-93 season but joined the North Middlesex League Division II and were runners-up in the 1894-95 season, and runners-up in the Division I in the 1895-96 season and champions in the Premier Division in the 1896-97 season.

They were then promoted to the London League Division II and were champions in the 1897-98 season being promoted to Division I. The club was wound up in the 1901-02 season.

Two other clubs formed in Barnet Mimms Side were Barnet Avenue F.C. formed in 1890 and taking their name from The Avenue (formerly Dearman’s Lane). Barnet Avenue F.C. played their games on Hadley Common before moving to Queen’s Road. Barnet Avenue F.C. changed their name to Barnet F.C. in 1904. The other team was Alston Works A.F.C. formed in 1901 by workers at Alston Road (formerly Dearman’s Lane) Works (which made dental equipment and gave them the nickname “the dentals”). Alston Works F.C. later changed their name to Barnet Alston F.C. and their club strip was amber and black which was adopted by the modern Barnet F.C. In 1907 Barnet Alston F.C. moved to a new ground in Barnet Lane, Barnet Underhill, Herts. In 1912 Barnet Alston F.C., merged with Barnet F.C. (formerly Barnet Avenue) taking the name Barnet and Alston A.F.C. It was after WWI that they finally adopted their current name of Barnet F.C.

So, although by 1912 both components of the modern Barnet F.C. were definitely a Hertfordshire club; their origins were very much in the parish of South Mimms in the county of Middlesex. It should also be noted that, even after twenty years in Hertfordshire, those origins had not been forgotten and they played in, and won, the Middlesex Senior Cup in both 1932 and 1933. It is quite ironic that, after 106 years at Underhill. Barnet F.C have, since 2013, returned to Middlesex because Barnet Council refused to allow them to enlarge their facilities at Underhill and they were finally forced to leave and move to a new stadium, The Hive, in Cannons Park, Little Stanmore, Middlesex. So they are no longer a Hertfordshire Club and, sadly, are no longer based in Barnet, neither the Middlesex part, nor the Hertfordshire part either.


There has long been debate over the correct spelling of Mimms/Mymms and, possibly, this article can finally resolve the problem.

The spelling with a ‘Y’ would seem to be the earliest form because the ‘Y’ looks more archaic but this is not, in fact, the case. The earliest mention of South Mimms is in Domesday Book (1086) as “MIMES” (without South) and North Mimms as “MIMMINE” (without North). South Mimms is recorded as “MIMMES” in 1211 and as “SUTHMIMES” in 1253. It is only in 1312 that the ‘Y’ first appears as “MYMMES” and, in 1423 as “SOUTH MYMIS”. In 1560 it is “SOUTHMYN(e)S” and, in 1610, on the John Speed map, as “SOUTH MYMBES”.

North Mymme/Mimms seems to have acted in a contrary manor to South Mimms/Mymms as, in 1427 it is recorded as “NORTHMYMES”, 1429 as “NORTHMYMMES” 1437 as “NORTMYMYS”. 1526 as “NORTHMYMES”, 1523 as “NORTH MYMS” but, between 1676 and 1808, it appears consistently on maps as “NORTH MIMS” and, between 1822 and 1870, also on maps, as “NORTH MIMMS”. A 1757 Act of Parliament has it as “NORTH MIMS” and the parish boundary stones are also inscribed “NORTH MIMS”. IN 1787 an Act for enclosing the common refers to “NORTH MYMS” with a ‘Y’ but, in 1797 another Act of Parliament reverts to “NORTH MIMS” and also refers to “SOUTH MIMS”.

The Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England by Frederic A. Youngs, Jr. pub. Royal Historical Society 1979 states that “Mymms” is the usual spelling for the ecclesiastical parish and “Mimms” is the usual spelling for the civil parish and he states the same in relation to North Mimms. Therefore, the Hertfordshire parish should also be spelt “MIMMS” for civil purposes and both North and South “MYMMS” for ecclesiastical purposes.

However, at a meeting of Hertfordshire County Council in 1939 it was decided that “Mymms “with a ‘Y” should be the official spelling for North Mymms for both ecclesiastical and civil purposes.

No doubt this was to distinguish it from South Mimms in Middlesex but also, possibly, because that would be perceived as being of greater antiquity even it is wasn’t actually so. It would seem that Herts., Co. Council did not merely decide to adopt the spelling “Mimms” in relation to North Mymms but actually passed legislation to alter the name from “Mimms” to “Mymms” under the power of the Local Government Act 1933.

