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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.
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.
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