It is the site of an ancient and well-known horse fair, hence the Cockney rhyming slang of "Barnet" for "hair". The fair dates back to 1588 when Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter to the Lord of the Manor of Barnet the right to hold a twice yearly fair.
Chipping Barnet was historically a civil parish of Hertfordshire and formed part of the Barnet Urban District from 1894. This parish was abolished in 1965 and the Chipping Barnet section of its former area was transferred to Greater London and the newly-created London Borough of Barnet. In 1801 the parish had a population of 1,258 and covered an area of 1,440 acres (6 km²). By 1901 the parish was reduced to 380 acres (1.5 km²) and had a population of 2,893. In 1951 the population was 7,062.
In Saxon Times the site was part of an extensive wood called Southaw, belonging to the Abbey of St Albans. The name of the town appears in early deeds as 'Bergnet' - the Saxon word 'Bergnet' signifies a little hill (monticulus). Barnet's elevated position is also indicated in one of its alternative names ('High Barnet'), which it bears in many old books and maps, and which the railway company restored. According to local belief, though not verified, "Barnet stands on the highest ground betwixt London and York." The area was historically a common resting point on the traditional Great North Road between the City of London and York and Edinburgh.
At the turn of the 21st century, a tongue-in-cheek movement calling for the name Barnet to be changed to "Barnét" began to gain the attention of the public and the national media, with many public road signs in the area regularly being altered to contain the accented character.. Despite some support from residents, Barnet Council has been treating any such alterations to public road signs as vandalism.
Chipping Barnet Parish church of St John the Baptist (1560)
"The town consists of a straggling street over a mile long, chiefly of small commonplace houses, with two or three shorter streets diverging from it. From its situation on the main road, as the centre of an agricultural district, the seat of a county court and petty sessions, and having a barracks close at hand., Barnet is a busy-looking place, and has some good shops; one or two excellent inns, Red Lion and Old Salisbury Arms, and an undue proportion of public-houses; but on the whole it is a shabby and not a very picturesque appearance"
In coaching days, 150 stage coaches passed through Barnet daily. Since the opening of the railway, development has increased considerably, especially in the west of the area near Arkley.
Barnet Church, St John the Baptist, which stands in what was the centre of the town, was erected by John de la Moote, abbot of St Albans, about 1400, the architect being Beauchamp. It consists of a nave and aisles separated by clustered columns which support four pointed arches; a chancel with an east window of good Perpendicular tracery; a vestry, built in the reign of James I by Thomas Ravenscroft; and at the west end, a low, square embattled tower. The living of Barnet is a curacy, held with the rectory of East Barnet till the death of the late incumbent in 1866, when the livings were separated. The town also includes parts of the parishes of Monken Hadley and South Mimms.
Barnet is served by Barnet General Hospital which is run by Barnet and Chase Farm NHS Hospitals Trust as part of the UK National Health Service. There is also a National Health Service clinic in Vale Drive (near Barnet Hill and High Barnet tube station).
Barnet FC are the local football team, currently in Coca Cola league 2. They play at the Underhill Stadium. Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers is a local athletics club. Chipping Barnet has a King George's Field in memorial to King George V.
High Barnet today is a popular location for restaurants and public houses. Among the cuisines and food choices on offer are Chinese, Thai, Indian, Italian, a French brasserie, numerous fast food outlets and a pancake house.
A small nightclub operated for a few years in the 1980s in the premises now occupied by The Misty Moon. The public houses in High Barnet include: The Misty Moon, Toby Carvery, The Kings Head, The Monken Holt, The Black Horse, Ye Olde Mitre Inn, After Office Hours, The Hadley Oak, and The Nelson.
There are no overground railway stations in High Barnet itself, but these stations are nearby/can be accessed from High Barnet by bus: