Brockley Hill, Harrow/Barnet, is situated north-east of Stanmore, constitutes the northernmost section of the A5 in Greater London and is the site of a Roman settlement.

Brockley Hill

Brockley Hill, Harrow/Barnet

Situated north-east of Stanmore, Brockley Hill constitutes the northernmost section of the A5 in Greater London and is the site of a Roman settlement

Hidden London: Brockley Hill by the junction of Wood Lane by David Howard

There have been sug­ges­tions of pre­his­toric occu­pa­tion at Brock­ley Hill, but lit­tle evi­dence has been found. Sto­ries that Julius Cae­sar fought a bat­tle near­by or that the Romans built a ‘city’ here are almost cer­tain­ly fan­ci­ful. How­ev­er, most schol­ars now believe that Brock­ley Hill was the site of Sul­lo­ni­a­cae, a post­ing sta­tion on Watling Street locat­ed halfway between Lon­don and St Albans.

The sta­tion was record­ed in the Anto­nine itin­er­ary, a third-cen­tu­ry list of routes and stop­ping places in the Roman Empire. There was cer­tain­ly a pot­tery oper­at­ing here from around 75ad to 160ad, which spe­cialised in lid­ded bowls and jars, flagons and mor­taria (mix­ing bowls).

Sur­round­ing wood­land seems to have been cleared to grow crops, although this may have been at a lat­er phase of Roman occu­pa­tion. But despite exten­sive exca­va­tions since 1937 proof of a larg­er set­tle­ment has not been found.

Archae­ol­o­gists con­tin­ue to search for more sub­stan­tial Roman remains, both at Brock­ley Hill and at moot­ed alter­na­tive loca­tions such as Burnt Oak. The site is a sched­uled ancient mon­u­ment.

Hidden London: Sign on the gate of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital
Roy­al Nation­al Orthopaedic Hos­pi­tal plaque

From the 17th to the 19th cen­turies, devel­op­ment along Brock­ley Hill was most­ly lim­it­ed to the con­struc­tion of a hand­ful of sub­stan­tial hous­es and the cre­ation of Brock­ley Hill Farm. In 1882 Mary Wardell con­vert­ed Sul­lo­ni­a­cae, her house on Wood Lane, into a children’s con­va­les­cent home.

After mil­i­tary use in the First World War, the Roy­al Nation­al Orthopaedic Hos­pi­tal acquired the home as a coun­try branch. Many more build­ings have since been added and this is now the hospital’s main site. It is present­ly under­go­ing renew­al, part­ly fund­ed by the sale of ‘excess’ land for res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment. A £40-mil­lion inpa­tient ward block opened in Decem­ber 2018.

Land at the bot­tom of Brock­ley Hill, on the cor­ner of Lon­don Road, was bought by the Min­istry of Works in 1946 and used for assort­ed gov­ern­ment offices, includ­ing those of the Min­istry of Defence. The site was vacat­ed in the 1990s and much of it has now been rede­vel­oped with high-class hous­ing, with the Stan­more & Edg­ware golf cen­tre to the north.

Postcode areas: Stanmore HA7 and Edgware HA8
See also: Newlands

 

* The picture of Brockley Hill by the junction of Wood Lane at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright David Howard, and the picture of the sign on the gate of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Chris Downer, both 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.