1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Enfield (England)

ENFIELD, a market town in the Enfield parliamentary division of Middlesex, England, 11 m. N. of London Bridge, on the Great Northern and Great Eastern railways. Pop. of urban district, (1891) 31,536, (1901) 42,738. It is picturesquely situated on the western slope of the Lea valley, with a considerable extension towards the river, mainly consisting of artisans’ dwellings (Churchbury, Ponder’s End, and Enfield Highway on the Old North Road). Great numbers of villas occupied by those whose work lies in London have grown up; and many of the inhabitants are employed in the Royal Small Arms factory at Enfield Lock. The church of St Andrew is mainly Perpendicular, but has Early English portions; it contains several ancient monuments and brasses, and flanks the market-place, with its modern cross. Enfield Palace fronts the High Street; it retains portions of the building of Edward VI., but has been greatly altered. The grammer school, near the church, was founded in 1557. The New River flows through the parish, and Sir Hugh Myddleton, its projector, was for some time resident here. Middleton House, named after him, is one of several fine mansions in the vicinity. Of these, Forty Hall, in splendidly timbered grounds, is from the designs of Inigo Jones; and a former mansion occupying the site of White Webbs House was suspected as the scene of the hatching of Gunpowder Plot. The parish is of great extent (12,653 acres).

An Anglo-Saxon derivation, signifying “forest clearing,” is indicated for the name. Enfield Chase was a royal preserve, disafforested in 1777. The principal manor of Enfield, which was held by Asgar, Edward the Confessor’s master of horse, was in the hands of the Norman baron Geoffrey de Mandeville at the time of Domesday, and belonged to the Bohun family in the 12th and 13th centuries. It came, by succession and marriage, into the possession of the crown under Henry IV., and was included in the duchy of Lancaster. There were, however, seven other manors, and of these one, Worcesters, came to the crown in the time of Henry VIII., whose children resided at the manor-house, Elsynge Hall. Edward VI., settling both manors upon the princess Elizabeth, rebuilt Enfield Palace for her. She was a frequent resident here not only before but after her accession to the throne. About 1664 the palace was occupied as a school by Robert Uvedale (1642–1722), who was also an eminent horticulturist, planted the magnificent cedar still standing in the palace grounds, and formed a herbarium now in the Sloane collection at the British Museum. The town received grants of markets from Edward I. and James I.