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It is suggested that Pinner, or its earlier form Pinnora, is derived from the earthworks in the region of the parish church and Cocoa Tree. Pen means Head and Ora means bank. It is understood that there were inhabitants in Pinner in pre-Roman days. Wax-Well, at the end of Waxwell Lane, is thought to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon Woecce - to guard. It is adjacent to Waxwell that we find Grimes Dyke, an ancient earthworks constructed in pre-Roman days and which formed the ancient boundaries of Mercia.
The Parish Church was thought to be built on the site of a pagan shrine and the present building was consecrated in 1321 by Bishop Petrus of Corbaria. Additions have been made through the years with the tower being constructed in the 15th century. There has been a cross on the top of the tower since 1637. The flints and chalky stone coming from the Dingles at Pinner Green and the oak from Pinner Park and surrounding woods. In the grave yard is the wooden headboard of William Skenelsby, aged 118, buried Nov 10th 1775. This gentlemen was for many years a servant for Lord Henry Beauclerk's family. He retired from service in 1769. John Claudius Loudon a pioneer of agricultural theory and practices commemorated his parents with a memorial of his own design, a very tall, tapering obelisk with an arched base and a fake coffin protruding front and back at half height. This being the most unusual and eye catching memorial in Pinner churchyard.
The cemetery in Paines Lane, was consecrated in 1859, and the first burial being on 2nd August 1860 of Emily Long aged 13. The splendid brick piers at the entrance, low wall and iron gates date from around 1857. There is some evidence to suggest that the railings were removed during WWII for ammunition. On the right-hand side of the centre path can be found the tomb of Horatia Nelson Ward, daughter of Admiral Lord Nelson.
At the top of the High Street to the left of the church stands No 64, now renovated as offices, this was once known as Equestrian Villa and also as Belle View. It was in turn the home of two drivers of the Pinner coach. This seems to be one of the houses that were seized from the church in the reign of Edward Sixth. About 1878 it was bought by Judge Barber of Barrow Point, who added the gabled part attributed to architect Sir Ernest George, R.A., and turned it into Ye Cocoa Tree Coffee Tavern which became world famous. It was opened in1878 and the following year, several hundred haymakers were provided with daily meals. From around the late 1800's to 1904 Albert Charles Cross was the refreshment caterer living at the Cocoa Tree. To commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII 1902 a cranberry coloured glass mug was produced. For years a horse trough stood in front of the building. The Cocoa Tree also became popular for outings from London for teas.
The striking building at No 58 High St, was probably the home of the Bellamy family whose vault can be seen just opposite in the churchyard. It was taken over by churchwardens in 1740, at an annual rent of £5. Later it was to become a butchers shop for three generations of the Piercy family, with the building to the right with the louvered roof vent being the Slaughter House. The building is currently now a restaurant.
Within the High Street, one or two of its houses date from the late 15th Century, and its general aspect has not changed greatly since Elizabethan times. Some of the businesses have been in the same family for generations. Lines originally started trading in 1883 supplying ironmongery and general furnishings. Today they still have a decorating and furnishing shop at No 26. At No 32 a rather formal redbrick building can still be seen the Sun Fire Insurance mark above the door, this building had been Shirvells Coffee & Dining Rooms back in the early 1900’s.
The shop at No 7 used to be a John Lee butchers today it still has the wooden canopy over the shop front, and the metal rail above the shop window where the meat was hung.
The Victory public house building, now a restaurant is dated 1580 and was formerly small shops. The previous Victory in Marsh Road (once known as The Ship), was demolished and the present public house took its name. The old facade, threatened with demolition, was saved by public outcry. The front right-hand corner of the building being formed from an upturned tree trunk.
Opposite the Victory you will find No 11 a lovely old restaurant which was for nearly 100 years, the former home of three parish clerks. One a Mr James Bedford a tailor, slept there every night of his life - 85 years. The parish council used to hold their meetings in the front room, the house was weather boarded until 1912. The building had also been known as the Old Oak Tea Rooms.
The Queens Head was once a plastered building dated 1705, though the origins were much earlier. It used to have railings and a porch with seats, altered in the early 30's. The London coach left here in the 19th century, where it used to leave The Queens Head at 7:30 am for The Bull, Holborn, returning at 3:30, arriving back in Pinner around 6pm. Early in the 20th century the licensee Dawson Billows kept a bear in the stables, sometimes he was seen taking it out for a walk.
