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Edgware (St. Margaret)

EDGWARE (St. Margaret), a parish, and formerly a market-town, in the union of Hendon, hundred of Gore, county of Middlesex, 8 miles (N. W. by W.) from London; containing 659 inhabitants. This place, from its situation within an easy distance of the metropolis, and the excellence of the road to it through an almost uninterrupted succession of elegant villas and agreeable scenery, has become the residence of numerous opulent and respectable families. The Roman Watlingstreet, leading to the ancient city of Verulam, passes over a bridge near the entrance to the village. Of the principal street, the western side is in the parish of Little Stanmore, where, in the early part of the eighteenth century, James, Duke of Chandos, at an expense of £250,000 erected the magnificent palace of Canons. The walls of this edifice were twelve feet in thickness at the base, and nine feet thick in the upper part; the pillars of the hall and the steps of the grand staircase were of the most beautiful marble, and the locks and hinges of the doors were silver: the grounds were adorned with a profusion of statuary. The chapel was richly embellished with paintings of the Italian school: the most eminent composers were employed in the arrangement, and the most eminent masters in the vocal and instrumental performance, of the musical services. After the death of the duke, this noble mansion was taken down and sold piecemeal: the columns formed part of the portico of Wanstead House; the marble staircase was put up in the Earl of Chesterfield's residence in Mayfair, London; and the equestrian statue of George I. at present decorates the area of Leicester-square.

The village is supplied with water from a well, dug in 1822, by public subscription. The market, on Thursday, has been discontinued, but a fair is still held on the first Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in August, for cattle and toys: on the two last days are races, which are in general well attended. There are courts baron and leet on the 1st of May; and the petty-sessions for the division are held in that part of the village which is in Little Stanmore. Blackstone mentions a singular ancient custom as existing here, for the lord of the manor to provide a minstrel or piper to play for the amusement of the tenants, and a small field in Edgware is still called Piper's Green. The parish comprises by admeasurement 1968 acres, of which 165 are arable, 1758 meadow and pasture, and about 45 woodland. The living is a perpetual curacy, but having been from time immemorial endowed with the vicarial tithes, may be considered a vicarage, not in charge; net income, £493; patron and impropriator, John Lee, Esq., LL.D. The church, with the exception of its embattled tower, which is of flint and stone, was rebuilt of brick in 1763, and the interior was thoroughly repaired in 1822. The present churchyard was the site of the old vicarage-house and garden, and upon a new house being erected, the ground was presented to the parish, and consecrated for burial purposes, with the reservation of a right of road through it to the vicarage, and of a piece of ground for a school, which was erected in 1833, at the expense of Charles Day, Esq. An almshouse for four aged women was founded in 1680, by Samuel Atkinson, who endowed it with land now producing, with another benefaction, an income of £32. 10. Charles Day, Esq., in 1828 founded almshouses for eight aged persons, and endowed them with £100 per annum; the premises, situated at the northern extremity of the village, cost £2000, and are in the later English style.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.