Tavistock, Camden County
What do you do when you want to play golf on Sundays but your town’s oppressive blue laws keep you from doing so? You charter your own municipality, of course!
And that is how Tavistock, New Jersey came to be. No, really. All because members of the Tavistock Country Club wanted to play golf on Sundays. In 1921, they seceded from Haddonfield and created the Borough of Tavistock. By 1930, 20 people lived in this new town. Since then, the population has grown and shrunk drastically. The most extreme of these jumps was a 288.9% rise from 1980 to 1990, when Tavistock’s population peaked at 35 people. By 2010, it was back down to 5.
When I saw Tavistock listed as the smallest municipality in New Jersey, I wanted to do a 565 about it. In a state where 8 million people live crammed together like sardines, there’s a town with only five. Granted, the borders of a town or a borough are irrelevant – Tavistock having only five people doesn’t make New Jersey any less populated. But still, a town with only five people in it feels so foreign here, the state where a town can have 25,000 residents and still count as a “small town.”
And those borders are elusive! Maybe that was on purpose – too many trespassers will ruin the greens. I followed Google’s directions to a T and found myself in a big, cul-de-saccy neighborhood full of bi levels. It clearly wasn’t Tavistock. There were too many houses. There were no signs in the neighborhood, but the Tavistock Swim Club was across the main road. So I went back out to that road and drove it further from the highway, toward what I assumed would be the Borough of Tavistock. The only marker of this was a sign on a telephone pole read “Tavistock” with an arrow pointing right.
It was pointing up a hill, into a wooded neighborhood. Almost immediately, I was in front of the Tavistock Country Club, a lush green full of golfers enjoying the mild, sunny day. And yes, it was a Sunday. And that was it. There were houses nearby, big houses with expensive SUVs parked outside, but no note of what was Tavistock and what was Haddonfield.
Well played, Tavistock. I think the best descriptor of Tavistock, NJ would be “well-camouflaged.” New Jersey’s smallest town sits within Haddonfield, just coyly lounging there, waiting for you to come find it. If you attempt to find it, good luck. You’re gonna need it.
Map with Tavistock highlighted in red- squint and you will see it (Credit: Arkyan)