The volume relates the history of Ossul-stone hundred and of the parishes of Friern Barnet, Finchley, and Hornsey, which form the outer part of the hundred's Finsbury division. The article on Hornsey covers Highgate village, including the half which lay within the county of London from 1889 until 1965, and a peninsular part of the parish, south-east of Seven Sisters Road, transferred to London in 1899. Before their inclusion in Greater London in 1965, Friern Barnet was an urban district, with 29,000 inhabitants, and Finchley and Hornsey were municipal boroughs, with populations of 69,000 and 98,000. The parishes stretch from Whetstone, on the old Hertfordshire boundary at the northern tip of Friern Barnet and Finchley, to Finsbury Park, little more than 3 miles from the city of London. Finchley and Hornsey manors belonged to the bishop of London, while Brownswood in south--eastern Hornsey was a prebendal estate of St Paul's cathedral, whose chapter also acquired Friern Barnet manor. There was much woodland, in addition to Finchley Common and the bishop's park in Hornsey, and settlements before the 19th century were small, except along the Great North Road.
Highgate, on a hill top where the road entered Hornsey park, has had wealthy residents since Tudor times and retains many 17th- and 18th-century houses. Elsewhere the scene is mainly residential, including large subdivided villas of the 1860s around Finsbury Park, millionaires' homes where Finchley parish borders Hampstead, and, besides 20th-century infilling, avenues and shopping parades of the 1890s where builders created homo-geneous suburbs out of the villages at Crouch End and Muswell Hill. Friern Hospital formerly occupied 165 a. in Friern garnet, when it was well known as Colney Hatch Asylum.