white roses and red roses; the Battle of Barnet
By Hawke
Sunday 30 Dec 2012 07:48:00
Browse all Meandering around ( and beyond ) Middlesex articles





The Great North Road ( the A1 and round here the A1(M) ) is the quickest route by car from Codicote to London, by-passing Potters Bar, and allowing the motorist to return to proper Middlesex via Barnet, a confusing but surprisingly intriguing place.  Confusion is caused by the fact that there are several places with the name Barnet - High Barnet, Chipping Barnet, Friern Barnet, Barnet Vale, New Barnet, North Barnet, East Barnet and South Barnet.  Friern Barnet, once called Little Barnet, is actually situated south of South Barnet and is proper Middlesex whilst the other Barnets are all of traditional Hertfordshire.  Since 1965 all the Barnets have been administered by the London Borough of Barnet council as ‘part’ of Greater London.


The intriguing aspect about the Barnets – at least to the visitor from Yorkshire or Lancashire - is that the local crest features both white and red roses.   The clue for the reason is that the roses are atop two swords for the historical background is the Battle of Barnet fought in April 1471 between the Houses of York and Lancaster during the Wars of the Roses. (The coat of arms was actually designed in the 1950s by a Sidney Price and is most prominently worn by Barnet AFC of whom he was chairman. When the London Borough of Barnet was formed in 1965, the roses and swords were incorporated into their crest but a modern logo has currently replaced it).


Now we all know that the two houses/families were at war over which one would rule England and that there was no obvious link between them and the two northern counties.  A number of major battles were fought during the War of the Roses between 1455 and 1487 before the House of Tudor supplanted them both, notably at Towton, Barnet and Tewkesbury and finally at Bosworth.


The Battle of Barnet was fought between half a mile and a mile north of the town heading towards Potters Bar. The actual site of the battle is disputed but has long been thought to have been in the vicinity of Hadley Green near Monken Hadley just inside traditional Middlesex but administered by Herts since1889.   An obelisk known as Hadley Highstone was erected in the seventeen hundreds commemorating the battle and today stands by the Great North Road.  ( A recent theory is that it was fought a mile further north nearer Potters Bar but still in old Middlesex ).


 The battle ended with a Yorkist victory and helped secure the crown for Edward IV.  Three weeks after the Battle of Barnet, Yorkist and Lancastrian troops fought again, at Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, and again the House of York triumphed confirming Edward’s kingship.  


I mention the battle of Tewkesbury because five hundred years later Yorkshire and Lancashire played a cricket match there as part of the quincentennial commemorations of the battle.   The match was played at Swilgate, the ground of Tewkesbury CC, with the lovely backdrop of Tewkesbury Abbey.  It was staged in July 1971 over 50 overs and produced a thrilling climax.


Lancashire were of course at the start of their glorious one-day successes and had already won two Sunday League titles and two Gillette Cups.  Their side lacked Farooq Engineer and Peter Lever whilst Yorkshire were missing Geoffrey Boycott, Don Wilson and Richard Hutton.  Lancashire won the toss and batted first, slumping to 53 for 4 with Wood, Pilling and both Lloyds out. However, Snellgrove and Sullivan rallied them and late runs from David Hughes took them to 249 for 9 off their 50 overs.  Yorkshire’s wicket takers were Old, Cooper, Woodford, Cooper, Cope and Bore.  Woodford with his seamers was the most economical taking 2 for 34 off 9.  Jack Hampshire actually bowled 2 overs, presumably of leg spin.


Sharpe and Leadbeater got Yorkshire off to a good start with a half century stand but they were then pegged back to 76 for 3.  Hampshire, 81, and Padgett, 58, made a big stand and at one stage Yorkshire were 202 for 3.  But when they were both out Jack Simmons came on and only David Bairstow offered proper resistance.  Nevertheless at 247 for 7 Yorkshire were required just three more runs to win but then Simmons took three wickets for one run and Lancashire won the day.


