Church Farmhouse, in Greyhound Hill, Hendon, labelled vulnerable

Gerard Roots, Andrew Dismore and East Finchley Councillor Arjun Mittra

Church Farmhouse in 1956, when it opened as a museum

First published in News
Last updated
This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Campaigners fighting to reopen a “vibrant” museum have suffered a further blow after the empty building was labelled ‘vulnerable’.

Church Farmhouse, in Greyhound Hill, Hendon, was given the classification by the English Heritage as the dilapidated museum has stood abandoned for almost three years.

Much to the dismay of residents, Barnet Council shut it in 2011 and auctioned off its artefacts, making a profit of just £17,380.

If the historic building, which was built in 1869, is still empty next year, it could be placed on the ‘at risk’ register.

Curator Gerard Roots, said: “It looks dreadful, such a state. So many people come up tell me how awful it looks. Barnet should be ashamed of themselves.

“It’s very sad that it’s been listed as vulnerable, but not surprising. It has been neglected, it looks shabby and poor.

“It’s incredibly unfair - it used to be so vibrant. It’s an important part of Barnet’s history.”

The building is inhabited by pigeons and damp is beginning to fester on the walls.

Andrew Dismore, chairman of the Council for British Archaeology, accused the council of “dispersing Barnet’s local heritage forever”.

Mr Dismore, who is also the GLA member for Barnet, said: “They are adding insult to injury in the way the building has been left to go to wrack and ruin in this way.”

The old house was once home to the Dunlop family who lived there from 1869 to 1943, and its owners produced hay for businesses, residents and horses.

It was set up as a museum in 1944 when the land was bought by Barnet Council.

Negotiations to sell the site to Middlesex University are ongoing, although a formal lease is yet to be signed.

But while it waits for the university’s decision, the council spends £85 a day on employing security guards to guard the land.

A statement from the English Heritage said: “We will review the situation next year, especially if the building is still vacant and no repair works have taken place. 

“We will work with Barnet Council and any new owner to achieve a solution which will bring the building back into beneficial use.”

Councillor Daniel Thomas, deputy leader and cabinet member for resources and performance on Barnet said: “Minor repairs have been identified at Church Farmhouse, including clearing a blocked gutter, carrying out minor window repairs and securing an upstairs door to keep the building clean and free from pigeons.



“We are continuing to work closely to secure the building’s longer term future, including discussions with Middlesex University."

Comments (8)

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11:03am Thu 9 Jan 14

Gerrard Roots says...

Cllr Thomas is being economical with the truth. One of Church Farm's attic rooms has been allowed to become so encrusted with pigeon excrement that it is unsafe to enter without wearing a protective mask; two substantial windows are in danger of collapse; and the blocked gutters have already caused damp damage to the walls.
Barnet has neglected the building, in the hope that Middlesex University would take Church Farm over and absolve the council of its proper responsibilities, but the discussions with Middlesex have gone on for nearly a year without result, and without any prospect of resolution in the near future. Meanwhile Barnet is paying a security firm well over £30,000 a year to keep the Museum building closed to the public who paid for it in the first place.
Cllr Thomas is being economical with the truth. One of Church Farm's attic rooms has been allowed to become so encrusted with pigeon excrement that it is unsafe to enter without wearing a protective mask; two substantial windows are in danger of collapse; and the blocked gutters have already caused damp damage to the walls. Barnet has neglected the building, in the hope that Middlesex University would take Church Farm over and absolve the council of its proper responsibilities, but the discussions with Middlesex have gone on for nearly a year without result, and without any prospect of resolution in the near future. Meanwhile Barnet is paying a security firm well over £30,000 a year to keep the Museum building closed to the public who paid for it in the first place. Gerrard Roots
  • Score: 7

12:23pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Olddormouse says...

