East Finchley: A comfortable suburb with a smattering of independent gems
- Credit: Archant
Beloved by locals as a breath of fresh air, East Finchley is a leafy, residential, community-spirited enclave only half an hour’s tube journey from central London
East Finchley is in the London Borough of Barnet and sits within the N2 postcode. Council tax bands in the area range from £931.38 for Band A properties to £2,794.14 for homes in Band H. The charge for Band D properties is £1,397.07 per year.
Property in East Finchley is mostly found in detached or semi-detached inter-War houses on quiet and leafy residential streets. The relative uniformity of the exteriors masks a fairly diverse population, with the balance tipped towards affluent families and young professional homeowners. There is also a significant proportion of retirement accommodation. The average price for a two-bedroom flat in East Finchley is £405,943; for a semi-detached house it’s £1,418,311; and for a detached property it’s £2,940,875.
State schools include Martin Primary School, rated Outstanding by Ofsted, Holy Trinity CofE primary school (rated Outstanding) and Our Lady of Lourdes RC primary school (rated Good). Limespring Primary is an independent school for children aged between seven and 11 with dyslexia and dyspraxia. Bishop Douglass is a mixed gender Roman Catholic secondary rated Good, while non selective boys’ school Christ’s College Finchley received a rating of Requires Improvement at its last inspection. The Archer Academy secondary opened in 2013 and is popular with parents in the area, already oversubscribed. It was rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted at its first inspection.
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East Finchley is in zone 3, one stop on from Highgate on the High Barnet branch of the Northern Line. There are plentiful buses in the area including the N20 night bus, which runs from Trafalgar Square to Barnet via East Finchley.
Landmarks and history
East Finchley evolved around the Great North Road, the main highway between London and Scotland, nowadays mostly aligned with the A1, although the majority of the area’s development sprung out of the arrival of the Great Northern Railway in 1868.
Islington & St Pancras cemetery located on the High Road is the oldest municipal cemetery in London, having been founded in 1854. The Victorian painter Ford Madox Ford is buried there along with such notable Islington and Camden figures as Henry Croft, the first Pearly King, William Crump, the first Mayor of Islington, and Mary Shepherd, the ‘Lady in the Van’ in Alan Bennett’s driveway.
There has been a tube station at East Finchley since 1867 but the station was completely rebuilt in the 1930s in a distinctive Art Deco style, complete with its famous Archer statue, by French artist Eric Aumonier.
Shopping and culture
Don’t visit East Finchley without stopping in at Black Gull Books, a delightful outpost of bohemia on a comparatively ordinary high street. Alan’s Records is another cultural outpost selling second hand vinyl, cds, tapes and memorabilia across genres. Kokos shoes is the recommended cobbler of Louboutin and Church’s.
Tony’s Continental Store sells wonderful Mediterranean deli goods inside, and lures customers in with a sumptuous fruit and veg display. Local florist Josephine’s Flowers is on hand for those needing to pick up a bouquet.
Fresh and frozen fish and shellfish, including sashimi-grade tuna alongside the more traditional haddock and Dover sole are available at A Scott & Son. Breads and pastries are available to eat in or take away at Chorak on High Road or at the new Margot Bakery, which does the best sourdough in East Finchley, best eaten with a cup of coffee roasters Campbell & Syme’s brew.
Eating and drinking
The first pub on the Bald Faced Stag site was built by two blacksmiths in 1714. The venue was fully refurbished in 2014 and boasts a large beer garden and dining room with a classic gastropub menu. Real ales and a wide selection of continental beers are served in the dog-friendly environs of The Old White Lion.
For a very different atmosphere, head to the Five Bells, a bright orange sports pub with a strong line in griddled meat and a food challenges section on the menu: anyone for the Flaming Challenge Burger – two flame-grilled 12oz beef burgers, Southern fried chicken fillet, BBQ pulled pork, cheese slices, crispy bacon and onions served in a super sized bun? All three pubs have a long history, having been founded to provide rest for travellers going between London and the north.
Locals have been going to Majjo’s Indian deli for delicious takeaway curries for decades, while Table du Marche is a brand new French restaurant with a bar area for small plates to nibble alongside wines from the cellar. Expect classic dishes such as escargots, boeuf bourguignon and crème brulee with a carafe of house Cotes du Rhone.
Sport and leisure
Cherry Tree Wood sounds like something out of a story book and the ancient woodland is filled with wildlife and idyllic spots to match.
The well-loved Phoenix cinema is the oldest purpose-built cinema in the UK and underwent a recent refurbishment. It continues to show arthouse classics and world cinema releases.
Good for kids
Postnatal yoga with babies welcome is on offer at The Rose School of Transformational Yoga in Holy Trinity Church. If you’ve got a little performer in tow, Showstoppers performing arts school in Muswell Hill offers classes in ballet, tap, drama and musical theatre for children aged between two and 11.