Between 1800 and 1890, Arkley Village was often known as Barnet Common or 'West Barnet', but the older name of Arkley has been revived since then. The area was referred to in medieval documents as “Southhaw”, and may be older than High Barnet.
Nobody is sure what the 'Ark', part of Arkley means but the 'ley' means a clearing and was in use by 1330. During the 1950s, a 13th century kiln at Dyke Cottage was excavated, revealing a large cooking pot. Rowley appears in a document dated 1005, and means a clearing in a birch wood.
During the 17th Century a Mr Duck manufactured bricks near Rowley Road, then called Roundabout Lane. By the end of the 19th century there were at least three brick, tile, and pot manufacturers.
St Peter's Church, designed by George Beckett, was built in 1840 at a cost of £5,000. It contains the monument of its benefactor, Enoch Durant (died 1848).
The war memorial was erected in 1920.
Arkley Windmill was in use by 1806.
- it is marked as 'corn' windmill on the Ordnance Survey of the 1860s
- from photographs, it appears to have had only two of its original sails by the 1890s, by which time it may have been powered by steam
- it ceased to be a functioning mill during World War One, and was restored in 1930, but not as a working mill.
Arkley is 440 feet above sea level. During World War Two a number of houses were used by the Radio Security Service (M18c) (external link) who secretly listened to German military radio messages.
- the messages were in code so they had to be taken to Bletchley Park (external link) for the code to be broken
- before the D-Day landings the Radio Security Service at Arkley sent messages to confuse the Germans as to where the Allies would land
John Britten designed and manufactured a kit car at Arkley and named it the Arkley in 1969.
Barnet Gate was for a long time called Grendelgate. Grendel is associated with the monster from the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf.
The story of Beowulf, who kills the monster Grendel, takes place in Denmark, so the Saxons were not suggesting that this was where Grendel lived. Rather, it implies that the place was of modest importance as a small community on the boundary between the people of Hertfordshire and the people of the county of Middlesex.
Hendon Wood Lane may even have been a minor Roman road. The Gate Inn retains some of its original features. The sign, in the form of a hanging five bar gate, has an inscription which reads:
This gate hangs high,
and hinders none;
refresh and pay,
and travel on.