Finchley was not recorded in the Domesday Book. This means that Finchley wasn’t around back then. However, in the 11th century, Finchley was held by the Bishop of London. Did the Bishop just decide not to allow a settlement on this land? Well, we don’t know. We do know that Finchley means something like ‘Finches clearing’. This suggests that Finchley was a clearing in woodland, much like many of the smaller settlements surrounding London at the time. These clearings in the woodland allowed farmers to grow crops without disrupting the wildlife in the forest too much. Wildlife that many people at the time would’ve hunted.
Finchley really begins to spring to life in the 15th and 16th century. It was at this time that Finchley Common was created by clearing out the woodland. Throughout the medieval period, Finchley supplied pigs to London, they also supplied fuel too. There was a church, first recorded in the 1270s and a few houses for the settlers of Finchley.
However, we have to fast forward to 1867 to see any large changes to Finchley. This was when the railway reached Finchley. The Edgeware, Highgate and London Railway to be more specific. Once the railway reached Finchley and then the underground in 1933, the area rapidly began to grow and change forever.
Something that I love about Finchley so much is it shows London’s past perfectly. Here was this small settlement on the outskirts of London in a clearing with a few pig farmers and not much more. However, the introduction of this new technology (the railway), meant that Finchley was soon to be changed forever. It’s now one of the most fantastic parts of London, full of its early history and stunning buildings. Finchley’s story is about as ‘London’ of a story as you can get.