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St Katherine's Greek Orthodox church, Friern Barnet, Middlesex

(51°37′14″N, 0°9′50″W)
Friern Barnet
TQ 272 929
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Middlesex
now Greater London
medieval London
now London
  • Richard Plant
  • Ron Baxter
  • Ron Baxter
May 1997 (RP), 13 October 2021 (RB)

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Feature Sets

Friern Barnet was once a small, rural parish 7 miles N of London. It's original name of Little Barnet distinguished it from the larger part of Barnet which was in Hertfordshire. The name of Freren Barnet did not appear before 1294 and reflected the lordship of the Brotherhood of Knights Hospitaller.

The former parish church of St James stands on the main N-S road through the village, now surrounded by 20thc housing but retaining a large wooded churchyard. It consists of a chancel with a N vestry, nave with S aisle and porch and a tower with a shingled spire at the SW. This arrangement is the result of a major restoration and enlargement in by W. G and E. Habershon in 1853, which increased the number of pews from 200 to 500. The original Norman church was a simple one consisting of nave and chancel with a S porch and a wooden W tower. The Habershons kept the 12thc S doorway but it is heavily restored. The 1853 tower collapsed in 1930 and was rebuilt on the same plan. In 1977 an octagonal parish room was added on the N side of the nave, accessed from the church via the N nave doorway. The restored and reset S doorway is the only Romanesque feature.


The manor later called Friern Barnet or Whetstone seems to have been held by St Albans Abbey before the Conquest, but was taken from that abbey by William I and apparently given to the Bishop of London. By the late 12thc, lands in Barnet were held of the bishop by John Picot. By 1199 Bishop Gilbert Foliot or his successor Richard FitzNeal had given them to the Knights Hospitaller, following Picot's surrender of them. On the Dissolution of the Hospitallers in 1540 the manor passed to the Crown and thence to St Paul's cathedral. A church was first mentioned in 1187, probably St James's. It served the parish until 2009, when St John's on Friern Barnet Lane (built in 1910 as a chapel-of-ease to St James's, which was no longer large enough for the expanding population) took over parish duties and St James's was leased to the Greek Orthodox church.


Exterior Features



Although the doorway is heavily restored the detail of the chevron ornament and scallop capitals, as well as the surviving base appear to be accurate copies of 12thc work. Nothing on the doorway suggests a date after the middle of the 12thc. Pevsner calls it 'Norman, probably C12', and VCH merely calls it Norman.

  1. B. Cherry and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. London 3: North West, Harmondsworth 1991,
  1. N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Middlesex, Harmondsworth 1951, 56-57.

Victoria County History, Middlesex, 6 (1980), 6-37.