A Vision of Britain - The Vision of Britain site has masses of statistical data about almost everywhere in Britain. But there are also links to other sites, such as Victoria County History on the British History Online site, that have contemporary accounts and detailed histories of development. The links here are for the Enfield pages.
The Enfield Society (formerly Enfield Preservation Society) - amongst other things this site has a collection of old photographs, some of which I have used here.
London, Westminster & Middlesex Family History Society - this is a link to their page on Enfield
Enfield Street Names - part of the Enfield Society’s site. It is what it says it is.
A History of Enfield in the County of Middlesex - an online old book - published 1873 - a little difficult to read - the digitisation is not great.
Forebears - a very useful list of links to genealogical resources
Public Houses, Inns and Taverns of Enfield, Middlesex - part of the UK pub history site. A list of pubs and their publicans
Family Search - The Mormons summary of genealogical sources for the parish of St. Andrew.
Enfield is the Dearman stronghold - well for our family just three generations of Dearmans lived in Enfield, before departing for other places. Other Dearmans stayed on and no doubt there are descendants still there. There may have been Dearmans there earlier too but for us it is basically the entire nineteenth century that interests us. And this, was, as for most places in England, the time of greatest change. It is also, of course, the hometown of the Dearman wives of that period, Sophia Anne Nightingale and Emma Eliza Brown and their families.
The map above is dated 1881, but as you can see it is still a pretty rural community. Development is very much clustered around the town centre, and all around are fields. London is 10 miles to the south east. The railway apparently came to Enfield in 1849, and development did occur in fits and starts, as various large estates were sold off and developed, but not really until the twentieth century. Chase Side, Enfield Town and Enfield Highway are, I think the main parts of Enfield. Chase Side and Enfield Highway, also being the names of actual roads. The Dearmans mostly lived in Parsonage Lane and Bell Road, which is just to the north of this map.
The map on the left shows Enfield in relation to its surrounding settlements - Enfield is at the top, Finchley in the bottom left-hand corner. The map is dated 1900 and you can see that, although there are little patches of development there is still a lot of rural land. The other map above shows Enfield with its various component parts. As you can see, Enfield is just to the left of the Great Eastern Railway Line - one of the major English railway lines.
Enfield began as a cluster of communities, which became centred on one of the English royalty’s hunting grounds - Enfield Chase in the reign of Henry IV. The Tudors had a palace there - no longer in existence. The Chase was enclosed in the eighteenth century , divided up and leased. The large country houses that still exist date back to this time.
Enfield is also famous for the small arms munition factory which would have been a major employer. But it’s main industry was most probably agriculture, with market gardens and larges estates such as Bush Hill Park providing food for London - some ten miles to the south-west. An odd little claim to fame is that the world’s first ever ATM was installed there!
The New River which runs through Enfield, is not really a river at all, having been artificially constructed in 1613 to bring water from Hertfordshire to London. The River Lea runs to the east of the town. Much of the land along the river was marshland.
Enfield Chase today and Trent Park - a manor built on the Chase after enclosure, now part of Middlesex University
Below is a history and description of Enfield from the 1868 National Gazeteer - mid century.
“ENFIELD ... is connected with the Great Eastern railway by a branch line of about 3 miles. The parish includes the hamlets of Cock Fosters, Enfield Highway, Bullscross, and Ponder’s End, where there is a railway station; and is divided into three divisions, called the Town and Chase division, Green Street and Ponder’s End division, and Bullscross division, each under separate management, and containing several small villages.
The New River flows through the parish, which extends eastward to the river Lea. In Domesday Survey it is called Enefelde, and was then held by Geoffrey de Mandeville. It afterwards passed to the crown, and was converted into a royal chase, well stocked with deer. Several privileges and exemptions were granted to the inhabitants by various sovereigns from the time of Richard II., and the Tudor kings built a palace here for the purpose of hunting. Edward VI., Elizabeth, James I., and Charles II., frequently held their courts here. During the Civil Wars, the parliamentary army destroyed the game and cut down the trees, and a considerable portion of the land was divided into farms. At the Restoration, the Chase was replanted and stocked with deer, and so continued till 1777, when an Act of Parliament was obtained for its disafforesting, and the land portioned out into allotments. On admeasurement, the Chase was found to contain 8,550 acres, of which the greater part is now in tillage.
The town, which is situated to the W. of the Hertford road, or Roman Ermine Street, consists of two streets, in which are several well-built houses. Petty sessions are held here, and it is a polling place for the county. There is a Board of Health for sanitary purposes, and police stations in four different parts of the parish. Here is a government manufactory for small arms on an extensive scale, also a brewery, corn-mill, and saw-mills. The town and neighbourhood are lighted with gas, and well supplied with water from springs. At Ponder’s End in this parish is a large manufactory for finishing crape.
The living is a vicarage in the diocese of London, value £1,174, in the patronage of Trinity College, Cambridge. The parish church is about 500 years old, and is thought to have belonged to Saffron Walden Abbey; having a chantry attached, now converted into a vestry. It is dedicated to St. Andrew, and contains several curious and finely-executed monuments and brasses. The register commences in 1550. There are also ... district churches, viz. St. James ..., Jesus Chapel, ... both in the patronage of the vicar, and Trent Christ Church, ...
The charitable endowments of the parish produce nearly £1,000 per annum, the principal of which are Blossom’s grammar school, Wright’s, Wilson’s, Eaton’s, Meyer’s, and David’s, and several other charities for the benefit of the poor. Of Dissenting chapels there are five .... Of schools there are four National, one British, and six for infants; also a free grammar school, and a school of industry for girls. Of the ancient palace there are some remains, but the greater part was taken down in 1792. The one room which remains is in its original state, with oak panels and a richly ornamented ceiling. White Webbs House was the rendezvous of Fawkes and his fellow conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot. Coins, urns, and other Roman remains, have been found.
There are several handsome seats and residences in the neighbourhood. Enfield gives the title of viscount to the Earl of Strafford. The manor of Enfield and part of the soil belongs to the duchy of Lancaster. James Meyer, Esq., is lord of the manors of Worcester, Capel, and Goldbeaters; and Woodham Connop, Esq., is lord of the manors of Durants and Garstons. Saturday is market day, and fairs are held on the 23rd September and 30th November for horses, &c.”
I don’t think I can add anything to such a comprehensive piece. If you really want to know more go to the British History Online’s extracts from the very detailed Victoria County History. Enfield, has gone from rural community, through playground of royalty, to a mix of workers and landed gentry, down to a pretty nondescript suburb of London and back up to somewhere which today looks quite trendy and attractive.