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Mill Hill about 1900

It will no doubt be fascinating to take a look at Mill Hill as it would have appeared around the turn of the century.

"The old part of Mill Hill on the Ridgeway has always been referred to as a village, but it is far from being a typical English village or a typical village of any kind. There are several fine old houses but no dominant Manor House. There are residents but no villagers. Mill Hill is and always has been a suburb."

Those words were written by Mr Holbrook Jackson in a souvenir book published in 1924 to celebrate the opening of Mill Hill Park. From his book we are able to gain a very vivid picture of what we would have found if travelling through some seventy-five years ago.

A place of green and leafy loveliness with a particularly English charm of scene free 'from the desecration of crowds, it was a survival of rural Middlesex. We are fortunate to have so many photographic records to confirm this. Interesting pictures exist of the central area when the Broadway was still part of Lawrence Street and Daws Lane joined Lawrence street where the roundabout now stands. Mill Hill was a patchwork of fields sewn carelessly but firmly together by hedgerows of whitethorn and elm, intertwined with briar and wild roses. There were crazy lanes meandering with no ambition to go anywhere in particular. Along the lanes were the farmsteads, a few dignified houses, quaint cottages and some curious little shops. It was common to hear the hoot of Owls and the harsh cry of the Peacocks at Copped (Copt) Hall.

Mill Hill was an elusive place of many hills although none of these are called Mill Hill. It is quite likely that a Mill did stand in the Mill field, but even the oldest residents cannot remember one. There are other hills: Bittacy, Milespit, Hammers, Holcombe and Highwood. Between Milespit and Holcombe there is The Ridgeway; a natural viaduct some four hundred feet high with its cottages, Church and School. There were some fine houses in the district, Holcombe, Belmont, Littleberries and Copped Hall. The latter has since disappeared.

There were many local Inns. 'The King's Head', 'The Plough', 'The Rising Sun', 'The Three Hammers' (formerly 'Bunn's Bushes'), 'The Green Man' on the way to Edgware, and others.

We may perhaps wonder how our lanes received their names. Did a philosopher first tread Wise Lane into being as he took his brooding way with glances over the meadows to Hendon? Who also were Lawrence and Page who gave their names to lanes of beauty now called streets, and why did their lanes take the direction they did, for most of them seemed to go round and about?

This leading-nowhere habit of the lanes would appear to have been the salvation of Mill Hill. It was undoubtedly an inaccessible place and certainly at the turn of the century had escaped being caught up by London, in spite of the fact that two Railways had cut through the area in the 1860's, the Midland and the Great Northern.

This scene of peace and charm was soon to be threatened by building operations in the Broadway area about 1910 and as a steady development took place we can now look at the situation which led to the necessity of providing a new Church.


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