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Great Northern Railway Tavern, Hornsey High Street - geograph.org.uk - 354363.jpg
Great Northern Railway Tavern, Hornsey
Hornsey is located in Greater London
Location within Greater London
Area1.06 km2 (0.41 sq mi)
Population12,659 (2011 Census Ward only)[1]
• Density11,942/km2 (30,930/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTQ305894
• Charing Cross10 km (6.2 mi) South
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Historic countyMiddlesex
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtN8
Dialling code020
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°35′13″N 0°07′05″W / 51.587°N 0.118°W / 51.587; -0.118Coordinates: 51°35′13″N 0°07′05″W / 51.587°N 0.118°W / 51.587; -0.118

Hornsey /hɔːrnz/ is a district of north London, England in the London Borough of Haringey. It is an inner-suburban, for the most part residential, area centred 10 km (6.2 mi) north of Charing Cross. It adjoins green spaces Queen's Wood and Alexandra Park to the north.


In the narrowest sense Hornsey is a relatively old, small area centred on Hornsey High Street, at the eastern end of which is the churchyard and tower of the former St Mary's parish church. This was the administrative centre of the historically broad parish.

North of Hornsey High Street, and immediately to its south, some of the area is public sector housing, surrounded by the late Victorian terraces developed by builders such as John Farrer.[2] Between the western end of the High Street and the bottom of Muswell Hill, the character of the area changes; most being part of the Warner Estate built up with large late Victorian houses. To the south west of the High Street is Priory Park.

The High Street has a number of shops, restaurants and pubs. The eastern section retains strips of grassed areas. The 13th-century tower is all that remains of St Mary's Church. The Tower has recently been used as The Intimate Space, which claims to be London's smallest performance space.

Hornsey also has a Bowling Club [3] which is situated on land owned by the London Diocesan Fund, part of the Diocese of London. The London Diocesan Fund has expressed an interest in building new homes on the site of the Bowling Club [4]


There are various views as to the location of Hornsey's current boundaries. The northern and eastern boundaries are relatively uncontentious. Most definitions seem to recognise those as being provided by Alexandra Park and the Great Northern Railway respectively. The southern and western boundaries are less clear cut. A recent version of those boundaries was provided by popular local opinion as expressed in the residents' survey undertaken as part of the application for the Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum. It offers a contemporary view of where local residents see the boundary between Hornsey and Crouch End and so defines the southern and western boundaries.[5] The area defined is almost identical to that presented by one individual on a personal Google Map.[6] Both closely resemble the post-19th century Anglican parish[7] and pay regard to lingering units of property reference such as the layout of building schemes (developer's estates).


Hornsey High Street in 1873, with the old Three Compases pub building in the centre
Hornsey Town Hall, completed in 1935

The name Hornsey has its origin in the Saxon period and is derived from the name of a Saxon chieftain called Haering. Haering's Hege meant Haering's enclosure. 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.[8] The church was first mentioned in 1291.[9] Hornsey Village developed along what is now Hornsey High Street, and in the seventeenth century it was bisected by the New River that crossed the village in three places: first at the end of Nightingale Lane, secondly from behind the Three Compasses and lastly, as it does now, at the bottom of Tottenham Lane. The village grew dramatically after about 1860 and eventually merged with the separate settlement at Crouch End (first mentioned in 1465),[10] to form an urban area in the middle of the parish.

Hornsey was a much larger original ancient parish than today's electoral ward of the same name. These entities are smaller than the Municipal Borough of Hornsey which co-governed the area with Middlesex County Council from 1889 until 1965, since when the name refers, as a minimum, to the London neighbourhood with a high street at its traditional heart to the west of Hornsey railway station. Its parish ranked sixth in size, of more than forty in Ossulstone, the largest hundred in Middlesex and was a scattered semi-rural community of 2,716 people in 1801.[11] By 1901 the population had risen about eightfold in forty years, reaching 87,626, by which time new localities/districts, mainly Crouch End and Muswell Hill were popularly becoming considered distinct from Hornsey.[11] The N8 postcode district, the current form of Hornsey ward as devised from time-to-time for equal representation (electorate) across wards of the Borough, and the choice of other railway and tube stations towards, on these definitions, outer parts create conflicting definitions of Hornsey and it is unclear whether since 1965 the term is distinct from Hornsey Village, a term unrecognised by some residents.

The old parish used to have two small detached parts immediately beyond and within Stoke Newington Parish.[12] In the 1840s the parish had 5,937 residents, slightly reduced by the loss of Finsbury Park but comprised 2,362 acres (9.56 km2) taking in besides its own village, the established hamlets of Muswell Hill, Crouch End, Stroud Green, and part of Highgate.[13]

Much of Hornsey was built up in Edwardian times, but the tower of the original parish church still stands in its ancient graveyard in Hornsey High Street, at the centre of the old village. Other notable places are the former Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End, and Highpoint and Cromwell House in Highgate.

On the north side of the High street was the old public bath and wash house (not to be confused with Hornsey Road Baths & Laundry 1+12 miles (2.4 km) away on Hornsey Road) which was demolished to make way for a new housing scheme and Sainbury's. Opened in 1932, it had 33,000 users a year in the 1950s.[14] A small group of residents wished Haringey Council to purchase the site and install arts and crafts studios, with a gallery, primarily for local artists.

