diamond geezer

 Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Peripheral Postcodes: EN7

In my quest to visit every postcode district in Greater London this year, I recently visited the minor overlaps of EN6, EN8 and EN9. But I skipped EN7 having confidently stated that, although the district seeped marginally into Greater London, no postal address lay within it. Not so fast, you said.
Andrew said "Zoopla reckons there is one property south of the M25 in EN7 5HR (Capel Cottage, 279 Bullsmoor Lane) and one in EN7 5HT (Bulls Cross Lodge, 2 Gilmour Close). The latter is Grade II listed." Rich G then checked these addresses on the HMRC website and confirmed they pay their council tax to Enfield, not Hertfordshire.
It may only be two properties but if that meant EN7 existed in London then I had to go. So I went and checked.

To help you get your bearings we are here, near junction 25 on the M25.

Hertfordshire is on the left, and the London borough of Enfield on the right incorporating the motorway itself and the back of Capel Manor College. It's all notionally in EN7, at least from the bridge I'm standing on to the next, but Capel Manor is officially in EN1 because it's accessed from Bullsmoor Lane on the opposite side.

Capel Manor forms the campus of an environmental college, a complex site comprising themed gardens, student workshops and practical spaces. It even has its own little zoo for animal husbandry purposes, which explains the alpacas I saw through a gap in the hedge. A recent planning application confirms that Capel Cottage is a four bedroom house somewhere in the middle, roughly halfway between the ornamental lake and Italianate maze, and the home of the College Principal. And even though you can pay to go round the estate as a tourist attraction, prowling round the boss's house isn't on the agenda so I ruled that out as a way of accessing EN7.

Following the road west brings you to Bulls Cross, a tiny hamlet with a row of characterful cottages and a proper pub, The Pied Bull. King James I kept his hunting dogs here when he lived at Theobalds, if that's the vibe you want while tucking into your cask ale and Triple Challenge Char-grill Burger. It feels borderline rural here, except that just over the back fence is an expanse of 15 grass pitches, a massive gymnasium and a selection of Premiership footballers.

For this is the fabled Tottenham Hotspur Training Ground, the hideaway where the squad practices, learns tactics and keeps fit. The stadium down in N17 is mainly for show - this is where the hard work is put in. Out front is some fiercely manicured grass and a security checkpoint designed to keep over-keen fans at bay. Turn up on a hot news day, as I did, and you might also find a sports presenter talking to camera on the verge outside debating who might replace Antonio Conte as Spurs' manager. All of this alas is in EN2 because the sign for Hotspur Way says so, but the TV support team were parked across the road in Bulls Cross Ride and hurrah, that's definitely EN7.

This is not a lovely road, mainly because it kicks off beside some derelict boarding kennels, now littered with metal containers and stacks of masonry. It also very swiftly hits a line of pylons and an orbital motorway, passing quietly over the top as eight lanes of traffic roar underneath. But there's nowhere to deliver a letter to, not until Bulls Cross Ride lands across the divide in Hertfordshire, and even then not for a while because this is the backway into the Theobalds Park estate.

Two Jewish cemeteries lurk up this private dead end, which must be ideal for those who prefer to be laid to rest within sniffing distance of the M25. I decided against going in, having not brought anything suitable to cover my head. I also failed to be enchanted by the rotting litter discarded along the lane, or to be tempted down the messy embankment leading to the motorwayside public footpath, and then I remembered I don't have to visit the Hertfordshire bit of EN7 so sensibly retreated.

I found one more EN7 street sign on the Greater London side and that's for Gilmour Close. This is a sinister-looking backway squeezed between Capel Manor and the ex-kennels, comprehensively shadowed by trees and doubly inaccessible. First it has a lockable barrier and immediately beyond that temporary railings suggesting nobody's living up there at the moment. This narrow track used to be the chief northbound country lane before the M25 arrived, at which point Bulls Cross Ride got marginally diverted. And amazingly it used to be part of Ermine Street, one of the principal Roman routes north from London, so hordes of legionnaires had been down there even if I wasn't going to.

Bulls Cross Lodge is early Victorian, L-shaped and described in its listing as "picturesque". I couldn't tell because it's too well screened on all sides, and that's before all the leaves grow back, but I did spot a sliver of cottage with workmen up a ladder fixing the tiles so it definitely exists. As a lodge it's always been part of the Capel Manor estate so comes under their jurisdiction and is accessed across their land, hence the impossibility of getting anywhere close. But it does have a letterbox you can send post to, and the sign at the end of the road definitely says EN7 so that's another peripheral postcode ticked off.

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