The Duke of York stands close by to the scene of the Battle of Barnet. The building itself is a former coaching inn built on the Great North Road, which was for centuries the main route from London to York and beyond.
Barnet was a place of considerable importance owing to its position, and at one time over a hundred and fifty mail and stage coaches, besides post-chaises, private carriages, wagons, etc., passed through the town each day.
Many of the old coaching inns still survive from those days, "like pearls on a string" writes the author David Haslam. Wealthy travellers on the road proved a magnet for footpads and highwaymen and many were relieved of their valuables with the cry "Your money or your life!"
Dick Turpin, the most famous highwayman of the all, held up many a coach on the Great North Road. Coaching Inns would have provided comfort and sustenance to weary travellers, as well as safe haven from highway robbery. However, it is known that highwaymen themselves would frequent these coaching inns to identify possible targets.
Origin of the pub name.
The title 'Duke of York' was first created in 1385 for Edmund of Langley, the fourth surviving son of King Edward III.
Unlike many titles, this one has frequently died out due to general heirlessness, but it has been resurrected many times over - eleven to be precise. Indeed, the current Duke of York himself has no male heirs: the fact that the dukedom has rarely passed from father to son has led to the belief that the title is cursed. Of the fourteen dukes to date, five have died childless and six became king only after the death of an elder brother. The title has ever since been passed to the second son of the British monarch of the time.
Here is Edward IV, who we think
looks a bit like...
The fourth Duke of York, Edward, was born on April 28, 1442 at Rouen in France. Edward had a strong claim to the throne of England through his father, Richard Plantagenet. The Duke
of York's assertion of his claim to the crown in 1460 marked the beginning of the conflict known as the Wars of the Roses.
The Wars of The Roses
The Wars of the Roses (1455-1487) were a series of civil wars fought over the throne of England between adherents of the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Both houses were branches of the Plantagenet royal house, with both tracing their descent from King Edward III. The Wars of The Roses became known as such as the two sides were both known by their rose motive:. the red rose of Lancaster, and the white rose of York. You'll notice the white rose of York at the centre of our Crest.
The Battle of Barnet
Edward destroyed the House of Lancaster in a series of spectacular military victories; never once being defeated in the field. One important battle was 'The Battle of Barnet' in 1471, held a stones throw from the current location of the Duke of York.
Edward, the Duke of York, took the upper hand in the battle by advancing with his 8,000 men during the night. The battle started early next morning, and lasted between three and four hours. Edward himself was in the thick of the fighting in the centre.
Edward's victory enabled him to consolidate and prepare himself for the final confrontation, the Battle of Tewkesbury, which ultimately led to him being crowned the King of England.
Edward proved to be a popular and very able king. His reign saw the restoration of law and order in England; his motto was 'modus et ordo', meaning 'method and order', and the vast majority of those who served him remained unwaveringly loyal until his death.
Marching up hills
Another Duke of York was Prince Frederick,
the 'Grand Old Duke' of nursery
In times past Barnet played host to a large local horse fair, help in April and September. At one time as many as forty-five thousand head of cattle were brought to the fair from all over the country, but principally from Scotland. and they had to pay a toll to the lord of the manor.
The horses and cattle would have passed by the doors of the pub, which no doubt provided sustenance for the weary herders. Barnet Fair was obviously famous, as it inspired the well known rhyming-slang term for hair (as in "Nice Barnet, shame about the boat race").