Possibly, after this decision by Hertfordshire County Council, Middlesex County Council might have also have decided to officially name their side of the County boundary “MIMMS” under the same legislation as used by Herts Co. Council but there is no evidence that they actually did so.

However, “South Mymms” by F. Brittain 1931 consistently spells “Mymms” with a ‘Y’ for both the church and the village whereas “The story of Potters Bar and South Mimms” by various authors and published by Potters Bar Urban District Council in 1966 consistently uses “Mimms” even when referring specifically to St. Giles church so it would seem that there might well have been an official decision taken on the matter after 1931or, more probably, after the 1933 Local Government Act.

As for the name Mimms/Mymms itself there is little information as to its origin but it would seem fairly certain that it is from “the Mimmas”, a sub-tribe of “the Middelseaxe” who settled in the area of what is now Middlesex and south east Hertfordshire.

Monken Hadley

Not now actually part of South Mimms parish but, it would seem to have been part of the manor of South Mimms in 1086. It is not specifically mentioned in Domesday Book but seems to be included with South Mimms and South Mimms is described as “an outlier” of the manor of Edmonton (detached part i.e. separated from Edmonton proper by the manor of Enfield). The manor of Edmonton (and also Enfield and South Mimms) formerly belonged to the Saxon noble Ansgar the Staller (Standard Bearer) Sheriff of Middlesex and Port Reeve of London whose estates and titles were confiscated by William the Conqueror and given to Sir Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1066.

In 1136 Geoffrey de Mandeville founded the Abbey at Walden (now the site of Audley End House) in Essex and endowed it with the churches (and their tithes) of Edmonton, Enfield and South Mimms including what was described as the “Hermitage of Hadley”.

It is uncertain exactly when the original church of Monken Hadley was built but it is reckoned to be over 800 years old. Geoffrey de Mandeville, who died in 1144 A.D., makes reference to “Brothers living according to rule” at Hadley and in C. 1175, when the Bishop of London confirmed Walden’s ecclesiastical possessions, Hadley was listed among its parochial churches. The present church of St. Mary-the-Virgin was built in 1494 which date is carved on a stone over the west door of the church. There is also a stone tablet in the porch of the side door of the church listing the chaplains, vicars and rectors of the church. The first chaplain listed was “Henry” in 1244 but, obviously, the names of the incumbents before that date are unknown. The last chaplain listed is Roger Raundys in 1406. After this the title of the incumbent changes from “chaplains” to “curates and vicars” and the first listed is Sir John Belle in 1451. The change in title would suggest that it was in 1451 that the church at Monken Hadley ceased to be a Chapel of Ease to Edmonton All Saints and became a separate parish and the incumbents became Vicars instead of Chaplains.

However, the word “vicar” from Latin “vicarius” means “deputy” or “substitute” or anyone “acting in the person of” and, from 1663, the title of the incumbents changes from “curates and vicars” to “rectors”. A Rector is a full parish priest and is senior to a Vicar so perhaps St. Mary-the-Virgin was not, in fact, entirely independent of All Saints Edmonton until 1663.

The Rector of St. Mary-the Virgin between 1860 and 1889 was Frederick Charles Cass. He was born in Winchmore Hill, Middlesex on 4th September 1824 and was the author of three books on the history of the local area; one was “South Mimms” pub. 1877, one was “Monken Hadley” pub. 1880 and the third was “East Barnet” pub. 1885 and he also wrote a history of Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet for the Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society which was later published in book form.

Frederick Charles Cass died on 2nd October 1896, presumably in Monken Hadley, as his second son, Frederick Charles Guise Cass took over as Rector of St. Mary-the-Virgin in 1890. There is a window to the memory of Frederick senior in the church and the church school on Hadley Common still has house named “Cass” in his honour.

Other notable residents of Monken Hadley parish were Sir William Garrow PC KC FRS. b. 13th April 1760 in Hadley, Middlesex, He was a barrister, politician and judge who promoted the “adversarial system” of court hearings whereby both parties in a Court case would be represented by separate advocates and the case determined by an impartial person (a judge) or persons (a jury) as opposed to the “inquisitorial system” of Roman Law (or the Napoleonic Code) in which the Court itself is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case and of interrogating the parties and witnesses. Garrow is credited with coining the phrase “presumed innocent until proven guilty”.

