Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …
Enfield was first recorded in the “Domesday Book” of 1086 as Enefelde, from the Old English personal name Eana, and feld, in context probably referring to an area of cleared woodland. What is now Enfield Town grew up around the former village green. It grew rapidly following the arrival of the railway in 1849. The Royal Small Arms Factory, which opened here in 1815, employed a workforce of some 2400 by the 1880s, and only closed down as recently as 1987. The factory manufactured the Lee-Enfield rifle throughout the First and Second World Wars, and the Brno-Enfield machine gun, or Bren gun, throughout the Second.
The church of St Andrew was originally built in the town centre in the twelfth century (see below); and Enfield Grammar School in 1558; and the market square was laid out in 1632.
Elsyng Palace was built a couple of miles to the north of the town centre, on Forty Hill, at least as long ago as the fifteenth century, and Forty Hall on essentially the same site in the seventeenth (see below).
Church of St Andrew
The church of St Andrew was originally built in the twelfth century, and subsequently substantially rebuilt in the fourteenth through sixteenth, and restored in the nineteenth and early twentieth. The nave and tower survive from the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, and a trefoil-headed lancet window in the chancel to the thirteenth.
In the interior are a large number of Medieval to post-Medieval memorials, including those to Jocosa, Lady Tiptoft (d. 1446); Edmund, Baron de Roos or Ros (d. 1508); William Smith, sometime servant to Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I (d. 1592); Henry Middlemore, Groom of the Privy Chamber to Elizabeth I (d. 1610); Francis Evington, Alderman of London (d. 1614); and Sir Nicholas Raynton, Lord Mayor of London (d. 1646) (once imprisoned for refusing the King, Charles I, a loan).
There are also some interesting later memorials, including that to Thomas Boddington, a one-time slave-owner who became involved with the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor and with the foundation of Sierra Leone in the late eighteenth century (d. 1821); and, in the churchyard, that to Samuel Garnault, Esq., Treasurer of the New River Company (d. 1827).
The Garnaults, incidentally, were a Huguenot family who arrived as refugees in Enfield in 1684. Michael Garnault bought a former Tudor mansion called Bowling Green House in Bulls Cross in 1724, and various members of the family continued to live there until 1812 (the site is now occupied by Myddelton House, built by the Bowles family in 1818).
Elsyng Palace or Enfield House
Elsyng Palace or Enfield House is thought to have originally been built sometime in the fifteenth century by John Tiptoft (Junior), 1st Earl of Worcester, who lived from 1427-70 (it is also possible that it was built even earlier, in the fourteeenth century, by Thomas Elsyng, a Citizen and Mercer of London). After Worcester’s execution in 1470, during the Wars of the Roses, the palace passed in turn to his sister Philippa, to her son Edmund, Baron de Ros (see “Church of St Andrew” above), to his sister Isabel and her husband Sir Thomas Lovell, and to his great-nephew Thomas Manners, 1st Earl of Rutland. Lovell, who was the Speaker of the House of Commons in King Henry VIII’s time, extended it “sufficient to receive the court on progress”: Henry’s sister, Queen Margaret of Scotland stayed here in 1516; Henry himself, in 1520 and again in 1527; and his Queen, Katherine of Aragon, in 1532.
In 1539, in a property exchange, the palace passed to Henry, and remained Crown property throughout the remainder of the Tudor period. It appears to have been used on occasion for family as well as for formal business: Princess Mary and Prince Edward stayed in the palace over Christmas in 1539; and evidently the entire family over Christmas in 1542; and Princess Elizabeth and Prince Edward were brought here to be informed of Henry’s death in 1547. On Henry’s death, the palace passed to Edward, who in 1550 gave it to Elizabeth. Elizabeth visited it on average every four years or so until 1596, by which time it was reportedly beginning to fall into disrepair.
The palace fell out of use under the succeeding first Stuart King James I, who preferred nearby Theobalds, and was partially demolished by him in 1608. The surviving part was subsequently demolished by Nicholas Raynton in 1650, to provide materials for the extension of Forty Hall (see below). Some remains have recently come to light in the grounds there.
Forty Hall is thought to have originally been built by Sir Nicholas Raynton (see “Church of St Andrew” above) between 1629-32 (it is also possible that it was built earlier, by Sir Hugh Fortee). It was subsequently extended by his great-nephew, also named Nicholas, in 1656 (see “Elsyng Palace … ” above). After the younger Nicholas’s death in 1696, the house passed to John Wolstenhome (*), who carried out further extension and refurbishment work. Later owners included, from 1740, Eliab Breton; from 1787, Edmund Armstrong; from 1799, James Meyer; and, from 1894, Henry Carrington Bowles. The Bowles family sold the house to the Municipal Borough of Enfield in 1951, and it has been used as a museum by them from that date to this.
(*) Likely a descendant of the merchant and financier of the same name who was also a member of the Virginia Company.