To celebrate women's history month two guided walks are being held to raise awareness of the buildings and places that are associated with inspirational women from Barnet's past.
The two tours – on Tuesday 8 March and Sunday 13 March – will be led by local historian Dr Susan Skedd who is especially keen to promote local interest in the grave of the eminent author and educationalist Hester Chapone who died in 1801 and who is buried in the churchyard at Monken Hadley.
Susan’s aim is to highlight the lives of women whose achievements have been overlooked and along the walk she will tell the stories associated with some of the town’s most celebrated female inhabitants.
Starting at St John the Baptist Church, Susan, who is a Barnet Society committee member, will lead the walk twice, firstly at 2pm on Tuesday 8 March, which is International Women’s Day, and secondly at 11am on Sunday 13 March.
Susan was inspired to create this walk after discovering that the educationalist and bluestocking writer Hester Chapone (1727-1801) was buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin in Monken Hadley.
Having specialised herself in the history of girls’ education in the eighteenth century, she was fascinated to learn that such an eminent female author had lived locally.
During lockdown in March 2021, Katie Morris, Assistant Churchwarden at the church, helped Susan to locate Chapone’s grave and to clear it of the moss, earth and grass that had obscured the inscription.
After laying a wreath on her grave, Susan was determined to raise awareness of Hester Chapone and generate interest in women’s history locally.
‘I cannot think of a better way of spending International Women’s Day – which has been celebrated since 1911 – than by sharing stories of some of the remarkable women who lived and worked in and around Barnet. It will be great if it prompts others to come forward with examples of other fascinating women who deserve to be better known’.
Susan, who regularly leads walks in London on behalf of English Heritage, is also looking forward to sharing her enthusiasm for one of her favourite authors, Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923-2014), who is best known for writing the Cazalet novels.
She lived with her third husband and fellow author Kingsley Amis at Lemmons (now Gladsmuir) on Hadley Common between 1968 and 1976.
The walk lasts an hour and a half and is priced at £10 (adults) and £5 unwaged. All funds raised will help support the work of The Barnet Society.