Barnet Battlefield - History and Facts | History Hit

Barnet Battlefield

London, England, United Kingdom

One of the most decisive and bloody encounters of the Wars of the Roses.

Lily Johnson

16 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Wikimedia: Nigel Cox / Monken Hadley: Hadley Highstone / CC BY-SA 2.0

About Barnet Battlefield

The Battle of Barnet took place on 14 April 1471 and was one of the most decisive and bloody encounters of the Wars of the Roses.

Barnet Battlefield history

In 1470 an alliance between Edward IV’s former ally, the Earl of Warwick, and his Lancastrian enemies had forced the Yorkist leader to flee the country. Having been in exile in Holland and Burgundy for six months, he landed back in Yorkshire, proclaiming that he only wished to reclaim his dukedom.

However, he promptly marched south and took London, where his queen Elizabeth Woodville introduced him to his newborn son, also named Edward. He then marched north to Barnet to confront Warwick who was now fighting alongside the Lancastrian Queen Margaret of Anjou (and had married his second daughter to Margaret’s son, the Lancastrian Prince of Wales).

Warwick, marching south from the midlands, took up position about a mile north of Barnet. Edward, arriving at dusk, took up his position close by. Due to a thick mist, the two armies were not directly opposite each other, and they overlapped.

The Earl of Oxford, commanding one wing of the Lancastrian army, won an early victory and his men made it all the way into the nearby town. He then turned and led his troops back to the battle, where Lancastrian troops, mistaking his emblem for that of Edward, engaged him in battle.

With cries of ‘treason, treason’, Oxford fled the field taking his troops with him. It was this decisive moment that fear and confusion saw the Lancastrian forces disintegrate. Both Warwick and his brother lost their lives at Barnet, a huge blow to the Lancastrian cause. Edward was the victor and thus regained the throne.

Barnet Battlefield today

Today a monument to the battle called the Hadley Highstone is found at the site of the battlefield, which stands 18ft tall and commemorates its two key belligerents. While no footpaths traverse the battlefield itself, the A1000 gives a good view of the area which has now largely become agricultural land.

A short walk north of the monument is a track off the A1000, heading east towards Monken Mead Brook. Here you are able to get closer to where the fighting supposedly took place, with the marshy valley likely the spot from which Edward’s army attacked.

Like many of these medieval battlefields, the actual site is disputed and is constantly under review due to the changing terrain over the years. Nevertheless, simply walking the wider area in which it took place allows an atmospheric experience for those interested in the history of the Wars of the Roses.

Getting to Barnet Battlefield

Barnet Battlefield is located in Hadley Green in London on the A1000. There are a number of carparks around the nearby Spires Shopping Centre, a 15-minute walk away, while the nearest bus stop is the Hadley Highstone Stop, a 2-minute walk away. The nearest Underground station is High Barnet, a 28-minute walk away, and the nearest train station is Hadley Wood, a 32-minute walk away.

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