Art and Culture Comedy Community Food History Music Planning and open spaces Southgate Uncategorized Winchmore Hill

Celebrate 100 years of Grovelands Park this weekend

At 2pm on 12 April 1913 the gates of Grovelands Park were opened to admit the public for the first time. Before long the park was full of people, with a liberal smattering of police, there to prevent possible attempts at disruption from the suffragettes – Mrs Pankhurst had been released from prison that very morning. What if they got up to their ‘old tricks’?

43-grovelands_park_N21_winchmore_hill_london-autumn-viewThe weather wasn’t entirely kind. Though the sun broke through the clouds from time to time, the opening ceremony was greeted with a brief sleet shower. The Lord Mayor, Sir David Burnett, and the vast entourage of guests invited by the Parks Committee (and those who had paid two shillings for the honour of joining them) were unaffected however – they were in the marquee in front of the mansion, which was decorated for the occasion with flags and artificial flowers.

The Lord Mayor’s progress to the ceremony was accompanied a guard of honour of boy scouts, playing, according to The Recorder, an ‘alarming rattle of drum and bugle’. Gratitude should be expressed to the Chairman of the Committee and Council for acquiring the land, said the Lord Mayor, who remembered Southgate and Winchmore Hill from when he was a boy. The park would prove ‘a boon to present as well as to future generations who would praise [their] wisdom in acquiring it for all time’.

At least, that is the rather dignified account given in The Recorder. An account from a local resident in the same issue tells a rather different story, reading more like the script of a Carry On film.

42-inverforth_gate_grovelands_park_N21_winchmore_hill_londonVirtually no one had paid for the tickets, which were locally thought to be very overpriced. There were a number of false alarms when the Lord Mayor’s footmen, and then the city sword bearer, appeared to check that everything was in order for his entrance, and were mistaken for the man himself. Later, as the marquee was on private property, the Lord Mayor had to process through a gap in the iron railings mid ceremony and into the park. Instead of returning for a vote of thanks, he then disappeared into the house for tea and cake. He had to be retrieved by embarrassed local dignitaries to complete the ceremony, all the time the crowd dashing in and out of the marquee as they second guessed what was actually supposed to be happening.

But the purchase of the park, for the local people, for all time, had been a great triumph for the area.

Originally heavily wooded, the lands which came to be called Grovelands had once been part of the great Middlesex Forest. Later, under the name Lords Grove, it is believed to have been owned by Lord Burghley, and then by James Brydges, the 3rd Duke of Chandos.

J D Taylor, image reproduced by kind permission of Enfield Local Studies Archive
J D Taylor, image reproduced by kind permission of Enfield Local Studies Archive

In 1796, the estate was sold to brewing magnate Walker Gray who commissioned the famous architect John Nash to design the house, and Humphrey Repton, to advise on the surrounding landscape. Repton believed that house and landscape should be a unity, and is thought to have been responsible for the lake and the ha-ha, though sadly Repton’s Red Book for Grovelands, which he set out his designs for the park, appears to have been lost.

Between 1835 and 1885, the estate became the property of John Donnithorne Taylor, before passing on his death to his son and then his grandson, Captain Taylor of the Welsh Guards. In 1902, the whole of the Taylor estate was put on the market.

Alan Dumayne in Southgate, a glimpse into the past tells us that a consortium planned to transform Grovelands estate into an ambitious garden city, with wide boulevards and substantial houses dotted among the trees, but somehow these plans never materialised, and in 1911, Southgate District Council went ahead with a purchase of 64 acres of the estate, later extending it to 91 acres. The refashioning of the park for the public was conducted to the design of landscape architect Thomas Mawson, also responsible for Tatum Park, and the very first president of the Landscape Institute.

As with Broomfield Park, the purchase wasn’t supported by everyone in the area. Was a second park in the area needed? Broomfield Park had opened only 10 years before. Some feared that the purchase would bring an unwelcome rise in the rates. But nevertheless, go ahead it did, and we have Southgate District Council to thank for Palmers Green, Southgate and Winchmore Hill being among the greenest areas in London.

The foresight of those counsellors 100 years ago, and the important part Grovelands plays in all our lives will be celebrated this weekend in an event packed two day festival in the park.    

31-the-friends-of-grovelands-centenary-logo-dates-and-timesOrganised by the Friends of Grovelands Park, The festival includes music on two stages, boats on the lake for the first time in over 30 years, a dog show, dance, film, poetry, photography, and a fair with a variety of stalls.

Celebrations kicks off on Saturday with an Edwardian themed historical pageant involving local schools and community groups. Civic dignitaries will officially open the proceedings to replicate the original 1913 opening by the Lord Mayor of London – though hopefully without the sleet and the mishaps of 1913. For full details click here

It looks set to be a great weekend. Go!


All images by kind permission of the Friends of Grovelands Park except where otherwise stated.

Art and Culture Comedy Community Planning and open spaces Uncategorized Winchmore Hill

Anarchist cell discovered in Grange Park

First Cliff Richard in N21, and now this. I blame


Art and Culture Comedy History Planning and open spaces Southgate Uncategorized Winchmore Hill

That was February in Palmers Green – a round up of news and events this month

The posts on PGJITN were a bit thin on the ground this month but it was all happening in other parts of PG and environs.

Wood Green’s Banksy was chipped and shipped to a US auction house, then withdrawn from sale at the 11th hour after a vociferous campaign. New artwork appeared, and in proof that you couldn’t make it up, we heard Poundland declare that they were fans of Banksy’s. Who knew?

