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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Over on another thread, a discussion started about the origins of the Woodberry Down name. This happened to coincide with some occasional research I've started doing recently on the Woodberry Down area.

Till relatively recently I'd always thought that Woodberry Down was a council confection to sugar the pill of a fairly brutal looking council estate. It doesn't take much rooting around to discover that this was a very incorrect assumption.

In fact, in extreme contrast to its character for the second half of the twentieth century, Woodberry Down was developed as a home to the wealthy. It included some huge houses with gardens stretching from Seven Sisters Road down to the New River. Here's a potted history I added to Wikipedia some years back. 

That entry ends explaining the radical change the area experienced about seventy years ago:

With the increasing suburbanisation of the area, mainly for the middle and lower middle classes, many of the original families had moved out by 1895 and others were being replaced by poorer people in 1913. Social decline continued, until in 1954 the district was inhabited mainly by students, foreigners, and the working class, with most houses containing four or five families and all in decay

You'll note that this text is on the entry for Manor House, London, rather than for Woodberry Down. This is another classic London story of 'What's my neighbourhood's name'.

In Victorian times, the area from Manor House Junction, north and south to the New River (as it loops around) and east as far as South Tottenham was widely known as Woodberry Down. After the building of the council estate given the name "Woodberry Down Estate" however, 'Woodberry Down' fell out of fashion as a name for the wider area, the majority of which had been subsumed by the estate anyway.

With the 'regeneration' of the area, Berkley Homes have clearly decided that they like the name and so it is experiencing something of a revival. I was keen to learn if this was just property developer's hype or whether there were any local roots to the name. So I started digging around.

The earliest reference I have to the history of the name so far is from The Survey And Valuation of The Manor of Stoke Newington in 1649. I found the following two excerpts:

One parcel of Pasture Ground, called by the name of Berrie Downs, in the occupation of Mr. Leverett, abutting on Mr. Chace's land on the north, containing by estimation 21 acres, which we value, to be worth per ann. £35.

One parcel of Wood Ground, called by the name of Berrie Down Wood, in the occupation of Colonel Alexander Popham, abutting on the New River on  the north, containing by estimation 5 acres which we value to be worth per ann 35s.

The next reference is from a 1734 map of the demesne lands of Stoke Newington Manor. It shows 'Wood Berry Downs Meadow'. Next to it it shows 'South Berry Meadow' and 'North Berry Meadow'. The common name here obviously was 'Berry'. Fascinatingly for me, ancestry.co.uk seems to think that 'berry' would have referred a 'fortified manor house'. 

As in many old maps, 'north is not up'. In this case east is at the top of the page.

With regards to the other part of the name, 'down', my understanding is that it refers to an area of rolling, grassy, treeless upland used for grazing.

An 1844 map suggests that a century after the demesne map the wider area had taken on the 'Woodberry Down' name.

Excerpts from old Ordnance Survey maps showing the northern part of the old borough of Stoke Newington

So Woodberry Down certainly seems to have authentic local roots. As to 'Manor House', I've always been interested in how tube and train stations get their names. This case has proved the tipping point for me to actually try and get some hard information on this. I asked StephenBln if he could help and within a few hours his network is pointing towards the LU Design & Heritage Manager. So it sounds like we might get closer to an answer. I'm sure that one of us will report back on the findings.

In the meantime however, it seems that whether by intention or accident, London Underground's naming of the tube station as Manor House may not have been far off the historical mark.

See some images of old Woodberry Down here.

And of course, this is a great opportunity to remind you that on 1st May. the London Wildlife Trust is re-opeinung Woodberry Wetlands as an all-singing all-dancing wetlands nature reserve. Information about free opening weekend tours here.

Tags for Forum Posts: manor house / woodberry down, stonebridge brook

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There are three dots on the map, inside those strips, near where a corner is formed from the ends of Woodberry Down (old lane, still existing today) and Lordship Lane (later 'Lordship Road'). The dots represent buildings.

Here's one thing I don't quite understand: On the above 1822 map, Seven Sisters Road is not shown at all. It is however shown on a map titled 'Stoke Newington in 1848' (see http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol8/pp143-151). But in the 1907 reminiscences of 'D.D' reproduced here, the road is described as being in the 1850s 'a rural track'. You would think that if it was built from scratch around the 1840s it would have been a proper road. Perhaps 'D.D' was getting mixed up somehow (remembering events and places from around 50 years before) and the 'rural track' was something different.

