A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
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In 1086 South Mimms was not separately assessed but was included in the manor of Edmonton. (fn. 1) It seems likely that most of it was covered by forest until the 12th century and that the manorial lands were gradually extended by assarting. By 1268 there were ten virgates in villeinage. (fn. 2) It was said in 1295 that the villeins were tallaged at the lord's will, but that they had never paid more than 6d. yearly. The free tenants owed quit-rents totalling £6 19s. 6d. and the copyhold rents amounted to 26s. 8d. The customary tenants owed 806 days' work at ½d. and 606 days' work were due in harvest at 1d. a day. (fn. 3) The rents and customary services were still the same in 1349, when the manor consisted of 400 a. of arable, 15 a. of meadow, 15 a. of wood, and 15 a. of fresh land (terra frisca). (fn. 4)
The demesne was leased at least from 1394 (fn. 5) and by the 1590s had become divided into four main parcels: (fn. 6) Mimms Hall farm, (fn. 7) Warrengate farm, (fn. 8) lands called Tapperdel and Dennysmead, (fn. 9) and a farm of c. 57 a., the largest part of which was 30 a. called Long field. (fn. 10) It was usually leased for 21 years, (fn. 11) although the woods were sometimes leased separately for 30 years. (fn. 12) There were 68 tenants on the capital manor c. 1600, of whom about two-thirds were copyholders. Quit-rents had fallen from the mid 14th century to £4 1s. 2d. and copyhold rents had risen to £8 17s. 6d., (fn. 13) while in 1688 free and customary rents amounted to £26 13s. 10d. (fn. 14) A few copyholds were enfranchised during the lordship and at the instigation of Henry, Lord Windsor (d. 1605), (fn. 15) but most took place in the late 19th century. (fn. 16)
Arable farming predominated in the later 13th century, accounting for 400 a. or 90 per cent of the demesne of South Mimms manor. (fn. 17) Nearly 47 per cent of the demesne of Wyllyotts manor in 1479 consisted of arable, slightly over 25 per cent was pasture, and the rest was woodland. (fn. 18) Dairies at Old Fold and Durhams were mentioned in 1442. (fn. 19) and such names as Old Fold, Shepecotefeld (1375), and Shepherds' Dell (fn. 20) indicate sheep-farming; in 1340 one-ninth of wool and lambs was paid by Henry Frowyk of Old Fold. (fn. 21) Between 1613 and 1617 twenty inhabitants of South Mimms were licensed as badgers or kidders. (fn. 22) There was a rabbit warren on the demesne of South Mimms manor by 1313 and another in the northern part of Old Fold by 1442. (fn. 23)
A common field called Aldwick, south of Bridgefoot House and adjoining Mimms Wash, (fn. 24) was so named by 1437. (fn. 25) There were frequent disputes over the field, as in 1454 between Richard Style, farmer of the demesne of South Mimms manor, and the tenants who had put their beasts to graze in Aldwick. Style had not repaired the gate and hedge at the adjoining Tapperdelgate field and impounded the beasts which strayed there from the common. (fn. 26) During the 18th century there were several presentments for growing wheat at Aldwick when it should have been left fallow. (fn. 27) According to manorial custom arable lands were to lie fallow every third year, and barley could not be sown after the wheat crop without letting the land lie as pasture for one year. (fn. 28) In the late 18th century the rotation of crops on the clay was summer fallow, followed by wheat, then beans, pease, or oats and summer fallow; on the better soil it was turnips on the summer fallows, barley with broad clover, clover fed or mown, wheat on clover lay, with one ploughing. (fn. 29) In 1842 Aldwick was still divided into strips and described as a common field. (fn. 30)
Large pieces of waste at Bentley Heath and Kitts End amounted to some 300 a., (fn. 31) while land at the southern end of South Mimms village originally formed Mimms Green. (fn. 32) The common land at Kitts End Green, containing two fishponds which were formerly gravel pits, by 1781 had been divided into seven allotments, (fn. 33) the waste at Bentley Heath and Kitts End having been added to the South Mimms allotment of the Chase. (fn. 34) In 1849 following upon an investigation into common rights it was ruled that the ratepayers might pasture their beasts on the common during the whole of the fallow year until Michaelmas, and every other year after the crops were removed until Candlemas following. Until 1829 it had been customary to have two crops and one fallow, and between 1829 and 1849 three crops and a fallow. (fn. 35) By 1864 it seems that the claim to common rights had been extinguished by purchase, for in that year it was stated that the parish had no right to interfere with the inclosure of waste land at Mimms Wash and Bentley Heath. (fn. 36)
