History of Harringay

History of Harringay

The history of Harringay tells the story of the development of Harringay, a district of London 5 miles from its centre, affected by, but not always part of the great town's history.


The issue of the derivation of the name Harringay and its relation to the name for the local Borough and the nearby town of Hornsey has excited an unusual amount of interest.

It is very probable that the name "Harringay" has its origin in the Saxon period. It is most likely that it is derived from the name of a Saxon person, probably a local chieftain, called "Hering". "Heringes-hege" in Old English means the enclosure of "Hering". The earliest written form of the name was recorded as "Harenhg’" in about 1195. Its development thereafter gave rise to the modern-day names of Harringay (the district of London), the London Borough of Haringey and Hornsey (another nearby district of London). Its development into these three forms was complex and included at least 162 recorded variations. Since the history of Hornsey was for most of the past indistinguishable from that of the area of present-day Harringay, and the etymology is shared, both are covered in this section. The name of the London Borough of Haringey is included so as to explain the question of the current spelling differences.

In 1243, the name was recorded as "Haringesheye". This may be considered the intermediate form of the name, bridging between the Saxon "Heringes-hege" and its three present-day forms. With the second ‘g’ pronounced as ‘y’ in Old English, it can be seen how close the two versions were. In 1371 the variant "Haryngeay" was recorded. Sixteen years later "Haringey" appeared for the first time. Of the three present-day forms, this is therefore the oldest. "Haryngay" appeared in 1393 and finally in 1569 "Harringay" was first used. The variant that finally became Hornsey (the London district) first developed the addition of an 's' in the middle of the word with the use of "Harnsey" recorded in 1392. "Hornsey", in its modern form, didn’t appear until 1646. [cite book|last = Madge|first = Stephen J.|title = The Origin of the Name of Hornsey|publisher = Public Libraries Committee Hornsey| date = 1936| isbn =: None issued at publication, The writer is much indebted to the enormously scholarly work of Stephen Madge whose exhaustive and painstaking research conducted over a period of 35 years should be regarded as the definitive text on the origins of the name Harringay. The first part of this section is entirely based on his work.]

Right up until the close of the eighteenth century, there is no doubt that all variants of the name referred to the same area, around present-day Harringay and Hornsey. However from the late Tudor period on, the Hornsey version took precedence in common usage. The Harringay form survived in use more as a legal entity and in the manor records for the Manor of Harringay.

The building of the huge "Harringay House" at the top of the hill in between the present-day Hewitt and Allison Roads in 1792 saw the divergence of meaning of the hitherto interchangeable names. From this time on, Hornsey was used to refer to the present day London district and subsequently the parish and Middlesex borough. Harringay came to mean the house, its surrounding park and finally the present-day London district. It also continued as the common name used in manorial records.

Whilst the early residents of Harringay district continued to represent the word as Harringay, in official documents from the early twentieth century on, the Borough of Hornsey chose to refer to it as Haringey. This spelling was also chosen as the name of the London Borough of Haringey formed in 1965 when the former Boroughs of Hornsey and Tottenham were merged. A letter from a Council Officer in 1984 explained it thus: "When Tottenham and Hornsey were joined to form the new borough in 1964, the choice of name rested with a special panel which, after public consultation, opted for one of the spellings of the modern Borough of Hornsey. We are not aware of the reasons for that choice". [ cite book|last=Pout|first = Richard|title = Hornsey Historical Society Journal, 45|date = 2004] Pupils in local schools at the time were taught that the new borough's name should be pronounced with the ending sounded as in the endings of Finchley, Hackney or Hornsey. [Valerie Crosby, Archivist, Bruce Castle Archives, London Borough of Haringey, 2007]

Prehistory to 1750

In the Ice Age, Harringay was at the edge of a huge glacial mass that reached as far south as Muswell Hill. cite book|last = Madge|first = Stephen J.|title = The Early Records of Harringay alias Hornsey |publisher = Public Libraries Committee Hornsey| date = 1938| isbn =: None issued at publication] There is evidence of both Stone Age and Bronze Age activity in the immediate vicinity.cite book|last = T. F. T. Baker & C. R. Elrington (Editors) |title = A History of the County of Middlesex, Volume 8: Islington and Stoke Newington Parishes|publisher = Accessed online at [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/source.asp?pubid=30 British History Online] | date = 1985] In the 5th and 6th centuries the Saxon invasions brought Haering, the chieftain whose name still lives on today in local placenames. At the time of Domesday, the western part of modern Harringay was within the Manor of Harengheie and part of the Bishop of London's principal Manor of Stepney. The eastern part was within the Manor of Tottenham held by Waltheof II, Earl of Northumbria, the last of the great Anglo-Saxon Earls. [cite book|last = T. F. T. Baker & R.B. Pugh (Editors) |title = A History of the County of Middlesex, Volume 5: Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham|publisher = Accessed online at [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/source.asp?pubid=87 British History Online] |date = 1976] .

