Cockfosters

Cockfosters, Enfield/Barnet

‘A metropolitan blend of open spaces, excellent facilities and easy commuting,’ according to a property developer’s blurb, but known to most as the station with the funny name at the northern end of the Piccadilly line

Hidden London: The Cock Inn, Cockfosters, by Andrew Bowden

From at least the ear­ly 16th cen­tu­ry this was an estate grant­ed to the cock (chief) forester of Enfield Chase. Cock­fos­ters devel­oped as a ham­let long before most oth­er parts of Enfield Chase. It lay on the edge of wood­land, halfway along the road from South­gate to Pot­ters Bar. A Lincoln’s Inn bar­ris­ter owned a house called Cock­fos­ters in 1613 and a small group of cot­tages and hous­es had formed by 1754.

Fol­low­ing the enclo­sure of Enfield Chase in 1777, soci­ety doc­tor Richard Jebb leased three adjoin­ing plots of for­mer Chase land and built a house that he named Trent Place, after Tren­to in the Tyrol, where he had cured the Duke of Glouces­ter of a seri­ous ill­ness. The house was pro­gres­sive­ly enlarged by suc­ces­sive own­ers and came to be known as Trent Park. Cock­fos­ters found itself stand­ing near the estate’s main gate and its growth from the end of the 18th cen­tu­ry (when the Cock Inn was estab­lished) was in many ways as a ser­vice vil­lage for Trent Park.

Christ Church (shown in the pho­to below) and the near­by Trent Church of Eng­land school, (orig­i­nal­ly for girls and infants, now Trent CE pri­ma­ry school) were built at the expense of Robert Coop­er Lee Bevan of Trent Park in the late 1830s.

Hidden London: Christ Church by John Salmon

Lit­tle then changed in the vil­lage for almost a hun­dred years except that a sub­scrip­tion-fund­ed boys’ school opened in 1859 and two hous­es, Lud­grove Hall and Hed­don Court, lat­er became boys’ prepara­to­ry schools.

After the Pic­cadil­ly line arrived in 1933, Hed­don Court and West­pole Farm were sold for build­ing and new streets were laid out. A shop­ping parade was built near the sta­tion. Shown in the pho­to at the top, the rebuilt Cock Inn is “a char­ac­ter­is­tic 1930s road­house by JCF James for Ben­skins,” accord­ing to Pevs­ner. By 1939 Cock­fos­ters was ful­ly built up south of the sta­tion and had spread west to meet New Bar­net.

Trent Park served as an inter­ro­ga­tion cen­tre for high-rank­ing Ger­man POWs dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

The appear­ance of Cock­fos­ters was sig­nif­i­cant­ly influ­enced by the war, not by bomb­ing but because the con­flict brought house­build­ing to a stand­still. When the process resumed after­wards it was con­strained by the new green-belt reg­u­la­tions, so sub­ur­ban expan­sion came to an abrupt halt north of the sta­tion. To the west, Bar­net coun­cil built an estate of 419 homes – and com­mer­cial builders filled most of the remain­ing gaps dur­ing the 1950s. More recent­ly some com­pact blocks of bal­conied apart­ments have been squeezed in.

Trent Park was until 2012 a Mid­dle­sex Uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus. After the uni­ver­si­ty’s depar­ture, Enfield coun­cil expressed a pref­er­ence for the site to remain in edu­ca­tion­al use – with the reten­tion and enhance­ment of the his­toric build­ings and land­scaped park­land.

In 2013 the cam­pus was bought for around £30 mil­lion by a pri­vate­ly owned Malaysian uni­ver­si­ty. This ven­ture did not work out well and two years lat­er the house and 50 acres of grounds were sold to the Berke­ley Group, which has done what’s usu­al­ly done nowa­days with sites like this: restored the man­sion (as shown in the CGI below) and divid­ed it into apart­ments, and added a lit­tle vil­lage of (rea­son­ably taste­ful) new-build hous­es and apart­ments in the grounds.

Hidden London: Trent Park mansion CGI by the Berkeley Group

Cock­fos­ters has sev­er­al reli­gious minori­ties, notably Jews, Mus­lims and Hin­dus, and a rel­a­tive­ly high pro­por­tion of old­er peo­ple.

Osbert Sitwell, the poet and short story writer, was educated at Ludgrove school, which he loathed. The school moved to Berkshire in 1937.

John Betjeman, poet laureate from 1972 until his death in 1984, taught at Heddon Court school from April 1929 to July 1930. He later recalled this period in his poem ‘Cricket Master’.

Postcode area: Barnet EN4
Population: 13,788 (Enfield’s Cockfosters ward, 2011 census)
Station: Piccadilly line terminus (zone 5)
* The picture of the Cock Inn, Cockfosters at the top of this page is modified from an original photograph, copyright Andrew Bowden, at Flickr, and the picture of Christ Church, Cockfosters, is minimally modified from an original photograph, copyright John Salmon, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, both made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.