The Daily Chronicle, 5 June 1895

VANDALISM AT HIGHGATE

Sir,One of the most lovely bits of woodland in suburban London is threatened. Will you help us to ward off what would be a calamity, not only to the immediate district, but to the whole of densely-populated North London ? In no part of the metropolis has the builder been more active than in Crouch End and Hornsey. The beautiful meadows of a year or two ago are now houses and shops. Ballast heaps have taken the place of stately elms and chestnuts, and once pleasant villages are sharing the fate of Stroud Green, Harringay, Finsbury Park, Highbury and Islington.---

---- The object is the construction of two forty-foot roads through the woods. We in this district know the meaning of forty-foot roads through woods. It means that the woods are doomed. Ten years ago agitation saved the sister wood of sixty-five acres. The Gravel Pit Woods - and no one who saw the Bank Holiday crowds flocking up the Archway Road from the dreary streets of Holloway, Islington and Clerkenwell, and watched the keen enjoyment of the children and family parties picnicking on the grass and among the trees, could fall to realise the immense boon that the grant by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of this wood has been to the whole of North London, but the Lower Wood of sixty acres has always been regarded as a natural complement of the other. ----

--- The Ecclesiastical Commissioners own nearly one-third of the large parish of Hornsey. By the liberal expenditure of the ratepayers' money in the opening up of roads and the general development of the district, the value of their property has been enormously increased, and from this unearned increment they each year draw large revenues. Surely the ratepayers whose money has thus aided in creating the immense estate may expect liberal treatment in return. ---

Yours obediently,

Signed by The Vicar of St James', Muswell Hill, the Minister of Park Chapel, Crouch End, a barrister living in Onslow Gardens and three members of the District Council.


This was a shot right across the bows of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Religious leaders and the District Council all up in arms saying in effect that the church was too rich and should be charitable, not greedy. The inclusion of the two clergymen was a shrewd move.

The Evening News, 7 June 1895 said: -

"If the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are not tackled at once, the building octopus will get a grip of the wood which will be very difficult to loosen later on,---. Therefore it behoves Londoners to be up and doing if they would save one of their most delightful bits of rustic scenery. The public inquiry stands adjourned to Thursday next, and before then something must be done to convince the Commissioners that the citizens of London will not tolerate the confiscation of one of their favourite playgrounds.'

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