Barnet Museum was opened in March 1938 at 31 Wood
Street, to house the collection of the Barnet & District
Local History Society . Its building is an attractive early
Georgian house in the heart of Chipping Barnet which lies about 11 miles north of the centre of
contains archives, objects, prints, photographs, paintings and
maps reflecting the development of Chipping Barnet and the
surrounding area, as well as a notable collection of period
costumes and accessories, domestic items and lace.
Chipping Barnet grew up around an important
junction of Wood Street, and the road that was later to be
known as the ‘Great North Road'. Traffic on the new road lead
to the development of a large number of busy coaching inns.
Barnet also became known both for its market and for its fair.
(The word ‘chipping' comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘cheap' which
means ‘market', and ‘Barnet Fair' became the Cockney rhyming
slang for hair.) Charters for the market and fair were granted
in 1199 and 1588 respectively.
In addition to the town of Chipping Barnet the
museum covers other nearby areas. One of these is East Barnet,
which formed part of the original manor of Chipping and East
Barnet it is the latter that appears to have been the focus of
the earliest settlement. The parish church of St Mary the
Virgin, East Barnet dates from the first half of the eleventh
century, whilst the church of St John the Baptist in Chipping
Barnet dates from around 1250. The town of New Barnet was
created following the coming of the Great Northern Railway in
1850. Other areas that are covered by the Museum include West
Barnet, Cockfosters, Arkley, Hadley, Whetstone and Totteridge.
A notable battle was fought at Barnet on East
Sunday 1471. It was one of the final engagements in the Wars
of the Roses, and saw the death of the powerful Earl of Warwick (known as the
As a major stopping point on the route out of
London and a place where spring waters were available. Barnet
has been visited by many famous people. From kings and
noblemen to poets and authors, they have included Arbella
Stuart (grand-daughter of Bess of Hardwick), Samuel Pepys and
Barnet was in Hertfordshire until 1965 when it became part
of the newly formed London Borough of Barnet. The Museum
building is owned by the Borough, whilst the
collection belongs to the Barnet & District Local History
Society, whose volunteer members run the Museum itself.