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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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Thanks for your kind comments, Matt. Thanks also for pointing our Berkley Homes' early preference for 'Woodberry Park'. I hadn't realised that was the case when I wrote this post yesterday, but came across the Hackney Masterplan earlier this morning that confirmed your observation. I'll post a link when I get home.

I think it's in the attached somewhere


The Guardian ran a piece about the regen and the developers agreed to a long standing demand of the residents group that it retain the name Woodberry Down. I thought that the advertising on the hoardings was ridiculous and demeaning, considering they were flogging the flats in China anyway.

Good for the tenants.

Interesting piece, thanks John.

To get some sense of what Victorian Woodberry Down was like, take a look first at an excerpt of a late 19th nineteenth century map. You can get a sense of size of the houses. You can see the gardens stretching down to the New River. Look in particular at River House with its 3 acre plot. Click the image to enlarge it.

New River House was put up for sale in 1875. You can get mre of a sense of the place for the sale particulars.



Is surrounded by its own Pleasure Grounds and Lawns sloping down to the New River, and commanding views of the surrounding country, including Muswell Hill, and the Alexandra Palace . The whole comprising 



Is removed front the road, approached by a Carriage Drive, 
is Brick-built, and contains -. 

ON THE GROUND,FLOOR - Entrance and Inner Ilalls, Drawing Room, Dining Rorom, Breakfast Room, Morning Room, small Conservatory, Kitchen, Scullery, Houselmaid's Room. Larder, Dairy, Store Closet, Wine and Coal Cellars.

ON THE FIRST FLoor - And approached by Principal and Secondary Stairs, are Six Bed Rooms, Two Dressing Booms, Bath Room, W.C., Servants' Bed Room, and Lumber Room.


Surround the House, are tastefully laid out, and comprise - Fl, ower Garden, Lawn and Shrubheries, intersected by Pleasant and Shady Walk., and bounded by the New River.

The Stabling and Coach House Premises

Adjoin the House, and comprise Three Stall Stable, and Loose Box, Harness Room, arid Coach House, wilh Two Rooms and Loft over.


ls well,stocked with Fruit Trees, and adjoins the East Reservoir of the New River Company, and herein is a


containing Four Rooms 



No. on Plan  Description Quantity Remarks
    R P  
1 House, Lawn, and Pleasure Grounds 2 1 12  
2 Kitchen Garden, and Cottage 0 2 28  
  Total Acres  3 0 0  

Modern Note.

(A R P are Acres Roods Perches)

1 perch = 5 ½ yards square = 30 ¼ square yards 
16 square perches = 1 rood 
4 roods = 1 acre 

  £ s d
The estate is in the occupation of the Representatives, of the late R. STAGG, Esq., under Lease originally granted for a Term of 21 years, from 25th March, 1862, determinable by the Lessee at the end of tile first 7, 10, or 14 Years, the Lessee paying all Rates and Taxes, at the moderate Rent of 155 0 0

Held by the Vendor for a Term of 98 Year, from 25th March. I 837, of whicl, Term 60 Years were unexpired at Lady Day last, at a Rent of

45 0 0


The Quantities and descriptions given in these Particulars are believed to be correct, and shall be taken as such by the Purchaser.

The Properly is sold subject to all Easements, and to any Rights that the New River Company may have over the ground immediately adjoining the New River, and m tile Lessee's Right, under his Lease.

The strip of Land 30 ft. wide, from A to B on the plan, with Forcing Pits, &c., thereon, has been and is still occupied by the Lessee, but it is not included in his Lease, or in the Lease under which the Vendor holds, or in the present Sale. In the Plan upon the last-mentioned Lease, it is decscribed as "Carriage Road from Lordship Road to Bridge," and the present Purchaser will only be entitled to such Right of Way, or other interest in it, as the Vendor possesses.

I've had some time this morning to look through some of my older books on local History. In my 1878 set of London Old and New, there's plenty on Stoke Newington and Tottenham, but nothing on Manor House or Woodberry Down.

This is all that I found about that area in another book:

The Hanging Wood, most probably the origin of the name Hanger Lane.

Taken from Glimpses of ancient Hackney and Stoke Newington - 1893:

Amherst or Amhurst? Lord Amherst of Hackney, but Amhurst Park. The old name (pre-1966) for the telephone code for Hackney was also AMHerst. CLIssold being the code for Stoke Newington. 

Looks like his focus on the page you reproduce was a bit to the east.

Yes, but that's all there is. I chose this one because it's from around the period (1893) that we're thinking about.

So what do you think that tell us?

It tells us, someone must make a trip to Bruce Castle Museum to see if the early 1880s development plans for Seven Sisters Road, west of St Ann's Road station, can give us any clues.

So many things were happening around that time. Extremely fast building development of the area, the creation of the County of London. The introduction of a Steam Tram service, it's failure and replacement in 1891.

I can give you a word for word account of the Steam Tram and it's failure. But I've no idea why the name Woodbury/Woodberry Town disappeared so quickly. Although it didn't completely, as the usage of 'the Town' was very common right until I left the U.K.

This 1822 map clearly shows that there were already buildings on Woodberry Down and that it was the only east-west connection between Hanger Lane (St Ann's Road) and Stoke Newington Church Street, ten years before Seven Sister's Road was laid out.  The grounds of Hornsey Wood House later became the basis of Finsbury Park. And that it and the Walk in Finsbury Park, were once part of the same thoroughfare.

Interestingly, it also shows that Hanger Lane divided at Green Lanes and that Salisbury Road, as well as St Ann's Road are both parts of the ancient Hanger Lane.

It is also possible to follow the course of the Stonebridge Brook on this map. Also the stream that runs from Hanger Lane to the west still runs under Hermitage Road in front of what was the Oakdale Pub. The channel was renewed in the 1960s. There was also a pond on Hermitage, where Green Court now stands.

Interesting that Woodberry Down led into what is now 'Lordship Road' .. Lordship Road? Manor House?? There must be a connection.



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