The southern part of Friern Barnet has been popularly understood to be a part of Muswell Hill since the 1900s. Through the centre of the district runs Colney Hatch Lane, which was a part of an important early medieval road. The area was covered in dense woodland such as Finchley and Hollick Woods.
Coppetts Farm, located where Wilton Court Flats are today, existed by the 16th century, and its farmhouse was built around 1670. Coldfall Wood and Coppetts Wood are remnants of Finchley Woods. From the 17th to the late 19th century, itinerant labourers would come to help harvest hay in Friern Barnet, Finchley and Muswell Hill. Many of them came from Ireland, and the area of their encampment, at the bottom of Coppetts Road, is known as Irish corner. Gypsies regularly encamped there until the 1880s, foraging in Coppetts Wood for wood to make small items such as clothes pegs.
In 1888 the parish of Hornsey opened an isolation hospital at the bottom of Coppetts Road on what had been Irish Corner. It was extended at different times and by the 1970s it was part of the Royal Free Hospital and had 109 beds. The area began to develop into streets around 1900, with Greenham, Wilton, Sutton Road, and Coldfall Avenue all being built on land which had once belonged to Coppetts Farm. Houses appeared by 1903, and Halliwick Road was built a little later. The farmhouse itself continued as a grocery shop until about 1935. Crieghton Avenue is named after Dr Crieghton, who was Bishop of London in the 1900s.
Muswell Hill Farm existed by 1756. Parts of the farm were sold for development as part of the 'Muswell Hill Park Estate' in 1853. Development was slow and the first houses were built between April 1859 and May 1860 along Cromwell Road by builders like Mr F Cox and the Perpetual Building Society. In 1865 a large number of labourers involved in the building of Alexandra Palace moved into what was becoming known as the 'Freehold'.
By 1883 there were 174 houses and a population 870. But even by the 1890s many of the plots were still vacant with Muswell Hill Farm continuing until 1902. By 1909 the whole of South Friern had 971 houses and a population of 4,537 people. Friern Barnet council built much of the George Crescent estate which was occupied by 1952, and the Freehold was redeveloped in the early 1970s.
The area's greatest claim to fame is as the location for Robert Paul's film studios (1897 - 1910). The Victorian film producer, along with Barnet man Birt Acres, built the first British movie camera, called the Paul-Acres camera, and the first film in England was shot outside Acres' home in Hadley, Clovelly Cottage, by Paul in 1895. In Sydney Road, Paul opened one of the first 'film studios' in the modern sense of the word, and many consider him to be the father of British film.
The Pinkham Way section of the North Circular was the last section of the road to be built (1932), and is named after Sir Charles Pinkham, then chairman of the Middlesex Highways Committee. There used to be a roundabout where the road crossed Colney Hatch Lane, but this was rebuilt as flyover in 1972.