No 27 High St was known as Beaumont’s Cottage, this was the longest running family business in Pinner, for the Beaumont’s were here in the late 18th century, although in those days they practised the trade of wheelwright. This 15th century timber framed building was originally a hall house. During renovation work at No 29 High St in 2010 on the Tudor building rendering, the side wall uncovered a hidden 200 year old advertising sign painted on the wall. Although damaged the words can still be read. "Good beds & stalls stables. NB. Horses taken into bait & stand at livery." It is an advertisement for the stables behind The Queen's Head (pub) next door.
The Old Bakery, at No35 the High Street now a Pizza restaurant - note the sign on the front of the building. The original ovens were bricked in at the rear of No37 when the building was restored. The building on the right was formerly known as Rossington's where Eleanor Ward (granddaughter of Lord Nelson) died after being knocked down in the High Street by a runaway horse in 1872.
The Green, once Pinner Village Green, was given in 1924 by John Edward Clark to be preserved for the benefit of the inhabitants of Pinner. This Green was the only one left in Pinner after the Enclosure Act of 1803. Fronting the Green is Church Farm, which is a mixture of 17th and 18th Century architecture. The tree at the top of the High Street, outside L'Orient, replaces the old Town Tree and was given by the Pinner Association. The old tree stood in the road only a few feet from L'Orient, and occupies a prominent position in old pictures of the High Street. Before Queen Victoria came to the throne, it was mentioned as being old, but in full foliage. In 1873 it was only a hollow trunk but showed traces of life until 1884. It fell on a calm night in 1898.
Pinner House in Church Lane, is on the site of an earlier hall dated 1578. A brick on the present house is dated 1721 but the deeds are 1838. Oak beams abound, and beneath the roof is a layer of thatch, an early form of insulation. The house is now used as an old people's home.
Grange Cottage in Church Lane dates back to around the 16th century, it has a timber framed structure which has been altered some time later.
Elmdene, marks the head tenement of Gardiner's, some parts of which date back to about 1600. One of its first residents after it ceased to be a farmhouse was Horatia, the natural daughter of Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton. She was the widow of the Rev. Philip Ward of Tenderton when she came to Pinner. More recent owners have been the actor David Suchet, and the comedian Ronnie Barker.
Tooke's Green is situated in Church Lane at the junction with Nower Hill, and is now surrounded by houses on all sides. The granite fountain memorial was given by the inhabitants of Pinner in memory of Mr William Arthur Tooke in 1886. His son A.W.Tooke was responsible for building a small number of buildings in the area, Woodhall Towers was built in 1864 to the east of what is now Woodhall Drive, this was demolished in 1965. Known locally as Tooke's Folly, it was an ornate almost grotesque structure, of multicoloured brick with gothic features. The clock tower, built 1862 by Tooke in a similar style stands at the former Pinner Hill Farm
The Fives Court was designed in 1900 by Cecil Brewer an architect of the Arts and Craft movement, for Ambrose Heal, of the famous furnishing firm Heal's, in Tottenham Court Rd. The detail is characteristic, and the plain, horizontal lines show the influence of Charles Voysey. The exterior colour scheme is very much like the original.
Tudor Cottage is an irregular shaped cottage on the site of Readings head tenement, with the date 1592 on its chimney. Much of this house consists of genuine pieces brought from elsewhere in the 20th century, though whether any of it was from Pinner is open to debate.
East End House hides behind a tall hedge, a house of mixed dates and appearance. Its most notable resident was the poet laureate Henry James Pye who bought it in 1811. Pye also bought East End Farm and Tudor Cottage, which remained with his heirs until 1917. Pye is chiefly remembered in connection with 'Sing a song of sixpence'. 'When the Pye was opened, the birds began to sing', is said to refer to the extravagant expressions about birds used in his poems.
