Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Back in 2008, having researched Edward Gray's art collection, I put together a limited virtual gallery of his collection

Gray's full collection of 134 pictures was fully catalogued and described as one of the best collections of art in private hands. 

Rubens' Portrait of a Man as the God Mars will go under the hammer in New York on May 17 with an estimate of $20,000,000 to $30,000,00. 

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Hugh

Can you just give a very short history of Edward Gray for those who have never heard of him?

I'm assuming he lived in Harringay but when and where if at all possible.

Many thanks

Louisa

Certainly.

Edward Gray was the guy who built Harringay House at the top of the hill between where Hewitt and Allison Roads now are. I've provided an overlay map of the house in my history of Harringay House gardens (pdf version also supplied).

Born into a wealthy family of Tottenham quakers in 1751, he became very very wealthy. In 1789, Gray bought a chunk of land in the middle of where the Ladder now is, where between 1789 and 1792, he built Harringay House. No known image of it survives, but I have described it in the gardens piece.

He was the equivalent of a multi-millionaire in today's language. As well as his house, he spent a fortune on his garden (when gardening was the preserve of the rich) and on building up fabulous collections of art, books, china & porcelain and wine. At his death, his art collection was described as being the best in private hands at the time. HIs collection included many old masters.

He made his money mainly as a cloth merchant. Initially heading up the linen drapers' firm Gray Freeman & Co, of Cornhill, he set up  Gray, Gilbee and Whitworth of Leadenhall Street in about 1820. Through that company he owned the Seaman's Valley plantation in Jamaica, which was also an income stream for him.

In 1797, his younger brother Walker Gray commissioned John Nash to build Grovelands House in Southgate, which still stands today and is better known as the place that the wealthy detox  - Priory Clinic.

Egerton Skipwith, one of his descendants, added a grainy photo of the family portrait of Edward Gray to HoL back in 2010. Although since copied by other local historians, it is still the only publicly known image of Gray. It's worth reading the comments below where a Tottenham-based descendant of one of Gray's enslaved workers introduced herself to Mr Skipwith!

Thanks very much Hugh for all this information.   I did wonder about slave plantations when I read that he had land in the Caribbean. 

Very interesting thanks again.

Louisa

Really interesting Hugh, thank you, would love to know more about the encounter between the descendants!

As far as I’m aware, it went no further than the brief exchange on these pages.

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