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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Does anyone know about the history and recent sale of Hornsey Parish Hall, also named Hornsey National Hall, which is on Hornsey High Street on the same side as The Great Northern Railway Tavern? I've walked passed it many times over the years and even managed to sneak a peek inside when it was being redecorated a couple of years agao but have never found any background information on it as far as history or recent use goes. Anyone know anything? 

Photo: Julian Osley / Hornsey National Hall, 31 Hornsey High Street, London. N8 / CC BY-SA 2.0

Tags for Forum Posts: hornsey parish hall/national hall

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For my part, Hannah, I posted this some while back (on the former Harringay Business Watch group), but I'm afraid I have no new news. Perhaps someone else will. What I can tell you is that the most recent planning application was submitted 5 years ago, which tells us something and nothing.

Thanks Hugh, I'll keep an eye on it and keep this updated if there's news.

In the 70s it was named as St Mary's Hornsey and was the Parish church for the 'Vilage'.  I went there a couple of times to worship.  It seemed to be a substitute for the real church across the road which had fallen down or been hit by a bomb, or something.   It was quite a good interior for worship.  I understand it was combined with the brick church at the foot of Muswell Hill/Cranley Gardens and thence fell into desuetude, being used only for the occasional wedding.


There are signs up saying it has been sold. I think it may have had a Masonic conection in recent years ( The Magic Flute ) and could be hired for functions - dinners etc.
A few details in this file.  Nothing much recent.  Maybe Ken Gay who wrote the article in the Independent knows more.

My summary is as follows:

            The red brick Hornsey National Hall and Constitutional Club, designed by John Farrar and built by Thomas Docwra, was opened by the Hornsey National Hall Company in High Street in 1888. The building, on three floors included a hall for public meetings, and accommodated the Hornsey constitutional club, founded in 1889, meetings of the Primrose League, a new Conservative Association, and the Middlesex (3rd) Rifle Volunteers, until around 1910 when it became the National Hall Cinema. The Hornsey National Hall Company, under the chairmanship of John Farrer, wound itself up in 1916, and this is when the building was bought and used as the Parish Hall. It served as a church for a few years after 1969 when the old parish church (1889-1927), which had existed beside the new parish church (1832-1969), was demolished to make way for St Mary’s infant school. The congregation of St Mary’s amalgamated with that of St George’s in Cranley gardens, which became the new Parish Church. Until recently the building was used as a venue called The Magic Flute which presumably reflects some previous Masonic connection.

Thank you all for the historical background, we'll have to keep an eye on what happens to it next.

Latest news is that the building has been acquired by the Turkish Religious Foundation whose entry on the Open Charities website says they were formed to

enlighten immigrants of Turkish origin about their religion, and provide practical religious services in Turkish mosques and help them to achieve good and harmonious relations with the members of the British society.

My understanding is that a a religious community centre with prayer rooms is being established in the old National Hall.

Members may be interested in what has been happening to the former Parish / St Mary’s Church Hall since November which me and other local residents and members of Hornsey Historical Society have been raising with the council’s Planning Department.

On 8/12/11 I emailed planningcustomercare@haringey.gov.uk

Can you advise me please about the above building most recently known as The Magic Flute Banqueting Hall, recently sold, and is undergoing major work (external scaffolding, external brickwork being chiselled out, interior rooms being worked on) by the new owners. (I took photos today). A local shopkeeper was told by a customer that work has been going on for 2-3 weeks (at 8/12/11) and it is to be turned into a mosque.

It is on the Haringey listed buildings register as of merit

High Street (north side) Hornsey N8 No. 31 (former St Mary’s Parish Hall)  11 June 1973

My search of Haringey council Planning website shows no planning application to undertake any work on the building since 2006 (by previous owners).

Do the new owners have to make a planning application for any work on this listed building?

Have they applied?

Has planning permission been granted?

Are the council aware that this work is going on?

Should local residents be consulted about work on such an iconic and historically important building?

Any information you can provide will be welcome please.

I got a reply the same day saying

I have check our planning system and there are no new application in regards to this address (31 High Street) which would require planning permission. This building is locally listed and I have forward your email on to planning enforcement who shall investigate this enquiry further.

If you wish to contact planning enforcement, you can email them at planning.enforcement@haringey.gov.uk

 Planning Enforcement sent this info

 The case is now logged and can be found by reference COU/ 2011/00692.

 This can be accessed from the following web site: https://eforms.secure.haringey.gov.uk/ufs/ufsmain?esessionid=C05BA4...

On 20/12/11 I again emailed, as work was ongoing

Can you advise me (and others who are concerned and interested in what is happening to this listed building) what action has so far been taken to stop this unauthorised work?

Their reply was

Thank you for your e-mail.  We have logged your case and still investigating.  You should soon get a response very soon.

On 22/12/11 I noted

Windows now boarded over from inside. Lots of chiselled out brickwork at front and side of building

On 29/12/11 I noted that there was no change of status to the Planning Enforcement website entry

On 12/1/12

I had not heard from Planning so visited the building

I saw a workman on the front of the building carrying out work around windows

2 men (one smartly dressed white man, one Turkish looking, a workman by his clothes) outside the front door talking.

when they saw me taking photos they went inside.

lights on inside and workmen doing stuff inside.

I emailed Planning again

please advise what is happening regarding unauthorised work still taking place on this listed Farrer building before the damage is irretrievable. I list what actions I have so far taken

I am increasingly concerned that despite unauthorised work being carried out since late November 2011 and reported by me on 8th December workmen are still chiselling masonry and brickwork outside and demolishing internally on this listed building.

It is far from apparent what, if anything, the council are doing to address this issue. I would appreciate an update please.

The reply was This case is still open and ongoing.

