Art and Culture Comedy Film Palmers Green

Mr Spratt introduces

Downhill POSTERThe final film this year from Talkies Community Cinema is Downhill, the story of four  school friends who reunite for a walking holiday as they come to terms with the joys and disappointments of middle age.

Shot in double-quick time in documentary format, Downhill follows the four as they drag themselves 192 miles along Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire. The film was put together on a micro budget, and was filmed over three weeks in various locations along the path, including in pubs where no one knew there was a film being made and acted scenes took place among the hustle and bustle of the regulars.

The film will be followed by a Q&A with co-star and Palmers Greener Jeremy Swift, currently on our screens as Mr Spratt, Maggie Smith’s snobby butler in Downton.

Downhill is being shown on 10 December at the Fox.

And if you havent booked yet, there are still a few tickets for The Muppet Christmas Carol at Christchurch Southgate on Saturday, and for World War One drama Joyeux Noel at the Dugdale Centre on 4 December.

To book, visit

Art and Culture Comedy Community Enfield History Palmers Green Southgate

Theodore Royle, the gentleman bard of Palmers Green

At the beginning of October we once again celebrated National Poetry Day. Now, as we know, the Palmers Green and Southgate area is a veritable wonderland of literature, with our notables including Stevie Smith, V S Pritchett, Leigh Hunt, Thomas Hood and Paul Scott to mention but a few.

But there are very few poems about the area. At least that is what Theodore Royle may have thought, when he stepped into the breach in the early 1900s with his remarkable Rambles in Rhymeland.

Little is known of Royle, except that he was born in High Holborn in 1840 and by 1901 was living with his wife Fanny at the Rowans in the southern part of the borough, roughly New Southgate – his parish was the then largely rural St Michael at Bowes. His trade was as a printer and engraver and therein might lay a clue to how he came to have the wherewithal to publish Rambles, seemingly his only book, printed for private circulation.

Royle made no great claims for its literary merit. The frontispiece bears the quote from Byron, Royle’s jovial bewhiskered face beaming out next to it:

Tis pleasant to see one’s name in print
a book’s a book, although there’s nothing in’t

I think that we might have liked Royle, had we met him in The Fox or Cock Tavern or out for a walk in rural Palmers Green. Though I think that Royle might have liked Royle a bit too.

Theodore Royle

He was certainly nothing if not a sentimental fellow, for several poems tell tales of nature, love and tragic death, often in the traditional I-met-my-true-love-but-then-she-carked-it genre. One can only wonder what Fanny Royle thought of Regrets in which the poet meets his love in the summer, but she is cruelly snatched away, though her memory brings comfort in his dreams. I rather hope that Fanny and not, say, the kitchen maid, inspired the poem The Glorious Summertime, in which he meets his love, apparently covered in foliage –

The birds were singing merrily
In heavens blue vault above,
When in the glorious summer time,
I met my own sweet love;
A wreath of fairest jessamine
She’d twined around her hair,
And on her cheeks the winds rough kiss
Had left some blushes there.

Reader, he marries her.

The inspiration to finally publish may have been due to aspirations political as well as poetic – a good deal of the verse is about the comings and goings in the local administration. On the evidence of Rambles, one wonders why other poets do not decide to plough this obviously rich furrow, for Royle manages 17 pages of verse on the subject of Sir Ralph Littler and the separation of Southgate from Edmonton.

For those who do not know the story, by the 1870s the well to do of Palmers Green and Southgate had become very dissatisfied with the local board’s neglect of the western part of the borough. The final straw had been when Sir Ralph Littler, then resident of Broomfield House, had woken to find the fish in the lake in front of the house dead, the casualties of sewerage from a cracked and ill fitting pipe. He sued the authorities, and efforts were stepped up to separate the borough into two. Of course, the other motivation may have been that rich and well to do Palmers Greeners in their rural idyll didn’t much fancy paying rates for the needs of working class Edmonton, something not entirely disguised in Royle’s doggerel.

Events culminated with a public meeting to vote on the issue of separation in early 1881, coinciding with a great snowstorm, which prevented most of the Edmonton anti separatists from attending. History was, as they say, made, and Southgate Local Board was established. In 1894 Southgate become an Urban District.

In 1882 Royle, delighted with the outcome, apparently got up at a meeting in the village hall in Southgate and sang a ditty, in honour of the good deeds of Sir Ralph Littler and Southgate’s other valiant heroes, sung in swashbuckling terms and packed liberally with in-jokes. The full text is reprinted in the book, and alas, the space I have here cannot do full justice to it, so you are going to have to check it out for yourself.

Enough of that. My favourite poem leaves the travails of Southgate independence behind, and turns to the subject of Royle’s bicycle

My bike! My bike! I gaze on thee now
With quickening breath and a joyous brow…

And who can honestly say they haven’t felt like that?

You can read Theodore Royle’s Rambles in Rhymeland in full at

Picture of T Royle by kind permission of Enfield Local Studies and Archive Team.

(c) Sue Beard 2014. This article first appeared in Palmers Green and Southgate Life.

Art and Culture Comedy Community Food

Still time to come dine

3dbc0493-f021-4fdd-9159-366139b53397If  you are still thinking you might like to take part, its not too late to apply for a place on ITV’s new series of  the legendary Come Dine With Me.

If you arent familiar with the show, four hosts take it in turns to hold a dinner party for the three other contestents. The person who hosts the evening voted the best wins £1000. More than 800 shows have been made, spanning 24 series and counting.

Are you willing to let viewers into your home, hearth and recipe book? Filming starts in November. Contact

You know you want to…

Art and Culture Comedy Community Enfield Food Green Palmers Green Palmers Green

Tomorrow is our day

As if you need reminding, the Palmers Green Festival is tomorrow. Last year’s was brilliant and this year’s looks set to be even better – food, music, community stalls and all your neighbours in festive mood.

For the full festival programme, visit the festivals immensely impressive looking website

See you there!

pg festival postcard front

Art and Culture Comedy Community Film History Music Planning and open spaces Shops

The Fox “sold”

The Fox - at the heart of PG
The Fox – at the heart of PG

I have been hearing rumours about this for some time, but this week confirmation comes via the Fox Lane and District Residents Association’s weekly bulletin that The Fox has been sold to developers – apparently the same company that recently bought Winchmore Hill police station.

Though the current building dates from 1904, there has been a Fox on the site  for several centuries. Palmers Green’s horse drawn buses once ran into central London from the Fox Hotel, as it once was. Geno Washington once played there. There have been theatre productions, celebrity drinkers, a ghost, a comedy club, and community cinema. And of course, it gave its name to Fox Lane.

The attraction for developers is fairly obvious – a huge plot of land, centrally located. But the loss to us of a  major Palmers Green landmark and amenity is beyond  calculation.

Is this really the end for The Fox, and what does it mean for Palmers Green?

Art and Culture Comedy Community Film

Safe bet

From the Twitter stream of N21 online comes an intriguing call for extras for a film to be set in Palmers Green, apparently featuring big names.

The action is to be based in a betting shop, and so I cant think why it should be based here, with a mere 10 to chose from.

Extras are needed until 6 September. If you are interested, please email And dont forget to spill the beans to the rest of us about who’s in it and what its all about.