Hendon: Introduction

Pages 1-2

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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Hendon, (fn. 1) the third largest parish in Middlesex, totalled 8,290 a. in 1831 (fn. 2) and measured approximately seven miles from north to south and four miles from east to west at its widest points. (fn. 3) Several modern suburbs, including Mill Hill, which is 10 miles from London, Golders Green, Childs Hill, part of Cricklewood, and the greater part of Hampstead Garden Suburb, lie within the ancient parish. It was bounded to the north and north-east by Elstree and Arkley (Herts.) and Totteridge (Herts., later Barnet L.B.), to the east by Finchley, to the south by Hampstead, to the south-west by Willesden, and to the west by Kingsbury, Little Stanmore, and Edgware. The eastern boundary, after following Dollis and Mutton brooks, ran across fields to a point some 300 yards north-west of the Spaniards inn (on the borders of Hampstead and Finchley), where it turned south-west to meet Watling Street (Edgware Road), south of Cricklewood. The western boundary followed the road for almost five miles north-westward to Edgware bridge, except between Brent bridge and the Hyde where it turned west along the Brent and then north to rejoin the road. From Edgware bridge the boundary ran northeast along Dean's brook and across fields to Hertfordshire. The boundaries were largely fixed by the late 10th century, the northern one being that of an estate called Lotheresleage and the southern that of another estate called Blechenham. (fn. 4) The parish corresponded to Hendon U.D., created in 1895, before Edgware was added from Hendon R.D. in 1931. The urban district was incorporated in 1932 and became part of Barnet L.B. in 1965. (fn. 5)

The soil is predominantly London Clay but there is a small outcrop of pebble gravel north of Highwood Hill, while the Mill Hill ridge and the northern slopes of Hampstead Heath are topped by Claygate Beds. There is a large area of glacial gravel around Church End in the centre of the parish, a smaller one north of Golders Green, and a patch of Taplow Gravel near Brent Underground station. (fn. 6) Alluvium lies along Silk stream and Dollis brook. Topography and settlement were strongly influenced by ridges and their intervening valleys. The highest point, 443 ft., is in the north, where Highwood Hill marks the junction of two ridges, one stretching east to Totteridge and the other south-east through Holcombe Hill to Mill Hill and Bittacy Hill. West of the second ridge the land slopes down to the Hale and Edgware Road; it also slopes to the south, before rising to the hill where Church End stands. South, east, and west of Church End the land descends to the Brent and its tributaries, but in the south-east it rises again to the heights of Hampstead Heath, at Childs Hill and Golders Hill.

The main river is the Brent, which cuts across the parish from west to east. Silk stream, a tributary, runs parallel to Edgware Road and is formed by the confluence of Dean's brook, known in the Middle Ages as the Heybourne (Yburnan), (fn. 7) with Edgware brook south-east of Edgware bridge. The Brent itself splits at Mutton bridge, the northern portion becoming Dollis brook and the eastern Mutton brook. For much of its distance the boundary between Hendon and Totteridge (Herts.) follows a headstream of the Brent which was called the Tatbourne as late as 1574. (fn. 8) In 1835-9 the Brent and Silk stream were dammed to construct Brent reservoir (the Welsh Harp), in order to supply the Paddington Canal at Harlesden. (fn. 9) The reservoir, which lay within Hendon, Kingsbury, and Willesden, was enlarged between 1851 and 1853, (fn. 10) to cover 350 a. In 1921 the part of the northern arm which reached north-east of Edgware Road was reclaimed and a culvert was built to carry Silk stream under the road. (fn. 11) The courses of the southern end of Silk stream and of the river Brent were straightened at about the same time.

Prominent residents not mentioned elsewhere included Henry Joynes (d. 1754), mason-architect and comptroller of the works at Blenheim Palace, who lived at Golders Green and was buried in Hendon churchyard; (fn. 12) Jeremy Bentham, who lodged at Dollis Farm in the early 19th century; (fn. 13) and Sir Richard Hoare (1648-1718), banker, who died at a house in the parish. Later inhabitants included Granville George Leveson-Gower, Earl Granville (1815-91), Liberal statesman, who occupied Golders Green, or Hodford, Farm; (fn. 14) Thomas Tilling (1825-93), founder of the London omnibus firm, who was born at Gutters Hedge Farm, (fn. 15) and Sir Francis Pettit Smith (1808-74), inventor of the screw propeller for ships, who lived at the same farm in the mid 19th century; (fn. 16) Thomas Woolner (1825-92), sculptor and poet; (fn. 17) James Willing (1818-1906), inventor of bill-posting, who lived at Rockhall, Cricklewood; (fn. 18) Thomas Cobden-Sanderson (1840- 1922), book-binder and printer, who lived from 1885 at Goodyers, Brent Street; (fn. 19) and Sir John Blundell Maple, Bt. (1845-1903), sportsman and chairman of the London furnishing firm, who lived at Orange Hill House. (fn. 20) Mr. Harold Wilson (b. 1916) moved to no. 10 Southway, Hampstead Garden Suburb, in 1948 and to no. 12 Southway in 1953, where he lived until becoming Prime Minister in 1964. (fn. 21)


  • 1. The article was written in 1970. Any references to later years are dated. The help of Miss M. McDerby, Mrs. J. M. Corden, and Miss M. Brown in commenting on the article is gratefully acknowledged. Some preliminary work was done by Mr. G. R. Thomas.
  • 2. Census, 1831.
  • 3. Except where otherwise stated, the rest of the para. is based on O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. VI; XI. NW., NE., SE. (1894-8 edns.).
  • 4. P.N. Mdx. (E.P.N.S.), 219-21; see below, p. 6.
  • 5. See p. 31.
  • 6. Geol. Surv. Map 1", drift, sheet 256 (1951 edn.); V.C.H. Mdx. i. 2, 4-5.
  • 7. P.N. Mdx. (E.P.N.S.), 3.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. A. J. Garrett, 'Hist. Geog. of Upper Brent' (Lond. Univ. M.A. thesis, 1935), 97.
  • 10. Home Cnties. Mag. i. 177; J. Hopkins, Hist. Hendon, 87.
  • 11. Howard Farrow Ltd., Work in Progress, 42.
  • 12. M.L.R. 1755/2/484; Lysons, Environs, iii. 12.
  • 13. Mill Hill Hist. Soc., Add. Items 59.
  • 14. D.N.B.
  • 15. Mill Hill Hist. Soc., Add. Items 61.
  • 16. Ibid. 3.
  • 17. D.N.B.; Robbins, Mdx. 290.
  • 18. Mill Hill Hist. Soc., Add. Items 57; D.N.B.
  • 19. D.N.B.; Hopkins, Hendon, 91.
  • 20. D.N.B.; A. G. Clarke, Story of Goldbeaters and Watling, 19.
  • 21. Ex inf. the Rt. Hon. J. H. Wilson.