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Title: Reminiscences of Tottenham

Author: Harriet Couchman

Release date: October 14, 2018 [eBook #58097]

Language: English

Credits: Transcribed from the 1909(?) Crusha & Son edition by David Price


Transcribed from the 1909(?) Crusha & Son edition by David Price, email

Public domain book cover


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— BY —

Mrs. J. W. Couchman.

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Price, 2/6.


Having lived in this parish all my life I have been repeatedly asked by my friends to write a short account of my early recollections of Tottenham.

I feel a little diffident at doing so, and this being my first attempt at committing my recollections to paper I trust my readers will pardon any mistakes and omissions, and that it will be as interesting to some of them to read as it has been to me to write.

My father was born at Palmers Green in 1798; my mother was born in this parish in the year 1800.  They were married at All Hallows Church in 1825, and continued to reside in Tottenham; my father died in the year 1866, and my mother at the ripe old age of 94, in the year 1894.

I can now see in my mind’s eye the dear old village as it was in my childhood, surrounded by meadows, cornfields, and pretty country lanes and a great number of stately elm and other trees.  It hardly seems possible that the population was then so small that all the inhabitants were known to one another, and the appearance of strangers was at once a matter of speculation as to who they were.


John William Couchman,
Civil Engineer,
16, Pembury Road,

p. 5Tottenham,

75 years ago, was a very pretty quiet village, most of the houses were good and old-fashioned; there were several mansions, but very few shops.  It was a favourite resort for Royalty, and has always been considered a very healthy neighbourhood.  Some of the inhabitants lived to a very advanced age.

The highway was measured in 1611; it was two miles and a quarter long.  Mile stones were then erected.

The parish was divided into different Manors, called Pembrokes, Bruces, Daubeneys, Mockings, and Dovecotes or Ducketts.

Tottenham Manor was sold at auction, 10th April, 1805.  Sir William Curtis, Baronet, purchased it for £11,000.  There were then 38 copyhold tenants.  A Court Leet was held every year at the Old Plough Inn, High-road, and anyone wishing to be admitted attended there for that purpose.  This was discontinued about the year 1860, as there was not sufficient homage to summon.  All business since then has been transacted at the office of the Steward of the Manor.

I remember hearing my father say one of the homage (a very old gentleman, Mr. Philip Hunt), was late for the dinner.  He explained he had nearly reached his destination when he thought his poor horse looked tired, so he took him home and afterwards walked there.

There was a considerable amount of waste land at that time, and the turf was p. 6sold at 5s. per hundred, 2s. 6d. for the order, and 2s. 6d. for cutting—10s. per hundred.  This has been discontinued for a great many years.


I purpose commencing here, where the Old Turnpike House and Gate stood, by the pond called “Craven’s Pond” or “Leg of Mutton Pond,” because of its shape, on which there used to be several beautiful swans.  It was a great source of delight to the young people, when frozen over, by affording an opportunity for skating and sliding to many.

A large house stood on the estate called “Craven Lodge,” where the owner, Mr. Arthur Craven, resided.  It was afterwards occupied by Mr. Samuel Morley.  Perhaps it may be interesting to mention that Garibaldi came to Tottenham, at his invitation, and delivered an address on the “Grievances of Italy.”

There were two small houses on the top of the hill, one of which was used as a Post Office; then came the old-fashioned Turnpike Inn, which has been pulled down and another built on the site.  The two small old shops are still in existence, but the large house belonging to, and in occupation of, Mr. Edward Sievieking, is no longer there, the land being now all built over.


There were a few old cottages beyond Mr. Sievieking’s garden, and on the opposite side of the road Sumpter’s livery stables; then fields on both sides down to p. 7the River Lea, where there were coke ovens always brightly burning.  There were several large houses lying back from the High-road, Stamford Hill, with front gardens on the waste land; of these only two remain.

There was a mansion standing next, where Mr. Fowler Newsam resided for many years.  There was a very pretty walk round the shrubbery and garden, the estate containing altogether about eight acres of land; the grounds were enclosed in cleft oak park palings, with lodge at entrance.  There was a mounting stone on the gravel path outside, and it is not many years ago that it was taken away.

