Sunday, 1 January 2012

What the Dickens!

I like reading about the places I live in, particularly the history of said places. I've lived in Barnet for five years now so am still getting to know the place. The most famous bit of Barnet history is of course the Battle of Barnet from the Wars of the Roses, or the Cousins War as it was known as then. It was a significant battle because the Earl of Warwick was slain there. Lots of the roads in New Barnet are named after the main families of the war: Plantagenet, Woodville, Leicester, Warwick etc.
The main road through Barnet is the Great North Road and the title really speaks for itself, although part of it was rerouted in the Victorian times. Chipping Barnet (High Barnet technically only applies to the tube station) was the last stopping point before London, ten miles to the south. To serve this purpose it was a town full of coaching inns, as Dickens wrote in Oliver Twist "every other building was an inn". Of course that legacy vanished with train travel, but you can still see parts of the olds inns in Barnet. The Red Lion still stands, now a Toby Cavery. This inn hosted Samuel Pepys when he came to take the waters on the site where the hospital is now and also Charles Dickens ate there before rushing off when notified his wife was giving birth to a daughter. Perhaps it was this experience that encouraged Dickens to make Barnet the place where Oliver Twist encounters the Artful Dodger, as he uses the town briefly as the location for this scene.
Now I have added to the literary canon of Barnet as it is the location of my Paranormal Investigations books.
A place rich in history Barnet is also rich in possibility, although I doubt out really hosts the amount of supernatural beings I give it. You can never be certain though...

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