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Forty Hill

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Enfield

A comfortable residential locality on the north side of Enfield, taking its name from an Old English word meaning a patch of higher ground in a marsh. John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, is said to have built Elsing (or Elsynge) Hall here in the 1460s. Sir Thomas Lovell, Speaker of the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1485, lived here from 1492 and hosted frequent royal visits. It is said that Sir Walter Raleigh laid his cloak across a puddle at Elsing so that Elizabeth I might cross without getting her feet wet, but other localities also lay claim to this legend. The house was demolished around 1660 and its site was lost until excavations 300 years later. Forty Hall was built to the south-west of Elsing for Sir Nicholas Raynton in 1636 and heavily modified around 1708. Raynton was a haberdasher and Lord Mayor of London in 1632. Other wealthy gentlemen built villas nearby in the 18th and early 19th centuries and several have survived, as have a few older cottages. The Bridgen Hall estate, which lay between Carterhatch Lane and Goat Lane, was sold for building in 1868. Streets were laid out but parts were later used for gravel digging and it was many decades before the estate was completed. The introduction of better bus services after World War I and the construction of the Great Cambridge Road (A10) in 1924 stimulated housebuilding on the eastern side of the locality. The built-up part of Forty Hill had mostly assumed its present form by 1939 and further development was prohibited by green-belt legislation after the war was over. Enfield council acquired the Forty Hall estate in 1951. The hall is grade I-listed and has served as the borough’s arts and heritage museum since 1955 but this will move to Enfield Town at some point in the uncertain future.
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Forty Hall

Tate Britain has John Hill’s Interior of the Carpenter’s Shop at Forty Hill, Enfield. Executed around 1813, the painting is a rare representation of craftsmen at work for British art of this period and the scene may include Hill’s own father.

Postcode areas: Enfield EN2 and EN1
Further reading: Valerie Carter, Forty Hill and Bulls Cross, Enfield Preservation Society, 1988


Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

 
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