Local History in N21
Moors Lea

Moors Lea - The history of a unique house in Vicars Moor Lane, Winchmore Hill N21

At one period the lane joining Wades Hill and Man’s Lane (later changed to Green Lanes) was known as Front Lane. There is a suggestion by S. Delvin in his book “A History of Winchmore Hill” that Front Lane may have been known as Hagfield Lane because it bordered Hegfield but nobody else seems to accept this without further proof. When this area of land was enclosed it was given to the Vicar of Edmonton and it was at first thought that it was this that provided the name for Vicar’s Moor Lane, however, the word “Vicar” is a corruption of the name Mr. Vikar, who lived in the area in the 14th Century. The land at that time was made up mostly of moor type vegetation which might account for the “Moor” in the present name. The spelling of the road’s name has varied at times, Vicarsome Lane—Vicarsmoor Lane—Vicar’s Moor Lane and finally Vicars Moor Lane. The reason for eventually omitting the apostrophe in the name appears to be due to the introduction of road name signs, made in iron, which were not wide enough to include it about the rest of the lettering. There were a number of wells either side of Vicars Moor Lane, there being one in the grounds of “Moors Lea” which supplied the garden with all the water it needed until it was filled in prior to the bungalow being built in 1970; the best known of the wells was the Vicar’s Well which was in the grounds of Sutton House which stood at the lower end of the road. Vicars Moor Lane is made up of a variety of types of houses from cottages, semi-detached houses, large detached houses, flats and even what was a Baptist Chapel, now converted into a private residence. The chapel, rebuilt in 1888, was founded by the Udalls family, it is said they dealt in smuggled goods during the week and confessed their sins on a Sunday.

Moors Lea - The estate

The property, later known as “Moors Lea”, stretched from Vicars Moor Lane to the boundary of the houses in Wilson Street and from the foot-path along the above to a line from opposite the Chapel to half way along the top end of Wilson Street. When it was owned by Mr. Watson he used to drive about in a high horse drawn buggy. It was later sold and passed through a number of owners including Edmund Beadle and others. In 1865 a Bill was put before Parliament enabling the Great Northern Railway to construct what was known as The Hornsey and Hertford Branch Line, setting out the limits of the land required for this work to be carried out. According to the date shown on the station building the railway reached here in 1870, however due to delays, nothing unusual for the railways, the first passenger train called at the station at the beginning of April 1871. The plot on which “Moors Lea” stood lost a fairly large section which meant that the pathway running along the side of the property extending from Wilson Street to Vicars Moor Lane could be straightened. From this document, it is known that Plot 134, “Field, rick-yard and outbuildings”, was owned by Edmund Beadle. The estate was purchased on the 3rd October 1928, part of the estate with the new Title No P41111, was sold to Mr. Ernest Trevor Beer for use as a market garden and this helped towards the cost of buying the property.
         On the 7th June 1929 EJ, as he known, sold the front part of the estate to Herbert and George Rowley for the sum of £2000 to enable them to construct a row of semi-detached houses fronting on Vicars Moor Lane as they already owned property adjoining that owned by EJ. The purchase of this and enabled them to construct seven pairs of houses on the land. The original intention was to build No’s 93 and 97 without garages so as to fit in the number of houses required but EJ decided to allow them to allocate space at the top of the drive for the garages in return for constructing the drive and laying the drains up to “Moor Lea” at their expense. Included in this agreement and entered in the Deeds was the stipulation that the Right of Ways was “for the purpose of gaining access to and egress from the garage” so as to prohibit vehicles being parked at the top of the drive outside the garages as this was the front entrance to the house. When first completed these houses were considered rather than expensive for what they were but eventually all were sold.
When EJ sold the land to Mr. Beer, to be used as a market garden, he had a gentleman’s agreement with EJ to offer him first option to repurchase the land if he ever decided to see the land but when he did decide to sell it in 1946, went straight to the Council and offered it, together with the adjoining plot which he owned, to them for the purpose of constructing the council estate now known as Barber Close. The first EJ knew about this was when it was noticed that the trees in the orchard were being cut down by which time it was too late to do anything about it. As permission to purchase bricks to construct a wall between the estate and “Moors Lea” was refused, as war time restrictions were still in force, large breeze blocks were made by Mr. Molloy and his two sons who lived across the road at No 80. How many blocks they made is not known but the wall which is eight feet high stretches over two hundred feet so it must have been in the region of one thousand five hundred. The blocks, as they were made, were brought across in wheel barrows along the alleyway and through the garden gate halfway along. This wall was constructed six inches inside “Moors Lea’s” boundary line so that nothing could be built against it and this is still strictly enforced to-day.
During the late 1950s the idea of selling “Moor Lea” and the land for development was proposed, this would have meant buying No 93 for demolishment to enable a road to be built as an entrance to the development as the drive was not wide enough to meet the requirements for a public road. This fell through when the owner of No 93, knowing that nothing could be done without selling the house, asked for too high a price to make the proposal feasible and also it was decided the Council would not sanction one half of a pair of houses being demolished.
Sadly EJ passed away on the 25th November 1953, whereupon the estate passed to his widow, Mrs. Kathleen Westoby.
On the 24th June 1970 part of the garden was given to Mr. Albert Hadfield by Mrs Westoby, to enable him to construct a bungalow for his personal use in return for which he undertook to have the drive relaid and the necessary garden wall built. This part of the estate was covered by transfer of the land shown as NGL143144 on the property register.

Moors Lea - The House

To-date there is no record as to when the original house was built or who owned it but is it thought to have been constructed in the early 1800’s. The 1896 Ordnance Survey Map shows a house known to have been owned by a Mr. Watson, it was positioned near to the passage way wall with a horse-shoe shaped drive with two entrances in Vicars Moor Land and had stables and other out-buildings. Mr. Watson used to drive around the area in a high sided buggy! By this date the estate appears to have been known as “Moors Lea” and it would seem that either Mr. Beadle or Mr. Watson decided on the name, probably taken from “Moor Park”, which was on the other side of what is now the railway line.
For a long time a letter simply addressed to “Moors Lea”, Vicars Moor Lane, Winchmore Hill, would be delivered to No 95 without any difficulty. Eventually to help the postman, who then seemed to be changed fairly frequently, we were requested to add 95, Vicars Moor Lane below the house name to make life easier for them. In spite of this, the house name is better known in the local district than the house number and most people still prefer to use the name when referring to the house.
The draft of the provisional specifications for the proposed new residence by C.D.Williams of Wood Green were submitted on the 10th June 1929 and was followed up by an agreement dated the 2nd August 1929 setting out all the final and agreed specifications. The cost of building the house was finalised at eleven hundred and fifteen pounds (£1115) and was to be paid “Five pounds on the signing of this agreement receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, and the reside by instalments as the work proceeds, such as instalments to be equal to 80% of the value of the work executed in accordance with the specification and the terms of the agreement”. No mention has been found as to who demolished the earlier house which is a pity, as nearly all the materials used for the construction of the present house came from this source, windows, doors, stairs, timber etc. One of the remarkable things about the house is the height of the internal doors some of which are almost seven feet high. As EJ loved his garden the house was designed with as many windows as possible and these are glazed with quarter inch plate glass. The walls are thicker than normally found in houses this size so there is no likelihood of it ever falling down!