London Westminster & Middlesex Family History Society

St John the Baptist Barnet


Chipping Barnet Parish church of St John the Baptist (1560)

In Saxon Times the site was part of an extensive wood called Southaw, belonging to the Abbey of St Albans. The name of the town appears in early deeds as Bergnet, the Saxon word Bergnet signifies a little hill, monticulus. Its elevated position is also indicated in its alternate name of High Barnet, which it bears in many old books and maps, and which the railway company restored. It is the belief of the older natives the "Barnet stands on the highest ground betwixt London and York." The town consists of a straggling street over a mile long, chiefly of small commonplace houses, with two or three shorter streets diverging from it. From its situation on the main road, as the centre of an agricultural district, the seat of a county court and petty sessions, and having a barracks close at hand., Barnet is a busy-looking place, and has some good shops; one or two excellent inns, Red Lion and Old Salisbury Arms, and an undue proportion of public-houses; but on the whole it is a shabby and not a very picturesque appearance: it is, however, improving. In coaching days, 150 stage coaches passed through it daily. Since the opening of the railway, the town has increased considerably, especially on the west about the Common; or as it is now called, Arkley.

Barnet Church, St John the Baptist, which stands in what was the centre of the town, was erected by John de la Moote, abbot of St Albans, about 1400, the architect being Beauchamp. It consists of a nave and aisles separated by clustered colons which support four pointed arches; a chancel with an east window of good Perpendicular tracery; a vestry, built in the reign of James I by Thomas Ravenscroft; and at the west end, a low, square embattled tower. The living of Barnet is a curacy, held with the rectory of East Barnet till the death of the late incumbent in 1866, when the livings were separated. The town also includes parts of the parishes of Monken Hadley and South Mimms.
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St John the Baptist Barnet Interior


St John the Baptist Interior North wall