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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

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From "The Manor House," where Seven Sisters Road crosses Green Lanes, the way lies straight to Harringay and Hornsey. Harringay, I learn from the local guide, "is and has been for many years a suburb with a distinct individuality of its own. ... Altogether, Harringay may be described as a bright and cheerful suburb." In possessing an individuality of its own it does not differ from any other suburb. I confirm the" bright and cheerful" ; though, if you come to Harringay by train, you will alight at a station which it shares with Green Lanes, and the view from the platform may damp your simple faith in guide-books. But views from stations are not a fair test of a town's charm. Think of the view of London from Euston or Liverpool Street.
At Harringay the scenery of Green Lanes suffers a change. It becomes a Grand Parade with solid shops and good-looking shoppers. Harringay seems to be mildly prosperous. It stands between the showy and the ignoble. Its note is bright respectability, in pleasant contrast to the flat respectability of Hampstead and St. John's Wood. As we saw only babies and women on the Grand Parade, I assumed that the male inhabitants work hard in the city all day.

Inspecting their women, I fancied the men to be clerks, senior clerks, chartered accountants, and other types of the small fry of E.C. The women seemed to be the decent little wives of men who worked at work that need not wait on inspiration, ploddingly, and took pride in their homes and gardens, and "put a little bit by."

One thing I like about Harringay, and that is the example in local patriotism that it sets to other suburbs. Half of it belongs to Tottenham, the other half to Hornsey, the boundary line intersecting a dozen short roads of villas.

But do you think the inhabitants of those villas will rank themselves with those of Tottenham or Hornsey? Not likely. They are of Harringay. The guide-book was right: it is a suburb with a distinct individuality of its own.

Proud of its lineage, proud of its appearance in thirteenth-century records, it declines to surrender its identity to those who claim lordship over it. Before Tottenham and Hornsey were, Harringay was so often mentioned in ancient documents as to receive the honour of being spelt in six different ways - sure proof of importance. Indeed, the name Hornsey came into currency only through a corruption of Haringhea and Haringey; and it is therefore fit that the stout fellows of Harringay should defend the style and identity of their venerable village from the encroachments of that modern upstart Hornsey.

At Harringay, where is now Finsbury Park, stood that Hornsey Wood House, famous in the early nineteenth century as a kind of rustic Cremorne. George Crabbe once spent the night in its grounds with a copy of Tibullus, being without means of obtaining either a lodging for the night or a coach back to town. Its eel pies were good and cheap, inducements which would lure any poet to the house and lure his last coins from his pocket.

At Harringay, too, Gloucester was met by the Lord Mayor of London on his entry into the city with the little Edward, whom he had even then arranged to murder in the Tower; and in Hornsey churchyard lies Samuel Rogers. That is all I know of the past story of the district. I wonder whether the Harringans, with all their fervour for the perpetuation of their name, know more.

From Thomas Burke, The Outer Circle : rambles in remote London, George Allen & Unwin, 1921

So what on earth is it about this name thing that endures through three centuries?

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Replies to This Discussion

"Harringay was so often mentioned in ancient documents as to receive the honour of being spelt in six different ways - sure proof of importance"!
Four variations (Harringay/Haringay/Haringey/Harringey) still to be seen on Green Lanes to this day.
In fact Burke was writing about 15 years prior to the publication of Stephen Madge's opus on the etymology of the name Harringay (a work 35 years in the making). Madge found 162 recorded variations of Harringay (See my history of Harringay overview on Wikipedia)
Mr Burke was writing at the point where I had just appeared as a twinkle in my father's eye, he and my mother being just on the verge of marriage. Burke's third paragraph ('Inspecting the women....)is an uncannily precise description of them both. My father was 'something in the CITY' (as distinct from SOMETHING in the city'), and my mother was a Kentish maid well-taught in matters of prudent economy. Indeed, I wonder if Mr Burke may have met them in his wanderings around Harringay!
Arthur Astrop
Hugh, I accuse you of writing this to further your modern crusade in the name of the Harringay meme.

I know, you'd think so wouldn't you. No idea why this seems to have been a constant theme through Harringay's history. I came across accounts in the local press from the late 19th century telling the story of the local ratepayers' association resisting attempts from the Borough of Hornsey to change the name from Harringay to Haringey. Odd how local authorities persist in wanting to sweep the name away. Strange how we locals keep resisting.

Shouldn't "the stout fellows of Harringay" now force the witterers of Haringey to include the Burke passage in their official Website ?
Don' t tempt me.
I like the good looking shoppers bit! (Though not so keen on the decent little wives .. )
We Harringanas must strive to maintain our bright respectability and yah boo to Hampstead in their flatness.
As The Harringay Housewife, I try to achieve both goals mentioned by Alison although fall down, perhaps, on decent (I am very short so that at least I manage little).
What's a Harringana Liz? A Harringay banana? If so, I am no Harringana.
No you're a man so you're a Harringan. Harringana is the feminine version. If you are still mystified, re read the last line carefully. Nothing to do with bananas.



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