Whetstone, London

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Whetstone is located in Greater London
 Whetstone shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ265935
London borough Barnet
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district N20
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Chipping Barnet
London Assembly Barnet and Camden
List of places

Coordinates: 51°37′34″N 0°10′17″W / 51.6260°N 0.1715°W / 51.6260; -0.1715

Whetstone /ˈwɛtstn/ is a place in the London Borough of Barnet, bearing the postcode N20. It is to the east of Totteridge, and these areas are known together as Totteridge & Whetstone. This combined area is the 63rd richest area in the UK [1]- an acclamation which can be credited to Totteridge Lane, a long road home to many multi-millionaires. The High Road, the main road in the area, is the A1000 and part of the traditional Great North Road from London to Edinburgh.


Whetstone ward of Finchley Municipal Borough in the 1950s
The whetstone

Whetstone originated in medieval times. It was an important staging post for stagecoaches going north from London. There has been an inn on the site of the present Griffin pub for centuries, though the present building dates from 1928. The buildings to the left of the pub (viewed from the High Road) are late 15th century.

There were early 19th century buildings opposite the Griffin pub [1] on the corner of Totteridge Lane, but they were demolished in 2001 and replaced by a new Boots the Chemist.

It is thought that Whetstone was named after the whetstone used to sharpen knives and other tools, a chunk of which is located on the High Road, on the pavement outside the Griffin pub (see picture). Some[citation needed] question this and suggest the stone was placed there as a mounting block for climbing on to horses as the Griffin was a coaching inn. It is also said that the name Whestone is merely a corruption of an old Anglo-Saxon name[citation needed]. Legend has it that it[clarification needed] was used by soldiers about to fight in the Battle of Barnet.

Late British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse moved to the area of Whetstone in 1991, after living in Southgate since 1983. Winehouse had lived in Whetstone for six years.

Churchill and Hess[edit]

Whetstone may have been the venue for a secret meeting between Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess during World War II. A local newspaper[2] unearthed a letter in Barnet Council's planning archives which states that Hess was brought to Tower House, 17 Oakleigh Park North, for interrogation after he made his infamous trip to Scotland in 1941.

The letter mentioning Hess dates from 23 January 1987, and was written by the owner of Tower House, a Mr W Jones, to inform his neighbours of his plans to demolish the building and erect luxury apartments on the site. It reads "We purchased 'Tower House' in 1953 and have operated from here ever since. It was built many years ago as a private house. In 1939 it was a boys' boarding school. During the war it was at different times a blood transfusion centre, a fire service station (hence the corrugated iron sheds) and a prisoner of war cage (Hess was brought here for interrogation after he flew to Scotland). After that it was unoccupied and derelict until we took it over."[3]

Many historians[who?] are sceptical, and it was said that Churchill and Hess never met, but others[who?] say that knowing Churchill's temperament, he might[vague] have been fascinated and intrigued to meet Hess. It has been said[according to whom?] that there would have been far more suitable venues.

Russian Spies[edit]

At around the time of the alleged Churchill and Hess meeting, Whetstone may have also been the location of a Soviet spy base just a few doors down. Tass, the Soviet news agency, had a radio monitoring station at The Lodge, 13 Oakleigh Park North, and the British security agencies became aware that it was being used to track its activities. According to local newspapers,[4][5] the diplomatic immunity granted to the Russians was a worry for the British government since it effectively granted a licence for Tass to publish libellous newsletters without the threat of prosecution.

Despite this concern, the Soviets were subsequently granted permission to use specialist radio equipment which was then used to spy on the British. The matter was escalated to Prime Minister Clement Attlee and was discussed by senior members of the cabinet, and the Russians were eventually ordered to cease their radio monitoring operation.


Map of Whetstone



London Buses serving Whetstone are:

Route Start End Operator
34 Barnet Walthamstow Central Station Metroline
125 Winchmore Hill Finchley Central Station Metroline
234 Barnet Highgate Wood Metroline
251 Edgware Arnos Grove Station London Sovereign
263 Barnet Hospital Holloway Metroline
326 Barnet Brent Cross Metroline
383 Barnet Woodside Park Station Metroline
626 Dame Alice Owen's School Finchley Central Station Metroline
628 Kingsbury JFS Southgate Station Sullivan Buses
634 Muswell Hill Broadway Barnet Hospital Metroline
688 Kingsbury JFS Southgate Station Sullivan Buses
N20 Trafalgar Square Barnet Metroline


Stations in the area are:


  1. ^ "Living in Whetstone". Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  2. ^ Where Hess met Churchill? Times Series Newspapers 17 November 2003
  3. ^ "Did Churchill meet Hess in Whetstone?". Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  4. ^ Spies as neighbours Times Series Newspapers 17 November 2003
  5. ^ End of a saga Bucks Free Press 25 July 2001