Articles Archive


Some years ago I was on a pub visiting tour in Hertfordshire with some friends from around the UK. We were reasonably responsible drinkers, or at least none of us was taken in for drink driving, or causing an affray. One of them, from Cumbria, expressed his amazement at the number of villages with more than one pub. Pubs have been closing in recent years at quite a rate, as people’s habits change, and drink driving regulations have become more tight – in inverse proportion to the drivers…

Once South Mimms had many pubs and hostelries; some were small scale “cottage” pubs, with just a front room with a make-shift bar, while others were owned by local breweries. It was on two busy roads in the days when traffic moved at the speed of a horse with or without a carriage. Blackhorse Lane was once a route to Hatfield and the North, while St. Albans Road used to be the old A6, going all the way to Carlisle. So really, South Mimms has been a wagon-way service station for nearly 1,000 years.

I’ve checked in Freddy Brittain’s history, South Mymms, the Story of a Parish, and also in one of the Occasional Papers produced by the Potters Bar & District Historical Society (no.4, by F.C. Hart, published in 1993, but written around 1970). The following pubs once provided travellers through South Mimms, as well as its inhabitants, with much needed refreshment.

Starting from the North, the Black Horse still exists (its income once paid for the Good Friday Sermon, by the will of Henry Ewer who died in 1641, which is now preached from behind the bar of the Black Horse at 8.00 pm on Good Friday evening). Opposite it stood the Queen’s Head. Where Arlingham House now stands at the junction of Blackhorse Land and Cecil Road were the Plough and the Red Lion.

The White Hart is still in business, but the Cross Keys, next up Blanche Lane is no more. Between the Village Hall and the former Post Office and Shop was the Bull, and the Post Office itself was once The Prince’s Arms, while next to the White House was the Greyound, with a narrow passage between the two properties sometimes used as an unofficial toilet!

Further up the original Blanche Lane, on what was known as Live and Let Live Hill until recently, was the Live and Let Live.

Towards Bignell’s Corner was The Middlesex Arms, which took over the licence from the Red Lion (which had also been known as the Sun) when that was closed. Where the Lantern Recovery Services depot is was once the Lantern Cafe, while the hotel (whose name has changed several times in the last 20 years) was once the Five Bells Restaurant. Where the Service station is now was once the Beacon transport cafe.

In the other direction, westwards, the Wagon and Horses stood at the top of Ridgehill, which, like the Middlesex Arms, was demolished to make way for the M25, although this may have been in Ridge parish, but is “up the road” anyway. And while we are in Ridge, we are still able to enjoy refreshment at the Old Guinea. The Sirey family owned it before the Second World War, and the beer they brewed was notoriously strong.

Of all of these, Fred Hart noted that “within living memory” – i.e. in the 50 years before 1970 – the Plough, the Red Lion, the Live and Let Live, the Greyhound, the Queen’s Head and the Middlesex Arms were still doing business.

Freddy Brittain’s book adds the Green Dragon on the road to Barnet, which is still in the Parish of South Mimms. Kitts End, just north of Hadley Highstone, is also part of the Parish, and had three pubs, the Chequers, the Bull’s Head and the Angel. At Hadley Highstone there was the Queen’s Head, and at Ganwick’s Corner there still is the Duke of York. At Bentley Heath there was the Strafford Arms. In 1931 it only had an off-licence, and the name is now given to the pub on Cranbourne Parade.

When Freddy Brittain wrote his history of South Mymms (as he spells it) he covered Potters Bar and parts of Barnet. In Potters Bar he named 10 pubs, most of which have ceased trading, and in the north end of Barnet (the part within the old parish of South Mimms) he names another nine. Finally he identifies two more pubs, whose location is no longer known: the Bell and the Canon’s Inn.

So if we include the pubs in Ridge and Hadley Highstone, but exclude Potters Bar and Barnet, that makes 25 pubs or 23 without the two cafes. And there was a Temperance Hotel, pictured on the wall of the Lounge Bar in the Black Horse.

As my friend remarked, we are very fortunate to have two pubs left.
William Marsterson


Our thirtieth wedding anniversary this year needed to be marked in a special way – by a weekend break to the romantic capital of Europe, if not the world. Our travel agent assured us that at least three days and nights were required for a full appreciation of what the city has to offer. We thought, let’s go for four!

Preparation of course is key, and, in Kim’s case, accessibility is a serious issue with her disability. We chose a five star hotel near the Place de la Concorde, booked tickets on Eurostar and arranged private transfer from Gare du Nord. The hotel was kind enough to allow us exclusive use of the house wheelchair (or chaise roulon) and we were all set for our little adventure.

Our first excursion, to a café on the Rue de Rivoli, provided the first surprise – the price of the coffee did not include the purchase of the table and chairs! Day two commenced with a stroll through the Tuileries Garden, over to and then along the left bank, which to my mind at this point should more appropriately be called the south bank, and back over the Seine to the Grand and Little Palaces. I was now beginning to relish the opportunity to be pushing Kim around, such a rare occurrence in our household! In the afternoon we were treated to a chauffeur-driven guided tour of all the major sights of Paris including Sacré Coeur, with excellent (live and English) commentary from our most knowledgeable and clearly anglophile French driver, Stefan. He dropped us near Notre Dame which we visited and after a meal enjoyed a first class organ recital, although maybe a little too loud, serious and modern for Kim’s ears.

Next, we spent a whole day in The Louvre – the first major test of the city’s disabled facilities. Unfortunately the wheelchair platform was temporarily out of order so we were escorted to a back door and arrived in Near Eastern (or was it Egyptian?) Antiquities. We had to navigate our way back to the pyramid entrance hall! The Mona Lisa was of course our first destination. We were allowed to pass close to her miniature frame, in front of the crowds. I’m afraid I couldn’t resist a Toulouse Lautrec moment dropping on both knees so as not to obscure the view of fellow visitors. Kim was thrilled being so close to La Giaconda, if not at my accompanying shuffling antics! My favourite gallery was Greek Antiquities, spacious and airy. Kim liked the Egyptian mummies.

On the final day we headed for the Eiffel Tower where assistance was first class. We enjoyed magnificent views from the first and second stages. Kim had been particularly looking forward to a boat trip, so we went in the afternoon, travelling to beyond Notre Dame and back again. Kim rarely if ever uses public transport at home but having a couple of hours to kill she agreed to being wheeled on to a bus for a return trip to Gare L’Est, mingling with local commuters, shoppers and students who were again of great assistance when boarding and alighting.

On our last evening we took a brief but memorable tour by taxi of the city by night and, as recommended by our next door neighbour, a night-time view of the illumination of the Eiffel Tower, from a bustling street corner near the Trocadero – magical! London of course has its wonderful sights and buildings but without wartime bomb damage and with its wide avenues and splendid riverside views, Paris certainly equals our capital city in beauty and elegance.

Kim and Malcolm Golland, May, 2017

I’ve just been out in the garden
And no matter how I tried
So many jobs that need to be done:
I could have sat down and cried.

But you stop and forget those labours
And then you begin to see
How many past friends and neighbours
Who would gladly trade places with me.

The birds and the flowers—nature’s rebirth,
Newly mown grass—freshly tilled earth,
The warmth of the sun the dew and the rain,
No gadget or gimmick is quite the same.

Though you fret—for it can be hard work,
So much more than it used to be,
With God, and some help, a garden
Is a really nice place to be.