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The Burroughs was a distinct hamlet until the 1890s, and appears on an 1873 Ordnance Survey map of the area. The name, known from 1316 until the 19th Century as 'the burrows', doubtless refers to the keeping of rabbit warrens.
There was an inn and brew-house by the 16th century for travellers, very possibly the White Bear, which was so-called from 1736, and was rebuilt in 1932. Here, the 'leet courts', based on feudal tradition, were held as late as 1916, to ensure the rights of the Lord of the Manor to control the increasingly emancipated peasantry, to punish transgressors, and to fix 'Quit-Rent' for those who had built on manorial land and wastes.
By 1697 the inn was the location for Hendon's Whitsun fair. Originally an un-chartered hiring fair for local hay farmers, it was also renowned for dancing and country sports, and was imortalised in the lines of a song of the 1810s:
- Then a soldier fond of battle,
- Who has fought and bled in Spain,
- Finds in Hendon air his metal,
- Well stirred up to fight again.
- Then a justice of the Quorum
- At Burroughs revels, Hendon Fair,
- Finds such order and decorum
- At the White and Funny Bear.
From 1735 until 1934 a poorhouse with six cottages used to house older parishioners (and sometimes wrongly called 'alms-houses') stood where Quadrant Close (occupied by 1936) is now located. The Poor Law workhouse ceased to be operational when 'Hendon Union Workhouse' opened in 1835, in what was then 'Red Hill' and is now Burnt Oak. With the foundation of a Local Board in 1879, the buildings were later used as offices.
In this same period, three religious institutions were established. The first was a Methodist chapel in 1827, which was reached by the footpath of the same name. The second was a Roman Catholic chapel, later called Our Lady of Dolours (1863, remodelled 1927). There were a handful of shops nearby by the 1880s. The modern Methodist chapel, designed by Welch & Lander, was built in 1937.
Grove House (or Hendon Grove), built before 1753, was a private psychiatric hospital by 1900; it was demolished in 1933, having already lost much of its original frontage for building. The remaining estate became a public park, with rumours of a secret tunnel. A number of picturesque 18th and 19th century houses survive. The Handmaids of Christ established the Convent of St Joseph, in 1882, and had added a school by 1900.
In 1895, Hendon became an Urban District.
The Burroughs has various significant buildings.
A new Town Hall was built in 1901 from designs by T. H. Watson. It was made famous as the place where Margaret Thatcher made her first appearance and speech as Prime Minister in 1979. A sculpture, called the Family of Man by Itzhak Ofer, was unveiled in the front in 1981. Barnet Trades Union Council reformed at a launch meeting here in April 2008. The main public areas reopened after refurbishment in mid-2009, and are used for virtually all borough-wide committee meetings of the London Borough of Barnet.
Hendon’s first proper fire station (1914) was built to designs by A. Welch, and superseded another close by in Church End. Next to the town hall is Hendon Library, built in 1929 to designs by T. M. Wilson. It was considerably rebuilt internally during 1972-3 and 2003-4. Eileen Colwell, the pioneer children’s librarian worked at Hendon in the 1930s.
Between 1937 and 1939, the Middlesex County Council built 'Hendon Technical Institute' (designed by (H. W. Burchett), which became 'Hendon College', then in 1973 an Institute of technology called 'Hendon Polytechnic', and it is now part of Middlesex University.