On 16/1/12 I again emailed Planning

You may be interested in what happened when I went to check on what is happening here today.

I saw no one outside working but took a couple of photos of piles of bricks that weren’t there before.

As windows now all boarded up not possible to see if anyone working inside.

Suddenly a man appeared beside me (same man I saw last week talking to one of the workmen).

“Are you taking photos?” he demanded (in a strong accent – possibly Turkish).

I asked what it had to do with him and he again said “you take photos”.

I said I was as that is perfectly lawful and permitted in public places in this country.

I asked why he was interested.

“I own building” he said.

I asked him why he was having unapproved work done on a listed building when he had not applied for planning application.

“I not understand English”.

I said that did not surprise me as he clearly was carrying out unlawful work and did not want to discuss it.

I went to walk away and he started to follow me.

Then a man sitting outside the café next door started asking me what I was doing.

I told him to mind his own business. He was clearly a workman.

The smart dressed man then sat down with him and resumed his coffee.

I see NO evidence that work has been stopped by the council and appears to be continuing inside where no one can see.

Whilst I appreciate your reply this morning it actually gives me no confidence that anyone from the council has done anything to stop this work going on to the detriment of this listed building

I also contacted the Hornsey Journal, the Crouch End and Hornsey Conservation Advisory Area Committee and local councillors

Other residents concerned about the lack of Planning Application and permission for structural work on this listed building have also been in touch with council departments.

Today, AFTER the Hornsey Journal and local councillors contacted them, I got this reply, from a different member of staff in Planning Enforcement

Your email has been forwarded to me. Thank you for all your helpful information. You are right about the repointing of the brick work. We are also monitoring the site closely as there has been a lot of interest and today will be serving a Planning Notice to find out more about the proposed use.

At the moment there is no breach regarding what has been advised as the use as a place of worship for the Turkish community is a D1 use which falls under the same use as the previous church hall.

If there are any further developments I will let you know.

The owners have already been to the Council for a meeting with Building Control in relation to ensuring that all the works are carried out in accordance with building regulations. We will continue to monitor the site and feel free to contact me for further clarifications.

Regards Abiola Oloyede Planning Enforcement Officer Haringey Council Planning Enforcement Level 6 River Park House 225 High Road Wood Green N22 8HQ  020 8489 5593 Mob: 07870 157 838

So I emailed my original contact

Following my communication with local press I have finally received a more detailed response from Planning Enforcement although this fails to address my concerns about unapproved structural work being carried out on a listed building.

I feel the person who has replied to me may have missed the point of my previous communications so I will reiterate them below.

1.             I am confused as to the reference to pointing – that was not an issue I raised but information I passed on from another concerned resident. This completely avoids dealing with the issue I raised of large chunks of brickwork being chiselled from the front exterior of the listed Parish Hall which I reported weeks ago and evidence of this is still visible around the building

2.             I am pleased to hear that you are “monitoring the site closely” but would like to know exactly when and how this has occurred as there is no evidence for this on your website where Allegation, not Investigation, is shown as your action and you have made no mention of this in your previous replies to me.

3.             it is interesting that it is only today, after the local press have contacted you, that any action from Planning Enforcement has taken place – i.e. Planning Notice. Why was this not done in early December when I first reported this matter? Is this a public notice pasted onto the building that anyone can see or something I will have to take your word for?

4.             as there is no Planning Application how could you know what the planned use will be? Surely that is the purpose of an Application so that the council AND the public can see what is proposed and comment as they choose?

5.             you state there is no breach as to planned use of the building - why no mention of breaching rules on structural work on a listed building - just change of use which has never been the thrust of my enquiries?

6.             I hope you are not trying to imply I have other motive rather than a resident with genuine concerns over a listed building regardless of its intended use.

Finally, why is no Planning Application required for structural (internal and external) building works on a building listed by Haringey council for many years? What is the purpose of Listing if an owner can do what they like to the structure?

I now await their reply.

Separately one of our councillors received this info from Planning - There are no breaches yet because it does not need Planning permission and that it will be a religious community centre with prayer rooms rather than a mosque.

I would urge anyone concerned that listed building status does not seem to mean much to the council (and a new owner can destroy a listed building without fear of any action by them)  to contact  planning.enforcement@haringey.gov.uk

If only we had sent Lesley to Byzantium / Constantinople / Istanbul in 360, 1453 and 1931 we'd still have Hagia Sophia in its pristine intactness, but we wouldn't have the Mosque or Museum. Can anyone trace Sultan Mehmet's 1453 Planning Application Reference? But history tells us that by 2589AD/CE the Hornsey Parish Hall/National Hall/Magic Flute will be a museum curated by a Hinshelwood. Maybe we could post again on it then? 

On second thoughts, glad to see Hannah and Lesley have been spared further byzantine journeys through Hornsey's living history and the Council's planning office, now that like a reincarnated Yeats they're both 

"set upon a golden bough to sing

To lords and ladies of Byzantium

Of what is past, or passing, or to come"

in the story of Hornsey's National Hall / Parish Hall / Magic Flute / Mount Ararat

now all "hammered gold and gold enamelling

As in the gold mosaic of a wall

To keep a drowsy Emperor or HOL poster awake etc "

For what it's worth - this from Wikipedia


In England and Wales, the management of listed buildings is the responsibility of local planning authorities and the Department for Communities and Local Government (i.e. not DCMS which originally listed the building). There is a general principle that listed buildings are put to ‘appropriate and viable use’ and recognise that this may involve the re-use and modification of the building.[7] However, listed buildings cannot be modified without first obtaining Listed Building Consent through the relevant local planning authority[36]

Carrying out unauthorised works to a listed building is a criminal offence and owners can be prosecuted. A planning authority can also insist that all work undertaken without consent be reversed at the owner’s expense.



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