Freeholders of the manor of South Mimms had enjoyed common pasture for their cattle at all seasons and pannage for their pigs in mast time within the borders of Enfield Chase. They also had the right to take bushes from the Chase, although in return they had to maintain the fences of their ingrounds bordering on the Chase. (fn. 37) Similar rights were enjoyed by the tenants of Old Fold, (fn. 38) by virtue of which that manor was awarded an allotment in the Chase in 1777. (fn. 39) The inhabitants of South Mimms frequently complained about their loss of rights, especially during the Interregnum (fn. 40) when the government proposed to sell the Chase in lots. Despite restocking at the Restoration, the parishioners of South Mimms in 1686 broke down the fence that ran from Hadley windmill to Potters Bar. (fn. 41) Apart from concerted attacks various inroads were made into the Chase and much wood was destroyed. (fn. 42) In 1762 a blacksmith of Potters Bar was imprisoned for destroying several young beech trees and also sentenced to monthly floggings in Enfield market place. (fn. 43) In 1770 the duchy allowed several occupiers in Wyllyotts manor to take leases of the encroachments that they had made upon the Chase. (fn. 44) With the inclosure of the Chase in 1777, South Mimms was allotted 1,026 a. 3p. (excluding the 36 a. given to Old Fold) in a long sweep stretching from its Herts. boundary to Hatfield. (fn. 45) In contrast to most of the Enfield allotments, which remained uncultivated, the South Mimms allotments were soon tilled. (fn. 46) Byng was said to have a farm as his portion of the allotment, which might 'challenge some of the best land in the kingdom for the "burthen" it produces and for the peculiar good husbandry which is bestowed on it'. (fn. 47)
By c. 1606 565 a., or almost 69 per cent, of the demesne of South Mimms manor was arable and pasture, 30 a. was meadow, and 228 a. woodland. The annual yield from much of the arable was low, as oats had been grown there year after year without at any time leaving the land fallow. A low value was also given for the meadow, since it was all upland. (fn. 48) By c. 1800 arable covered less than 42 per cent of the parish, the greater part of the farm-land supplying hay which was sold in London. (fn. 49) In 1867 permanent grass accounted for 79 per cent, or 4,371 a. out of a total of 5,485 a. under cultivation, (fn. 50) and by 1897 it had increased by another 412 a. (fn. 51) By 1971 arable had shrunk to a mere 10 per cent out of 5,003 a. of farm-land. Fields used for grazing, however, had expanded to cover 1,607 a. (fn. 52) and by 1937 they exceeded the amount of grass for mowing. (fn. 53) By 1957, when there were still 3,857 a. of farm-land, the proportion of arable had increased to almost 33 per cent, the rest being meadow. (fn. 54)
Corn, chiefly oats, was grown on 36 per cent of the arable in 1801. Peas were the largest green crop, covering 108 a., while beans were grown on 87 a., turnips or rape on 62 a., and potatoes on 9 a. (fn. 55) By 1867, when corn accounted for 41 per cent of the arable, wheat had become more important than oats, and there were fewer green than root crops. (fn. 56) Seventy years later no beans or peas were grown and root crops had declined, while corn gradually assumed greater importance. (fn. 57) In 1957 there were 1,335 a. of corn, of which barley covered 437 a., wheat 351 a., and oats 220 a. The increase in barley was presumably associated with the keeping of beef cattle. (fn. 58)
Sheep were the main livestock in 1867, when 1,947 were kept; numbers fell to 1,266 in 1897 but rose again to 1,767 in 1917. Cows, particularly dairy cows, increased from 253 in 1867 to 1,059 in 1917, until by 1957 there were as many as 1,134, compared with 851 sheep. In 1867 554 pigs were kept but the number afterwards declined, only to rise rapidly again to 858 in 1937 and to 1,988 in 1957. Horses reached their highest number of 270 in 1917, falling to 28 in 1957. The most numerous livestock in 1957 were fowls, when there were as many as 4,983. (fn. 59)
In 1867 there were 58 agricultural holdings and in 1917 there were 65, of which 37 were less than 50 a. and only one was over 300 a. Of the 5,003 a. of farmland in 1917 115 a. were owned and 3,888 a. rented. (fn. 60) In 1973 there were 12 farms, most of them leased from the G.L.C. or from the Wrotham Park estate. (fn. 61) Of the larger farms Fold farm in Galley Lane comprised 168 a. and was a dairy farm with 200 cows; farther north Blanche farm, comprising 230 a., was also used mainly for dairy-farming, with 180 cows; c. 133 a. at Knightsland farm were used for crops. Horses were kept at Wrotham Park, Elm, and Bridgefoot farms.