For 1978–2002 in the borough, having in its initial 13 years no wards mentioning Hornsey, three wards bearing the name existed and so popularised it among bordering, competing areas with newer names; strongly reflecting their historic, shared identity:

  1. Hornsey Central
  2. Hornsey Vale
  3. South Hornsey[15]

Economic development[edit]

21st century housing in Chadwell Lane, Hornsey

In 1951 the first Lotus Cars factory was established in stables behind the Railway Hotel (now Funky Brownz Bar) on Tottenham Lane. The company was formed as Lotus Engineering Ltd by Colin Chapman and Colin Dare, both engineering graduates of University College, London. The Railway Hotel pub was owned by Chapman's father. In its early days Lotus sold cars aimed at private racers and trialists. Its early road cars could be bought as kits, in order to save on purchase tax. Adjacent to the pub was the first Lotus showroom (now part of Jewson's) where there is now a memorial plaque to Colin Chapman erected by Club Lotus. Recently an application to demolish the building, listed by Haringey Council as an "historic building of interest", was turned down following a public campaign by local resident Chris Arnold, son of the former Lotus Sales Director Graham Arnold. It was briefly a plumbing shop but is now empty. Suggestions have been made to turn it into a Colin Chapman museum or a Colin Chapman innovation centre for young people. Lotus moved to Cheshunt in 1959, and to Hethel in Norfolk in 1966.

Established in 1964, Hornsey Co-operative Credit Union was Britain's oldest credit union, until it merged with London Capital Credit Union in 2013.

Since 2000 Hornsey's residential developments have been architecturally diverse and overall accommodative of a diverse range of the local community. This has included estates of more than 50 homes with a proportion available under social housing and affordable housing schemes.

A major maintenance depot for the new electric trains running from Finsbury Park to Brighton has been constructed beside the main line.[16]

The Hornsey Water Treatment Works were developed alongside the New River, the water supply system constructed in the 17th century that brings water from Hertfordshire to London. The brick buildings associated with the works were the last constructed by the New River Company before the Metropolitan Water Board took over in 1904. They are now run by Thames Water and still supply some of London's water.[17]

Rail transport[edit]

The East Coast Main Line from London King's Cross to the east Midlands, northern England and Scotland crosses Hornsey. Local commuter and regional services are provided from Hornsey railway station by Great Northern into Central London ending in Moorgate and towards Hertfordshire. Turnpike Lane tube station on the Piccadilly Line is the nearest Underground station.


Hornsey in literature, on film and television[edit]

In Jonathan Coe's 1987 debut novel The Accidental Woman, the protagonist Maria shares a flat in Hornsey with two other women for several years.

Notable residents[edit]

See Category:People from Hornsey

Transport and locale[edit]

Nearest places[edit]

Nearest stations[edit]


  1. ^ Key Statistics; Quick Statistics: Population Density United Kingdom Census 2011 Office for National Statistics Retrieved 5 November 2014
  2. ^ Owen, Janet (2009). John Farrer - The Man Who Changed Hornsey. London: Hornsey Historical Society. ISBN 978-0905794402.
  3. ^ "Hornsey Bowls Club, Hornsey". www.hornseybowlsclub.co.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Haringey Council Planning website" (PDF).
  5. ^ The relevant map is on page 9 of this Neighbourhood Forum application. It is based on mainly on the responses to the survey but also reflects the aims of the local-government recognised Crouch End forum. Hornsey is north of the solid blue line, south of Alexandra Park, east of a "foot" (shallower slope) of Muswell Hill and west of the Great Northern Railway. Taken from Application for a Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum, September 2015 (Accessed on Haringey Council website, June 2018)
  6. ^ A local resident's assertion of the popular boundaries on Google maps with more than 2,500 views.
  7. ^ "St Mary with St George, Hornsey Parish Church". www.achurchnearyou.com.
  8. ^ Madge, Stephen J. (1936). The Origin of the Name of Hornsey. Public Libraries Committee Hornsey. For further details on the etymology of the name, see History of Harringay
  9. ^ Baggs, A P; Bolton, Diane K; Hicks, M A; Pugh, R B (1980). "'Hornsey, including Highgate: Churches', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 6, Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey With Highgate, ed. T F T Baker and C R Elrington". London: British History Online. pp. 172–182. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  10. ^ Mills, A.D. (2010). A Dictionary of London Place-Names. Oxford. pp. 67-68. ISBN 9780199566785.
  11. ^ a b Page, William (1911). "'Table of population, 1801-1901', in A History of the County of Middlesex". London: British History Online. pp. 112–120. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  12. ^ Baggs, A.P.; Bolton, Diane K.; Hicks, M.A.; Pugh, R.B. (1980). "Ossulstone Hundred". In Baker, T.F.T.; Elrington, C.R. (eds.). A History of the County of Middlesex. 6. Institute of Historical Research. pp. 1–5. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  13. ^ Lewis, Samuel (1848). "Horndon, East - Horsell". A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  14. ^ Denford, Steven (2008). Hornsey Past. Historical Publications.
  15. ^ Ward search Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 2014-11-05
  16. ^ "Siemens beats Bombardier to Thameslink train order". Railway Gazette International.
  17. ^ "Engineering Timelines - Hornsey Water Treatment Works". www.engineering-timelines.com.

External links[edit]