Great Stanmore: Economic history

Pages 99-102

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 Great Stanmore was assessed at 9½ hides, which included land for 7 ploughs, pasture for the cattle of the vill, and woodland for 800 pigs. The value had fallen from £10 T.R.E. to 10s. when Robert of Mortain received it, but had risen to 60s. at the time of the Domesday survey. The lord had 2 ploughs and room for one more on his 6½-hide demesne, and his tenants had 1½ plough, with room for 2½ more. The tenants consisted of a priest, who had ½ hide, 4 villeins each on one virgate, 2 more on one virgate, 3 cottars on 10 a., and 3 others on 1 a. (fn. 1)

The lord occupied Great Stanmore manor-house and lands totalling 40 a. in 1587-8. The remaining 362 a. in demesne, including 45 a. in Harrow parish, were divided among 17 tenants, whose holdings ranged from 88 a. to a single acre, fourteen of them being less than 30 a. Four freeholders owed quitrents totalling 9s. 8d. and copyholders paid a total of £1 13s. 8d. for 20 holdings, (fn. 2) which included 13 of the head tenements. (fn. 3) By 1714, after the manorial estate had been divided and the demesne reduced to 208 a., as many as 109 a. were in hand. The remainder was farmed by five tenants, four of them tenants at will and the largest enjoying a lease for 21 years. (fn. 4) Much of the duke of Chandos's land, covering 778 a. or slightly more than half of the parish, was let on 21-year leases from the 1730s, (fn. 5) when his chief farming tenants were Samuel Ward, who leased some 161 a., and William Street of Old Church farm, who leased 175 a. (fn. 6) Few enfranchisements took place before the mid 19th-century. (fn. 7)

The parish contained 1,333 a. of farm-land in 1867, (fn. 8) by which time the tenant of Old Church farm lived in the former homestead of Ward's farm. From 1871 he also leased 199 a. of Marsh farm, stretching into Little Stanmore, after the sale of its farm-house and 7 a. by St. Bartholomew's hospital. Old Church and Marsh farms, at first together covering 376 a., (fn. 9) continued to be leased to a single tenant until the break-up of the hospital's estates. (fn. 10) In 1897 Great Stanmore had 967 a. of farm-land, divided among 19 farmers or small-holders. In 1917 there were 20 returns for 847 a., sixteen of them for holdings of under 20 a. (fn. 11)

None of the head tenements bore a personal name which persisted into the 16th-century save Aylwards, named from the Aylward or Ayleworth family recorded from 1489 to 1586. (fn. 12) By 1679 some had already been divided and one, Pathsgate otherwise Brains, (fn. 13) had come to form two head tenements. In that year there were 15: Fiddles, Pathsgate, Montagues, Thrums, Pynnacles, Mackerels, Aylwards, Rooks, and Buggs were described as houses or tenements, while Barretts, Heriots Wood, Brooks, Simrookes, Brains, and Cock Allens were merely fields. (fn. 14)

Four men held the 13 head tenements recorded in 1587-8. (fn. 15) The families in whose hands the head tenements had become concentrated were also represented in neighbouring parishes and comprised both yeomen and gentry. (fn. 16) Richard Franklin, who held Fiddles, had a cousin and namesake who was a leading tenant in Little Stanmore. (fn. 17) Thomas Nicholl, who held five head tenements, came from a widespread family related to the Franklins. (fn. 18) Thomas Norwood of Pinner, holding land in Great Stanmore in the right of his wife Joan, had surrendered five head tenements and parcels of two others in 1582 and 1583 to his son Warner Norwood. The parcels were held in 1587-8 by Joan Norwood's son and Warner's half-brother Thomas Tailor, who also held yet another head tenement. Franklin's head tenement, and seven of those held by Nicholl, the Norwoods, and Tailor, were acquired in the 17th-century by the Burnells. (fn. 19) By 1679 only two men held as many as two head tenements. (fn. 20) Edward Norwood the elder, Edward Norwood the younger, and John Norwood, a substantial landowner in Pinner, (fn. 21) each had one of the head tenements formerly held by Warner Norwood, Nathaniel Nicholl had two of those which had been held by Thomas Nicholl, and John Burnell had two which had been held by his uncle Thomas Burnell. The Burnells ceased to hold any head tenements after surrenders by John Burnell's daughter Elizabeth Webb in 1692 and 1700. A Thomas Nicholl of Watford held Nathaniel's former head tenements in 1730 and Ruth Norwood of Guildford (Surr.), widow of Richard Norwood, surrendered one of the Norwoods' holdings as late as 1736. Another had already been surrendered by the younger Edward's daughter Priscilla Norwood in 1711 and a third, Aylwards, had passed to Priscilla's cousin William Boys, whose family held the Norwoods' lands in Pinner (fn. 22) and retained Aylwards until 1822. Six head tenements were not recorded as such after the early 18th-century. Four others were bought by Andrew Drummond and presumably passed with the Drummonds' estate to Lord Abercorn. (fn. 23)

