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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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Have you read this book in its entirety? I just have. It's a very funny trip around North, East and South London and well worth a read for its views on Tottenham, Wood Green , Stoke Newington and other neighbouring areas.

As well as his own views on the delights of Harringay above, Burke offers a couple of quick sketches including this one of an eating house in a side street of Harringay. Where do you think the "side street to a little corner public-house" was?

"I can eat eggs and bacon at any time of day or night," I said. " But they don't seem to eat publicly at Harringay. Can you perceive through the eye or the nostrils any manifestation of the existence of the table d'hote, the One-and-sixpenny Ordinary, or the Good Pull Up For Carmen ? " 

His little eyes flashed from point to point. " Looks like a wash-out," he sighed. " What's that, though — over there ? " He pointed down a side street to a little corner public-house. " They got something stuck in the window." We went to it, and in its small window was an almost illegible but promising menu, and I deciphered saute potatoes, to which I am always inclined. The odour of liver-and-bacon and fried potatoes and stewed steak hovered about its doorway. We entered the tiny saloon bar, and took a seat at one of two long tables, and ordered. Above the clangour of knives and forks and beer engines and cash-registers rose the voices of the waitresses and the landlady at the kitchen lift.
" Now, Bessie, liver-bacon- 'n-sooty potatoes. That yours ? "
" No, mum. I had mashed with my one."
" 'Ere, Evelyn, 'ere's your boiled leg. D' you 'ave suet with it ? "
" No, mum. I got baked and sprouts on that."
" Below, there. . . . Suet coming back. Make it baked and sprouts.
"Bessie, you got a rabbit following your liver ? "

I just came across this book elsewhere- he's on the ball with Wood Green (1921) -

"The beauties of Wood Green are not to be taken in a random eyeful. Rather, a loving search must be made for them. The careless, bringing nothing, will bear nothing away. Entering from Green Lanes, your first impression, at that end of the borough, is of sad efficiency. There is an air of tarnished newness about it that depresses you. It seems raw, and a little blown upon. There are no flies on Wood Green in the figurative sense, but at the corner by the Wellington one feels that the flies of North London have often gathered there."  

Yes indeed. We were Harringay-ites. 



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