Clay Hill

Clay Hill, Enfield

A conservation area in north Enfield, situated on the edge of open country west of Forty Hill

Clay Hill - Andrew Bowden

Although seem­ing­ly self-explana­to­ry, Clay Hill’s name may not derive from the sed­i­men­ta­ry deposit but from the sur­name of a medieval res­i­dent. The wider area is indeed formed of Lon­don clay but the dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics at Clay Hill are patch­es of peb­ble grav­el.

The Rose and Crown inn lay at the heart of the ham­let from when it was first built, which may have been as long ago as 1572. At that time, the road and the set­tle­ment were known as Bridge Street, but both had become Clay Hill by 1754. By then, the inn’s tim­ber frame had been con­cealed behind a brick-faced front (which has since been paint­ed) and it was extend­ed to the east in the 19th cen­tu­ry. The orig­i­nal part of the Rose and Crown is shown in the pho­to­graph above.*

St John’s church

Beggar’s Bush fairs were held at the top of Clay Hill in the 1770s but lat­er returned to South­gate, where they had first begun.

The church of St John the Bap­tist was built in 1858 but was soon closed for a while by the Bish­op of Lon­don after James What­man Bosan­quet of Claysmore com­plained about “mys­te­ri­ous mut­ter­ings” of a popish nature.

Clay Hill House, now an old peo­ple’s home, was built around 1860 for Joseph Toms of the Der­ry and Toms depart­ment store in Kens­ing­ton.

The improve­ment of rail­way ser­vices to Enfield Town in the ear­ly 1870s brought house­build­ing to the south side of the hill lat­er in that decade.

The open­ing of a sta­tion at Gor­don Hill in 1910 made the local­i­ty even more appeal­ing to devel­op­ers but Enfield coun­cil stepped in and bought 62 acres of Park Farm, which it opened as Hilly Fields Park in the fol­low­ing year.

Claysmore burned down in 1930 but the 18th-cen­tu­ry Claysmore Lodge remains.

Clay Hill is tra­versed by the Turkey Brook and local vol­un­teers have laid a board­walk through a par­tic­u­lar­ly mud­dy part of the woods. There are eques­tri­an facil­i­ties at Kingswood and Bray­side Farm, North Enfield Crick­et Club’s ground is on Stray­field Road and Beg­gars Hol­low is the access point for Whitewebbs golf course.

Novelist Captain Frederick Marryat and mathematician Charles Babbage both went to school in Clay Hill.

The Bosanquets of Clay Hill were a distinguished Huguenot family. Bernard Bosanquet played cricket for England in the early 20th century and is credited with having invented the googly. His son Reginald became well known as a television newsreader in the 1970s.

Postcode area: Enfield EN2
* The pictures of the Rose and Crown and St John’s church are adapted from original photographs, copyright Andrew Bowden, at Flickr, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.