The lord, Geoffrey Chamber, claimed in 1544 that any homage should be forfeit if it had fallen into decay. (fn. 24) In 1679 a homage of nine, including six head tenants, swore that a best beast was owed as heriot for a single head tenement and 3s. 6d. for any others. Undersetters were to pay rent to the head tenant, as before, rather than to the lord's steward who had admitted them. Copyholders wishing to alienate property must surrender it to two head tenants, who were to present the surrender at the next court baron on pain of forfeiting their own holdings. (fn. 25) The homage also repeated a presentment of 1664 that, if an underset holding was to be sold, the head tenant should have time in which to buy it for the price offered by the third party. In 1725 several lawyers pointed out that the homage of 1679 had been unrepresentative; the lord had been denied his proper heriots and the claim to buy back undersets was attributed to one head tenant's desire to be paid a commission for agreeing to a sale. Chandos's own steward thought it wrong that sales should be held up without good security (fn. 26) but, despite the many doubts, no new custumal was drawn up. Sums of £7 and £15, in lieu of live beasts, were paid on entering head tenements as late as 1846 and 1858. (fn. 27)

Head tenements and undersets were heritable by females, (fn. 28) although in 1679 they could not be vested in widows, whose yearly income would be assessed on the lands by the homage. Guardians were to be appointed for heirs under the age of fourteen. The lord received a relief of a year's rent for copyhold land and one year's rent when it was alienated. Copyhold land could not be sublet for more than three years without licence: in 1664 Hester Burnell forfeited her head tenement, Fiddles, for making a long lease to her son John, who, however, was soon readmitted. (fn. 29) Leases for terms of 21 years or less were often licensed from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

Parishioners were forbidden to pasture any sheep other than their own in 1684 and were repeatedly fined for overburdening the common. In 1640 grazing rights for 20 sheep and 4 steers were allowed to a head tenant and for half that number to an under-tenant, as well as 5 sheep for every acre of leyland and 3 for every acre of fallow. A different custom was asserted in 1646, permitting all tenants to graze 2 sheep for an acre of arable, 5 for an acre of meadow, and 3 for an acre of leyland. Pigs were to be yoked from Christmas until harvest time and always to be kept ringed, according to an order often repeated from 1580. (fn. 30)

By 1714 grassland exceeded arable. Some 60 a. of the lands in hand were meadow and 36 a. were arable. The largest block of demesne lands leased out, 44 a. with Warren House, was arable, but the four other demesne holdings consisted entirely of grassland. (fn. 31) Meadow predominated on the holdings of the duke of Chandos's most substantial tenants, Samuel Ward and William Street. (fn. 32) By 1798 arable covered 300 a. out of the 1,400 a. in the parish, more than twice as much as in Little Stanmore. (fn. 33) Grass was reckoned to cover 850 a., the remaining 250 a. being waste. The rector probably underestimated the area under crops, at 163 a., in 1801, (fn. 34) for in 1867 there were still 124 a., excluding fields of clover or temporary grasses, compared with 1,208 a. under grass. (fn. 35) The last arable on Old Church farm, 36 a., and on Marsh farm, 78 a., was laid down to grass between 1857 and 1871, when the tenant was forbidden to reconvert it. (fn. 36) Arable had dwindled to 28 a. by 1897 and 16 a. by 1917, while grassland slowly shrank from 939 a. to 831 a. (fn. 37)

Beans, covering 92 a., were the largest crop in 1801, when corn was grown on about 60 a. (fn. 38) By 1867 there were corn on 48 a., beans on 14 a., and potatoes on 24 a. Sheep were the main livestock in that year, when 1,044 were kept. By 1897 there were no more than 68, (fn. 39) presumably because of a wet season in 1879-80 which had caused the loss of the entire flock, upwards, of 1,000 sheep, on Old Church and Marsh farms. (fn. 40) London's demand for hay was still high, so that 634 a. or some two-thirds of the farm-land supported grass for mowing, whereas slightly under 300 a. were devoted to grazing. The number of cattle fell from 132 in 1867 to 95 in 1897 but hardly changed during the next 20 years. There were as many as 374 sheep in 1917, when 467 a. were devoted to hay and 355 a. to pasture. (fn. 41)


