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.