Forty Hill

Forty Hill, Enfield

A pleasant residential locality on the north side of Enfield, taking its name from an Old English word meaning a patch of higher ground in a marsh


Forty Hall
The recent­ly refur­bished Forty Hall

John Tiptoft, Earl of Worces­ter, is said to have built Els­ing (or Elsyn­ge) Hall here in the 1460s. Sir Thomas Lovell, Speak­er of the House of Com­mons and Chan­cel­lor of the Exche­quer from 1485, lived here from 1492 and host­ed fre­quent roy­al vis­its.

Sir Wal­ter Raleigh is sup­posed to have laid his cloak across a pud­dle at Els­ing so that Eliz­a­beth I might cross with­out get­ting her feet wet, but oth­er local­i­ties also lay claim to this leg­end. The house was demol­ished around 1660 and its site was lost until exca­va­tions 300 years lat­er.

Forty Hall was built to the south-west of Els­ing for Nicholas Rain­ton in 1629–32 and heav­i­ly mod­i­fied around 1708. Oth­er wealthy gen­tle­men added vil­las near­by in the 18th and ear­ly 19th cen­turies and sev­er­al have sur­vived, as have a few old­er cot­tages.

Shown in the pho­to­graph below,* Jesus Church was built in the north of the local­i­ty in 1835. Accord­ing to the wish­es of the patron, CP Mey­er of Forty Hall, the church was designed in imi­ta­tion of the recent­ly con­se­crat­ed church of Holy Trin­i­ty, Tot­ten­ham.

East of the church, Forty Hill pri­ma­ry school began its exis­tence in 1851 as Jesus Chapel nation­al school, Bulls Cross. The one-room school was built on a site donat­ed by Trin­i­ty Col­lege, Cam­bridge, and has since been extend­ed about eight times.

Jesus Church, Forty Hill
Jesus Church, Forty Hill*

The Brid­gen Hall estate, which lay between Carter­hatch Lane and Goat Lane, was sold for build­ing in 1868. Streets were laid out but parts were lat­er used for grav­el dig­ging and it was many decades before the estate was com­plet­ed.

Forty Hill sta­tion opened in 1891 but dis­ap­point­ing res­i­den­tial growth and a poor ser­vice that involved chang­ing trains at White Hart Lane made the line unprof­itable and pas­sen­ger ser­vices were with­drawn after elec­tric trams began to run along Hert­ford Road in 1909.

The intro­duc­tion of bet­ter bus ser­vices after the First World War and the con­struc­tion of the Great Cam­bridge Road in 1924 stim­u­lat­ed house­build­ing on the east­ern side of the local­i­ty. The built-up part of Forty Hill had most­ly assumed its present form by 1939 and fur­ther devel­op­ment was pro­hib­it­ed by green-belt leg­is­la­tion after the war was over.

The munic­i­pal bor­ough of Enfield acquired the Forty Hall estate in 1951. Forty Hill sta­tion was renamed Turkey Street when it reopened fol­low­ing the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the line in 1960.

Jesus Church opened an annexe called the Charis Cen­tre in 2010. The hall is avail­able for use with­in both the church fam­i­ly and the wider local com­mu­ni­ty.

With the assis­tance of the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund, the grade I‑listed Forty Hall recent­ly under­went major refur­bish­ment and reopened to the pub­lic in June 2012. Enfield coun­cil deserves cred­it for its efforts to make the most of this for­mer­ly under­used asset, which is open most days of the year. The house has meet­ing rooms and an adja­cent ban­quet­ing suite that are avail­able to hire.

Tate Britain has John Hill’s Interior of the Carpenter’s Shop at Forty Hill. Executed around 1813, the painting is a rare representation of craftsmen at work for British art of this period and the scene may include Hill’s own father.

Postcode areas: Enfield EN2 and EN1
Station: London Overground (Turkey Street, zone 6)
Further reading: Valerie Carter, Forty Hill and Bulls Cross, Enfield Preservation Society, 1988
The picture of Jesus Church, Forty Hill, on this page is adapted from an original image by that diligent photographer of ecclesiastical structures John Salmon, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.