He died on 24th September 1840 in Ramsgate, Kent.

William Garrow was the subject of the B.B.C. television series “Garrow’s Law” 2009-11. Garrow’s father David was a Church of England priest but, although he lived, from C.1800, in the Priory near Monken Hadley church, he does not seem to have been Rector there as he does not appear on the tablet in the porch of St. Mary-the Virgin church. David Garrow founded a school at Monken Hadley, at which William was educated. The school must have been the one on Hadley Green which is now a private house on the corner of Hadley Green Road and East View as Monken Hadley Church School on Camlet Way was not built until 1832.

The physician, missionary and explorer David Livingstone (1813-73) lived at, what is now called, Livingstone Cottage, on Hadley Green Road for a short period in 1857.

A little further west on Hadley Green Road is a house called “Grandon” where the writer Frances Milton “Fanny” Trollope lived between 1836-38. Fanny Trollope was the mother of the novelist Anthony Trollope.

Immediately next to “Grandon” are the Wilbraham almshouses founded by Sir Roger Wilbraham in 1616 for “six decayed housekeepers”. Sir Roger Wilbraham was born in Nantwich, Cheshire in 1553 and served as Solicitor General for Ireland under Queen Elizabeth I from 1585 to 1599. He also founded almshouses in Nantwich. He died in Monken Hadley on 31st July 1616 and is buried in Monken Hadley churchyard.

The comedian Spike Milligan (1918-2002) lived at “Monkenhurst”, 15, The Crescent, Hadley Common between 1974 and 2002.

Brigadier General Henry Tempest Hicks C.B. (25/11/1852 – 10/11/1922) lived at Gladsmuir House, Hadley Common. He served in the South African War (1899 – 1902) and commanded the 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers and was mentioned in despatches three times. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. His son was Captain Charles Edward Henry Tempest Hicks MC (Military Cross) Mid (mentioned in despatches) Croix de Guerre (France). He was born at Gladsmuir House, Hadley Common on 18th May 1888 and died in action at Warvilliers, France on 9th August 1918. He is buried at the Longueau British cemetery, Somme, France. There is a monument to him in the church of St. Mary-the-Virgin, Monken Hadley.

Another resident of Gladsmuir House (also previously called “Lemons” and re-named in 1949 by the then owner) was Kingsley Amis CBE, the novelist (16/4/1922 – 22/10/1995), who bought the house in 1968 and lived there until 1976. Gladsmuir House was named after Gladsmuir Heath, the old name for Hadley Common where the Battle of Barnet was fought in 1471.

In 1777 Enfield Chace, a former Royal hunting ground, was enclosed and apportioned to the surrounding parishes. The largest portion went to Enfield parish and Edmonton (Southgate) and South Mimms received sizeable portions as well. The part awarded to Monken Hadley parish almost doubled the size of the original parish and the parishioners were permitted to graze their animals on the common, which right continued to be exercised into the 1950s. Wooden gates were erected on all the roads entering the newly acquired part of the parish to prevent the animals straying into Barnet or onto the main roads surrounding the common and they had gate-keepers to open the gates when a vehicle needed to pass through. The gates, which still exist, also served to show that the common was privately owned land and, up until the 1960s, if not still, the gates were closed on Christmas Day for a short while by the Trustees of the common in order to maintain the fact that there was no automatic public right of way across the common. These gates used to have thatched wooden huts for the gate-keepers and some of these were still in situ until the 1970s but seem to have all been removed now.

There is a picture of one of these gates, the one by Monken Hadley Church, in the 2011 publication “An Historical Atlas of Hertfordshire” published by Hertfordshire Publications, an imprint of the University of Hertfordshire Press. WHY they have included a picture of Monken Hadley, Middlesex in an otherwise fairly accurate academic work on Hertfordshire is hard to understand. The work is divided into various aspects of the history and geography of the county and each section has an outline map of the county accurately showing the correct boundary of the geographical County Hertfordshire which, of course, does not include the parish of Monken Hadley and the publishers obviously realise this fact. The error, then, must be down to the individual responsible for writing this one section of the work but the editor was obviously not up to his/her task or it would, surely, have been noticed and corrected.