Foresters were recorded in the 14th and 15th centuries. (fn. 62) Woodland made up no more than 3 per cent of the 445 a. in demesne of South Mimms manor in 1349 (fn. 63) but by 1598 it was calculated as 240 a., forming some 29 per cent of the 829 a. in demesne. Woods comprised the 109 a. of Osgarsland, the 68 a. of Tothill, the 31 a. of Parsonage bushes, as well as Moor grove, Cherrytree grove, and Kings close which together covered 31 a. (fn. 64) In 1340 the manor of Durhams possessed 20 a. of woodland among its 324 a. in South Mimms, (fn. 65) and c. 28 per cent of Wyllyotts manor was wooded in 1479. (fn. 66) In 1442 the two main areas of woodland on the manor of Old Fold were said to be in the west and in the north at Heron grove adjoining the rabbit warren. (fn. 67)
Woods and underwoods were often reserved in late-16th- and early-17th-century leases, (fn. 68) although tenants of South Mimms manor were granted hedgebote in Enfield Chase. (fn. 69) The right to fell wood at certain periods was sold by the lord of South Mimms, provided that sufficient storers were left. (fn. 70) In the early 17th century the right was enjoyed by F. Page, an officer in the king's woodyards, to whom the wood-grounds of the demesne had been leased for 30 years. (fn. 71) Woods tended to be leased or sold separately (fn. 72) and were frequently inclosed in the 17th century. (fn. 73) They were often leased out in the late 17th and 18th centuries, mostly to tenants of the farmlands, although the lord reserved timber, young saplings, and pollard trees. (fn. 74)
There were many presentments from medieval times for illegally taking wood. (fn. 75) On the demesne of Wyllyotts oaks were felled in Halfpenny grove in 1594 so that it might be converted to meadow or pasture. (fn. 76) In 1620 woodland was said to comprise 12 per cent of the known area of the parish. (fn. 77) By 1842 woods made up 97 a., or under 2 per cent, of South Mimms, and comprised chiefly Wrotham and Dyrham Parks, and Mimmshall, Furzefield, Pilvage, Chase, Fir, and Spoilbank woods. (fn. 78)
Isabel Frowyk held a windmill in South Mimms in 1289. It probably stood between Old Fold and Christ Church. (fn. 79) A mill was among the appurtenances of Old Fold held by the Frowyks in 1310, (fn. 80) and among those leased in 1639 to Thomas Allen. (fn. 81)
There was a windmill on the demesne of South Mimms in 1295 (fn. 82) and probably by c. 1220, when Gervase and Arnold, millers of South Mimms, are mentioned. (fn. 83) It was recorded again in 1336 (fn. 84) and in 1349 was said to be worth 13s. 4d. (fn. 85) It presumably stood near the site of the manor-house in Windmill field. (fn. 86)
A third mill, of unspecified type, was included in 1668 among the outbuildings of the Blue Bell Inn, Mimms Side. (fn. 87) A mill also figured among the property of Steven Bowman in 1628. (fn. 88) Later it was apparently forfeited as deodand but granted to William Bowman by the earl of Salisbury in 1668. (fn. 89)
Markets and fairs.
A market at Barnet, granted by King John to the monks of St. Albans in 1199 and held on Thursdays, (fn. 90) also served South Mimms. It was originally held in Barnet but by 1889 it had been moved to South Mimms to a site in St. Albans Road. (fn. 91) In 1967 the market was privately managed and had become a stall market held twice weekly. (fn. 92)
A fair, mainly for pleasure, was held on Whit Tuesday on South Mimms Green. (fn. 93) It was apparently discontinued soon after 1899. (fn. 94) Two annual fairs, each lasting three days, were held at Barnet. (fn. 95) The April fair, which was a cattle and horse fair, had died out before the end of the 19th century, (fn. 96) but the September fair, 'for cattle and pleasure', (fn. 97) continued to flourish, being condemned by schoolmasters at South Mimms and Potters Bar. (fn. 98) In 1967 the September fair was still held and had been combined with a horse fair. (fn. 99)
Trade and industry.
