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Conservation Areas

There are 22 designated Conservation Areas within the London Borough of Enfield, several of which are located in or adjacent to Palmers Green - in particular, the Lakes Estate Conservation Area, located on both sides of Alderman's Hill

Conservation: Related websites

For more conservation-related resources, see the groups and websites listed in the Conservation Groups category of our Community Directory

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The Intimate Theatre

St Monica's Large Hall aka the Intimate Theatre: the Theatres Trust calls it a rare survivor of a building that illustrates repertory theatre design in the inter‑war period

At the end of January the Theatres Trust announced its 2020 list of Theatres at Risk, which for the second year running includes Palmers Green's Intimate Theatre. An expanded entry in the statutory body's inventory of Theatres at Risk complains about failure to consult the statutory body when seeking permission to demolish the building (referred to by its owner, St Monica's church, as St Monica's Large Hall), to which it remains opposed.

Among a number of household names who appeared at the Intimate was the recently deceased Nicholas Parsons, who in his autobiography called the Palmers Green theatre "well regarded". His name appears in a programme from 1947, a copy of which was recently uploaded to the recently created Intimate Theatre Facebook group.

A "landmark building"

The updated entry in the register of theatres at risk refers to the now closed Palmers Green venue as a "landmark building in its local community and with a rich theatrical history". The expanded text now includes a brief history of the Intimate and of the campaign to prevent its demolition. It notes that it was not consulted when planning permission to demolish was applied for:

"Despite the building’s history as a theatre and the building’s current lawful use including theatre use, the applicant actively sought to disregard the role of Theatres Trust as a statutory consultee when the proposals were submitted for planning in May 2019. Initially we were not formally consulted by the council and were alerted to the submission of the application by the campaign group."

After submitting a strongly worded objection in July 2019, the Theatres Trust was eventually consulted formally the following month, and in October a meeting was convened. According to the entry, St Monica's Church undertook to provide information about an option to retain the current building after suitable adaptation - a possibility that the church had previously ruled out:

"In October 2019, Enfield London Borough Council brokered a meeting between the Theatres Trust, the Greater London Authority’s Culture at Risk team, the church and its architect. Following this meeting the church was asked to provide further information. This was to include an option for the adaptation of the existing building to provide the required accessibility and flexibility. Information is still pending."

Continuing support for the campaign group

The risk register entry concludes as follows:

"The Theatres Trust will continue to support the campaign group in its ambition to save the Intimate Theatre. Should the current planning application be approved, Theatres Trust will lobby for appropriate re-provision for the theatre to at least the same standard as is currently available, to be secured by way of condition and Section 106 agreement."

Currently there is no information available about the likely date that the planning application will be considered.

Nicholas Parsons at the Intimate

nicholas parsons in the hasty heart at the intimate theatre

By coincidence, Nicholas Parsons died on the same day last week as the Theatres Trust unveiled its 2020 list. In his autobiography he says that his week at the Intimate playing Yank in The Hasty Heart in 1947 proved to be important:

"Before I set out with Arsenic and Old Lace, I still had one week's involvement in The Hasty Heart to fulfil. It proved to be an important week in my career. When our production had ended its London run and provincial tour, the repertory companies across the country began to present it as one of their weekly offerings. Ronald Kerr, a supremely skilled director, especially in weekly rep, was at that time directing at the Intimate Theatre, Palmers Green, and he decided to produce The Hasty Heart. Ronnie was looking for someone to play the American, and a friend of mine, Mac Picton, who had understudied during the London run, said to him, 'Nicholas can play the part for you.' Ronnie found me via the actors directory, The Spotlight, and offered me the role. I was delighted to accept, as the Intimate Theatre was well regarded."

It's interesting to note that this was not long after he had made his West End debut in a production of the same play that ran for over a year, but playing a different part (Kiwi - presumably a New Zealander).

Nicholas Parsons also appeared at the Intimate in 1950 and in 1951, when the local newpaper critic described him as the tallest aunt he had ever seen! (The play was Charley's Aunt - which coincidentally is the next production at the Intimate Theatre in Friern Barnet.)

Programme uploaded to the Intimate Theatre Group Facebook page by David Reed.

The reference to the "Royal Northern Hospital, Winchmore Hill" is intriguing. Based on this entry in Lost Hospitals of London, it appears most likely that it refers to a 60-bed convalescent hospital in Grovelands, run by the Royal Northern Hospital, whose main site was in Holloway Road.

Links

Entry for the Intimate Theatre in the Theatres Trust inventory of Theatres at Risk

Objection to application to demolish the Intimate Theatre

Previous PGC reporting about the Intimate Theatre

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See also...

  • 02 February 2020

A rich source of information about our local heritage

Each edition of the quarterly newsletter published by the Enfield Society has one or more articles about historic buildings in the borough, many of them written by Stephen Gilburt. Over the years these have built up to form a rich resource for anyone interested in finding out about Enfield's history and heritage, but even though the newsletters are available online there has been no way of easily finding articles of interest. That is, until now. Read more

  • 03 July 2019

Planning application submitted for demolition of the Intimate Theatre

A planning application has been submitted for the demolition of St Monica's Hall (the Intimate Theatre) and its replacement by a new-build parish centre for St Monica's church and a block of six apartments. The campaign to save the theatre is appealing to supporters to submit objections to the application. Read more

  • 20 February 2019

Intimate Theatre: Churches launch counter-campaign

Catholic churches belonging to the Enfield Deanery are asking parishioners to write to MPs and councillors complaining about Enfield Council's decision to register St Monica's Large Hall/Intimate Theatre as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). The reaction of the Save the Intimate Theatre campaign has been to express hope that the letters to elected representatives might provide a 'longed for opportunity' for a meeting to take place with all interested parties present. Read more