Hornsey Town Hall

Coordinates: 51°34′44″N 0°07′20″W / 51.5788°N 0.1223°W / 51.5788; -0.1223
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Hornsey Town Hall
Hornsey Town Hall
Coordinates51°34′44″N 0°07′20″W / 51.5788°N 0.1223°W / 51.5788; -0.1223
ArchitectReginald Uren
Architectural style(s)Modernist style
Listed Building – Grade II*
Designated16 January 1981
Reference no.1263688
Hornsey Town Hall is located in London Borough of Haringey
Hornsey Town Hall
Shown in Haringey

Hornsey Town Hall is a public building in Hatherley Gardens in the Crouch End area of Hornsey, London. The building was used by the Municipal Borough of Hornsey as its headquarters until 1965. It is a Grade II* listed building.[1]


Early history[edit]

View inside the main hall

In the late 19th century, the local board of health had used offices in Southwood Lane in Highgate, which had been specially built for them in May 1869.[2] After Hornsey had become an urban district in 1894 and then been incorporated as a municipal borough in 1903, civic leaders decided this arrangement was inadequate for their needs and that they would procure a purpose-built town hall. The site selected for the new facility in Broadway had previously been occupied by properties known as Broadway Hall and Lake Villa.[3]

The foundation stone was laid by the mayor, Councillor William Grimshaw, on 29 November 1934.[4] Hornsey Town Hall was the first major UK building to be constructed in the Modernist style. Designed by New Zealand born architect Reginald Uren for the Municipal Borough of Hornsey, the building shows the influence of Hilversum town hall in the Netherlands and the design was awarded a bronze medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects.[5][6] It was built by Gee, Walker & Slater[4] and opened by the Duke and Duchess of Kent on 4 November 1935.[3]

The design involved a symmetrical main frontage with seven bays facing onto a small courtyard in Hatherley Gardens with a wing of six bays enclosing the courtyard to the right; the main frontage featured wide steps leading up to three doorways with a canopy above on the ground floor; there were seven tall windows on the first floor with a wrought-iron balcony in front of the central three windows.[1] A tall tower with a flag pole was erected at the corner of the courtyard.[1] Internally, the principal rooms were the council chamber, the mayor's parlour and the committee room.[1]

The building continued to be the headquarters of the Municipal Borough of Hornsey for much of the 20th century but ceased to be the local seat of government when the London Borough of Haringey was formed in 1965.[3] The town hall was used instead for concerts and even hosted the singer, Freddie Mercury, in February 1971.[7] In 1981, it became one of the first of the buildings constructed in the 1930s to achieve listed building status.[8]


Another view inside the building

After deciding that the town hall was surplus to requirements, the London Borough of Haringey commissioned a generic redevelopment scheme to renovate the town hall and build flats behind it, securing planning permission for that scheme in 2010.[9]

In 2011, the London Borough of Haringey agreed to lease the town hall to Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts on a 125-year lease. Early feasibility studies indicated that the cost of renovating and converting the Grade II* listed building would be £19 million.[10] In June 2012, Mountview was awarded £500,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for initial development work, a sum which was matched with a further £500,000 from Mountview's own reserves.[11] Following a tender procurement process advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union, Mountview appointed architects Purcell to develop plans for the site to include publicly accessible theatres, acting and dance studios, production arts workshops and student welfare facilities.[12]

However, an independent review carried out in 2015 revealed that the cost of developing the site would be greater than originally anticipated and beyond the combined affordability of Haringey Council and Mountview. Mountview committed to finding an alternative site for its new home,[13] but after a suitable site could not be identified in Haringey, Mountview announced a partnership with Southwark London Borough Council to create a new purpose-built home on a town centre site in Peckham in south London.[14]

In November 2015, the London Borough of Haringey offered the town hall on a 125-year lease to anyone who would take on responsibility to develop residential accommodation on the site and allocate some of the proceeds to restoring the building.[15]

A group of local people formed themselves into the Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society in the hope of taking the town hall into community ownership and secured 2,501 signatures on a petition to achieve that objective.[16] However, the London Borough of Haringey felt unable to sell the property at an undervalue and invited the Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society to participate in a commercial bid being organised by an alliance of local community groups known as the Hornsey Town Hall Community Interest Company. The venture was not successful and the Hornsey Town Hall Community Interest Company was dissolved on 6 November 2018.[17]

In October 2019, the Far East International Consortium, a developer selected by Haringey Council, began restoration works on the building.[18] The restoration work, which was carried out to a design by Donald Insall Associates, involved reupholstered leather seating in the council chamber and repairs to the signage, metal balustrading, parquet flooring and terrazzo flooring.[18]

In February 2023, it was announced that the building will reopen in spring 2023 as the Dao by Dorsett Hornsey Town Hall Hotel.[19]

Use as film and TV location[edit]

The modernist style and Art Deco interior of the Town Hall has proved popular as a location for film and TV productions. This includes:

  • regular appearances as the police station in the 2009 gothic crime drama Whitechapel,[20]
  • the 2011 BBC drama series The Hour[20]
  • the British TV drama series Killing Eve (in which it represented a grand Moscow hotel).[21]


  1. ^ a b c d Historic England. "Hornsey Town Hall (1263688)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  2. ^ "The Proposed Town Hall: Background". Hornsey Historical Society. 21 September 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "A Brief History of Hornsey Town Hall". Hornsey Historical Society. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  4. ^ a b Foundation Stone outside the building. 1934.
  5. ^ "Hornsey Town Hall". Modernism in Metroland. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  6. ^ "The Civic Plunge Revisited" (PDF). Twentieth Century Society. 24 March 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Live in the new Bohemian Rhapsody movie filming Location". Hornsey Town Hall. 11 June 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  8. ^ "London's Town Halls". Historic England. p. 103. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Planning Application: Hornsey Town Hall". London Borough of Haringey. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Approval for Hornsey Town Hall handover to Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts". Tottenham Independent. 27 April 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  11. ^ Kate Ferguson (6 June 2012). "Mountview theatre school wins £500k lottery cash for move into Hornsey Town Hall | Heritage | Hampstead Highgate Express". Hamhigh.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Award winning architects to lead Hornsey Town Hall restoration | Haringey Council". Haringey.gov.uk. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  13. ^ Hemley, Matthew (23 January 2015). "Mountview forced to abandon Hornsey Town Hall relocation plans due to cost | News". The Stage. Archived from the original on 31 July 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  14. ^ Snow, Georgia (6 October 2016). "Mountview gets green light for multimillion-pound new Peckham base | News". The Stage. Archived from the original on 29 November 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Hornsey Town Hall Regeneration Project | Delta". Archived from the original on 19 November 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Petition Help save Hornsey Town Hall - campaign for community ownership". opn8.co.uk. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Hornsey Town Hall CIC - Filing history (free information from Companies House)". Beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  18. ^ a b "Restoration works begin at Hornsey Town Hall in north London". Wallpaper. 14 October 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Dao by Dorsett Announces Third Property in North London". Hospitality Net. 23 February 2023. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  20. ^ a b "You can now live in Hornsey Town Hall grounds, one of The Crown's famous filming locations". County Living. 14 November 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  21. ^ "Killing Eve Series 2: The London Locations Which Feature In The TV Show". The Londonist. 15 June 2019. Retrieved 5 April 2020.

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