From Domesday to the middle of the eighteenth century, Harringay was transformed from a mainly forested area to a pastoral one. It remained sparsely inhabited. Beyond the clearance of the forests, few infringements were made into Harringay lands save for the New River, the building of which presaged the more drastic developments to come.

1750 to 1880

In 1750 the area that was to become Harringay was almost all agricultural land. Only a few buildings stood within its boundaries. Over the 130 years to 1880, significant parts of it were brought into a more modern use, either as comfortable houses or as parkland. Most notably, Harringay House was built at the top of the hill between present-day Hewitt and Allison Roads. At the southern end of Green Lanes, a large tile kiln and pottery was developed. But still by 1880, less than two dozen buildings existed in all Harringay. Finsbury Park and nearby Alexandra Park were laid out during this period. And, perhaps most significantly, two railways were built through Harringay. These, more than anything, presaged the next chapter in Harringay's history.

:See also: Parish of Hornsey

1880 - present day

The last twenty years of the nineteenth century saw the disappearance of the house and the surrounding parkland and farmland under the advance of late Victorian urbanisation.

From 1900, Harringay was spread across the borders of the former urban districts, later municipal boroughs, of Hornsey and Tottenham in Middlesex.

Following the Second World War, Harringay began to change as immigration began to impact the nature of the town.

In 1965 it was unified under one local authority with the creation of the London Borough of Haringey.:See also: Municipal Borough of Hornsey

Harringay and entertainment

From 1750 until the second half of the twentieth century Harringay gained fame as an entertainment centre. In the second half of the eighteenth century Hornsey Wood House was developed as a private leisure park and became one of the most popular places for Londoners to escape from London at the weekends. Finsbury Park, the development of which swept the old tavern away was the first major metropolitan park in England and was hugely popular in its heyday. In the early twentieth century Harringay Stadium and Harringay Arena drew the crowds to the area.

Economic history

Relying on agriculture for most of its recorded history, Harringay had a busy tile kiln, pottery and a brickfields from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century. [cite book|last = Cryer|first = Pat|title = The Tile Kilns, Tottenham, Green Lanes: history |publisher = Accessed online at [http://www.colepotteries.btinternet.co.uk/tile-kilns-history.htm Potteries and brickyards worked by the Cole family] |date = 2006]

Transport & communications history

There is little doubt that the history of transport communications through Harringay had a significant effect on shaping it today.

Early roadways

In Roman times, a great roadway to the north was established. [See Early history page.] This roadway endured as a great communication passage to the north and brought much activity through the heart of the area. It also acted as the rough dividing line for land ownership, identifying Harringay’s position on the edge of manorial and subsequently borough boundaries.


In the mid-nineteenth century, the arrival of the Great Northern Railway (GNR) cleaved Harringay from the rest of its ancient borough. The subsequent arrival of the Tottenham and Hampstead Junction Railway (THJR) almost defined its present-day southern boundary. Harringay’s development in the late nineteenth century was of a markedly different nature than that which occurred to the west of the GNR and to the south of the THJR.

The Tube

On two occasions in the early twentieth century, a Tube station was almost built in Harringay.

External links

* [http://hornseyhistorical.awardspace.com/index.htm Hornsey Historical Society]
* [http://www.haringey.gov.uk/leisure/brucecastlemuseum.htm Bruce Castle Museum]
* [http://www.haringey.gov.uk/index/community_and_leisure/libraries/findalibrary/hornseylibrary.htm Hornsey Library Archives]
* [http://www.a2a.org.uk/ A2A - Access to Archives]
* [http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/index.jsp A Vision of Britain through Time]
* [http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/default.aspx English Heritage's Images of England]
* [http://www.motco.com/ Motco UK Directory and Image Database]
* [http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk/collage/app City of London Collage online Historical Picture Database]
* [http://www.photolondon.org.uk/directory.htm#how Directory of London Photographers 1841 - 1905]
* [http://www.harringayonline.com/ Harringay online] - Website for Harringay residents with lots of information on Harringay and its history.

References & notes

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