Little Stanmore: Economic history

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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'Little Stanmore: Economic history', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham, (London, 1976) pp. 117-120. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

In this section



In 1086 Little Stanmore, like Great Stanmore, was assessed at 9½ hides and included land for 7 ploughs, pasture for the cattle of the vill, and woodland for 800 pigs. It was worth £10 T.R.E., a mere 20s. when received by Roger de Rames, and 60s. at the time of Domesday Book. There was one plough, with room for two more, on the 4-hide demesne, and the tenants had 3 ploughs, with room for one more. One villein had a virgate, 8 villeins each had ½ virgate, and 3 bordars each had 5 a.; there were 2 serfs. (fn. 1)

On some 379 a. held by St. Bartholomew's priory in 1306, 6 houses and 3 carucates were held by free tenants in demesne, and 13 houses and about 100 a. were held by freemen or serfs in villeinage. There were 18 demesne holdings, with 13 individual tenants, and 34 holdings in villeinage, with 17 tenants, three of whom also held in demesne. Most of the villein holdings comprised less than 5 a. and no more than three exceeded 10 a. Villeins enjoyed all the customs of the prior's manor of Langley (Essex), save that a widow might not hold more than one third of any tenement of which her husband had been seised. (fn. 2) The customs of Langley were themselves based on those of Shortgrove (Essex), with the difference that at Shortgrove no heriots were owed. (fn. 3)

In 1276-7 services for mowing, haymaking, and weeding were owed by three tenants of Stanmore Chenduit manor. The total value was only 2s. 2d. a year, whereas services had been commuted by one of the tenants for part of his holding and by five others for 27s. 7d. A cock and two hens, worth 3d., were also owed. (fn. 4) More than half of the tenants on the St. Bartholomew's estate in 1306 owed customary services: 22 performed weeding works, 22 haymaking, 11 harrowing, and 26 reaping. The total value of the works and of two hens and a cock was 4s. 9½d. Twenty-eight tenants also attended the lord's great reaping days, when more was taken than the value of the works. One man performed all the usual services, although the previous holder had been allowed to commute them. At Langley, and therefore presumably at Little Stanmore, commutation was not the custom. (fn. 5) A tenant of Little Stanmore still owed autumn works in 1541. (fn. 6)

Arable accounted for 156 a. or slightly over 40 per cent of the priory's estate in 1306, pasture for 167 a. or nearly 45 per cent, and woodland for the remainder. Villein holdings contained little more than 8 a. of grassland. (fn. 7) Of the 578 a. subsequently acquired by St. Bartholomew's, 465 a. were arable, a mere 38 a. were meadow or pasture, and 75 a. were woodland. By 1335 the priory thus held 957½ a., of which 621 a. or nearly 65 per cent was arable and slightly over 20 per cent grass. (fn. 8) In the early 16th century the priory's tenants were normally forbidden to plough up meadow land and had to leave arable fallow for ten years after it had borne three years' crops. (fn. 9)

One third of the pasture on the priory's estate in 1306, at Lurspit and 'Pyrifeld', was for cows and cart-horses. The remaining 113 a., at Grimsditch, were for heifers. (fn. 10) Lurspit lay in the centre of the parish, north of Whitchurch Lane, (fn. 11) and Grimsditch entered from Edgware in the north-east, near the crest of Brockley Hill. (fn. 12) There were also separate fields and commons for 140 sheep. The villeins enjoyed pannage but were liable to fines of ½d. or 1d. if their pigs trespassed on the demesne. (fn. 13) By 1501 there was a dove-house at Canons, where in 1535 the moat was stocked with fish. (fn. 14) There was a pound in 1736, probably farther east than one which stood in 1865 at the north end of Marsh Lane; the second pound had gone by 1897. (fn. 15)

