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The area was once ancient woodland, part of the larger Middlesex Forest. Moat Mount is a surviving moat from an earlier house in an area of open common and woodland, shown as open countryside on Rocque's map of 1754. There seems to have been no full survey of the area but its commanding situation suggests that it may have been a defended high site with an open ditch, perhaps dating from the Iron Age. Owned by the Herbert Family for over 200 years, financial problems compelled the sale of all the manorial demesne lands in 1756 to Mr Able Brown, a tenant farmer who built a mansion on the high ground. The lands were surveyed by James Crow, who shows the moat on his map of 1754. The sale catalogue described it as 'The Moat Mount, an elevated piece of ground and a proper place to build on, on account of the beautiful prospect therefrom, and it lying upon the road'. The large mansion was rebuilt in the C19th by Edward William Cox, a London barrister, who bought the 400 hectare estate in 1866 including what is now known as Scratchwood and added considerably to the estate. The Moat Mount site was laid out as parkland with ornamental lake, exotic plantings and grassy slopes, and Scratchwood was used for game rearing and sport. Trees planted include Wellingtonia, Coast Redwood, Scots Pine, Irish Yew, Holm and Turkey Oak, Atlas Cedar, Swamp Cypress, Deodar, and Norway Maple, and these are now part of a tree trail. The Leg of Mutton Pond reached its present shape by 1870. Within the estate were small farms, growing hay for London horses, but the fields have since become scrub and woodland
Edward Cox died in 1879 and his estate passed to his son Irwin Cox; part of the estate was sold in 1906 and the rest in 1923, after Irwin Cox died without an heir, purchased largely by Hendon Urban District Council for public use, including housing. Part of the land became Mill Hill Golf Club, and the rest the Moat Mount Countryside Park, now called Moat Mount Open Space. The mansion was damaged by fire and was demolished. The A1 Barnet Bypass bisected the site in 1927. The public path at the northern entrance passes through private land with wide vistas of open countryside. It eventually enters woodland and passes a camping site adjacent to the southern perimeter entrance. Part of the estate is on the west side of the A1, and now called Scratchwood Open Space. An underpass is the main access between the two parts of the original estate lands. Scratchwood and Moat Mount were designated a Local Nature Reserve in 1997.
Stewart Gillies and Pamela Taylor, 'Hendon, Child's Hill, Golder's Green and Mill Hill', 1993; Ralph Calder, 'Mill Hill: a 1000 years of history', 1993; LB Barnet leaflets incl. Moat Mount Tree Trail (n.d.); Jan Hewlett, Ian Yarham, David Curson, 'Nature Conservation in Barnet', London Ecology Unit, 1997.