N21 Festival Walks

In March 2011 my wife and I attended one of the earliest meetings of what was to become The N21 Festival.


Hugh and Ann Humphrey, who up to that point had been the sole organisers, outlined their vision that evening and I immediately felt that this was something I wanted to be involved in.

One area that Hugh particularly wanted to promote was the History of Winchmore Hill through a series of walks, talks and exhibitions. As a City of London guide I volunteered my services and was taken on as the Festival guide. Fortunately, soon after, Hugh experienced my work through a mutual friend and from then on I had won him over.

In October 2011 I did a trial walk of Henrietta Cresswell’s Winchmore Hill. Nearly 50 people turned out that Sunday afternoon so we knew we had to repeat it for the Festival.

At Christmas I lead a historical walk around Winchmore Hill again well supported so we now had two walks for Festival week.

The third walk was inspired by the success of The Jack the Ripper Walks in London’s East End. Every night of the week two or three sold out walks leave Tower Hill fuelled by societies insatiable interest in gore and sensationalism. I felt Winchmore Hill was due to be re branded!

The Festival also wanted to involve local schools so I contacted every state and private school in the N21 district and six responded to our offer of a free walk around The Green area for their pupils. In April I took out teachers from all the participating schools to give them a taster walk. This proved useful because although the content was universally approved some teachers offered valuable suggestions to make the exercise more beneficial to the children

I now had nine walks to lead during Festival week, six for the schools and three evening walks for the general public. The public walks, we hoped, would cover all tastes and timetables.

The heart of Winchmore Hill is The Green and I wanted all the walks to concentrate on the historic centre of The Village. When tickets went on sale I realised I had a problem. Very early on it was clear that several groups were booking tickets for all three evening walks. I now had to ensure that all three walks had markedly different content and went on three different routes.

All walks were to start from Winchmore Hill station, so I worked out three routes going North, South and West. East would lead us to the Broadway which has its own history and will have to wait for another time.

On Saturday 16th June at the unearthly hour of 9.30pm we started the first “Dark Side of Winchmore Hill ” walk. The fact that by then we had sold out three versions of this walk alone confirmed that even in N21 this interest in Ghosts, Satanists, Witches and Crime was unending. On a wet and windy evening we headed north towards the edges of Enfield Chase as I related disturbing stories from medieval times through to the current day. Following my lantern we eventually arrived back at the Green just after 11pm and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves, although at least two went for a stiff drink before bedtime.

The School walks started at 11.15 Monday morning when Mrs Griffin brought a very bright group of girls from Grange Park Prep to join me at Winchmore Hill Station. Mrs Griffin has an interest and knowledge of the history of the area and her enthusiasm manifests itself through the children. It augured well for the rest of the week.

On Monday afternoon it was Highfield School’s turn for the tour. We started this at their school gates to maximise use of schools time and was probably the longest school walk. With the aid of Mrs Cater and her colleagues we marched a large group up Station Road for a lively tour of over an hour. This was quite a time for the pupils to maintain an interest but when I left them at the school gates they were still asking questions. 

Tuesday morning started with a Group from St Paul’s School. Historically the Village school, we concentrated on the connection with the church and school over the last 150 years. Mrs Naylor and her colleagues have been great supporters of the festival and it was a pleasure to offer something in return.

Tuesday evening was The Cresswell walk, which headed south towards Compton and Hoppers Road. Here we investigated the site of Dr Cresswell’s first home in Winchmore Hill and stories of the coming of the railway. The walk finished at Wood Corner with the story of the assassination of Spencer Percival. A tale related by Henrietta in her book.

Wednesday proved to be the busiest day. In the morning a young group from Keble School met me at the station. It was the hottest morning of the week and it was uncomfortable for the boys. However they listened patiently and showed great interest. Mrs Dunn and her colleagues obviously groomed them well.

In the afternoon I met Salcombe School in Grovelands Park as they finished their picnic. Probably the liveliest group of the week showing interest in everything I told them and a lot more. Technically not from Winchmore Hill they had obviously done some prep and were aware of the area. Mrs Humphrey uses all her skills and knowledge from her own school days to inspire them.

Wednesday evening meant my third public walk. The topic was a lighthearted history of Winchmore Hill and the camaraderie and humour of this particular group made it a very entertaining walk for all.

My final walk was for Palmers Green High School. I watched this group snake up Hoppers Road for our rendezvous in the Salisbury Car Park. Led by Dr Caddy these girls were the oldest of the school groups and their questions reflected this.

I led these walks because I wanted to and I enjoyed every one of them. If given the opportunity I would repeat any or all of them. Hopefully the schools will use my services again and I will definitely be doing more public walks in N21.

The N21 Festival has opened so many doors for me that a month after the event there are still serendipitous moments surprising me as a direct result of my involvement with this quite amazing and unique event.

Joe Studman - www.jaywalks.co.uk

Before the event


There are three N21 Festival walks inspired by Henrietta Cresswell's book Winchmore Hill : Memories of a Lost Village, with one of them specifically concentrating on the characters and places in the book.

The organiser and guide for these unique walks is Joe Studman, who provides City walks for English Heritage.

The walks are designed to be informative and entertaining and to encourage a sense of community and history about the area.

Historic guided Walk 1 : 
The Darker Side of Winchmore Hill sponsored by Hanover Electrical
Saturday 16th June 2012 9:30 pm start


This unique look at Winchmore Hill takes onboard the "dark" side , so please come prepared for tales that some may find disturbing.

The image of a respectable middle class village will be tested by stories, criminal and ghoulish, revealed on this 90 minute late evening walk.  This walk is not suitable for children or those wishing to sleep easy in their beds. Booking Essential

Meet : Winchmore Hill Station

The walk will last approximately 1.5 hours and costs £5.00 or £3.50 for concessions. All proceeds to The N21 Festival charities.

Buy tickets for the walk

Historic guided Walk 2 : 
Memories of a Lost Village sponsored by Jayne Liasi Chiropodist
Tuesday 19th June 2012 6:30 pm


To mark the centenary of the publication of Henrietta Cresswell’s seminal memoir, you are invited to a 90 minute stroll around Winchmore Hill Village.

Led by our local guide we will investigate the life of a Victorian hamlet in the years before the railway arrived.

Meet : Winchmore Hill Station

The walk will last approximately 1.5 hours and costs £5.00 or £3.50 for concessions. All proceeds to The N21 Festival charities.

Buy tickets for the walk

Historic guided Walk 3 : 
N21 and all that !
Wednesday 20th June 2012 7:30 pm


This light-hearted history lesson will explore the heritage of Winchmore Hill.
As we stroll through the streets of N21 you’ll discover Quakers & Queens, Bankers and Brewers and Chapels and Colleges, all in less than two hours. No previous knowledge required!

Meet : Winchmore Hill Station

The walk will last approximately 1.5 hours and costs £5.00 or £3.50 for concessions. All proceeds to The N21 Festival charities.

Buy tickets for the walk