In Westminster, our MP David Burrowes was all over the press for his opposition to gay marriage, and in the local corridors of power (also known as Enfield Council), Bush Hill Tory Councillor Chris Joannides hit the national press after being suspended from the party for making inappropriate remarks on Facebook. Read more here

There was news that PG could become better connected (though there could be disruption ahead for our neighbours in the south) – this month London First published its report on Cross Rail 2, this time linking North to South,  and with a terminus at Ally Pally. Strictly, this is not new, and there have been proposals for a north-south route since 1901. But the latest proposal echoes TfL’s 2011 recommendations and has the support of Network Rail. You can read the full report here

ross ashmoreStill on transport, the latest exhibition at Space Art Gallery features 100 paintings of London Underground stations by Ross Ashmore. Ross is on a quest to paint them all before LU’s 150th birthday celebrations begin. The paintings look fantastic, so please take a look  – you have until the Easter weekend.
There were three great film nights in February, all in the space of a week or so. The N21 Festival Crew, led by John Stewart brought us Some Like it Hot, then T W Murnau’s weird and fascinating Sunrise, A story of two humans in which a young wife forgives her husband for trying to kill her in a rowing boat, after which they hit the town in a surreal dream city. Fantastic stuff.

Meanwhile Talkies offered the Blue Brothers and in an amazing coup will be linking up with the  Future Shorts Festival on 22 March for a special event at Baskervilles, who will be offering a special film night menu. More on Talkies shortly.

Grovelands centenary postcardLooking ahead, depending on when you are reading this, there are just 175 sleeps to the Palmers Green festival on 1 September.  Meanwhile, April belongs to the Grovelands Park 100th anniversary celebrations and there is still time to enter the Broomfield and Grovelands  photographic competitions.

Dont forget also the next  Poetry in Palmers Green event on 27 April. Poets taking part will include Nancy Mattson, Martha Kapos, Grevel Lindop, Graham High and Linda How. Entry is £5 (£3 for concessions) and the venue is the Parish Centre attached to St John’s Church.

Sadly, PG came nowhere at all in the list of London’s funniest locations . The nearest* was Muswell Hill, which in 1978 formed the backdrop to the not quite as good Porridge follow up Going Straight in which ex con Normal Stanley Fletcher (Ronnie Barker) tried life on the straight and narrow in Muswell Hill. If you cant be law abiding in Muswell Hill, where can you?

Not certainly in PG where we joined the seeming legion of houses which have heard the pitter patter of burglars’ feet. I don’t wish to cause alarm but Palmers Green Jewel in the North was nearly stolen. Surely vigilante groups would spontaneously have formed.

May spring arrive in your green patch soon.

Sue from PG

*post script. I have recently learned that On the buses was filmed in Wood Green. Funniness creeps closer.

Looking ahead

5-9 March Anything Goes at the Intimate Theatre, presented by Finchley and Friern Barnet Operatic Society

12 March History and Mystery of Oaklands Road: Geoff Jacobs talks about his voyage of discovery researching this history of his road at the Friends Meeting House Winchmore Hill (Southgate District Civic Trust History Group)

27 April Poetry in Palmers Green at St John’s Parish Centre

2 May A Serious Man. The Coen brothers film is the first of Talkies new First Thursdays cinema events at the Dugdale Centre

18-19 May Grovelands Park Centenary Celebrations

6 June The Wave (Die Welle) : Talkies First Thursdays cinema event at the Dugdale Centre

8-9 June Open Studios and Art Trail weekend, Southgate and Palmers Green

4 July Zero Dark Thirty Talkies First Thursdays cinema event at the Dugdale Centre

1 August Chungking Express Talkies First Thursdays cinema event at the Dugdale Centre

31 August Singalong to the Wizard of Oz Palmers Green United Reformed Church Talkies cinema event with fancy dress – part of the Palmers Green Festival event programme

1 September Palmers Green Festival, Broomfield Park


Art and Culture Comedy History Uncategorized Winchmore Hill

If you go down to the woods…..

There’s nothing like a spooky tale or two at Christmas, and Joe Studman will have a few to tell on his Darker Side of Winchmore Hill walk on Saturday 22 December, including stories of old railway workers, black dogs and sinister doings in the woods.

The walk starts from Winchmore Hill Station at 7.30. Tickets are £5 a head from Hunter’s newsagents on Winchmore Hill Green, or direct from Joe on the night.

But two lucky winners can go along free by answering this simple question:

By what name is Elizabeth Sawyer, who was born in Winchmore Hill in the seventeenth century, better known?

As ever, the answer could be on this website. Entries by 5 pm on Wednesday 19 December to


Community Uncategorized Winchmore Hill

Mass turnout to greet St Nicholas

People turned out in their hundreds this weekend for Winchmore Hill’s first ever St Nicholas Fair.

The Green was transformed into a winter wonderland, with attractions including  horse and carriage rides, storytelling, a petting zoo with a porcupine, music, dancing, food and drink, and the grand arrival of St Nicholas himself on horseback strewing the way with chocolate coins.

“ We’re really pleased that everyone came out on Saturday” said organisers Ann Humphrey and Zoe Ryder.

“Our events this year have been all about bringing the community together, and to see everyone meeting up with old friends, the children having fun and enjoying some food and drink, it’s just brilliant !”

Images Bob Ludlam
Art and Culture Community Food History Music Uncategorized Winchmore Hill

One more sleep until Saturday’s St Nicholas Fair!!!

From 2 til 7, Winchmore Hill Green. Stalls, food, music, St Nicholas and snow. You’d be bonkers to miss it!

St Nicholas Fair design: the very talented Megan Doyle