Preserving and improving Firs Farm for the benefit of present and future generations
Love your green space
Registered Charity 1177069
Love your green space

Preserving and improving Firs Farm for the benefit of present and future generations


This short history of the area is compiled from several local historical sources. The Friends would like to thank John Clark of Enfield Local Studies & Archive for his invaluable advice.

The Victorian County History of Middlesex records that Firs Lane was already a byway by 1600. During the 1800s and 1900s, Firs Lane was still a country lane, surrounded on both sides by farmland and a few cottages inhabited by farm workers.

Most of the land around Firs Lane belonged to two farms. There was a substantial farmhouse close to the junction with Barrowell Green, built around 1720 for Mrs Childs, on land owned by the Dean and Chapter of St Pauls; who owned 664 acres in the then parish of Edmonton.


In the 1840s the tenancy of the farm was taken over by George Bunce and it became known as Bunce Farm.

Three generations of the family lived there as farmers and market gardeners, until the 1920s. The house was demolished in 1927 when the land was bought by Edmonton District Council.

Bunce Farm (date unknown)

Farm workers at Bunce Farm, circa 1900
Bunce Farm pigstys

The Edmonton Enclosure map from 1800 indicates that the neighbouring farm belonged to Sir James Winter Lake (1742-1807). In 1799, Sir James constructed The Firs, an impressive house in his estate spanning 40 acres. An avenue lined with majestic Scotch pine trees led to the residence from Firs Lane.

Sir James enjoyed a distinguished career, rising to the position of Deputy Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. He married Joyce around 1772, and together they raised 13 children. His involvement with the Hudson’s Bay Company played a pivotal role in the establishment of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, which was named after the parish of his birth. Sir James passed away in 1807 at the age of 63, and shortly thereafter, the mansion was demolished.

There is a blue commemorative plaque commorating Sir James at 335 Firs Lane.

Firs Lane 1910

Housing began to be built on the west side of Firs Lane in the 1920s, with the creation of Hedge Lane, Farm Road and Fords Grove, but it was still very rural.

Firs Lane walking south 1932

Firs Lane 1938

To the east of Firs Lane much of the area was still farm land, nurseries and allotments.

A field of cabbages growing on Firs Farm in 1934

There were also market gardens, but it is not known what crops were grown.

In 1938 fifty acres of the fields were “appropriated” for the purpose of sports grounds. However, shortly afterwards the land was requisitioned by the army, for an anti-aircraft battery and barracks.

Royal Artillery based at Firs Farm

Here is a description provided by John Mills:

After the war German and Italian POWs were housed in the barracks and many were responsible for growing crops. When the Germans were repatriated, the barracks were used to house Italian and Polish refugees and some of them moved east, to the Lea Valley, setting up market gardens.

Here is a quote from another archive contributor:

“After the end of the war the army camp was turned into a prisoner of war camp. Probably in 1946, a group of boys would meet and generally mess around near the camp. The prisoners always seemed very relaxed. I’m sure that they were mostly Italians. They always seemed to be sunbathing. One of them could speak very good English. I think that he was a doctor. They would ask us to run errands. Usually to the local shops in Firs Lane to buy cigarettes. They would give us sixpence or a shilling to buy a packet of 10 or 20. The prisoners could have escaped quite easily as there were holes in the fence. We could never understand why they didn’t try to escape.”

In ‘Fond Memories of Winchmore Hill published in 1990, the late Alan Dumayne (born in 1929), wrote that:

“There is a stretch of Firs Lane to the north of Barrowell Green, about 350 yards long,that is quite unique. Right through my boyhood and the wartime years, it remained a quiet country lane. It was one of the last vestiges of countryside to survive in our midst and it was the most reluctant to change or yield to urbanisation”

During the 50s the wartime buildings were gradually dismantled and Firs Farm once again became a green space. In the 60s and 70s the football pitches were mainly by youth teams. However, when the changing rooms were closed about ten years ago, usage of the pitches declined.

There are photos of a travelling fair held in 1979, opened by Mayor Graham Eustance.


The Friends are continuing to collect memories, maps, photographs, media extracts to add to the history of Firs Farm. If you can help please email

We are grateful to the Enfield Archives for providing many of the photographs, extracts and maps.

Other sources

Fond Memories of Winchmore Hill by Alan Dumayne

A look at old Winchmore Hill by Stuart Delvin (2000)

Winchmore Hill and Palmers Green Memories Facebook Group.