Northwood lies in an area once covered by vast forests, hunted and fought over by Romans and ancient Britons. The British tribe, the Belgar, who lived in this part of the country, distinguished themselves when, in 54 BC under Cassivellaunus, they almost defeated the Romans under Julius Caesar. Boudicca (Boadicea) is reputed to have died at Stanmore.
In Saxon times Offa, King of the Middle Saxons, entrusted the district to the Abbey of St Albans.
In Norman times, Northwood and Eastcote were hamlets within the manor of Ruislip and references to Northwode and Northwood have been found in old documents.
Northwood (or Northwode as it was originally known), was first recorded as the name of a wood and farm to the north of Ruislip. In 1437, Henry VI granted the property for life to one John Somerset who was then the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Three years later, when he founded Eton and Kings College, Cambridge, he required the land for purposes of endowment. On his death in 1451 the Northwood estate was granted to Kings College, Cambridge. Much of the land in Northwood, particularly the Copse Woods, is still influenced by covenants owned by the College.
Not until 1854 did Northwood take on an identity of its own with the building of Holy Trinity Church. At this time only about 200 people lived in Northwood and their occupations were rural.
It is known that one of 2 granges within the manor of Ruislip existed in Northwood and was sited near to the present Grange in the Rickmansworth Road. No historical records exist describing the formation of the hamlet of Northwood until 1754 when a map drawn by John Rocque shows a few houses in the area of North Wood. The Northwood School records of 1841 and 1851 show that the chief occupations of the parents were farmers, agricultural labourers, brick makers and tile makers.
Still a hamlet and a collection of farms on the edge of Rickmansworth, Pinner, Ruislip, Harefield and Watford parishes, it retained its rustic nature until the late 1890s.
The opening of Northwood station in 1887 began the process of gradual change into an urban residential area. In 1894, with the passing of the Local Government Act, people began to claim urban powers. Since then the population has grown rapidly to 80,000 due to the enormous expansion of London.
In 1870 the population of Northwood was 442. Even in those days, however, the hamlet was well provided with hostelries including The True Lovers Knot, or The Knot as it was known and The Gate beerhouse. The Gate has a long history and probably marks the position of the old QuFerry turnpike.
A map of Northwood dated 1868-1877 shows the many farms and scattered dwellings at this time.
Northwood grew quickly with the arrival of the Metropolitan Railway, the station opening in 1888. A charming description of the hamlet appeared in the ‘New Ground for the Rambler’ column in The Watford Observer of 8th October 1887:
“A 40 minute ride from town on the Metropolitan extension (fare 1/6d) stands the village or hamlet of Northwood and a quarter of a mile from this is the grand new station in all the glory of new paint and fresh gravel. The station is in the midst of a very pretty county indeed. The scenery in the immediate neighbourhood will surprise the visitor. If he will take with him a telescope and look through the wrong end of it he will discovera region not unlike Westmorland without its lakes, and especially charming must it be when the hawthorn is in bloom and the fields and hedgerows are spattered with bluebells and primroses.
An amphitheatre of wooded hills rise around on all sides except the Valley of the Colne and below is the grand old house (Moor Park) with its Corinthian columns and portico, its Italian gardens and sculpture, grand old cedars, wooded glades across which the deer sheltered beneath the splendid oaks and elms that stud the park.”
From 1887 on, the modern Northwood developed. One of the first promoters was Mr Frank Murray Maxwell Hallowell Carew (1866-1943) and his sons Reginald and Roy. But for a difference this gentleman had with his wife, Dene Road would still be named Edith Road. Local associations in history include that of the only English Pope, Nicholas Breakspear, with Harefield; Cardinal Wolsey and the Duke of Monmouth with Moor Park; Thomas Gray, who wrote Elegy in a Country Churchyard, with Stoke Poges; and Milton, who alternated between boredom and matrimonial strife at Chalfont St Giles.