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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Some years back local estate agent Reuben Simon spotted an old Hornsey boundary marker in a skip and gave it to me. Having researched it a little and after establishing that it came from the grounds of the old Queen's Head, Harringay, I gave it to Bruce Castle Museum for safe-keeping. 

Now another one (pictured above) has opped up for auction. As far as I can calculate, this one would have stood in the gardens of where 78 Wilton Road and 83 and 85 Greenham Road N10 are today.

I found the old list of Hornsey Parish Boundary Markers from 1888. The page with N0, 395 is below. A map of the location I think it was at is below that, showing the 1893 OS map superimposed on a modern map. Do you think I have the location right? It's on sale in Southgate Auction Rooms on Monday.

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Where did you find the list Hugh? Is it available online anywhere? 

It’s not. I’ll email you a copy.

Hugh, I was the lucky winner, & no. 395 is now in my garden room awaiting attention. I was thinking of painting it in Hammerite dark blue, which is supposed to take to rusty metal. Picture of no. 2 attached, which is still in situ & looks good in blue, I think. As I'm a resident of Hornsey, on Priory Road I thought planting it firmly in the garden would ensure it finding a home at least until I pop my clogs.

I would also be very interested in the list of the locations, it sounds as if there could be an interesting circular walk to be compiled.


Delighted it’s gone to a Horsey home. You’ve just joined: how did you come across the auction? Happy to send you the list. 

Just following Southgate Auctions, as per normal. If the marker had been restored somewhat it might have had more attention.

Is there any estimate of how many Hornsey Parish markers remain?

Also I'm curious as to what precipitated them being placed in position in 1887 - it would have been a very expensive undertaking, 400 or so individually numbered cast columns.

Glad you found HoL after your purchase, then.

I'm no expert on boundary markers, but I do know that marking the boundaries and processing round them once a year to 'beat the bounds' has a long history. Originally, it was to stop encroachment by a neighbouring borough, but I suppose by the end of the 19th century it was more ceremonial than anything. 

As to existing boundary markers, a chap called Mike put this Google map together which shows all the boundary markers he knows of in the borough. I can't vouch for it, but I have no reason to doubt it. Mike's interest extends across the capital and he has published his findings on his website. He has a London-wide version of his map embedded on the website

I've been surprised at the number of people who've contacted me over the years who seem to be avid boundary marker fans. 

PS: Gilbert Robins (named on your marker) was one of the key members of the Hornsey Conservatives and his house, Rathcole, on Tottenham Lane was one of the centres of Hornsey Conservatism in the later 19th century. 

Thanks Hugh, Mike has certainly covered the ground, a surprisingly large number of markers still in place. If you get a chance to find that list would appreciate it.

No 395 took a couple of hours of power wire brushing to get the rust off, & is now protected with Hammerite smooth blue, which is very resilient stuff. Haven't managed to get it all off my hands yet.

Well done. Looks very smart. 

1887 perhaps was a very important year ? It was Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

Good for you, very interesting acquisition.  Hope you "keep your clogs on" for many years to come to ensure its wellbeing.

Hugh, that’s good research and a good story, and I don’t doubt that you are right in identifying that lovely marker post as one from the boundary running east-west between Wilton Road and Greenham Road, N10. In case you didn’t know, had it been a hundred or so yards further east it would have been marking a different and more extraordinary boundary, that which defined what was Clerkenwell Detached. Maybe this subject has already been explored by this group, but assuming it hasn’t, let me continue.

I still find it astonishing to think that a small area of what is now Muswell Hill was for many years administered as part of Clerkenwell in central London. From c1160 to 1539 it belonged to the Priory of St Mary, Clerkenwell and then part of Clerkenwell Parish up to 1901, when it was transferred to Hornsey. The boundary of what was Clerkenwell Detached can be reasonably well identified – its northern limit was near what is now Goodwins Vale and went south along the line of Colney Hatch Lane until the top of Muswell Hill and then east towards Alexandra Park, and then back north across Dukes Avenue, defining a long triangle centred on the site of the original Mus-Well. Many of the original Muswell Hill houses have their first deeds identifying their location as within of this triangle.

Ages ago I did some original research to identify the exact location of some of the Clerkenwell Detached boundary markers. It is unfinished work and I would be pleased to share it with anyone who wants to pursue it further.

Please, I too would like an email copy of your list. Thanks, Colin

How interesting !



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