|Little Wood, Hampstead Garden Suburb||Barnet|
Little Wood has existed as woodland for over 1000 years, probably part of land given to the Bishop of London in c704AD. When Hampstead Garden Suburb was being planned in 1907, its instigator, Dame Henrietta Barnett, was committed to providing green spaces within the housing, planting trees and preserving those that existed. When additional land was acquired to extend the Suburb in 1911, Little Wood was leased from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and preserved as woodland. In 1920 an open air amphitheatre was built in the woods by the Play and Pageant Union, one of two drama groups that later merged to form the Garden Suburb Theatre. The theatre was restored in 1997. In 1933 Finchley UDC took on the freehold of the woods. Now designated a Nature Reserve, there are a variety of trees including Wild Service Trees associated with ancient woodland, although the trees here are generally no more than 175 years old.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/05/2009
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Little Wood, Hampstead Garden Suburb, October 2000. Photo: S Williams
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With Big Wood (q.v.), Little Wood has existed as woodland for over a thousand years, once part of a much larger area of woodland extending to Mutton Brook. It was probably part of the land given by the Bishop of Hereford to the Bishop of London in c.704 and continued in the ownership of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners until 1933. In 1754 the two woods were practically joined but for at least 230 years they have been separate. The western boundary of Little Wood marked the edge of the Bishop's estate. The trees in Little Wood are generally no more than 175 years old. When Hampstead Garden Suburb was being planned and laid out, both woods were preserved, at that time surrounded by fields. Dame Henrietta Barnett was committed to the provision of green spaces within the new housing, planting a considerable number of street trees and preserving existing ones. The original suburb to the south of the wood was built from 1907 and in 1911, when a further 112 acres were purchased for an extension, the 'New Suburb', also laid out by Unwin for the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust, Little Wood was leased from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. In 1933 the freehold transferred to the Finchley Urban District Council, which in 1964 became part of the London Borough of Barnet.
In 1920 an open air amphitheatre was built in the woods by the Play and Pageant Union, one of two drama groups that merged in 1966 to form the Garden Suburb Theatre. The theatre was restored in 1997 and is used for performances in the summer by the Garden Suburb Theatre. A wide variety of trees is present including those associated with ancient woodland such as wild service trees and crab apple, and also oak, beech, hawthorn, rowan, hazel, wild cherry, elder, yew and holly, with more recent planting of ornamental shrubs.
Georgina Malcolm and the Trees and Open Spaces Committee 'Hampstead Garden Suburb Tree Trail No. 1' (1997); 'Big Wood and Little Wood Nature Trail', LB Barnet, c.2000; Jan Hewlett, Ian Yarham, David Curson, 'Nature Conservation in Barnet', London Ecology Unit, 1997.