St. Bartholomew's priory leased or sold woods separately, as in Little Stanmore, during the early 16th-century. (fn. 42) Geoffrey Chamber claimed the forfeiture of Heriots wood in 1544, after over 100 large trees had been felled, but he was opposed by the homage and forced to sue his tenant. (fn. 43) In 1679 the homage claimed that a copyhold tenant by inheritance could fell the timber on his land without licence but that no one holding for life, for a term of years, or in the right of another could do so. Any tenant who had planted trees on the waste, to shelter his property, was free to lop them. (fn. 44)

In 1520 there was a dispute over Wapats or Wabbetts wood, which, with woods and hedgerows in Little Stanmore, had been sold by St. Bartholomew's at least 8 years previously. (fn. 45) Wabbetts wood, adjoining the common, covered 20 a. in the late 17th-century, when it was the only woodland on the demesne. (fn. 46) By 1838 the parish had 83 a. of woodland. A quarter of it consisted of patches in Stanmore Park belonging to George Harley Drummond but the largest block, 19 a., lay along the Watford road north-west of the brewery in Lord Abercorn's Bentley Priory estate. (fn. 47)


There was a mill at Stanmore, presumably Great Stanmore, in 1352. (fn. 48) Two horse-mills and a windmill, late of St. Bartholomew's priory, were granted with the manor to Pedro de Gamboa in 1547 but were not recorded at any later date. (fn. 49) A 'little house called a mill-house' was claimed by a customary tenant in 1665. (fn. 50)

Trade and industry.

A tailor, mentioned in 1613, a victualler, indicted in 1617, (fn. 51) and a butcher whose offal fouled the highway in 1637, (fn. 52) were the only tradesmen recorded until the 19th-century. Commercial life was more restricted than in Little Stanmore, with its houses lining Edgware Road. In 1801 Great Stanmore contained 89 persons employed in trade or crafts, 100 on the land, and 533 in other occupations, most of them presumably in domestic service. Thirty years later, after the population had exactly doubled, there were 71 families in trade or crafts, no more than 36 in agriculture, and 99 in other callings. (fn. 53) Apart from the brewery, (fn. 54) the largest employer in 1851 was a builder called John Chapman, who had 18 workmen at his yard next to Montagues, on the south side of the high road. (fn. 55)

Mid-19th-century Stanmore offered many of the services of a small town. Householders following the commoner trades included 12 carpenters or sawyers, 6 grocers, 6 bakers, and 7 boot-makers, some of them employing one or two assistants. Several women, apart from 4 householders, practised dress-making to serve the neighbourhood's many rich residents and retired people. More specialized tradesmen included a 'historical engraver', whose customers presumably were drawn from a wide area, a fishmonger, a chimney-sweep, a hair-dresser, a bookseller, and a watch-maker. (fn. 56)

In 1851 James Wilshin employed 30 men at the Clutterbucks' Stanmore brewery, at the top of Stanmore Hill. (fn. 57) Since the buildings stood almost opposite the Vine, which Thomas Clutterbuck acquired in 1763, they probably included the brewhouse to which Clutterbuck had been admitted in 1749. (fn. 58) Brewing was discontinued in 1916, (fn. 59) whereupon the main building became a bottle-store until the premises were sold by Capt. T. R. Clutterbuck to Harold Pattisson Cole in 1926. Thereafter they were used by H. Pattisson & Co., who employed 60 persons in designing and manufacturing turf maintenance and golf course equipment in 1971. (fn. 60) The 18th-century buildings in that year comprised a private house, offices, and a factory in the former brewery. All were of red brick, the old brewery being surmounted by a weatherboarded clock-tower, with a cupola and a bell dated 1726.

After the Grove and its estate had been acquired by the General Electric Co. in 1949, (fn. 61) many buildings for research and development were erected on behalf of the Ministry of Supply. They were used in 1971 by Marconi Space and Defence Systems, a part of G.E.C.-Marconi Electronics, whose 1,100 employees made it the largest firm in Great Stanmore. (fn. 62)