The offending section is entitled “Turnpike Roads: and is by one Philip Plumb JP FCLIP (Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals U.K.) and he is described as a “local historian”. Not only does this “local historian” not know that Monken Hadley is not in the County he is writing about but he also describes the offending photograph as “Hadley Gate on the Galley Corner to Lemsford Turnpike c.1910”. Mr. Plumb should know that, as described above, this gate is not a toll gate, nor is the road it is situated on a turnpike road and nor is it situated between Galley Corner and Lemsford. Galley (Ganwick) Corner is further north on the Great North Road in South Mimms parish in the County of Middlesex and that is where the Turnpike Trust’s  jurisdiction began and where the first the toll gate would have been located. Lemsford is on the Great North Road to the north of Hatfield and to the west of Welwyn Garden City in the County of Hertfordshire and that is where the Turnpike Trust’s jurisdiction ended and where the last toll gate would have been situated before the road entered the jurisdiction of the next Turnpike Trust. Whoever did the proof reading of this particular section of the Atlas on behalf of the University of Hertfordshire should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

The only other anomaly apparent so far in the Atlas is in the section on “Cinemas” showing all the cinemas in Hertfordshire at different dates. The outline map shows the correct geographical county boundary but, for some inexplicable reason, the writer of this section, one Allen Ayles, film historian, has decided to include the Ritz Cinema in Potters Bar shown quite correctly on the map as over the county boundary in Middlesex. Perhaps he wanted to show that people from Hertfordshire could go to Potters Bar if there was nothing they wanted to see in Hatfield but why, in that case, didn’t he show every other cinema just across the county boundary, such as the ones in Southgate and Enfield, which people from Hertfordshire might also care to go to?

These historical and geographical blunders might just be mistakes on the part of the individual writers but, knowing the equivocal attitude of other writers on “Hertfordshire”, it might well be that they wish to claim, not only what is correctly part of the geographical historical County of Hertfordshire but also, parts of the adjoining geographical County of Middlesex that are only part of the post 1888 administrative County of Hertfordshire but, at the same time, still claim the parts of the geographical County of Hertfordshire which are NOT part of the post 1888 administrative County of Hertfordshire but parts of the administrative area of Greater London i.e. Barnet! Messrs. Plumb, Ayles and the University of Hertfordshire should clearly understand that they cannot have things BOTH ways! Please be aware that South Mimms, Potters Bar. Ganwick Corner and Monken Hadley are IN MIDDLESEX and NOT in Hertfordshire!

Other so called- Hertfordshire “historians” also demonstrate that they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and know nothing about the County they profess to be knowledgeable about. We have already dealt, in the article on Barnet Mimms Side, with ex-B.B.C. newsreader Richard Whitmore who lives in Hitchin, who included photographs of Potters Bar and Monken Hadley in his 1985 book “Victorian & Edwardian Hertfordshire from old photographs” in the article on Barnet Mimms Side.

Then there is Pamela Shields, a journalist, who has written at least five books on Hertfordshire and who also lives in Hitchin. In her 2010 book “Royal Hertfordshire Murders and Misdemeanours” she states that “the name Heortfordscir was first recorded in 866”. She gives no source for this misinformation and has failed to respond to a letter forwarded to her by her publisher asking where she got this date from. Obviously she has no satisfactory answer and has, therefore, ignored the enquiry. For the record, the first mention of the name Heortfordscir is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the date is 1011. Clearly, due to the unreliability of such “historians”, and not least the University of Hertfordshire itself, no writer on the County of Hertfordshire can be trusted to give an accurate account of their County and yet they actually manage to get their nonsense published and receive payment for it.

So how was the administrative assault on Middlesex conducted insofar as Monken Hadley was concerned? It was, along with the whole south eastern corner of the County, the first casualty in ongoing war of attrition conducted by various of Her Majesty’s governments over the past 170 years. When the part of Middlesex that had been included in the “Metropolis” since 1855 was made part of the new administrative County of London on 1st April 1889 the remainder * of the County of Middlesex was allocated to the jurisdiction of the new Middlesex County Council and became the administrative County of Middlesex. (which did not, as explained elsewhere in these articles, affect the geographical County in any respect other than for local government matters).

