Colney Hatch is the name for the area of Friern Barnet which surrounds the old town hall. By 1234 parts of the area belonged to a manor called Halliwick, but the manor house wasn't built until around 1602. Colney Hatch was dominated by Hollick Wood, which was 160 acres in the 1650s (ten times larger than our Coppetts Wood). It neighboured another large wood to the south called Tottenham Wood.
In 1623 James I asked for a gate to be made so that he could hunt between the two woods. The trees were cut down during the following two centuries and it was finally cleared to build Colney Hatch Asylum in 1848.
The name Colney Hatch (1409) has something to do with a gate (a hatch) probably into Hollick Wood. Nobody knows what Colney means, but it may have something to do with someone, now long forgotten, called Col. A hamlet grew up around the crossroads by 1409, but it was very small with only 12 houses in the 1790s.
Wealthy people, who had business in London, owned most of these houses. The Orange Tree pub takes its name from William III, who was called William of Orange (reigned 1689 - 1702). There may have been an inn there earlier, under the name of the Crown, but the first mention of the Orange Tree is in the 1750s. It was rebuilt in 1909.
During the late 1840s the Great Northern Railway Company built the railway line which runs through New Southgate Station. Colney Hatch Asylum, (now Princess Park Manor) was opened in 1851 for 1,500 patients. The railway and the hospital started the development of the area from a rural village into a London Suburb. This development was very gradual. The Holly Park estate is the earliest and includes: Beaconsfield, Parkhurst, Bellvue Road and Holly Park.
By the 1880s there were shops on Friern Barnet Road and in 1892 the chancery of St John the Evangelist was opened (completed 1911). The houses in the estate behind the Orange Tree and many of the shops around the crossroads were built around 1912.
After the council opened up its offices in an old house called The Priory (1906), the area became the centre of Friern Barnet as a whole. Along the road Middlesex County Council opened the library in 1934. In 1941 the Friern Barnet Council opened the Town Hall, which has subsequently become apartments.