Chipping Barnet shop reveals medieval surprise

Chipping Barnet shop reveals medieval surprise

An empty hairdresser’s salon in north London has been revealed to have an extraordinary secret – the building seemingly dates from the Middle Ages.

The premises on Chipping Barnet High Street was bought by a family who were planning to turn it into a florist.

The building’s original wooden structure was uncovered during refurbishment work and analysis of the timbers dated them to the 14th Century.

Experts described it as a “once-in-a-lifetime discovery”.

Arianit Dobra, who bought the property with his daughter Elisana, said they found the interior walls were covered in plaster when they took over the building.

Once that was removed, the ancient wooden beams were revealed.

“You could see very clearly, this was a very, very old building,” Mr Dobra said.

Historic England commissioned the Institute of Archaeology at University College London (UCL) to analyse samples of the timbers and it was found that the oldest ones were from trees that had been felled between 1330 and 1362. At that time, Chipping Barnet was a market town in Hertfordshire.

Dr Martin Bridge, from the UCL Institute of Archaeology, said he had “had no clue” about the age of the building judging by the outside of it.

“It’s quite remarkable for something in north London,” he added.

Architect Sherry Bates created drawings of how the original building may have looked and described the find as “a once-in-a-lifetime discovery”.

“We knew it was old but it’s even older than we thought,” he said.

A spokesperson for Historic England said the “exciting revelation gives us a new perspective on the High Street and its hidden history”.

Mr Dobra and his daughter are still hoping to turn the shop into a florist but said they planned to keep some of the wooden structure on show.

“It’s going to be the oldest shop in all of London,” Ms Dobra joked.

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