Saturday, 8 December 2012

Barnet Museum

I have been volunteering at Barnet Museum for two years now. It is possibly one of the best ways to spend a few hours every Sunday as I get to expand my historical knowledge, give back to the local Barnet community, and most importantly, have fun!

Barnet Museum is a registered charity run entirely by volunteers. It was founded in 1938 and is a centre for local and family research. The museum contains over 50,000 artifacts many of which I have been helping to categorise over the past few weeks. There are many exhibitions in the museum, my favourite being 'Services, Hospital and Fire Service' (considering I am learning about the history of medicine this is very useful), the 'Home Front in Barnet during WWII' (again helpful to my GCSE studies), and 'Schooling in Barnet' and the 'Victorian Room', simply because I am fascinated by both of these.

The town's name comes from Barneto c.1070, Barnet 1197, La Barnette 1248, which all mean 'the land cleared by burning', from Old English bærnet, referring to the clearing of this once densely forested area in early times.

Barnet was the site of the Battle of Barnet in 1471 where Yorkist troops (led by King Edward IV) killed the rebellious Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and Warwick's brother, John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu. Barnet Hill is also said to be the hill mentioned in the nursery rhyme "The Grand Old Duke of York".

Barnet is also the site of an ancient and well-known horse fair, which dates back to 1588 when Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter to the Lord of the Manor of Barnet to hold a twice yearly fair. The famous Barnet Market is now over 810 years old.

Chipping Barnet was part of Hertfordshire until the parish was abolished in 1965. In Saxon times Barnet was part of a huge wood called Southaw. In 1560 John de la Moote the abbot of St Albans built the St John Baptist Church, which is often referred to as 'Barnet Church'.

So, if you are ever in the neighbourhood, please drop in and have a look around this small, yet fascinating museum.