Winchmore Hill

Winchmore Hill, Enfield

A superior Edwardian and interwar suburb focused on an agreeable village green, separated since the 15th century from Southgate to its west by the Grovelands estate

Hidden London: Friends’ Meeting House, Winchmore Hill, by Julian Osley

The ori­gin of the Winch­more name is uncer­tain but it is prob­a­bly a cor­rup­tion of a per­son­al name (Wyn­sige) plus ‘mere’, which could have meant a bound­ary or a pond. The ham­let was first record­ed in 1319, when its inhab­i­tants sub­sist­ed by cop­pic­ing oak trees or cul­ti­vat­ing assart­ed fields (fields cut out of wood­land).

A Quak­er com­mu­ni­ty was in exis­tence here by 1688, when a Friends’ meet­ing house was built. Shown in the pho­to above, the present meet­ing house replaced the orig­i­nal in 1790. The build­ing is grade II list­ed.

By 1801 a thriv­ing set­tle­ment had grown up around Winch­more Hill Green and on sev­er­al of the roads that led to it, mix­ing ele­gant hous­es and weath­er­board­ed cot­tages. A spa flour­ished briefly in the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry after well-water was found to con­tain Epsom salts. St Paul’s church was built in 1827 and refur­bished after a fire in 1844.

The poet Thomas Hood came to live in Rose Cot­tage on Vic­ars Moor Lane in 1829 and his wife bore their third child here. Although the Hoods were not wealthy, their home was a grander affair than its quaint name sug­gests. The fam­i­ly moved to Wanstead in 1832.

A sta­tion opened in 1871 on the Great North­ern Railway’s new branch line to Enfield Town.

Winch­more Hill Green and the King’s Head

Winch­more Hill had around 500 hous­es by 1882 but most of the land­ed gen­try whose estates abutted the vil­lage could not be tempt­ed to sell to the builders so there was lit­tle fur­ther devel­op­ment for the next two decades.

This hia­tus was sim­i­lar to the sit­u­a­tion that pre­vailed in South­gate and Palmers Green, large­ly because they shared the same clique of landown­ers. But South­gate had no sta­tion at that time and Palmers Green lacked a pic­turesque core, so it was Winch­more Hill that grew faster and bet­ter when the great estates final­ly came onto the mar­ket in the ear­ly years of the 20th cen­tu­ry.

In 1909 ambi­tious plans were announced to cre­ate a ‘wood­land city’ at Winch­more Hill Wood but these came to noth­ing. When they ran out of green­field sites, builders bought up some ear­ly vil­las with spa­cious gar­dens and replaced them with groups of small­er prop­er­ties and by 1935 Winch­more Hill was almost entire­ly built up. Prop­er­ty spec­i­fi­ca­tions ranged from ade­quate to deluxe, reach­ing their apogee in Broad Walk. A con­ser­va­tion area cov­ers much of the old vil­lage cen­tre west of the rail­way line.

Accord­ing to cen­sus data, the typ­i­cal inhab­i­tant of Winch­more Hill is a home-own­ing, high-lev­el man­ag­er in good health. Most res­i­dents are white British and the most numer­ous minor­i­ty is of Greek birth or descent.

Postal district: N21
Population: 13,403 (2011 census)
Station: Great Northern (zone 4)
Further reading: Stuart Delvin, A History of Winchmore Hill, Regency Press, 1989
The picture of the Friends’ meeting house at the top of this page is modified from an original photograph, copyright Julian Osley, and the picture of Winchmore Hill Green is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Christine Matthews, 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.
A public house has probably existed on the site of the King’s Head since 1700. The present premises were built in 1896.