St. Bartholomew's let blocks of its estate on long leases many years before it was threatened by the Dissolution. Canons was leased out for 40 years in 1501, (fn. 16) as well as for a further 50 years in 1535. (fn. 17) The Great Marsh and other fields, previously let for 30 years in 1520, were let again at an unchanged rent for 41 years from 1535. An adjoining meadow was let for 30 years from 1526 and a block in the north of the parish was likewise let from 1530. Tenants normally could not sub-let any parcel of land for more than one year without the lord's consent. (fn. 18)

In 1541 the annual rents of St. Bartholomew's former lands in Little Stanmore totalled some £98, of which over £75 was paid by 5 tenants. The most substantial was Peter Franklin, who held lands worth £20, extending into Great Stanmore, under a lease of 1527. The others were Henry Hyde, Simon Hoddesdon, a local yeoman, John Goodwin, a London tallow-chandler, and William Daunce, who paid £13 6s. 8d. a year for Canons. (fn. 19) The Franklins were widespread, related to the Nicholls and with members in both Stanmores, Edgware, Kingsbury, and Willesden, embracing servants, yeomen, and gentry. John Franklin (d. by 1596) (fn. 20) and his son Richard (d. by 1615) (fn. 21) were described as of Canons, (fn. 22) although they never lived in the manor-house; the house owned by John was probably the farm-house adjoining Canons which Richard held in 1604. (fn. 23) Theirs was the most prosperous branch of the family, for John held manors in Bedfordshire and Oxfordshire which passed to his son and then to his grandson Sir John Franklin, (fn. 24) lord of Cowley Peachey and of Hayes. (fn. 25) Neither Richard nor Sir John, who were residents of Willesden, died holding property in Little Stanmore. (fn. 26)

In c. 1729, when the duke of Chandos owned 1,492 a. of Little Stanmore, almost one third, 481 a. formed the demesne of Canons. The remainder was leased out, usually for 21 years although a few holdings were leased for 14 years and others during pleasure; the length of some terms was not recorded. John Phillpot, the duke's leading tenant, held 207 a., including the 54 a. of Grub's farm; Old farm contained 65 a. and New farm 90 a. (fn. 27) In 1867 ten farmers or smallholders submitted returns, when there were still 1,363 a. of agricultural land. (fn. 28) By 1897 many estates were smaller, for 21 returns were made for 1,220 a. In 1917 there were 18 returns for 1,183 a., ten being for holdings of under 20 a. and only three for holdings of over 150 a. (fn. 29)

The lands attached to Canons, being largely ornamental, distorted any picture of the economy of the parish in the early 18th century. They included 27 a. 'within the iron palisadoes', 63 a. making up the rest of the pleasure gardens and the physic garden, and 172 a. of woodland. On most holdings meadow predominated, although John Phillpot held as many as 136 a. of arable, including the whole of Grub's farm. Arable accounted for a quarter, 16 a., of the land on Old farm and for less than a quarter, 17 a. on New farm. (fn. 30) By 1798 arable covered less than one tenth of the parish, about 130 a., (fn. 31) and by 1867 it had shrunk to 100 a., although there were still 1,363 a. of farm-land. Thereafter it virtually disappeared, amounting to 2 a. out of 1,220 a. in 1897 and 12½ a. out of 1,183 a. in 1917. (fn. 32)

Corn, chiefly wheat, was grown on about 60 per cent of the arable in 1801 and 1867. Beans were the next largest green crop in 1801, when they covered 25 a., but had become less important than root crops by 1867. Potatoes, turnips, and mangolds alone were grown 50 years later. Sheep were the main livestock in 1867, when 1,775 were kept. By 1897 there were no more than 120, although the number of cattle had roughly trebled, to 161, and that of pigs had fallen very little, to 55. Well over two-thirds of the farmland, 875 a., supported permanent grass for mowing at that date, when London's demand for hay was at its height. Twenty years later livestock had again increased, to 844 sheep, 320 cattle and 183 pigs; fields used for grazing had expanded to cover 609 a., whereas grass for mowing had shrunk to 559 a. (fn. 33) Stanmore Dairies operated in the 1960s at Wood farm, south of Wood Lane, but the farm was used mainly for pig-breeding, with a stock of 300-350 sows, in 1972. (fn. 34) At that date agriculture was still carried on in the north, at Brockley Hill farm.


