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Barnet, Chipping (St. John the Baptist)

BARNET, CHIPPING (St. John the Baptist), a parish, town, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Cashio, or liberty of St. Alban's, county of Hertford, 14 miles (S. W. by S.) from Hertford, and 11 (N.) from London, on the great north road; containing 2485 inhabitants. This place, called also High Barnet, from its situation on the summit of a hill, derives its distinguishing name from the privilege granted to the monks of St. Alban's, of holding a market here. On April 5th, 1471, the decisive battle which terminated in the defeat and death of the Earl of Warwick, and established Edward IV. on the throne, took place on Gladmore Heath, a mile north-west of the town; in commemoration of which, an obelisk was erected by Sir Jeremy Sambrook, at the junction of the roads from Hatfield and St. Alban's, near Hadley Common. The town, which is pleasantly situated, consists principally of one street, more than a mile in length; the houses, though interspersed occasionally with a few of more respectable appearance, are in general mean, and the inhabitants scantily supplied with water. A new road, entering from London, was made in 1826, by means of an embankment across the valley, at an expense of £15,000. The great railway from London to York will pass near. The races, held on Barnet Common, and for some time discontinued, have lately been revived; and a hall has recently been erected, by shareholders, for public meetings, concerts, lectures, &c. The market was on Monday, and was chiefly noted for the sale of pigs, but has been discontinued. A fair is held on April 8th and 9th, for cattle and horses, and on the 10th there is a pleasure-fair; another, considered the largest in England for horned-cattle, commences on Sept. 4th, and continues the three following days, on the last of which the races are held. The magistrates for the liberty hold a meeting here on the first Thursday in every month; and two constables and two headboroughs are appointed at the court leet of the lord of the manor, held at Easter. The powers of the county debt-court of Barnet, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Barnet and the parish of Hendon.

The living is united to the rectory of East Barnet: the church was built by one of the abbots of St. Alban's, in the fifteenth century, and is a venerable structure in the style of that period, but has undergone several alterations. There is a place of worship for Independents. A free school was established in 1573 by Queen Elizabeth, and was further endowed, in 1676, by Alderman Owen, and in 1734 by the Rev. Humphrey Hall; the income amounts to about £35. There is also a national school, supported partly by a bequest from Mrs. Allen in 1725, since invested in land let for £57 per annum. Jesus' hospital, for six elderly women, was founded in 1679, by James Ravenscroft, and was further endowed with the residue of the produce of £500 left by Mrs. Barcock, in 1731, after distributing £10 annually to the poor; and with a moiety of the dividends of £800 reduced Bank annuities, bequeathed by Ann Mills, in 1784: the income is £273. In 1728, Mr. John Garret founded six almshouses for aged widows, the income of which has been augmented by bequests, and now amounts to £50; and six others, for married couples, were erected a few years ago, at an expense of £1022, by the trustees of a charity founded by Eleanor Palmer, and producing £153 per annum, two-thirds for the parish of Chipping-Barnet, and the remainder for that of St. Pancras. The Leather-sellers' Company likewise erected almshouses, the first stone of which was laid in July, 1837, by the master of the company, Mr. R. Thornton, who presented the amount of the contract, £1208. There are other charities for the relief of the poor, the principal of which are, Valentine Poole's, producing £51 per annum; an inclosure of Barnet Common, amounting to 135 acres, let for £167; and the dividends on £898 three per cent. reduced annuities, under the will of Keene Fitzgerald, Esq., in 1829. A rental of £41, arising from a plot of ground in the parish of Stepney, assigned by deed of James Ravenscroft, Esq., in 1679, is applied to repairing the church. On Barnet Common has been built the workhouse for the poor law union of Barnet, which comprises nine parishes and places, under the care of fourteen guardians. On this common is a mineral spring, the water of which contains a considerable portion of calcareous glauber, with a small portion of sea-salt.

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