Apart from a blacksmith mentioned c. 1220, (fn. 100) some of the earliest known tradesmen were maltmen, recorded in 1417 and again in 1420, 1423, and 1447. (fn. 101) Others included wheelwrights in 1420 and 1485 (fn. 102) and upholsterers in 1588. (fn. 103) In the 17th century residents included an upholsterer, plasterer, shoemaker, tanner, tailor, cordwainer, carpenters, brewers, and oatmeal makers. (fn. 104)
Chalk pits in the north-west of the parish seem to have been in use from medieval times and, in the 1960s, were worked by the Barnet Lime Co. (fn. 105) Charcoal-burning gave rise to the name Colliers Lane (recorded in 1453), (fn. 106) and a collier is first mentioned in 1382. (fn. 107) Page, lessee of the demesne woods of South Mimms manor, was a charcoal-burner c. 1606 (fn. 108) and several other colliers are recorded in the 17th century. (fn. 109) There were gravel pits at Kitts End, Bentley Heath, and in what later became Oakmere Park. (fn. 110) Fuel for making bricks seems to have come from Enfield Chase and, from the fabric of Ladbrooke farm-house, it seems that the industry was in existence in Elizabethan times. (fn. 111) A 7-acre brickyard lay north of the site of St. John's school, Potters Bar, in 1658 (fn. 112) and a kiln (probably for bricks) was among the goods of William Bowman in 1668. (fn. 113) Several bricklayers are recorded in the early 17th century (fn. 114) and a cottage built on the Chase was called the Brick Kiln in 1781. (fn. 115) Two fields in the north of the parish belonging to Darkes and to Warrengate farm were both known as Brick Kiln field. (fn. 116) A cottage, standing on the corner of Kitts End Green and known by 1881 as Basketts Lot, was formerly described as Silk Weavers Hall. (fn. 117)
In 1801 South Mimms contained 99 farm workers and as many as 95 tradesmen or craftsmen. Almost 89 per cent of the population fell within neither category. By 1831, when numbers had increased by only 15 per cent, 298 families were employed in agriculture, 113 in trade or manufacturing, and 32 in other occupations, most of them in domestic service. (fn. 118)
In the mid 19th century, when most inhabitants were still engaged in agriculture, (fn. 119) tradesmen and craftsmen lived mainly in High Street, Barnet, although there were some in High Street, Potters Bar, and in South Mimms village. The presence of several wheelwrights, harness makers, coach makers, blacksmiths, and saddlers was a consequence of traffic along the Great North Road. Specialized tradesmen included a white-smith and bell-hanger, a birdpreserver, a straw-bonnet maker, and a hurdlemaker. (fn. 120) In the late 19th century there were commercial premises in several Barnet streets including two chandlers' shops and a hay dealer's in Calvert Road, and grocers and an umbrella maker's in Union Street. (fn. 121) A dental factory had been established in Alston Road by 1897 (fn. 122) and was still there in 1914. Several laundries were started in Barnet in the early 20th century in Queen's, New, and Sebright roads. There were still craftsmen connected with horse traffic, as well as several gamekeepers and gardeners employed at the large residences. (fn. 123)
The building of the G.N.R. line between King's Cross and York c. 1850 eventually led to the growth of Darkes Lane, Potters Bar, as a shopping and industrial centre. After the Second World War an industrial estate was built adjacent to the railway goods yard and in 1973 was occupied by 14 firms. They included Amalgamated Plastics Leaside Works, Kemlows Diecasting Products, and other light engineering works. The Progress Press has been in Station Close since 1966 and practises offset lithography. (fn. 124) In 1973 18 firms were occupying sites on both sides of Cranborne Road in the north of the parish. Among them was a branch of W. Harold Perry, the largest Ford main dealers, which opened in Potters Bar in 1959 and by 1973 employed 80 persons. (fn. 125) Other comparatively large firms included C. P. Roberts & Co., Declon Foam Plastics, and J. & L. Randall, toy manufacturers. Knight Strip Metals, after thirteen years in Station Close, in 1973 moved into a warehouse and factory at Knuway House, Cranborne Road, where it made high-precision metal foils and strip and supplied many aircraft parts. (fn. 126) Other light engineering firms occupied sites in St. Albans Road and High Street, Potters Bar. In 1973 considerable building was being carried out in Potters Bar, and a new factory, Hoval Boilers, employing 86 people, had been erected in Mutton Lane, on land owned by the Unilever Pension Trust of Blackfriars, London.