There were 56 a. of woodland on the priory's 379 a. in 1306 and a further 75 a. among the 578 a. of land which were soon afterwards acquired. In 1335, therefore, some 15 per cent of the 957-a. estate was wooded. (fn. 35) Woods and underwoods were often reserved in early-16th-century leases, although tenants were granted hedgebote. Tenants could keep the wood from any hedgerows grubbed up to make arable or pasture but must care for the remaining hedges and for the young trees. Woods might be sold separately and inclosed by the buyer. (fn. 36) A number of hedgerows and groves were leased out in 1534, some of them for one year and some for 18 years; future supplies were to be assured by preserving as many standards as was customary. (fn. 37) When William Daunce leased Canons in 1535, he was permitted to lop or grub up any trees within the grounds. (fn. 38)

The former monastic property granted to Hugh Losse in 1552 included Pear or Pares wood, recorded in 1538, (fn. 39) Bromfield grove, mentioned in 1512, (fn. 40) Anmers grove, and Giles park. (fn. 41) The first three covered 200 a., 80 a., and 30 a. respectively when mortgaged by Robert Losse in 1589. (fn. 42) They had been much reduced by 1640, when Pear wood and Bromfield heath together contained 180 a. and Anmers grove a mere 10 a.; Giles park then contained 22 a. and a further 34 a. were divided equally between springs near the manor-house and others in Wimborough. (fn. 43) At that date Cloisters wood, also recorded in 1541, and Crabtree orchard belonged to the rectory but by 1691 they too formed part of the Canons estate, which contained 320 a. of woodland. (fn. 44) By 1838 woods, plantations, and nurseries together made up no more than 58 a. of the parish. They comprised chiefly the 31 a. of Pear wood and 12 a. of Cloisters wood, belonging to Sir Robert Smirke, whose seat, Warren House, lay in Great Stanmore. (fn. 45) Both woods covered the same areas in 1971. (fn. 46)


The cellarer of St. Bartholomew's received 46s. 8d. a year from a windmill at Grimsditch in 1306. (fn. 47) Its profits were not recorded again, although a mill-house was among the appurtenances of Canons leased to Hugh Losse in 1543 (fn. 48) and a mill among those surrendered to Sir Thomas Lake in 1604. (fn. 49) The former windmill was said in 1680 to have stood near the boundary with Great Stanmore, on the crest of Brockley Hill. (fn. 50)

Markets and fairs.

Sir Thomas Lake was granted the right to hold a weekly market and two annual fairs at Little Stanmore in 1604. (fn. 51) Fairs were not recorded again but a market was said to belong to the manor of Canons in 1640. (fn. 52) Presumably it had been discontinued by 1749, when the master of the free school was authorized to convert for his own use part of the market-house under the schoolroom. (fn. 53) Markets at Edgware probably served Little Stanmore until they, too, ceased to function at the end of the 18th century. (fn. 54)

Trade and industry.

The earliest known tradesman was a maltman, first recorded in 1571. (fn. 55) Others included a baker in 1572, a chandler in 1597, (fn. 56) a brewer and a cordwainer in 1613, a collier in the following year, (fn. 57) a mealman in 1635, (fn. 58) and a collarmaker in 1696. (fn. 59) The first shop-keeper was mentioned in 1726. (fn. 60) Such references do not give an accurate picture, however, since anyone living on the east side of the village high street was described as of Edgware.