* the remainder of the County of Middlesex outside of the Metropolis, with the single exception of the parish of Monken Hadley, was made part of the administrative County of London.. On 1st April 1889 Monken Hadley parish was placed under the administration of Hertfordshire County Council (but it did NOT become part of the geographical County of Hertfordshire) solely because it happened to be close to Barnet. If proximity to somewhere else is the sole criterion for the acquisition of somebody else’s territory then why doesn’t Herts. County Council transfer Royston to Cambridgeshire, Bishop’s Stortford to Essex or Tring to Buckinghamshire? No doubt they would also consider it totally legitimate for Germany to expropriate Denmark or Spain to acquire Portugal and, quite plainly Dover, being nearer to Calais than it is to London, should undoubtedly become part of France.

In 1894, when the Local Government Act of that year created Urban District and Rural District Councils, most of Monken Hadley parish was made part of East Barnet Valley Urban District Council area except a very small portion of the parish along the northern end of Barnet High

Street * which became part of Barnet Urban District Council. The irony is that, although Herts. County Council had gained control of Monken Hadley parish on 1st April 1889 it lost it again on 1st April 1965 when the whole of Chipping Barnet and East Barnet were transferred administratively from Herts County Council to the Greater London Council area. At least that ensured that it remained ecclesiastically at least, in the Diocese of London instead of the Diocese of St. Albans unlike Potters Bar and South Mimms and it has also escaped being under the control of Hertfordshire Police. Unfortunately, notwithstanding the fact that it is not in Hertfordshire, either geographically, or administratively, Monken Hadley is still encumbered with an erroneous “Hertfordshire” postal address which the Post Office, despite allocating it an “EN” (Enfield) post code, refuses to rectify.

As in all matters relating to local government administration, officialdom and bureaucracy, confusion, ignorance, stupidity and arrogance always prevail but truth, common sense and respect for history, heritage and identity never will!

* N.B. The Monken Hadley parish boundary with Chipping Barnet parish runs west to east from the

former Methodist church (now The Spires shopping centre) to Cockfosters. The boundary between Monken Hadley parish and South Mimms parish runs northwards from the former Methodist church

on the western side of Barnet High Street and, after the St. Albans’s Road, it passes in front of the shops until it meets the small single storey showroom of H.R. Owen (car dealers) which protrudes in front of the main building and on the wall of which is an iron post with “H.P” on it denoting the boundary of Hadley Parish. The boundary then continues through, or just behind the remainder of the buildings on the west side of Barnet High Street (following the line of what is known as Fire Station Alley as, presumably, the original Barnet fire station was located here) as far as Christchurch Lane. It then runs just to the east of  Gladsmuir Road and across Hadley Common and then joins Hadley Green West then across more of the common until it joins Old Fold Lane and from the end of Old Fold Lane further north to the end of the grounds of Hadley Lawn Old People’s Home. This whole boundary from Barnet Post Office to Hadley Lawns is the line of the ancient earthworks known as Grimm’s Dyke, which runs intermittently from Pinner to Barnet sometimes forming the Middlesex/Herts county boundary and sometimes running a little to the south of the present county boundary. At the end of Hadley Lawns the Monken Hadley parish boundary turns due east to join the northern boundary of Enfield parish (detached) on the eastern side of the Great North road just to the north of the Hadley Highstone obelisk commemorating the Battle of Barnet.

There are two detached parts of Enfield parish at Hadley Highstone and the other side of Monken Hadley Church on Camlet Way. The origin of detached parts of parishes is not known but they must be very ancient and relate the original manorial and later parochial, land ownership. The larger detached part extends Old Fold Golf Club to just north of the Hadley Highstone obelisk and east of the South Mimms boundary (already described) north of Monken Hadley Church as far as Camlet Way. The other, smaller detached part of Enfield parish is the house and grounds of The Mount House (St. Martha’s School & now Mount House School) in Camlet Way.


There is not very much known about the early history of the area which eventually became Middlesex and Hertfordshire. All we have is the account written by Julius caesar in 54 B.C. in which he listed the tribes of Britain and the approximate areas they inhabited. It would seem that most of modern Hertfordshire was occupied by the Catuvellauni Tribe, who also controlled most, if not all, of modern Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. Most of modern Middlesex and, probably, some of modern Hertfordshire South of the River Colne and east of Ermine Street) was the territory of the Trinovantes Tribe who also occupied modern Essex and Suffolk. The Catuvellauni and Trinovantes were frequently fighting each other and trying to extend their territories but, in 57 B.C. the Catuvellauni invaded Trinonvates territory and captured their capital Camulodunon (Colchester). The King of the Trinovantes, Mandubracius, who was on friendly terms with the Romans fled to Rome to seek assistance and Julius Caeser used this as pretext for his invasion of Britain in 55 B.C.

