High Barnet's historic Tudor Hall has been declared an asset of community value -- a safeguard which gives the town six months to see whether the building can be secured for public use.


Barnet Council has approved an application made by Barnet Museum which is working with national and local history groups to put together a possible bid to purchase this iconic building.

They now have six months to see if there is any chance of preparing a fund-raising plan to transform it into a visitor centre to explain and celebrate the Wars of the Roses and the prominent part played by the Battle of Barnet. 

To the surprise and disappointment of many local organisations, Barnet and Southgate College announced in December last year that it had decided to sell this much-loved building, originally the schoolhouse for the free grammar school granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1573.

According to sales agents Colliers, which has been advertising the Tudor Hall at an asking price of around £1 million, the property is now under offer.

Soon after the sale was announced, Colliers said the preferred bidder was “a private education provider”, which is thought to have made an offer close to the full price. 

Because the building has now been declared an asset of community value, the college will be required to offer the property to the local community at market value – a safeguard that would expire after six months.

Mike Noronha, curator of the museum, is delighted with Barnet Council’s decision to approve an ACV.

“With the declaration that the hall is a community asset, the starting gun has been fired.

“The museum and wider community now have six months to develop our ideas for creating a Wars of the Roses and Battle of Barnet visitor centre.

“It will be a long haul getting our concept and financial plans in order, but we have a lot of local and national support, and the ACV decision gives us a chance to mobilise that interest.”

The college says it no longer has use of the hall and when it was put up for sale moves were immediately made to see if it could be purchased for community use.

Colliers describes the property -- which is in a prominent position just across Wood Street from the parish church of St John the Baptist -- as an “exceptional investment opportunity”.

The museum is working with organisations like the Battlefields Trust, local history groups and Queen Elizabeth’s School to assess the various options to ensure the building is retained for public use.

Unlike the battles of the 1640s between the Royalists and Parliamentarians – commemorated at a national Civil War centre at Newark – there is no national focal point to celebrate the Wars of the Roses between the armies of the Lancastrians and Yorkists.

This was an era of British history when the country was at war with itself over who should be King and when a decisive battle was fought just north of Barnet town centre in 1471, and which is commemorated by Hadley Highstone.

In recent years the former schoolhouse, which fills one side of the courtyard in front of Barnet and Southgate College campus, has been part of what the college calls its “learning environment” and was occasionally hired out for conferences, exhibitions, and other local events staged by groups such as the Barnet Guild of Artists.

Colliers’ sales prospectus says the hall, which is a grade II listed building with Historic England, is now surplus to college’s requirements and is to be sold on a leasehold basis with vacant possession.

Its sale will offer an opportunity for an investor to undertake structural repairs to refurbish and upgrade the interior areas which include a first-floor balcony and second-floor offices The property has potential as “a banqueting hall and conference centre”.

The sale is via informal tender with a bid date to be announced in due course if not already sold.

Similar iconic and historic buildings such as redundant churches, schools, halls, and banks are often converted for other uses such as restaurants, public houses, gymnasiums, or offices, although any change of use of the Tudor Hall would have to take account of its status as a listed building.

In previous years the interior of the hall has been incorporated into the space used by Barnet’s annual Christmas fayre for stalls and attractions – and was a regular home for Father Christmas and Santa’s grotto.