The remains of three thirty-yard stretches of the border hedge in Lyttleton Playing Fields, were examined by G.H.Musgrove of the Hendon and District Archaeological Society. By using methods of hedgerow dating developed by Dr Max Hooper of Nature Conservancy, the hedges were given an approximate date of 725 years, thus taking them back to the mid-thirteenth century. No doubt this date applied to the whole hedge. Since a boundary hedge has no value if there are gaps in it, presumably there was once a hedge dense enough to hold back wild animals along the back fences of, for example, Grand Avenue and Muswell Hill Rise.'

Old hunting parks were built not only to keep deer in, but to attract deer from outside and trap them. This was achieved by choosing a place on the boundary where the out­side ground was higher than the inside and creating a leap. The deer found it easier to leap down than to escape by leaping upwards, so they were trapped. Thus the higher ground along Grand Avenue and across the hillocks of the Water Board land, may perhaps have been the start for building this type of ditch and leap to trap deer from outside the park. Pure speculation, but it is extraordinary today to imagine rutting deer running down Midhurst Avenue and leaping into the Bishop of London's stew-pot.

Besides the Hunting Park, the Bishop of London held lands as the Lord of the Manors of Hornsey and Finchley, so his powers extended well beyond the hedge line, so Southwood Hall would have been well within his jurisdiction.

In the 19th century, Muswell Hill Road was far out in the country. Southwood Hall stood at the top of the hill, on the corner between Muswell Hill Road and Wood Lane, commanding a view of the Thames Valley and all the air that blew. When it was sold in 1832, it was advertised as:-

'A Castellated Mansion of the Olden Time. The design is pure Gothic, combining the chaste, the simple, and the beautiful, and (which is not so often found in this style) in an eminent degree the cheerful. The principal Chambers are adorned by some very fine specimens of Tapestry and a profusion of Painted Glass. The Pleasure Grounds and land include in the whole about four acres. Their disposition is most happy and so arranged that the picturesque always prevails. The natural advantage of an irregular surface has been so far improved by Art, that at no point is the extent developed and the most luxuriant trees ornament this favoured spot in every direction. Some beautiful Specimens of Sculpture adorn the house and grounds and it may be safely pronounced that for any gentleman of Taste and Opulence a Suburban Retreat so every way desirable, could not easily be found. The situation is dry, the air remarkably pure and healthful and there is an abundance of the finest water.'

Clearly the garden designer had chosen not to exploit the distant views, but to create an enclosed world within a thick shelter belt of trees.

The 1815 Enclosure Map (overleaf) shows that Southwood Hall was built on the two plots owned at that time by Jaques and Jones. In 1815 there had been two houses on the site but presumably these were demolished, more land was bought to extend the grounds right up to the Wood, and a new house was built.

The Estates Map shows the original four acres mentioned in the 1832 sales documents, which is much larger than the Jaques and Jones property had been. Thus by this time Southwood Hall estate must have extended right up to the stream and ponds on the edge of Queen's Wood, a natural boundary, and been enclosed on two sides by Queen's Wood and King's Woods. The third side was open with fine views over the Thames valley.

 

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