Seven Sisters Road was laid out in 1832-33.

The dots could be houses, Dubmill. I'd wondered at first if they were tree symbols, the same as shown in Harringay Park. It all depends on the precise date of the map.

The road connecting Hornsey Wood Lane with Lordship Lane wasn't built till just after 1810. At that point it was called New Road, and so it remained for some years to come. By the 1820s it became subsumed into Lordship Road. In 1813 there were only 31 houses on the whole of the demesne and none of those were on what became Woodberry Down (Road).

The first houses weren't built on New Road till a bit later. I've seen an 1814 map showing one house at the junction of New Road and Lordship Road. Given the reliability of the source that confirms there were no houses in 1813, we might assume that the first house was built on Woodberry Down (Road) in 1814. It may have been the first of the four 'Woodberry Down Cottages', detached houses which were built on on the south side of Woodberry Down by 1829.

So perhaps what we see on the 1822 map is the first two of those. I think the third dot, the most southerly one, may be a tree. If we take those two northerly dots as houses and the third as a tree, this would fit well with slightly later maps. 

Thanks for the clarification. But what about Lordship Road (marked on older map as 'Lordship Lane')? Assuming it is at least slightly older than New Road (later 'Woodberry Down'), until 1810 it would have been a dead end at its northerly end. Have you got an idea of the chronology of it and why it existed in the first place? (presumably to provide access to cottages at northern end, but according to what you say there was nothing there until after 1813).

The 1813 source is primary, The history and antiquities of the parish of Stoke Newington, written by William Robinosn in 1820. So I tend to think of it as being reliable. 

The Cary map of 1786 shows Lordship Lane as a track rather than a road continuing north and recrossing the New River, ending on Hanger(s) Lane (St Ann's Road) to the east of what is now Blackboy Lane. Another map shows it continuing to West Green, then a relatively important settlement.

Perhaps the improvement of the other roads rendered it unneccesary.

OK, I get it now: the 1822 map only shows roads created/upgraded to modern standard.

Here's a possible reason that the track stopped being used. Hermitage House, on Hermitage Road, was built right over its path. The 1864 map shows what I think is a little remnant of the track remaining just to the north of the house's grounds and ending a few hundred feet later. The field boundary shown to the south of the house seems to follow the line of the earlier track. 

It seems like it wasn't ever a right of way. 

I think you're right. Is the whole of the above map available online? I'd like to see it.

Try Mapco. They probably have it.

Dubmill / Stephen, here's another map to conjure with (sorry not very clear). Cruchley's map of 1847 shows the Seven Sisters Road east of Manor House as "Woodberry Villas". This was the 111th edition of a map that was first published in 1827. It was updated with each new edition, though of course it's difficult to say how comprehensively. 

This is pre 1868 I guess, as the THJ Railway is not yet shown. Once again, it shows a small community at what is now the boating lake in Finsbury Park and some villas at the east end of Woodberry Down.  

I bet there are still footprints of these buildings near the boating lake in the park. Untouched now for over one hundred years. Would be very interesting if a some excavations could take place.

It shouldn't be forgotten, that this part of Middlesex was a highly wooded area, as many local names suggest Tottenham Wood, Wood Green, as well as Wood Berry Down, as well as the many Groves. I do wonder what the 'Down' actually refers to? The area that later, if for only a short while, became known as Woodbury Town?  It definitely has something to do with the roll down from Hackney/Stoke Newington to Tottenham.

Until the 1960s, there was a very nice street of houses of 'better standard', built around 1880 on the site of what is now Edgecot Grove, known as Woodville Grove.  The name Woodville never seemed in keeping with the street names in that area, which were all Patriotic and Political:

Victoria Crescent, Kent Road, St George's Road, Elizabeth Road, Southey Road, Russell Road, Braemar Road

There were two public houses on this Devlopment, The Victoria (St Ann's Road) and The William the Conqueror (Southey Road). 

Woodville interests me as it could also be a reference to Woodbury Town and was perhaps condisdered part of it, or at least its boundary.

BTW, the name of part of Seven Sister's Road as Woodberry Villas is not uncommon. Terraces or rows of cottages often had their own names, but these gradually disappeared with time, mostly to clarify their locations.



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