Having restored Trinonvantes territory and extracted a promise from Casivellaunus, the King of the Catuveallani, that he would desist from attacking the Trinovantes and that he would also pay a handsome tribute to Rome, Caesar sailed back to Gaul. Although the truce between the Catuvellauni and Trinovantes seems to have held for some fifty years or so, in 9 A.D. the Catuvellauni once again capture Camulodunon. King Cunobelinus of the Catuvellauni seeks, and obtains, friendly relations with Rome. However, the death of King Cunobelinus of the Trinovantes in C. 41 or 42 .D. leads to a complete breakdown of stability between the Trinovantes and the Catuvellauni and provides Rome with the necessary excuse for a full scale invasion of Britain and this takes place in the following year.

Once Rome had established itself as the ruling power in Britain, it divided the country into areas of civil administration based upon the existing tribal areas. In 49 A.D. the town of Camulodunum (Colchester) is made a colonia (a town for ex-military personnel and the highest status of Roman city outside of Rome itself whose inhabitants were citizens of Rome and not merely people ruled by Rome) and the Catuvellauni capital of Verlamion becomes the Roman municipium of Verulamium (St. Albans). It would seem that the boundary between these two areas was the River Colne and that, by C.61 A.D., when the Roman capital of Britain was transferred from Camulodunum to Londinium, the colonia was also transferred to Londinium and the place situated on the London Road between Verulamion and Londinium on the River Colne on the boundary between the two was named “London Colney” (London colonia) although there is no actual written record of this.

The extent of the London colonia would have been most of Essex, at least the part south of the Essex river also called the Colne which must certainly also have formed the boundary of the colonia from its source at Stambourne Green in north west Essex not far from the boundary of Suffolk at Haverhill. all the way to the coast at Colchester. The colonia would also have covered (as well as most of Essex) the whole of modern Middlesex and all of the modern county of Hertfordshire south of the River Colne and south of the River Lea which, of course, included Hertford itself. The source of the River Colne in Hertfordshire is in North Mymms Park, just to the south of Hatfield, and the River Lea runs just to the north of Hatfield so it seems logical that the boundary would probably have been the shortest line between the two but, alternatively, it might have actually followed the boundary of the later Bishop’s Hatfield parish which is a little to the west of the source of the River Colne but this cannot be verified.

After the Roman withdrawal from Britain in 410. A.D. and the arrival of the Saxons from C. 450 A.D., various groups of Saxons established separate Kingdoms in the parts of Britain that they settled in. One of these was the Kingdom of the East Saxons (Essex) which seems to have covered approximately the same area as the former Roman London colonia (of Camulodunum/Londinium) between the two Rivers named the Colne. The remainder of what would later become Hertfordshire was part of the Kingdom of the West Angles or Mercia.  It would appear, however, that the northern  boundary was not identical with the old Roman boundary and that, in what would later become the county of Essex it was further north on the River Stour to just east of Haverhill and then to join Hertfordshire to the east of Royston. The boundary in what would later become Hertfordshire was not, at that time, the River Lea but west of it approximately along the course of Ermine Street from Waltham Cross to Royston and approximately covering the Hundreds of Hertford, Braughing and Edwinstree.

This is approximately the area shown on the Speed map of 1611 of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy although it is very small on the map so no real detail can be ascertained. It is also the approximate area of Hertfordshire that was included in the Diocese of London until as late as 1877 when the diocese of St Albans was created which encompassed the whole of the counties Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. The area of Hertfordshire within the Diocese of London did not; however, cover the exact area of the three Hundreds of Hertford, Braughing and Edwinsnstree but it is not apparent why this should be. The Edwinstree parishes of Throcking and Aspenden were not in the Diocese of London and the Braughing parish of Westmill was not in the diocese of London. The parishes of Royston and Reed in Odsey Hundred were, however, within the Diocese of London. 

