Further Memories of Roe Green
By Michael Browne
Reading Mrs Padget’s memories takes me back. Her “Hazelgrove” was for us the lads from Bramble Road and Ellenbrook Lane area, the Bluebell Woods, one of our favourite haunts in the later 1940s. Once across the Barnet Bypass it was up Watery Lane straight across Roe Green lane (now I believe College Lane) and on to the farm track to the rear of the houses and to the Beech Wood Dells, great for picking Primroses for Mother about Easter time, as you could pick wild flowers in those days. The track then went south between two open fields to the wood and hazel copse we called the Bluebell Woods. Here there were Bluebells, Raspberries Blackberries and Hazel Nuts depending on the season. Raspberries? yes in a large clearing in the wood was a large area of raspberry canes, they obviously had been cultivated at one time but had gone wild, the fruits were very small but a delight for lads looking for a snack, the site sadly vanished with the construction of the Technical College and then the University buildings. Interestingly Miriam Gaskins photo of the Hatfield School shows what remained of the wood at that time.
I cannot remember Mrs Padget at the Mission Hall, the names that still ring for me are Mrs Groom (her son Leonard was at school with me at Dellfield and St Audreys) and Mrs Livermore both families living in the row of cottages alongside the hall.
The bell at the Mission hall in Roe green was a delight to ring, I and my brothers attended the Sunday school during the mid to latter part of the 2nd WW and on, and there was always a clamer amongst the boys for the task. I remember helping the then curate and a few of the congregation dig the foundations when the Building was being extended with a sanctuary , kitchen and toilets. Much of the work was done by volunteers and the building was then dedicated as the first St Johns Church in 1953. I took on the roll of Head Server for the communion services under the guidance of the Rev David Farnborough who later was appointed as Priest in Charge of the new St John’s at Hill Top and much later the Bishop of Bedford
The Church was a couple of years, later transferred to the new Cavendish Hall on the Roe Green Estate with it’s Close off-able Sanctuary at the western end with two enormous sliding doors and where I continued as head server until my Call Up for National Service. Is it still used? and what happened to the Church’s Choir Stalls?, they came from a bombed church and my father spent many hours in his garage repairing and french polishing them ready for the opening of the new church and it’s dedication by the Bishop of St. Albans in 1955. They were used as the seating within the enclosed sanctuary for small mid-week services, as it had it’s own entrance door off the rear access of the hall and the stalls were then moved out for the services on Sunday. This allowed for the commitity hall to be used on all the other days
I also remember attending when the foundation stone was laid by Princess Alexandra for the new St. Johns Church at Hill Top in 1958 it was quite a celebration . As the church was built it’s imaginative design as quite a talking point and one of questions on a cycle treasure hunt run by the Church Youth Club was how many window openings are there at the western end? I cannot remember how many now! but must still be a good treasure hunt question. It is interesting though that although normally an Anglican Church has its congregation facing east. In both modern St Johns they were/are facing west.