Spotlight on Totteridge

Home to the rich and famous for centuries, Totteridge remains an oasis of rural calm 10 miles from London

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People don’t leave Totteridge, they stay forever under the spell of its rural charm, with its big houses overlooking the common, its fish ponds, the village green, convenient local schools and pretty woods for weekend walks.

Indeed, Totteridge feels like serious countryside, even though it is only 10 miles from central London, which is perhaps why it attracts the stuffed wallets of wealthy City chiefs. The most expensive house here will leave you no change from £30  million.

Totteridge has a strong country feel with big houses and pretty woods, despite being only 10 miles from central London

This well-heeled suburb lies on a high ridge between two of the capital’s lesser-known natural waterways, the Dollis Brook and a tributary, the Folly Brook. It owes its rural feel and sylvan setting to the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, which limited London’s urban expansion by placing an invincible belt of greenery around the city, to Totteridge’s lasting benefit.

Totteridge Village
Totteridge Village has a mix of large homes and charming period cottages

In the 17th and 18th century, its farms became a major supplier of hay for London’s horses and even today the area has hay meadows, to be enjoyed not by farm labourers but by some of the capital’s rich and famous.

Totteridge has long been the choice of the well-connected. At the end of the 19th century, for example, the Harmsworth family — who remain owners of the Daily Mail and part owners of the Evening Standard — bought Poynter’s Hall and its 35 acres for £9,000. It was occupied by Geraldine Harmsworth, though her children cared neither for the house nor its lack of electricity.

While Poynter’s Hall is long-demolished, Totteridge has no shortage of vast mansions, often marked with distinctive boomerang-shaped name posts and stretched out through Totteridge Common, Totteridge Village and Totteridge Lane, the latter a busy east-west route that connects Mill Hill with Barnet.

Totteridge Village is clustered around St Andrew’s Church and the village green where there is a church hall, a primary school, and a popular pub, the Orange Tree, but no village shops.

Lawrence Henry, from local estate agents, Statons, is currently helping Cheryl Cole house hunt in the area and if it is a mansion you want, he can find you one for £1 million, or, of course, very much more.

What there is to buy in Totteridge
There are big Georgian houses, Victorian houses, large interwar mansions and newly built Footballers’ Wives-style ranches.

But there are also some period cottages and, in the roads between Dollis Brook and Totteridge Village, smaller semi-detached and detached houses where prices start from about £400,000.

The area attracts: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger lives in Totteridge, as do a number of Arsenal players. It is also a favourite with successful business people such as Mike Ashley of Sports Direct, and Daniel Nabarro, the former boss and founder of Figleaves online lingerie retailer.

Renting: the most expensive house for rent in Totteridge is an eight-bedroom Queen Anne-style house near the green, available through Statons for £3,000 a week.

Postcode: Totteridge is in N20 which is the Whetstone postcode and also includes Oakleigh Park.

Best roads: Totteridge Common, Totteridge Village, The Close, Pine Grove, Northcliffe Drive, Harmsworth Way.

What’s new: developer Octagon is building a 15,000sq  ft mansion on Totteridge Common and describing it as the most significant house to be built in the area for a generation. On the site of Oak Lodge, the Victorian Italianate façade of this former monastery is being retained.

Ellen mede farm
The Ellen Mede Farm and its attached shop which opens every Saturday has been in Totteridge for 50 years

The house, with its three acres of grounds, will have five en suite bedrooms and comes with all the bells and whistles: swimming pool, gym, wine cellar, cinema, etc. It will be completed by September next year and the asking price will be in the region of £20  million. For details contact Octagon on 020 8358 7900.

Totteridge Manor Apartments is a development of flats built in traditional style by Domus London. One two-bed, 2,000sq ft flat remains at £1.5 million.

Schools: There are two state primary schools in Totteridge, both judged “good” by the Government’s education watchdog, Ofsted: St Andrew’s CofE is on the Green at Totteridge Village and Woodridge is in Southover. The local comprehensive school is the Totteridge Academy in Barnet Lane, which replaced the Ravenscroft School when it became an academy, and is judged to be “good”.

The two grammar schools — Queen Elizabeth’s (boys ages 11 to 18) in Barnet and St Michael’s RC (girls ages 11 to 18) in Finchley — are both judged “outstanding”. Finchley High School RC (boys ages 11 to 18, with girls in the sixth form) in Finchley also gets good results at GCSE and is judged “good”.

Lyonsdown School in Barnet (boys ages three to seven, girls ages three to 11) is the local prep school. Mill Hill School (ages three to 18) with its separate pre-prep school Grimsdell and its prep school, Belmont, is the area’s top-performing private school, in nearby Mill Hill. Other private schools are the Christian Wellgrove School (ages 11 to 18) in Well Grove and The Mount (girls ages three to 16) in Mill Hill.

The Orange Tree
The Orange Tree is a popular gastropub

Shops and restaurants: Totteridge itself doesn’t have any shops, except for a farm shop which is only open on Saturdays. The Orange Tree is a popular gastropub, and there are plenty of shops, cafés and restaurants in nearby Whetstone, including a large Sainsbury’s and a Waitrose.

Whetstone High Road, north of The Griffin pub, is a pleasant tree-line boulevard with places to sit out and watch the world go by. The Haven is a popular local bistro which puts on jazz nights.

Open space: Totteridge is all about open space, ideal for walking, cycling, horse riding and golf. The Dollis Valley Greenwalk is a 10-mile waymarked walk starting in Mill Hill and ending in Hampstead Garden Suburb, passing through Totteridge on its way.

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The Darland’s Lake nature reserve has a large lake formed as an ornamental feature for the now demolished Copped Hall, the house where Cardinal Manning, the former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, was born in 1808. The South Herts Golf Club is north of Totteridge Lane and has both an 18-hole and a nine-hole course.

Leisure and the arts: Totteridge inhabitants are a sporty lot. The Totteridge Millhillian Cricket Club plays on its ground close to the green; the Totteridge Tennis Club has nine floodlit courts in Great Bushey Drive; the nearby Oakleigh Park Lawn Tennis and Squash Club has 10 tennis courts (seven floodlit) and four squash courts in Oakleigh Road North, and the Oakleigh Park School of Swimming is a privately owned swimming school in the same road.

Dollis Valley Green
The 10-mile Dollis Valley Greenwalk from Mill Hill passes through Totteridge

The nearest council-owned swimming pool is at the Church Farm Leisure Centre, also in Oakleigh Park. There are multiplex cinemas in Barnet and North Finchley; the Arts Depot at Tally Ho Corner in North Finchley is an innovative arts centre.

Travel: Totteridge is close to the M25 and M1. Totteridge and Whetstone station is on the High Barnet branch of the Northern line, in Zone 4. An annual travelcard to Zone 1 is £1,672. The 251 bus runs along Totteridge Common, Village and Lane, stopping outside Totteridge and Whetstone Tube station.

Council: Barnet (Conservative-controlled); Band D council tax for the 2012/2013 year is £1,419.92.

Pictures by Graham Hussey

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