[Lower Edmonton]
Lower Edmonton > General information and oddments > History


Some brief details of the history of Lower Edmonton.
This page really ought to be future proof. It was reviewed in October 2011 just to make sure the links were OK.


This is "Edmonton Statute Fair" by John Nixon, taken from a c. 1902 print of the 1788 original. It is not strictly of relevance to this site because the annual Statute Fair was actually held in Upper Edmonton rather than Lower Edmonton. It took place at the old Angel Inn which was slightly further up Fore Street than the later plot on the corner with Silver Street. The choice of name for Fairfield Road reflects that the fair was held very close by.

The British History Online site has a number of entries mentioning Edmonton. Perhaps most of interest is that the Victoria County History series is online and that includes A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume V which includes Edmonton. The entries include a wealth of historical facts collected from a range of listed resources . The particular pages of interest will be:

It is quite likely that if you read the above you will discover that it disagrees in places with other information on this website. This website was written before the Victoria County History came online. Now I know it is there I may be able to improve some of the other pages.

There was a nice neat summary of the history of Lower Edmonton on the Enfield Council website and I have reproduced it below as the link was constantly changing and the text may no longer exist on the site.

Lower Edmonton was the principal settlement in Edmonton and the religious and administrative centre of the parish. The ancient parish church of All Saints, parts of which date back to Norman times is sited in Church Street.

The Edmonton enclosure map of 1801 shows Lower Edmonton as a well established settlement. The centre was where the main turnpike road widened out to form Edmonton Green. Salmon's Brook, after winding its way eastwards from Bush Hill, crossed the Green, spreading out to form a large pool. Northwards, the settlement extended along the Hertford Road to just north of the junction with Town Lane (Town Road). Southwards, there was patchy development along Fore Street stretching just beyond the junction with Knight's Lane. Westwards, Church Street was built up to a point just beyond All Saints Church and there were a few houses in Church lane and Milestone Alley (Victoria Road).

By 1826 Edmonton had good transport facilities with horse buses running at half hourly intervals to London. The Eastern Counties Railway opened a branchline from Angel Road to Enfield Town in 1849 with an intermediate station at Edmonton Green. The effect of this line was fairly limited, as fares were high and the trains ran by a roundabout route via Stratford to an inconveniently sited terminus at Shoreditch.

The 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map of 1867 shows a limited amount of growth. Some large villas had been built in Church Street and ribbon development along Fore Street had almost reached Boards' Lane (Brettenham Road) virtually closing the gap between Upper and Lower Edmonton. A report by the General Board of Health (1850) on sanitary conditions in Edmonton had a great deal to say about public health problems in Upper Edmonton but rather less to say about Lower Edmonton. There had been an outbreak of typhus in Church Lane and there were problems caused by bad drainage in Barrowfield lane.

In 1872 the Great Eastern Railway opened the present Lower Edmonton station as part of its direct line from London to Enfield Town. The former station continued to be used for rush hour workmen's trains until 1939. From 1874 the trains ran to and from a new City terminus at Liverpool Street. The new line offered exceptionally cheap workmen's fares. Additional transport facilities were provided in 1881 with the opening of a tramway along Fore Street and the Hertford Road.

The latter years of the nineteenth century saw a vast working class influx into Edmonton from the overcrowded inner suburbs, attracted by the cheap workmen's fares. By 1914 large areas had been built over. There was extensive ribbon development along the Hertford Road and the Bounces Road and Bury Street areas had been largely built up. There had also been considerable development on the Victoria Road area.

The first part of Edmonton Town Hall was completed in 1884 and considerably extended in 1903. The same year saw the opening of a swimming pool adjoining the Town Hall in Knight's Lane. The public library service started in 1893 in one room of the Town Hall. In 1894 a purpose-built library was opened in Fore Street. Shopping facilities were greatly augmented by an East End style street market which grew up around Edmonton Green in the late nineteenth century.

After World War I development resumed. Edmonton's first council housing estate was built to the west of Victoria Road. There was much private house building particularly in the Church Street area, eventually closing the gap between Lower Edmonton and Bush Hill Park. By the late thirties the area was more or less fully developed.

The tramway was converted to trolleybuses in 1938 and these, in turn, gave way to conventional diesel buses in 1961. The railway line from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town was electrified in 1960.

The early post war years saw much of the area in a run down state. There was also an acute housing shortage. Edmonton Council's response was a massive programme of redevelopment. This continued after the merger with Enfield in 1965, culminating in the total rebuilding of the Edmonton Green Shopping Centre from 1968.

The Lower Edmonton area today has a very mixed appearance. The remains of the old village in Church Street rub shoulders with Victorian workmen's cottages and tower blocks' from the nineteen sixties.

The rest of this site may add some flesh to the bones of the above in places but I think it is a fair summary and it does show that on the whole Lower Edmonton has "failed to trouble the scorers". I will add that Edmonton is mentioned in Domesday and emphasise that many of the houses built in the 18th and the first 3/4 of the 19th Century were relatively upmarket "villas" reflecting the convenient location on a main road into the City of London and it was the railways that transformed the Middlesex village into the working class London suburb over quite a short period.

The Domesday Book entry for Edmonton (not specifically Lower Edmonton) is something like this...

Geoffrey de Mandeville holds ADELMENTONE.

