Historical Society


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Mill Hill Historical Society

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Photograph by Wendy Davies

A Mill Hill doorway

Mill Hill History

A Mill Hill doorway.

Mill Hill has a history dating back a thousand years. The Middlesex forest covered most of the district and settlements grew as part of the forest were cleared in the area we now know as The Ridgeway. In the 14th century a windmill was built on high ground hence the name “Mill Hill”.

Originally the area was all farming land, growing hay to feed the large equine population of London and it was not until later that roads were made. In Mill Hill itself many large houses were built and several distinguished people made their homes there, including two Lord Mayors of London. Other prominent residents were Lady Celia Fiennes (the original “fine lady upon a white horse”), William Wilberforce, Sir Stamford Raffles, Peter Collinson, the renowned Botanist, and Sir James Murray, founder of the Oxford English Dictionary.

In 1807 Mill Hill School was first established and, in the same century, St Joseph’s College, St Mary’s Abbey and St Vincent’s House appeared. The National Institute for Medical Research appeared much later, in 1939, but owing to the outbreak of the Second World War it was used as a centre for the WRNS and did not open as a Research Institute until many years later. The main development of Mill Hill as a residential area occurred after the opening of the railways in the 19th century and again after the building of the A1/A41 in 1926. Mill Hill remains a pleasant outer suburb with plenty of open spaces due to the existence of the Green Belt but it is perpetually threatened by the development of housing estates.

The Mill Hill Historical Society seeks to research our past and make our history known. We invite you to join us in achieving these aims.