Gravel had recently been dug near Pear wood in 1538. (fn. 61) There were bricklayers in 1659 and 1715. (fn. 62) A local brick-maker worked under John James at Canons early in 1714 but soon an outsider was brought in and bricks were ordered from Brentford. (fn. 63) At Brockley Hill bricks had been dug on what had become arable land by 1725, (fn. 64) presumably where Brick field lay south-west of Brockley Hill farm in 1838. (fn. 65) A brick-kiln was among the duke of Chandos's possessions in the parish in 1744. (fn. 66)

In 1801 there were 42 farmworkers and as many as 73 tradesmen or craftsmen, most of whom presumably worked in businesses along Edgware Road. Three-quarters of the population fell within neither category. By 1831, when numbers had almost doubled, 45 families were employed in agriculture, 68 in trade or manufacturing, and 77 in other occupations. (fn. 67) None of the tradesmen or craftsmen who lived along the west side of Edgware Road in 1851 employed more than two assistants; the shops, although less varied than in Great Stanmore, included a confectioner's and an umbrella-maker's. (fn. 68)

Growth in the 20th century was overwhelmingly residential. In 1915 The Leto Photo Materials Co. had a works in Meads Road, which was occupied by Wellington & Ward in 1923 and later by Harper & Tunstall, makers of drawing office equipment. (fn. 69) Land in the north-east, between the Watford by-pass and Elstree village, was acquired by the London Passenger Transport Board under its New Works Programme of 1935-40, as a depot to serve the proposed extension of the tube line from Edgware to Aldenham (Herts.). During the Second World War an aircraft factory occupied the site, where in 1956, after plans for the tube had been abandoned, London Transport opened a depot for overhauling buses. In 1971 nearly 1,000 people were employed at Aldenham Bus Works, which covered 17 a. (fn. 70) The only other large factory at that date was Terminal House, on the corner of London Road and Merrion Avenue, which had been occupied on its completion in 1964 by Aircraft-Marine Products (G.B.), later AMP of Great Britain. The firm's United States parent-company pioneered the system of crimping terminals to electric wire, serving the marine and aircraft industries and later a wide range of massproduced articles. In 1971 AMP employed 320 persons at its Stanmore factory. (fn. 71) The other industrial sites, off Burnt Oak Broadway and Edgware High Street, were largely occupied by garages and by new and second-hand car dealers. Among the firms was a branch of W. Harold Perry, the largest Ford main dealers, which acquired nos. 51 to 55 High Street in 1958 and by 1972 employed about 130 people. (fn. 72) Movitex Signs, makers of information boards, lettering sets and similar products, acquired a site off the main street north of Whitchurch Lane in 1968; about 100 people worked there in 1972. (fn. 73) Close by was the entrance to Ballards Yard, which was used by several small firms concerned with manufactures in metal.