East End Farm Cottage, was built by Roger of Eastend head tenant owner 1450-1497 and is probably the oldest house in Pinner, and according to tradition was the home of the Arch-Bishop's Bailiff who had the care of the manor of Pinner. The cottage situated in Moss Lane was in the hands of generations of the Hedges family until 1935. The cottage is a two-story timber framed building, now three bays in length. The fourth demolished before the end of the 16th century. The ground floor was originally open to the roof and was heated by a centrally placed hearth, where the smoke found its way out through a hole or similar opening in the roof.
Elm Park Road has some houses of a distinctive appearance, in particular the early 20th century Red Cottage with its tall, red tiled pointed roof. Tudor Cottage which lies opposite is a romantic old world cottage of the 1930's, designed by E.G.Trobridge, who specialised in medieval and Tudor pastiche. The Lawn is a Regency house, originally symmetrical - the end with the bay window is a 20th century extension. Northend Cottage built as the date stone shows in 1888, is the oldest house in Elm Park Road. Over its bay windows and front porch, it has a fringe or decorative ironwork.
Moss Cottage stands at the junction of Paines Lane and Moss Lane. It was enlarged by its owner William Barber Q.C. in 1887, in the style, appropriately of the vernacular revival. A Yew tree in the garden is reputed to be over 300 years old. The original entrance to the house now faces the garden at the rear. Where the porch over it is decorated with the only example of old pargetting in Pinner.
West House, replaced one of the old yeomen's houses at the hamlet of West End. Nelson's grandson Nelson Ward lived here in the 1870's. It was rebuilt in the early 19th century and improved until it was a mansion in large ornamental grounds. West House was purchased by public subscription in 1947. It is now the only such estate to survive in Pinner, saved by the people of Pinner as a war memorial and renamed Pinner Memorial Gardens. During 2009-10 West House was renovated and now houses the works of William Heath Robinson.
Sweetman's Hall, situated in West End Lane. It is 16th century, with the south wing added at a later date. The building was renovated in 1926. Old ships timbers, and old timber from a belfry were thought to have been used although the actual source is not known. Origin of the name Sweetman is obscure, but it may have came from a John Swetman who was cited back in the Manorial Court as far back as 1336, and who probably occupied an older house on the same site.
Waxwell Lane, Orchard Cottage, is a well preserved 16th century cottage that was once three dwellings. It has a semi-spiral staircase and multi-paned windows. A fire sign on the outside was put up when William Gladstone was Prime Minister, after an Act of Parliament which stated that every house must be covered by fire insurance. It bears a crest of a crown over two interlocked hands and the insurance number. Bee Cottage is thought to be 16th century, with additions made in the 18th and 19th centuries. The original L shape plan can still be seen, this type of post medieval plan is rare in Middlesex. The roof is of a type that pre-dominated throughout Middlesex from the end of the sixteenth century. Waxwell Farm (The Grail) is a timber framed house dating from around 1600. The flint plinth on which it was built can easily be seen. It was was originally a farmhouse but was converted into a gentlemen's residence around 1894. The house is now the national headquarters of the Catholic Grail Movement.
The old Waxwell is now sealed off, but was in use up to 1870. The well was the most important water supply in the district and in the dry seasons supplied people for miles around. The water was said to be a valuable remedy for eye ailments and there was an old saying that any person drinking from the well would always remain in Pinner. There was another tradition that if the water was given to a person at the point of death, they would recover.
Police Station, at the top of Bridge Street was built after long demand in 1889, until then prisoners (drunks and dis-orderlies) were confined to a cage near the present railway station, while waiting to go before magistrates. The station was built for one policeman and horse. The stable for the sergeants horse still stands at the back, the stables have now been converted into the canteen.
The Oddfellows Arms was built in 1853 by Thomas Element. He was a leading members of the local lodge of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, and used their name for his new public house. Outside the pub and to the right, is a Mile Stone, informing travellers London is 13 miles from Pinner.
Hatchend Station is a very attractive and compact neo-Georgian building designed for the London & North Western Railway in 1911, as shown by the carved tablet on the front of the building. The contrasting colours of the bricks and dressings, and the round headed windows are typical of the period. The first station was opened here in 1844 where it was called Pinner Station.
Source's of information: Edwin M Ware 'Pinner in the Vale', Walter Druett 'Pinner through the Ages', Patricia Clarke 'A History of Pinner
John W Ferry 'Panorama of Pinner Village', 'Victoria History for the County of Middlesex', London Metropolitan Archives.