It answers for 35 hides. Land for 26 ploughs. In lordship 16 hides; 4 ploughs. The villagers have 22 ploughs. 1 villager with 1 hide; 3 others, 1/2 hide each; 20 villagers with 1 virgate each; 24 others, 1/2 virgate each; 9 smallholders with 3 virgates; 4 smallholders with 5 acres each; 4 smallholders with 4 acres each; 10 cottagers; 4 villagers with 1 hide and 1 virgate; 4 slaves. 1 mill, 10s; meadow for 26 ploughs, and 25s over and above; pasture for the livestock; woodland, 2000 pigs; from the payments of the woodland and pasture, 12s. Total value £40; when acquired, £20; before 1066, £40.

Asgar, King Edward's Constable, held this manor. An outlier called Mimms lay and lies in this manor: it is assessed with the manor.

There seem to be various variations of the spelling such as Adelmeton, Adelmenton, Ædelmeton and I haven't seen the original version. It is usually suggested as having meant "Eadhelm's Homestead" in Old English though I have also seen "the town of Aldhem and Adhelm".

Samuel Lewis's "A Topographical Dictionary of England" of 1831 offers this on the old parish of Edmonton...

A Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis, 1831

EDMONTON, a parish in the hundred of, county of MIDDLESEX, 7 miles (N.) from London, containing 7900 inhabitants. This place, which had risen into some consideration prior to the Conquest, is in Domesday-book called Ædelmeton, probably as having been the residence of some distinguished personage during the Heptarchy. The extensive forest in the neighbourhood, of which Enfield Chase formed a part, made it the resort of many individuals who occasionally retired hither to enjoy the diversion of hunting, and from its convenient distance from the metropolis, it became the residence of many opulent families. The village is pleasantly situated on the high road to Hertford, along which it extends for , containing, exclusively of small dwellings, several ranges of respectable, houses, and, in detached situations, many elegant mansions and handsome villas; it is well lighted with gas, and amply supplied with water: the New River winds through several parts of the parish, producing a pleasing and picturesque effect in the pleasure grounds and meadows through which it runs. A considerable coach manufactory has been established here within the last thirty years, which affords employment to more than sixty persons; and an extensive trade in timber is carried on by means of the Lea river navigation, which passes within three quarters of a mile of the village. Fairs are held annually on St. Giles' and Ascension days, on a part of Enfield Chase, near Southgate, in this parish, under letters patent of James I., chiefly for pleasure. The petty sessions for the division are held at the Angel Inn every alternate Friday. The jurisdiction of a court of requests at Enfield, for the recovery of debts under 40s., extends to this parish; and a court leet and court baron are held on the Tuesday in Whitsun-week.

The parish comprises the divisions of Church-Street, Fore-Street, Bury-Street, and Southgate-Street. The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Middlesex, and diocese of London, rated in the kings's books at £18, and in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, London. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is a spacious modern brick structure with an old embattled tower; the nave was rebuilt of brick in 1772. The chapel in Southgate-Street was erected and endowed in 1615, by Sir John Weld, Knt.; and another chapel on Winchmore Hill, dedicated to St. Paul, in the later style of English architecture, was erected in 1828, at an expense of nearly £5000, defrayed by subscription among the inhabitants, aided by a grant of £3500 from the parliamentary commissioners. There, are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyan Methodists.

A charity school for boys was founded in 1624, by Mr. Edward Latymer, who bequeathed a messuage at Edmonton, and lands at Hammersmith, for clothing and educating eight poor boys, for which purpose also Mr. Thomas Styles, in 1679, bequeathed £20 per annum; several similar benefactions have been consolidated, producing about £550 per annum, which is appropriated to the instruction of more than one hundred boys, of which number sixty are clothed: the school-room was built in 1811, pursuant to the will of Mrs. Ann Wyatt, who bequeathed £500 five per cent. Navy annuities for that purpose, and £100 to keep it in repair. A charity school for girls was established by subscription in 1778, since which period donations and legacies to the amount of £5000 have been given for its support; the endowment arising from these sums is augmented by annual subscription, and appropriated to the clothing and instruction of more than seventy girls: the present school-house was built by subscription in 1818. There is a National school, in which nearly three hundred children are instructed. A fund arising from several bequests is appropriated to the apprenticing of poor children. Mr. John Wild, in 1662, built three almshouses, which he endowed with £4 per annum; and Mr. Thomas Styles erected twelve, which he endowed with £36. 16. per annum; to the poor in the latter, Mr. John Lewitt, in 1771, bequeathed £800; and for the poor in both almshouses, Mr. George Stanbridge, in 1780, left £500; Mrs. Sarah Huxley, in 1800, bequeathed £1000; and other benefactors have contributed various sums for their support.

On Bush Hill, in this parish, are remains of a large circular encampment, supposed to have been the site of a British town, near which Sir Hugh Myddelton had a residence. Bury hall, the seat of President Bradshaw, retains many of its original features. Peter Fabell, a learned man of eccentric character, who obtained the reputation of being a conjuror, is said to have been born in this parish, which became noted by the production of a drama about the year 1490, founded upon some of his alleged exploits, and called the 'Merry Devil of Edmonton': the place also gave rise to a tragedy founded on the history of an unfortunate woman who was condemned and executed on a charge of witchcraft, in 1621; and it has been lastly celebrated as the scene of Cowper's popular ballad of 'John Gilpin,' in allusion to which there is a painting in front of the Bell Inn. Dr. Brook Taylor, secretary to the Royal Society, and author of an ingenious treatie on Perspective, was born here in 1685; and Archbishop Tillotson resided here constantly while Dean of St. Paul's, and occasionally after his translation to the primacy.

The two extracts above were lifted from Alan Stanier's family history pages on the web, though the source pages have either moved or are no longer available.

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