As for Hertford Hundred, the parishes south of the river Lea – Hertford, Litttle Amwell, Brickendon, Bayford, Little Berkhampsted and Essendon were not in the Diocese of London and neither were the parishes north of the River Lea – Hertingfordbury, Tewin, Bramfield, Stepleford and Bengeo Rural. It is not known whether these deviations between the Hundreds and the Diocese of London were due to alterations in the Hundred boundaries or to the Diocese boundary but it would seem probable that it was the latter and it is probable that, in the early Saxon period, it was the area belonging to the Kingdom of the East Saxons comprised all the later parishes east of the River Colne and South of the River Lea, probably including Bishops Hatfield plus the whole of the Hundreds of Edwinstree, Braughing and Hertford and this area was a semi-autonomous province within the Kingdom of Essex known as the Province of Middlesex and it is very likely that it also included Suthridge (the southern region) – modern Surrey. The Province of Middlesex was first mentioned in a Charter of 704 A.D. which referred to “Provincia quae nuncupatur Middelseaxan” (the province which is dedicated to the Middle Saxons).

The above-mentioned charter was signed by both King Swaefred of Essex and King Coenred of Mercia so it would seem that the Province of Middlesex was, at this time, jointly controlled by both Kingdoms but, by 730 A.D. it seems that the Province of Middlesex was fully within the Kingdom of Mercia.

By 812 A.D. the Kingdom of Essex had been subsumed in to the Kingdom of Wessex and Suthridge (Surrey) was annexed to the Kingdom of Wessex in 860 A.D. In 877 A.D. the Danes seized the eastern part of the Kingdom of Mercia including the Province of Middlesex and the rest of modern Hertfordshire and attack the Kingdom of Wessex. King Alfred of Wessex finally stops the Danes at the Battle of Ethandun (Edington in Wiltshire) in 878 A.D.and he and King Guthrum of the Danes sign the “Treaty of Wedmore” dividing England into Saxon and Danish territory (The Danelaw), the boundary of which was from London along the whole length of Watling Street with the Danes occupying London (on the eastern side) and the Saxons, probably, holding Westminster (on hte western side).

In 884 A.D. King Aethered II of Mercia marries Princess Aethelflaed, King Alfred’s daughter, and so the Kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia are united. In 886 A.D., after further incursions into Saxon territory by the Danes, King Alfred with his combined Wessex and Mercian army beats the Dames and recaptures London. Another treaty is agreed between King Alfred and King Guthrum called the “Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum”. It is this treaty which establishes the new boundary between Saxon territory and The Danelaw as “up on the Thames and then up on the Lea and along the Lea unto its source, then straight to Bedford, then up on the Ouse to Watling Street” and then, presumably along Watling Street and onward to Wroxeter and Chester. It is this treaty which re-established the former boundary of the Province of Middlesex including the parts of the later county of Hertfordshire south of the River Lea.

It should be understood that, at this date 886 A.D., there was no county of Hertfordshire and no county of Middlesex either, only the Province of Middlesex which included the town of Hertford and the southern and eastern parts of the later Hertfordshire and which was, it would seem, still within the Kingdom of Mercia as was the remainder of what would later become Hertfordshire.

Alfred the Great died in 899 A.D. and was succeeded by his son Edward the Elder. In 911 A.D. King Edward of Wessex received the burhs (fortified towns) of London and Oxford with all the lands belonging to them. This means that they must have been a gift from the King of Mercia so now the Province of Middlesex was back within the Kingdom of Wessex. In the following year 912 A.D. the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that “a northern burh was constructed (at Hertford) between the Marram (Mimram) and the Beane and the Lea” (this is the site of the present Hertford castle). This was on the north side of the River Lea in Danish territory so Edward must have occupied some of the Danelaw territory by this date. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle also states for 912 A.D. that “some of his (Edward the Elder) supporters during that time (between Rogation and Midsummer) worked on the borough at Hertford on the south side of the Lea”. This implies that “the borough” already existed and that it was “worked on (which suggests that it might have been repaired rather than newly constructed?). If this is correct then the Saxons could not have constructed it before 886 A.D as it would have been in Danish hands at that time and, if it was the Danes who constructed the southern burh it could have only been after their invasion of 877 A.D. but, as the Lea was not the boundary at that time this seems totally improbable.

So it is not certain when exactly the southern burh was constructed at Hertford but it seems likely that it has to be sometime after 886 A.D. and before 912 A.D. The significance of when the burh was constructed at Hertford is that it should also establish the date that the Shire of Hertford and also, at the same time, the County of Middlesex should have been created.

