IMG 9043 - Southgate and Winchmore Hill

Southgate and Winchmore Hill are suburbs of North London within the borough of Enfield, formerly Southgate District Council. Both locations were at one time small villages well out in the countryside, and until the coming of the railways and tube, they remained largely as such. This is not meant to be a comprehensive history of the area, its just my small contribution.


Southgate is perhaps most famous for its ‘flying saucer.’ Its of course one of the country’s most unique buildings, being the tube station (see the tweet below.) However that isn’t the original Southgate village which was further south. The tube bit was formerly a group of houses known as Bunker’s Corner. This is where Chase Side and Winchmore Hill Road. The tube turned Chase Side into the main business thoroughfare and focal point for Southgate, well away from the old village a mile or so to the south.

These tweets (mine!) show before and after aerial views of Southgate with the tube station as central focus and shows the amount of development between 1955 and 2015, the years these pictures were taken. The high street’s changed a lot, not only that the park across from the tube station is now all housing.
aerial1955 - Southgate and Winchmore Hill
This ‘park’ opposite the station was once land belonging to the Grange, a country house belonging to John Bradshaw, one of the directors of Taylor Walker brewers. This huge expanse of private gardens eventually became part of the Grange clinic, and surprisingly remained as such until Bourneside Crescent was built in the 1980s. It shows there is huge demand for living in what is clearly a very popular part of North London.
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The area of Southgate is so named for it once formed the southern gate to Enfield Chase, which were hunting grounds belonging to the King. A blue plaque almost opposite the tube station marks the spot.
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The ‘South Gate.’ Plaque commemorating its location in Chase Road, opposite Southgate station.
Amy Winehouse was originally from Osidge Lane, Southgate and went to the local school, as did another noted celebrity, Rachel Stevens from S Club 7.
These pictures are of Southgate Green which is part of the original village. Its not far from the Minchenden Oak featured on this blog a few months ago.
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The stocks at Southgate green are replicas placed where the originals once were. Its a nice gesture and adds to the sense of history here. Note the horse trough, many places simply would not be complete without these.
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A pond existed here at one time, known as the Duchess Pond and filled in about 1925. This alarmed locals who were concerned the entire area (Southgate, Arnos Grove, Winchmore etc) was being targeted for intensive redevelopment. One of the results was a much gentler spread of housing, and a new park from 1928. It would however only be a few more years before the Piccadilly Line was built through the area, and that put pressure once again on the area. As if it was to impress the idea any development was not going to go away, the newly opened Arnos Park soon had had a huge viaduct built right across it for the new tube line.

Grovelands Park

The main place of interest between Southgate and Winchmore Hill is Grovelands Park. This large estate was opened to the public in 1913. The south eastern half of the park consists of Winchmore Hill wood. Fortunately Grovelands Park proved to be a much needed necessity, creating an oasis in an area otherwise heavily in demand for new housing.
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Houses at Wynchgate by the northern entrance to Grovelands Park.
The main entrance to the park is on The Bourne and consists of the Inverforth Gates, given to the area by Lord Inverforth of Southgate.
I dont know the name of the stream that leads from Grovelands park ultimately into the Salmons Brook, however once it leaves the park’s environs it joins the Houndesden Gutter which leads into the Salmons Brook, the Pymmes Brook and finally the Lea at Tottenham.
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Grovelands House, now a private healthcare centre called The Priory.
Grovelands House is one of the few London locations with a ha ha, its quite small compared to, say, that at Kensington Gardens. The house was designed by John Nash and is listed. The lake was formerly the house’s fish pond – a very large one too! Humphrey Repton was the park’s landscaper. Both Repton and Nash were a formidable duo with an excellent eye for the creation of other London parks, including St James’s and Regent’s Parks. Sadly the partnership ended in recrimination.
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The lake at Grovelands Park.
General Pinochet, the Chilean dictator, was a Grovelands patient. Actually this was under secure watch, he had been arrested in London on 10th October 1998 for human rights violations. As the Independent reports, the authorities were ultimately glad to get rid of him.

Winchmore Hill

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A typical scene in Winchmore Hill. This is The Broad Walk.
First of all, why Winchmore Hill? Its quite an unusual name. There’s another in Buckinghamshire, however we’ll focus on the history of the London one. Some have argued the name is due to the winch at the local well. The problem with this is many villages with wells would have plausibly also been called the same name! Its actually nothing to do with wells nor winches. Winchmore Hill has existed in records since the 14th century, and was known as Wynsmerhull. By the mid 16th century it had become Wynsmorehyll and it wasn’t long after before the present spelling was used.
Without a doubt the hill in Winchmore refers to a local hill. The Winch apparently refers to whin, or furze, and plenty of that once grew in the area. More refers to moor. Hence it refers to the whins moor hill (as in Wynsmorehyll.) Another interpretation of the name’s origins is that its derived from ‘Wynsige’ and ‘maerhyll’ – the hill that borders Wynsige’s land. To me personally, the whins moor hill interpretation seems the most apt of all.
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One thing’s certain, the area is not named after The Winchmore, a noted local public house!
Below is an old picture of Church Hill, I assume its very early 1900s. I tried very hard to take the modern equivalent from the exact spot where the original was taken. I have taken care to keep the Old School House (in the distance further up the hill) in the same position in both views. Yet these are somewhat different because of the modern houses, and more importantly, the hill is no longer as steep. The road at the bottom of the hill has been raised quite a few feet and this allowed the council to ease the downhill gradients.
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Church Hill is so called because of St Paul’s which is towards the top of the incline. I have some links to the church from the days I used to spend at Winchmore Hill as a kid many years ago and shall write about the church itself in another post.
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Right at the very top of Church Hill almost into the village green is Friends Meeting House.
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Winchmore Hill green, with the King’s Head and ubiquitous horse trough.
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A shot of The Green, near to the railway station.

Avondale College

Avondale, a small private college that opened in the 1890s at Bowes Park and subsequently took over Beaumont Lodge near Hoppers Road catering for 100 girls before it closed in the 1920s. I’m not 100% certain of the college’s history but It seems to me it became Avondale Hall and was taken over by Palmers Green High School, who still reside on the site.  Avondale specialised in music and elocution among other subjects. I have a school work book from Avondale College handed down to me through the ages.
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Avondale College work book c1919.
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First page from the Avondale College workbook.
The college’s location is on the border between the two localities so it can be said to be in either, but Avondale’s address was always given as Winchmore Hill. Avondale Road is named after the college and Stevie Smith the famous poet, lived in the same road and attended Avondale Hall in the second year Palmers Green High School was established there.
The area has strong associations with the Suffragettes. Avondale College (nee Hall) was a popular venue for suffragette meetings. Herbert & Laura Goulden ran campaigns advocating the rights of women from their home at 23 Radcliffe Road, in the older part of Winchmore Hill near the railway station. Herbert Goulden was the brother of the movement’s leader, Emmeline Pankhurst.