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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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With regard to these cottages, I might just have posted a picture of one of them here.

And also two to three buildings outside the Hornsey Wood House grounds on both sides of the road.

This map from 1864 may help with that:

Over 1,000 views for a history post. Must be something of a record! (He says shamefacedly, quietly vowing to stop getting carried away!)

Followers of this thread may be interested to dip into an interesting diversion on another thread that's fleshing out some of the 20th century pre-war history of Woodberry Down.

Wow I have enjoyed reading all of this - in one go - and looking at the maps and old photos - really interesting. Enough here for an exhibition?

As Woodberry Down is in Hackney it could be worth taking a trip to Hackney's local history museum/archives.

Great - glad to hear that. 

You'll see from some of my old photos that I went to Hackney archives a few years back to get info and pictures on Manor House. Woodberry Downs wasn't really on my radar at that point, but yes you're quite right. I've been contemplating another visit. It's just a matter of getting round to it now.

An exhibition - phew there's an idea. (What do you think Stephen?) Perhaps enough as part of a bigger one. Let me give that some thought. Thanks.

I stumbled across an even older reference the other day so have added the following to the original post:

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.

So Berrie Down Wood not Woodberry Down - I like it.

All those meadows shown in the map!!!

Re Stephen's Woodbury Town, I just stumbled across an old house sale ad from 1866. It refers to a house called Woodbury Lodge near the junction of Seven Sisters Road and Hanger Lane.

Three years later, the 1869 OS maps shows us the property but offers an alternate spelling.

As foreseen in the 1866 sale ad, the property was quickly demolished for building. Its name was apparently remembered in a couple of streets and a building, showing on the 1893 map.

So, whatever spelling was used, Woodberry was apparently used as a place name from Green lanes in the west, (where the Green Lanes itself was called Woodberry Vale south of Seven Sisters Road, according to the 1869 map), all the way north-east up to the junction of Hanger Lane (St Ann'sRoad) and Seven Sisters Road.  

Shortly before the sale advertised in 1866, an advert was placed noting the death of John Black of Woodbury Lodge:

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