Enfield Chase

Enfield Council is proposing to create a ‘National Park City’ whilst simultaneously proposing to destroy some of the most sensitive landscape and historically important parts of Enfield Chase. To find out more about the Council’s proposals and how to respond, please visit our web-page here about the current draft Local Plan consultation, which closes on 13th September.

The areas of Enfield Chase that the Council is proposing to allow to be developed are:

  • 140 hectares at Vicarage Farm/Merryhills Brook Valley (which the Council and landowner/developer Comer Homes refer to as ‘Chase Park’). A popular Public Right of Way known as the Merryhills Way passes through the Merryhills Brook Valley and if the Council’s proposals come pass this footpath would be surrounded by housing estates on all sides.
  • 11 hectares for housing in open Green Belt countryside at Hadley Wood;
  • 11 hectares for industrial usage and distribution in open Green Belt countryside at New Cottages and Holly Hill Farm east of Junction 24 of the M25.
  • Open Green Belt countryside around Crews Hill.

The History of Enfield Chase

1777 map of Enfield Chase overlaid over a modern aerial view

A map of Enfield Chase produced in 1777 showing the boundaries of the Chase provides a gold-mine for historians. A high-res copy of the map can be downloaded here. We are planning to update this map with photographs and commentary in due course, and will be submitting this to the Council with the Society’s response to the consultation.

Enfield Chase was a royal hunting ground established by the Plantagenet kings in the middle ages. Critically, it was closely connected with Enfield Old Park, which is even older and appears in the Domesday book. Deer were raised in the Old Park and released into the Chase for hunting. It is this connection that the ‘Chase Park’ proposals would destroy. An article about Enfield Chase by Enfield Society Chairman Dave Cockle will appear in the July Enfield Dispatch.

Dr John Langton, Emeritus Research Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford, one of the country’s leading experts on royal forests and chases, has already submitted his response to the consultation, objecting to the draft Local Plan proposals for ‘Chase Park’ (Vicarage Farm). Dr Langton’s letter states:

For the last thirty years or so I have been researching and writing on the history of England’s forests and chases, which were very distinctive features of the countryside owing to their function as hunting grounds within which inhabitants had extensive rights over the natural vegetation that was protected for the purposes of hunting, sheltering and feeding deer. Some of them persisted into and through early-modern times, and still-surviving remnants provide some of the most highly-valued elements of our contemporary landscape as national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, and other public open spaces. Those within the Greater London area include Epping Forest and Bushy and Richmond parks; Enfield is the only surviving example of a chase, within which rights to game and over vegetation varied slightly from those in forests. This is outlined in a paper I gave in Enfield in 2011, which I attach with this letter as part of my submission… Thus, Enfield possesses an extremely rare and very valuable landscape asset. It would be a great pity to lose part of what is left of it to housing development. I do hope that you will reconsider your decision to allow this.”

Dr J. Langton

Dr Langton’s letter can be found here.

David Pam’s book The Story of Enfield Chase

Celebrated local historian David Pam carried out extensive research on the Chase and the Enfield Preservation Society published The Story of Enfield Chase in 1986. As part of our commitment to a full understanding of its importance, we have had the book digitised and have made it available here.

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