An extended village situated on the western edge of Barnet
Arkley was first recorded in the 14th century and the name is of uncertain origin. It may refer to a meadow where closed baskets (then called arks) were made from wickers or reeds.
Arkley (or Barnet Gate) windmill was built in 1806 and survives today in the back garden of a private house, east of Brickfield Lane (in the bottom left corner of the map below).
In the second half of the 19th century Arkley village had a post office, store and tearooms. The high and secluded setting made it a desirable place to build substantial country houses – a practice that continued into the early 20th century, although with diminishing grandeur. Ribbon development began to reach here from Barnet in the 1930s but was halted by the outbreak of the Second World War.
Several houses in Arkley were requisitioned for military purposes in the Second World War, notably the now-demolished Arkley View, which housed the Radio Security Service monitoring operation from 1940. Suspicious broadcasts were transcribed and a despatch rider took them to Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire for decoding. The RSS was made up of part-time amateurs, such as the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper (later Lord Dacre), and did such good work here – sometimes decoding messages before they had reached Bletchley Park – that the service was subsequently integrated within the military intelligence communications division MI8.
Green-belt legislation prevented excessive incursions into the neighbouring fields when the development resumed along Barnet Road after the war. Development in the latter part of the 20th century was limited to the creation of a few cul-de-sacs of executive homes and blocks of private flats on the sites of larger old houses. In a few cases, the original garden wall encloses the new properties. The Poor Clare Monastery moved to the far north of Arkley from Westbourne Park in 1970.
Such is Arkley’s reputation that some developers and estate agents attach its name to new properties on the west side of Chipping Barnet, at Ducks Island and even in the south-east corner of Borehamwood, over the county boundary in Hertfordshire.