Other industries have been confined to the south of the parish where Honeypot Lane, continuing into Kingsbury, was built in the early 1930s. (fn. 63) Eight firms occupied sites along the east side of Honeypot Lane in 1971, when lack of space had forced some companies to move and others to open branches elsewhere. Computer Machinery Co., for example, took over a 12,500 square ft. factory in 1970 only to move to Hertfordshire after 18 months; the company, a subsidiary of a United States computer-controlled system manufacturer, employed 70 people at Stanmore. (fn. 64) G. H. Bloore, stockists and distributors of plastics, moved from Mill Hill to Honeypot Lane in 1961; ten years later it had some 50 employees there and twice that number at its provincial branches. (fn. 65) In Dalston Gardens, leading off Honeypot Lane, premises were acquired in 1969 by Elliott Bros. (London), later Marconi-Elliott Avionic Systems, which previously had been in Honeypot Lane itself. (fn. 66) Other sites were occupied by Price & Co., bakers, Sew-Tric, sewing machine manufacturers, and Service Electric Co., as well as by the laboratories of Parnosa of London and the main garage of Middlesex Motors.


  • 1. V.C.H. Mdx. i. 125.
  • 2. M.R.O., Acc. 262(15).
  • 3. See below.
  • 4. M.R.O., Acc. 262(17): survey.
  • 5. M.R.O., Acc. 262/72/1; Acc. 262(17): leases.
  • 6. M.R.O., Acc. 262/71/1.
  • 7. M.R.O., Acc. 658/6; /7.
  • 8. M.A.F. 68/136.
  • 9. St. Barts. Hosp., EO 8/6, pp. 32, 117.
  • 10. See above.
  • 11. M.A.F. 68/1675; M.A.F. 68/2815. In 1917 eight holdings were of 5 a. or less, which would not have been included in returns before 1892.
  • 12. Davenport MSS., Gt. Stan. wills (com. ct. of Lond.); Prob. 11/9 (P.C.C. 26 Dogett).
  • 13. M.R.O., Acc. 262(15).
  • 14. M.R.O., Acc. 262(16).
  • 15. M.R.O., Acc. 262(15).
  • 16. Except where otherwise stated, the para. is based on Davenport MSS., Gt. Stan. ct. rolls.
  • 17. See p. 118.
  • 18. See p. 68.
  • 19. See p. 97.
  • 20. M.R.O., Acc. 262(16).
  • 21. V.C.H. Mdx. iv. 213.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. See p. 99.
  • 24. C 1/961/15.
  • 25. M.R.O., Acc. 262(16).
  • 26. Davenport MSS., Gt. Stan. ct. rolls.
  • 27. M.R.O., Acc. 658/6, ff. 19, 184.
  • 28. Davenport MSS., Gt. Stan. ct. rolls.
  • 29. Ibid.; M.R.O., Acc. 262(16).
  • 30. Davenport MSS., Gt. Stan. ct. rolls.
  • 31. M.R.O., Acc. 262(17).
  • 32. M.R.O., Acc. 262/72/1.
  • 33. Middleton, View, 560.
  • 34. H.O. 67/16.
  • 35. M.A.F. 68/136.
  • 36. St. Barts. Hosp., EO 8/6, pp. 59-60.
  • 37. M.A.F. 68/1675; M.A.F. 68/2815.
  • 38. H.O. 67/16.
  • 39. M.A.F. 68/136; M.A.F. 68/1675.
  • 40. St. Barts. Hosp., EO 8/6, p. 188.
  • 41. M.A.F. 68/136; M.A.F. 68/1675; M.A.F. 68/2815.
  • 42. See p. 119.
  • 43. C 1/961/15.
  • 44. Req. 2/3/184.
  • 45. M.R.O., TA/S'MORE Gt.
  • 46. Davenport MSS., Gt. Stan. ct. roll.
  • 47. M.R.O., TA/S'MORE Gt.
  • 48. K.B. 9/66/19.
  • 49. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xxi(2), p. 419.
  • 50. Davenport MSS., Gt. Stan. ct. rolls.
  • 51. Davenport MSS., Gt. Stan. ct. rolls.
  • 52. Mdx. Sess. Recs. i. 234; iv. 160.
  • 53. Census, 1801, 1831.
  • 54. See below.
  • 55. H.O. 107/1700/135/2.
  • 56. Ibid.
  • 57. Ibid.
  • 58. See p. 98.
  • 59. F. A. King, Story of the Cannon Brewery, 33.
  • 60. Ex inf. Mr. K. H. Hemingway, man. dir.
  • 61. Ex inf. Marconi Space and Defence Systems Ltd.
  • 62. See p. 96.
  • 63. See p. 51.
  • 64. Ex inf. Computer Machinery Co. Ltd.
  • 65. Ex inf. G. H. Bloore Ltd.
  • 66. Ex inf. Marconi-Elliott Avionic Systems Ltd.