Gerrard Roots wrote:
Cllr Thomas is being economical with the truth. One of Church Farm's attic rooms has been allowed to become so encrusted with pigeon excrement that it is unsafe to enter without wearing a protective mask; two substantial windows are in danger of collapse; and the blocked gutters have already caused damp damage to the walls.
Barnet has neglected the building, in the hope that Middlesex University would take Church Farm over and absolve the council of its proper responsibilities, but the discussions with Middlesex have gone on for nearly a year without result, and without any prospect of resolution in the near future. Meanwhile Barnet is paying a security firm well over £30,000 a year to keep the Museum building closed to the public who paid for it in the first place.
Don Cooper
Chairman of the Hendon and District Archaeological Society.
This process of dismantling our heritage in Barnet is a disgrace and brings shame on Barnet Council. This neglected Grade II* listed building represents our heritage, our past, our culture and should be properly maintained and nurtured.
[quote][p][bold]Gerrard Roots[/bold] wrote: Cllr Thomas is being economical with the truth. One of Church Farm's attic rooms has been allowed to become so encrusted with pigeon excrement that it is unsafe to enter without wearing a protective mask; two substantial windows are in danger of collapse; and the blocked gutters have already caused damp damage to the walls. Barnet has neglected the building, in the hope that Middlesex University would take Church Farm over and absolve the council of its proper responsibilities, but the discussions with Middlesex have gone on for nearly a year without result, and without any prospect of resolution in the near future. Meanwhile Barnet is paying a security firm well over £30,000 a year to keep the Museum building closed to the public who paid for it in the first place.[/p][/quote]Don Cooper Chairman of the Hendon and District Archaeological Society. This process of dismantling our heritage in Barnet is a disgrace and brings shame on Barnet Council. This neglected Grade II* listed building represents our heritage, our past, our culture and should be properly maintained and nurtured. Olddormouse
  • Score: 6

12:24pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Olddormouse says...

Don Cooper
Chairman of the Hendon and District Archaeological Society.
This process of dismantling our heritage in Barnet is a disgrace and brings shame on Barnet Council. This neglected Grade II* listed building represents our heritage, our past, our culture and should be properly maintained and nurtured.
Don Cooper Chairman of the Hendon and District Archaeological Society. This process of dismantling our heritage in Barnet is a disgrace and brings shame on Barnet Council. This neglected Grade II* listed building represents our heritage, our past, our culture and should be properly maintained and nurtured. Olddormouse
  • Score: 2

6:14pm Thu 9 Jan 14

BarnetTrader says...

I rather think that it is Barnet's Tory Councillors that are on the At Risk register!

This is so typical of the contempt that Barnet's philistine councillors have for anything to do with history or the arts.

Just wait for the voters to show THEIR contempt in the May elections!
I rather think that it is Barnet's Tory Councillors that are on the At Risk register! This is so typical of the contempt that Barnet's philistine councillors have for anything to do with history or the arts. Just wait for the voters to show THEIR contempt in the May elections! BarnetTrader
  • Score: 5

1:59pm Sun 12 Jan 14

Andrew Haynes says...

This news item unfortunately contains at least two errors: (1) Church Farmhouse was not built in 1869 but dates back to the 17th century; (2) it was not bought in 1944 by Barnet Council but by the former Hendon Council, which was incorporated in the London Borough of Barnet when it was created in 1965.

However, thank you for drawing attention to the plight of this historic Grade II* listed building, which Hendon Council turned into a lovely, child-friendly local museum. Unfortunately, after the London Borough of Barnet inherited it in 1965 the museum struggled to attract the support it needed — whichever political party was in power in Barnet — and it was sadly going downhill for years before the council’s decision to close it three years ago.

When they were small, my children loved visiting the museum. And more recently, until its closure, I regularly took my grandchildren, who had great fun playing with the toys on open display, hunting the hidden teddies and coercing me into spending my money in the shop. It was a wonderful way to introduce children to the museum experience. And the regularly changing special exhibitions were always of interest to adult visitors and often to children as well.

I understand that the Conservative majority on Barnet Council has been desperate to arrange a short-term lease of the building to Middlesex University — at least until after the next council election so that they can cynically claim that the building is being put to good use. But surely the university will not be interested unless the council spends money on properly restoring the building, which is now officially categorised as “vulnerable”.
This news item unfortunately contains at least two errors: (1) Church Farmhouse was not built in 1869 but dates back to the 17th century; (2) it was not bought in 1944 by Barnet Council but by the former Hendon Council, which was incorporated in the London Borough of Barnet when it was created in 1965. However, thank you for drawing attention to the plight of this historic Grade II* listed building, which Hendon Council turned into a lovely, child-friendly local museum. Unfortunately, after the London Borough of Barnet inherited it in 1965 the museum struggled to attract the support it needed — whichever political party was in power in Barnet — and it was sadly going downhill for years before the council’s decision to close it three years ago. When they were small, my children loved visiting the museum. And more recently, until its closure, I regularly took my grandchildren, who had great fun playing with the toys on open display, hunting the hidden teddies and coercing me into spending my money in the shop. It was a wonderful way to introduce children to the museum experience. And the regularly changing special exhibitions were always of interest to adult visitors and often to children as well. I understand that the Conservative majority on Barnet Council has been desperate to arrange a short-term lease of the building to Middlesex University — at least until after the next council election so that they can cynically claim that the building is being put to good use. But surely the university will not be interested unless the council spends money on properly restoring the building, which is now officially categorised as “vulnerable”. Andrew Haynes
  • Score: 3

2:30pm Sun 12 Jan 14

Edgar de Jarnac says...

