Arkley, Barnet

An extended village situated on the western edge of Barnet

Arkley Lane in the snow by Bikeboy

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.

Postcode area: Barnet EN5
See also: Rowley Green
* The picture of Arkley Lane in the snow on this page is slightly modified from an original photograph, copyright Bikeboy, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.