Vestry office throws open its doors
It was all hands on deck at the end of last week as the staff cleared our Vestry office of paperwork and personal effects ahead of our Open Day as part of Open House London.
The day dawned bright and clear as we got set to welcome the community to our historic building that has been used in the past as a solicitors office and to detain the unruly in its former life as a police station.
Between 10 and 1 we had over 100 visitors, a record on previous years, with lots of positive comments and more people leaving knowing all about the work we do here giving out grant aid to residents and community groups in the Ancient Parish of Enfield.
Fact Sheet: The Old Vestry Offices
In his will of 1635 a certain George Cock, brewer, left £30 to the parish of Enfield, the yearly interest on which was to be given to the poor in the form of bread, and indeed twenty sixpenny loaves were distributed in church every Sunday for many years.
In 1829, using some of the money which had accrued, the parish built a house for the beadle (whose job it was to collect monies due to the parish and carry out tasks connected with various parish charities). The beadle paid an annual rent of £6.6s for his house, which is now known as the Old Vestry Offices.
The small, lodge-like building has a two story centre and one storey side wings, canted back. The wings originally contained cages for the detention of the unruly. Finished in stucco, the front has a first floor band continuing across the wings as a frieze. The imposts in the wing openings are extended to give a further horizontal emphasis to the building. The central double door is surmounted by a pediment. The windows are sash, that above the pediment being contained in a round-arched recess. The slate roof is low pitched and hipped. The 19th century wrought iron railings, with urn finials, follow the line of the building.
In the 19th century the Vestry’s duties were taken over by the Poor Law Board which set up its headquarters in the neighbouring Greyhound Inn, while the Old Vestry Offices became a temporary police station until a purpose-built one was opened in 1873. After that, the building was leased, mainly to solicitors, but very recently the Old Enfield Charitable Trust has moved in, providing a happy return to something reminiscent of its original use.