An ancient ditch in the woods along the northern boundary of Monken Hadley Common has been reinstated after the area was cleared of builders' rubble that had been dumped on the land.


Volunteers who care for the Common have been celebrating the restoration – and the receipt of a compensation payment to meet the cost of hiring a contractor to help the clear the ditch that extends from Camlet Way to the main Great Northern Railway line.

Dug after the passing of the 1777 Enfield Chase Act, the shallow ditch marked the boundary between the parishes of Monken Hadley and Enfield when they were created out of the former Enfield Chase.

Today it marks the boundary between the London Boroughs of Barnet and Enfield and its preservation is one of the many responsibilities of the trustees of Monken Hadley Common.

William Boyes, clerk to the trustees – the Churchwardens of Monken Hadley Parish Church – said a significant quantity of builders’ waste, including hardcore, bricks and plastic was found dumped in and around the ditch.

After challenging the owner of a house in Parkgate Crescent, Hadley Wood, that adjoins the common, the trustees have now accepted in compensation a payment of £7,500 to meet the cost of hiring landscape contractors to clear the land and reinstate the ditch.

Mr Boyes (far right) is seen above with members of a weekly working party (left to right) Sue Sullivan, Sandy Headey, Roger De La Mare and John Eldred.

Mr De La Mare, one of two curators of the Common, said the volunteers were delighted to see the ditch fully restored. It was one of the historic legacies of the Common that needed to be preserved as it helped to maintain the integrity of the woodland as an area for the quiet enjoyment of the public.

Sue Sullivan and Sandy Headey were heading off to pick up litter left on the Common and to clear brambles that were encroaching on open spaces.

Further along the ditch, next to the railway line, another working party – from left to right, Peter Davies (curator), Linden Reilly and Andy O’Brien – was clearing the ditch where the flow of water was blocked by leaves and mud.

Linden Reilly is one of the Monken Hadley Commoners -- her house is one of 114 properties that hold ancient grazing rights under the 1902 Act. “We are so lucky to have the Common and it is wonderful to see it maintained so well.”

Despite limited financial resources, the trustees do all they can to keep the Common in a reasonable condition and prevent trespasses and unlawful conduct such as dumping and fly tipping.

Maintaining the ancient ditch has been one of the tasks for the 25 or so volunteers and their work has been a constant reminder of the Common’s historic significance.

Before houses in Parkgate Crescent were built on the land to the north of the ditch, there had been a hedge to keep horses and cattle straying off the Common, but that has long since disappeared and has been replaced by the garden fences of adjoining properties.