Chipping Barnet

Chipping Barnet, Barnet

The north-western part of the Barnet district, also known as High Barnet

Tudor Hall, three-quarter angled view

Bar­net takes its name from the Old Eng­lish bær­net – ‘the burn­ing’ – refer­ring to the clear­ance of the land here by fire. Chip­ping or chepe was the Old Eng­lish term for a mar­ket­place. King John grant­ed the abbey of St Albans a for­mal mar­ket char­ter in 1199 although unof­fi­cial trad­ing had already been car­ried on here for the pre­vi­ous hun­dred years. The town devel­oped around this week­ly trade and by pro­vid­ing ser­vices to trav­ellers at the junc­tion of the Great North Road and the St Albans Road. The east­ern side of what is now the High Street was part of Hadley.

The church of St John the Bap­tist was built on Wood Street some time in the first half of the 15th cen­tu­ry, replac­ing a chapel of ease to St Mary’s, in what is now called East Bar­net. Queen Elizabeth’s School was found­ed on Wood Street in 1573 and a fair oper­at­ed at Chip­ping Bar­net from 1588. Per­ma­nent hous­es and shops began to line the High Street and a few tim­ber-framed struc­tures are still in exis­tence, although much-altered.

Hidden London: Church of St John the Baptist, Chipping Barnet, with a stormy sky

To the west, Well­house Lane, off Wood Street, marks the site of the for­mer physic well, a chaly­beate spring pop­u­lar in the 17th cen­tu­ry. Samuel Pepys was among its pil­grims, return­ing for sec­ond help­ings despite being fever­ish after drink­ing five glass­es on his ini­tial vis­it.

Some Geor­gian and ear­ly Vic­to­ri­an prop­er­ties sur­vive on Wood Street (now a con­ser­va­tion area), one of which is now Bar­net Muse­um. An enclo­sure act of 1815 per­mit­ted the era­sure of a pub­lic race­course and of much of Bar­net Com­mon, which was most­ly giv­en over to hay­mak­ing. The mar­ket was relo­cat­ed around 1860 and began to decline, restrict­ed to sell­ing cat­tle in its lat­ter years.

The arrival of the rail­way prompt­ed the con­struc­tion of a few sub­ur­ban vil­las at the end of the 19th cen­tu­ry but most of Chip­ping Bar­net was built up in the 1920s and 1930s, merg­ing with Under­hill to the south and con­nect­ing with Arkley to the west. Fur­ther expan­sion was restrict­ed by green-belt leg­is­la­tion after the Sec­ond World War. The Spires shop­ping cen­tre opened on the west side of the High Street in 1989.

The ward of High Bar­net has a pre­dom­i­nant­ly white pop­u­la­tion, which is rel­a­tive­ly old, well-edu­cat­ed and afflu­ent.

Postcode area: Barnet EN5
Population: 15,307 (High Barnet ward, 2011 census)
The map above distinguishes between Chipping Barnet and High Barnet but Hidden London believes these are alternative names for the same place – and the same applies to Hadley and Monken Hadley.