Church Farmhouse is the oldest building in Hendon and a relic of a time when much of the area was devoted to producing fuel to sustain London’s transport system. In other words, farmers in the Hendon area made their living by growing hay to fuel the horses that hauled London’s cabs, carriages and carts.

By the 1920s, as the horse gave way to the internal combustion engine, hay had ceased to be an important crop and Hendon was threatened by encroaching suburban development. Hendon Urban District Council (now absorbed into Barnet) wisely purchased a number of fields from the owners of Church Farmhouse to create Sunny Hill Park, which opened in 1922 for public recreational use. The council later bought the farmhouse itself and turned it into a delightful it as a museum.

But the current philistine Barnet Council seems to have no regard for preserving local history and is happy to sell off its historic cultural assets. How sad!

I have never been a Labour supporter, but I am glad to see that Andrew Dismore is campaigning against Barnet Council’s tragic disregard for local heritage and history.
Church Farmhouse is the oldest building in Hendon and a relic of a time when much of the area was devoted to producing fuel to sustain London’s transport system. In other words, farmers in the Hendon area made their living by growing hay to fuel the horses that hauled London’s cabs, carriages and carts. By the 1920s, as the horse gave way to the internal combustion engine, hay had ceased to be an important crop and Hendon was threatened by encroaching suburban development. Hendon Urban District Council (now absorbed into Barnet) wisely purchased a number of fields from the owners of Church Farmhouse to create Sunny Hill Park, which opened in 1922 for public recreational use. The council later bought the farmhouse itself and turned it into a delightful it as a museum. But the current philistine Barnet Council seems to have no regard for preserving local history and is happy to sell off its historic cultural assets. How sad! I have never been a Labour supporter, but I am glad to see that Andrew Dismore is campaigning against Barnet Council’s tragic disregard for local heritage and history. Edgar de Jarnac
  • Score: 5

10:30am Tue 14 Jan 14

Barnet Parker says...

Cllr Thomas may consider the Church Farmhouse a resource of the council but in reality it is the shared property of each and every Barnet resident. This wilful neglect of our property should face a charge of criminal damage in my view and, as Edgar has hinted at, I sincerly hope that the Tory administration faces judgement day in the May elections.

However, I harbour a more long sighted grudge over this issue. I wrote to Matthew Offord MP about the closure of the museum prior to the event and didn't even receive the courtesy of an acknowledgement, let alone his views on the matter. I therefore cannot wait to see him striding up my pathway asking for my vote in 2015. It will receive a response even dustier than that currently covering the Church Farmhouse.
Cllr Thomas may consider the Church Farmhouse a resource of the council but in reality it is the shared property of each and every Barnet resident. This wilful neglect of our property should face a charge of criminal damage in my view and, as Edgar has hinted at, I sincerly hope that the Tory administration faces judgement day in the May elections. However, I harbour a more long sighted grudge over this issue. I wrote to Matthew Offord MP about the closure of the museum prior to the event and didn't even receive the courtesy of an acknowledgement, let alone his views on the matter. I therefore cannot wait to see him striding up my pathway asking for my vote in 2015. It will receive a response even dustier than that currently covering the Church Farmhouse. Barnet Parker
  • Score: 3

10:30pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog says...

The Tory councillors treatment of Chruch Farmhouse is a fitting symbolic representation of the history of their administration. It perfectly demonstrates their lack of respect for our heritage, their slavish adherence to their own empty headed ideology of market force economy, and their gross incompetence in not even being capable of achieving their goal in closing the museum - to make a profit.

Council leader Cornelius famously declared that the contents of the museum were of no value. The real deficit in value is in the empty promises and shameless plundering of publicly owned assets by this ghastly bunch of Tory philistines.
The Tory councillors treatment of Chruch Farmhouse is a fitting symbolic representation of the history of their administration. It perfectly demonstrates their lack of respect for our heritage, their slavish adherence to their own empty headed ideology of market force economy, and their gross incompetence in not even being capable of achieving their goal in closing the museum - to make a profit. Council leader Cornelius famously declared that the contents of the museum were of no value. The real deficit in value is in the empty promises and shameless plundering of publicly owned assets by this ghastly bunch of Tory philistines. Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog
  • Score: 2

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