  • 1. V.C.H. Mdx. i. 128.
  • 2. The figures are based on Webb, Recs. of St. Barts. i. 449-55, containing the Mdx. entries on a rental (Bodl. Middlesex Roll I) transcribed in ibid. i. 428-77.
  • 3. Ibid. i. 436, 440.
  • 4. S.C. 11/439.
  • 5. Webb, op. cit. i. 450-5, 440.
  • 6. S. C. 6/Hen. VIII/2396 m. 123d.
  • 7. Webb, op. cit. i. 450-5.
  • 8. Cal. Pat. 1313-17, 114, 558; 1330-4, 13, 195; 1334-8, 96-7; Webb, op. cit. i. 351.
  • 9. E 303/9/218; E 303/9/237; E 303/9/290.
  • 10. Webb, op. cit. i. 450.
  • 11. P.N. Mdx. (E.P.N.S.), 212; M.R.O., TA/S'MORE Lt.
  • 12. T.L.M.A.S. xiii. 383.
  • 13. Webb, op. cit. i. 450, 455.
  • 14. C 1/572/35; E 303/9/281.
  • 15. M.L.R. 1736/4/38; O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. V. SE. (1865 and 1897 edns.).
  • 16. C 1/572/35.
  • 17. See above, p. 114.
  • 18. E 303/9/218; E 303/9/237; E 303/9/264; E 303/9/290.
  • 19. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/2396 mm. 122-3.
  • 20. Prob. 11/87 (P.C.C. 19 Drake).
  • 21. Prob. 11/126 (P.C.C. 70 Rudd).
  • 22. Prob. 11/100 (P.C.C. 81 Montague, will of Agnes Franklin); Davenport MSS., Gt. Stan., will of Ric. Franklin (d. 1599).
  • 23. Davenport MSS., Lt. Stan., sale of man. by Sir Hugh Losse.
  • 24. Prob. 11/87 (P.C.C. 19 Drake); Prob. 11/126 (P.C.C. 70 Rudd); Prob. 11/200 (P.C.C. 85 Fines).
  • 25. V.C.H. Mdx. iii. 173; iv. 26.
  • 26. Prob. 11/126; Prob. 11/200.
  • 27. M.R.O., Acc. 262/72/1.
  • 28. M.A.F. 68 136.
  • 29. M.A.F. 68/1675; M.A.F. 68/2815. Until 1895 holdings of 5 a. or less were not included but there were only two of them in 1917.
  • 30. M.R.O., Acc. 262/72/1.
  • 31. Middleton, View, 560. Arable was some 125 a. in 1801: H.O. 67/16.
  • 32. M.A.F. 68/136; M.A.F. 68/1675; M.A.F. 68/2815.
  • 33. Middleton, View, 560; M.A.F. 68/136; M.A.F. 68/1675; M.A.F. 68/2815.
  • 34. Ex inf. the lessee.
  • 35. Webb, Recs. of St. Barts. i. 350-1.
  • 36. C 1/572/35; E 303/9/218; E 303/9/237; E 303/9/290.
  • 37. E 303/9/250; E 303/9/281.
  • 38. E 303/9/281.
  • 39. E 303/9/223.
  • 40. Req. 2/3/184.
  • 41. Cal. Pat. 1550-3, 457.
  • 42. Davenport MSS., Anc. Deeds A 5762.
  • 43. Davenport MSS., indenture betw. Sir Thos. and Dame Dorothy Lake and Dame Frances Weld.
  • 44. Ibid., indenture betw. Warwick Lake and Jas. Brydges and others.
  • 45. M.R.O., TA/S'MORE Lt.
  • 46. O.S. Map 6", Mdx. V. SE. (1865 edn.); Bartholomew, Ref. Atlas Greater Lond. (1968 edn.).
  • 47. Webb, Recs. of St. Barts. i. 450-1.
  • 48. S.C. 6/298/1.
  • 49. C. P. 25(2)/323/2 Jas. 1 Trin. Mdx.
  • 50. Davenport MSS., Gt. Stan. ct. rolls.
  • 51. Cal. S.P.Dom. 1603-10, 171.
  • 52. Davenport MSS., parts. of man. of Canons.
  • 53. Vestry order bk.
  • 54. V.C.H. Mdx. iv. 161.
  • 55. Prob. 11/53 (P.C.C. 29 Holney, will of Thos. Oxton).
  • 56. Davenport MSS., Com. Ct. Lond., ff. 116, 410.
  • 57. Mdx. Sess. Recs. i. 49, 102; iii. 172.
  • 58. Davenport MSS., Com. Ct. Lond., f. 127.
  • 59. Prob. 11/431 (P.C.C. 70 Bond, will of John Holmes).
  • 60. Davenport MSS., Com. Ct. Lond. reg. no. 64.
  • 61. E 303/9/223.
  • 62. Prob. 11/297 (P.C.C. 6 Nabbs, will of Isaac Doughty); Davenport MSS., Com. Ct. Lond. reg. no. 57.
  • 63. Baker, Chandos, 116-17.
  • 64. M.L.R. 1725/4/368.
  • 65. M.R.O., TA/S'MORE Lt.
  • 66. M.L.R. 1744/1/305.
  • 67. Census, 1801, 1831.
  • 68. H.O. 107/1700/135/2.
  • 69. Kelly's Dir. Watford (1915-16); Kelly's Dirs. Edgware (1923, 1938); Kemp's Harrow and Dist. Dir. (1973).
  • 70. Ex inf. London Transport.
  • 71. Ex inf. W. Harold Perry Ltd.
  • 72. Ex inf. AMP of Great Britain Ltd.
  • 73. Ex inf. Movitex Signs Ltd.