Hidden London

Barnet Gate

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Barnet

A western satellite of Barnet, at the junction of Barnet Road and Hendon Wood Lane. There was never a turnpike here, just a gate that prevented cattle from straying onto Barnet Common. It was first called Grendel’s Gate, after the monster slain by Beowulf, and it has been suggested that the use of such a portentous name may indicate a place of some significance in Saxon times. It was certainly more important than it is now, for manor courts were held here in the Middle Ages and Hendon Wood Lane was a busy thoroughfare that may have been a Roman road. Roman coins, now lost, were found at Barnet Gate some years ago. The settlement lay on the edge of Southaw, a large wood belonging to the Abbey of St Albans, much of which was obliterated by the creation of Chipping Barnet. The extensively altered Gate public house is of Victorian origin, and was originally called the Bell. Dating from the same period, Bell’s Cottages have also been renovated.

The British Library has the Barnet Court Book, a record of a manor court held at Barnet Gate in 1354.

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Despite the impression given by this pub sign, the gate that gave the locality its name served only to keep animals off the common. The inscription is borrowed from a country pub in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire.

Postcode area and postal district: Barnet, EN5 and NW7

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

 
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