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Red Lion Hill and Strawberry Vale (finchley N2)

  • Libraries

Red Lion Hill takes its name from an inn which stood at the corner of what is now Red Lion Hill and Elmfield Road (1714 – 2005). Originally called The Rabbit, the inn was renamed the Red Lion around 1786. Before this the area was called Cuckolds Haven, probably from a family called 'Cuckold' who lived in Friern Barnet in the 15th century. Cuckolds Haven was once a small settlement on the edge of Finchley Common.

In 1612 almshouses were built (replaced in 1895 with Cleeve House) near Wilmot Close. Oak Lane takes its name from the well-known landmark at the end of Oak Lane. The tree was known as Turpin's Oak by the 1830s. When it was cut down in 1952, lead bullets were found in the trunk.

Grange Estate takes its name from a house built in 1863 (demolished 1994). In 1919 the house was sold on to Simms Motor Ltd. In 1962 Simms employed 2,500 workers. The factory was closed 1991. In 1935 Finchley Council bought land to build housing for families living in overcrowded conditions in the Market Place. The first, then block R, now Craven House, were opened in October 1938.

King Street possibly takes its name from a local family. Local myth has suggested that King John’s house (demolished 1904) was a royal hunting lodge, but this is unlikely. King John's House in King Street (and King John's Cottages in Long Lane), probably derived their name from a charter that was granted to the Bishop of London allowing his tenants at Finchley to bring goods into London without paying tolls and other duties.

Strawberry Vale was originally called Brownswell. By the 17th century it was a small hamlet with an inn, The Green Man (demolished 1990s). When Finchley Common was enclosed, the Regents Canal Company intended to flood sections of it to produce a large reservoir but the company sold it instead in 1818 to James Frost.

Frost built the house Hawthorne Dene (1826) as a demonstration of the flexibility of various materials which were new at that time, with cast iron ceilings and banisters as well as concrete, and the house is considered to be unique. It was listed in 1962 after a campaign led by the comedian Spike Milligan. Strawberry Vale remained the last real farm in Finchley during the 1960s. As such it was run by Evan Evans, a horse breeder whose horses had an international reputation.

In the 1850s Octavia Hill spent part of her childhood at Brownswell Cottages. British and Colonial Films used Newstead House from 1911 until about 1916 as a film studio, here they made films like 'Robin Hood Outlawed' and, in 1912, a number of the 'Lieutenant Daring' series.

Contacts

  • Local Studies Centre
  • Hendon Library (first floor), The Burroughs, London NW4 4BQ
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  • Tel: 020 8359 3960
  • Email: library.archives@barnet.gov.uk

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