Gloucestershire CCC noted the success of the match and seemingly imbued with a sense of history played both Yorkshire and Lancashire at the ground over the following two seasons.  Yorkshire won their match very easily bowling the home side out for just 90 despite the presence of Sadiq Mohammed and Zaheer Abbas.  Wilson and Woodford took 3 wickets each and Old’s 8 overs cost just 7 runs.  Boycott and Hampshire threatened to win the game by 10 wickets but Yorkshire had to settle for an 8 wicket win with nearly 11 overs remaining. (There was no Mike Procter playing that day).   Lancashire also beat Gloucestershire at Swilgate in 1973.  Perhaps that dampened Gloucestreshire’s enthusiasm for the venue for they have not been back since.  Tewkesbury CC, whose crest appropriately features both roses, still play there in the West of England Premier League, Gloucestershire section..


The next anniversary of the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury are in 2021, the 650th.   Should Tewkesbury stage a Roses game again?  Or should such a match be held in the Barnet area.  I have come across five cricket clubs in the Barnet area- though only four are currently active.  Barnet CC itself, which neighbours Barnet FC at their Underhill ground, has struggled for players for some time and only recently survived due to an amalgamation with Barclays Bank CC.  The ‘new’ club was re-named as Barnet Bs but despite these attempts is no longer operating, the greatest loss probably being the thriving colts section which was part of the MIddlesex system.  If only the anniversary were nearer, a Roses match might be a catalyst for the club to re-start.    Its white and rose club crest, very similar to its footballing neighbour, is a distinctive and splendid logo worth saving alone.



Two clubs, Rosslyn CC and Monken Hadley CC, are situated north of Barnet on the side of the town where the battle took place.  Rosslyn’s proximity to the battle site can be gauged by the names of local streets for it is situated at the end of Tudor Road (next to Tudor Park Golf Club) and can be accessed via Plantagenet Road

 ( the Plantaganet dynasty split into the competing Houses of York and Lancaster ). The club’s badge ought to be a Tudor Rose but it appears to me to be too red a hue!  Rosslyn play in the Middlesex Championship, a competition below the Middlesex County League, and their ground is in a public park.


Monken Hadley are actually the nearest club to the site long believed to have been here the conflict took place, have a rural setting on Hadley Common (also called Hadley Woods), a mile from Hadley Green.  (Anthony Trollope mentioned the club in his writings whilst more recently Phil Tufnell spent his early years in the area).  Their website lists 46 playing members but last season they are only recorded as playing six matches!   They are not in a league and play only ‘friendlies’.  Access and facilities would have to be assessed for the cricket pitch is part of a 70 acre nature conservation site, the last remaining unenclosed fragment of Enfield Chase. 



The fourth club in the district, Old Elizabethans, is easily the largest and most prestigious, its men’s first team playing in the 4th Division of the Hertfordshire League. The club runs many senior and junior sides whilst its junior section has happily recently enlarged to include the defunct Barnet Bs.   Their badge also contains white and red roses.  None other than Sir Gary Sobers opened a four bay synthetic practice area 2011 whilst a second square has been created to cater for the fourteen teams based here.   Should Yorkshire and Lancashire ever play a neutral game in Barnet to commemorate the battle, this would definitely be the best facility.


However, the Old Elizabethans are situated the ‘wrong’ side of the town and there is a fifth contender to hold such a Roses match.   Bentley Heath CC, who are in Division 5 of the Herts League, are arguably the nearest club to the site recently put forward as the actual place where the Battle of Barnet took place, being closer to Potters Bar than Barnet.  The M25 is close providing good access and the ground is picturesque being situated on the Wrotham Par Country Estate and is resplendent with a modern pavilion.  Moreover, the ground backs onto the Duke of York Public House, named after Edward Duke of York who became Edward IV.  The pub has been recently renovated and the owners clearly appreciate their history for  its website includes an article about the battle.  As for the pub sign, a white rose is at its centre.



 As for the beer the parent company invites in an endless array of marvellous guest ales including Barnsley Bitter, Leeds Bitter, Yorkshire Blond, Yorkshire Pride and Yorkshire Terrier!  To meet Lancashire tastes, there is also Lancaster Red and Pendle Witches Brew.  And if we want to discuss west Craven’s contentious place in the  Pendle council authority we could do so whilst supping Moorhouse’s Pride of Pendle!!  I think I have found our venue!  I will now try and persuade Yorkshire and Lancashire to go ahead and play the game!



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