Cherry Tree Wood
To book a tennis court at this park please visit Play Tennis in Barnet
Car parking / transport access
Buses 263, 143,102, 234, H3 & East Finchley Station (Northern line - High Barnet Branch)
Cherry Tree Wood is a remnant of the Finchley Wood, which stretched from Highgate to Whetstone in the medieval period. Part of the manor provided an income from harvested fuel wood and pigs. It also afforded excellent hunting to their manorial lord the Bishop of London who built a hunting lodge nearby which is now Highgate Golf Club.
The wood had long been known as Dirt house Wood because the night soil and horse manure cleaned from London's streets was brought as fertiliser for the hay meadows to the Dirt house, now the White Lion public house next to the station. Mutton brook rises in the woods and flowed west to join Dollis brook at Bell Lane in Hendon.
In 1863 the wood was reduced with the building of the Edgware, Highgate and London Line. The railway also blocked the flow of the brook and the area became boggy and were named locally as "the Quag" or "Watery Woods", but remained officially Dirt house Wood. This water proved useful to one entrepreneur who used it to grow watercress. Dirt house Wood in the 1900s still stretched as far south as Hilde ridge Wood close to the foot of Highgate Hill. But with the development of Launton Road and Woodside Avenue c1910 the wood was given a new southern boundary, the one we see today.
The need of a recreational space in East Finchley was first considered as early as the 1880s, when Fuel Lands, now allotments, was suggested as an excellent space. It was not until 1912 that Cherry Tree Wood was seriously considered. At the time the wood had a reputation for rowdy behaviour and it was believed that they would kill two birds with one stone if it became a recreation ground.
The park was purchased by Finchley UDC (Urban District Council) from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1914 and opened to the public in 1915. The name was changed from Dirt house to Cherry Tree Wood, after Cherry Tree Hill which rises from the station to Wellington Corner. The East Finchley Community Festival, the longest standing free festival in the borough, has been held annually in Cherry Tree Wood since 1974 and is run by the local residents of East Finchley.