In the 1880s the Church Commissioners planned to develop Gravel Pit Wood (now called Highgate Wood) by building rows of houses, as they had done in other parts of the Borough. It was their property and they had the legal right to do so, but the public outcry was so great that the Commissioners decided instead to build a road through Bishop's Wood (now Bishop's Avenue) and to give Highgate Wood to the public. They asked the City of London to accept and maintain the Wood as an open space.
The 1886 Highgate and Kilburn Open Spaces Act was passed enabling the Church Commissioners to transfer some of their lands to the Corporation as permanent open spaces for the use of the public. The wording shows that, while generous, the Commissioners were not entirely altruistic in giving the land to the public. They recognised that permanent open spaces near to their own existing housing estates, or ones to be built in the future, would make the houses more attractive and more valuable. Just as Victorian builders knew that a good church near their new estate would help to sell the houses, the Church Commissioners saw that their houses would sell better if there was an open space nearby.
Shortly after this The Church Commissioners tried to develop Church Bottom Wood, which we now call Queen’s Wood and got avery dusty answer from the general public.
++ADD FOOTNOTE TO MUSWELL HILL Pp 180-189
Revised: October 25, 2011 8:52 AM