A burh was a fortified town and the crucial date is not when the town itself was founded but when it was fortified. The burh needed sufficient men to defend it and sufficient surrounding land to support it in food and other materials. The Saxon fyrd (military force or militia) was organised by areas known as Hundreds (comprising a hundred “hides” of land sufficient to support one hundred freemen and their families). A hide was a variable area between 60 and 180 acres and was, originally, probably, synonymous with the manor. The hide was later standardised as120 acres). The size of the burh determined the number of Hundreds required for its support and the number of Hundreds allocated to the support of a burh became the Shire.  Therefore the definition of a shire is “a group of Hundreds combined for the support and defence of a burh”.

It was reckoned that the defensive wall of a burh required a man spaced every five and a half yards or sixteen feet and six inches, who would each have sufficient space to wield a thrusting spear of an average length of six to eight feet without risk of injuring the man on either side of him (five and a half yards was termed a “pole”). Therefore, the larger the burh, the more men required for its defence and the larger surrounding area of countryside necessary to support it. In areas of sparser population and, usually of mountainous or poorer quality land, a larger area would be necessary to support the burhs in those areas and that is why the larger shires/counties are in the north and the south west of England.

So, when the burh of Hertford was constructed, the supporting land area allocated to it comprised, presumably, the eight Hundreds of Hertfordshire. There is, however, some difficulty in stating that this is what actually occurred. The Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum established the River Lea as the boundary between Saxon and danish territory so it would have made perfect sense for the Saxons to have constructed a burh on their side of this boundary i.e. on the south side of the Lea at this time. The Treaty was in 886 A.D. and Sir Montage Sharpe, in his 1919 book “Middlesex in British, Roman and Saxon times”, gives this date, on a map of Middlesex, as the date of formation of the Middlesex/Hertfordshire boundary although, in the 1932 edition, the map shows 986 A.D. but, as Sharpe makes no mention of this in the text, it might just be an error on the map?

However, modern Hertfordshire extends much farther north than the River Lea so, if the nine Hundreds of Hertfordshire were all allocated at the same time for the support of the burh at Hertford, they would have had to have been within Saxon territory at the time and, in 886 A.D. this was not the case. The only parts of Hertfordshire that was in Saxon hands at 886 A.D. was to the south of the river Lea and, therefore, only the Hundreds of Dacorum, Cashio and part of Hertford  Hundred itself, could have been allocated to the burh at Hertford at that time. In 915 A.D. Edward had captured Bedford (on the north bank of the River Ouse) and built a burh on the south bank.

 It would seem that the Saxons had probably re-captured the northern part of Hertfordshire before 915 and, most likely in 912 when they built the burh at Hertford on the north side of the River Lea. So was it 886 A.D. or 912 A.D. that the Shire of Hertford was created or was it both? It is possible that the southern burh was built in 886 A.D. and the Hundreds of Cashio and Dacorum allocated to its defence and, when the second burh north of Lea was built in 912 A.D. further Hundreds were allocated for the joint defence of the two burhs.

This is the only explanation that fits the known facts (sparse as they are) and supports Sir Montagu Sharpe’s date of 886 A.D. for the Middlesex/Herts boundary. So it is probably safe to say that Hertfordshire and Middlesex as shires/counties came into being in 886 A.D. Nevertheless the first written mention of both Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the date of both is 1011 A.D. which only means that this is the first recorded date for them and not the date they actually came into existence.

The difference between a Shire and a county is, incidentally, that a county is a former Kingdom such as Kent, Essex or Sussex, or a province of a Kingdom such as Suffolk, Norfolk or Middlesex. It is from Norman French “compte” to count or a unit of account, hence the Domesday Survey compiled on a county basis for assessing their value for the purpose of taxation. Each county being under the jurisdiction of a Count. A shire was the Saxon/Old English term “scir” meaning care or official charge so “shired” would be “to give to the care or official charge of” somebody or somebody which is precisely what took place when the Hundreds were allocated to the support of a burhand under the control of the Shire Reeve (Sheriff).

It could also mean that the area that was given to the care of somebody or somebody was detached, or shorn, from whatever area it previously belonged to and, so, Hertfordshire was “shorn” from the Province of Middlesex. Hertfordshire County Council and the people of Potters Bar and South Mimms should be aware of this when glibly dismissing their long Middlesex history.