Mr. and Mrs. Newsam were most kind and generous, and their great delight in life was in doing good and giving pleasure to others.  I always remember their enjoyable hay-making parties; one can now hardly understand the quiet spot it was then.  Their death was a very great loss to the parish.

When the turnpike was removed from the top of the Hill, a toll bar was placed across the road at the corner of this estate, but was not there long; it was taken away when all turnpikes were done away with.

Stamford Hill was crossed by a bridge called “Stone Bridge,” which was about 26 feet high from the crown of the road to the top of the parapet.  Now the South Tottenham railway crosses the road there.

The next estate was called “Mark Field,” and was fifty-four acres in extent; there was a large house lying some distance back, p. 8in its own grounds, belonging to and in the occupation of Mr. William Robson.

The other large house at the corner of Page Green belonged to and was in the occupation of the Rev. George Hodgson Thompson, the first minister at Trinity Church, Tottenham Green, and had over twelve acres of land adjoining the last-mentioned.

The estates were bordered by a broad piece of waste land, a ditch, and low quick set hedge; and there were large heaps of flint stones at the roadside for repair of the roads.  At that time the path on Stamford Hill was a gravel one, and had not even a curb stone.

When Mr. Munt lived at the corner house he kindly lent his grounds to the Rev. George Brewster Twining, who was the Vicar of Holy Trinity Church, for the Sunday School treat to be held there.  Several caravans of Bohemian gipsies passing along the High-road; the men, seeing the children playing games, stopped their horses, and threw their children over the low quick set hedge; they were very clean and prettily dressed in red, white, and blue, and were highly delighted to mix with our Sunday School children.  We gave them some cake, and persuaded them to return to their friends, which they did, although unwillingly.  They were a very superior kind of gipsy, and evidently the precursors of the German gipsies, who have since been such an annoyance to the country.


There was a side road leading to the Rev. G. H. Thompson’s house, with post and chain fence down the left-hand side a considerable distance, and fir and other trees; this road also led to the house belonging to and occupied by Mr. James Rowe, which had upwards of thirty-one acres of land attached to it.  A large pond, called Page Green Pond, was on the green opposite the house.

At the end of the green, and facing the High-road, a large house stood, occupied by Mr. Spartelle, whose grounds extended some distance down the lane.  The Earlsmead Board School is now built on this site.

At the top of Page Green, on the east side of the High-road, there stood a remarkably handsome clump of seven trees, planted in a circular form, and called the Seven Sisters.  In the middle there stood a walnut tree, which it is said never increased in size, though it continued annually to bear leaves.  The prevailing opinion in Bedwell’s time (the Rev. William Bedwell was Vicar of Tottenham from 1607 to 1632) was that someone had suffered martyrdom on this spot, but of this there is no authentic account, nor is there anything satisfactory as to the original planting of these trees to be met with, but it appears they were at their full growth in Bedwell’s time, and may be considered to be in 1818 upwards of 300 years old.  The walnut tree was not cut down p. 10for a good many years after the others.  I remember my father having it done, and then the seven daughters of Mr. MacRae planted seven other trees in the middle of the green; they are now living, one is a sapling.  A few years ago Mr. Hibbert’s seven daughters planted seven other trees at the end by the High-road.

On the north side of Page Green there was a white house, with verandah and creepers all over, in the occupation of Mr. Rowcroft; it had a very large hall.  At that time many of the good old houses had large halls, almost like rooms.  The grounds were very pretty, extending at the back of Grove Place-gardens as far as the Bull Inn.  About the centre of the beautiful garden there was a high mound, and grotto, overlooking a lovely lake.  Many were the invitations I received to play in that garden when I was a little child, but my mother never allowed me to go; she had an idea I should run up the mound and fall into the lake.  I was very pleased when she at last consented.  There was a shady walk, planted with trees, all round the meadow; it was about here that years ago there was a hermit’s cell and the Chapel of St. Anne.

Next to this house there were two semi-detached white-fronted houses (one of which was occupied by Miss Coare, one of the Society of Friends), then a stretch of fields on both sides to the end of the lane.

Returning to the High-road; at the corner stood a large, white house, and garden, adjoining the row of houses called Grove-place, which were built at the beginning of last p. 11century.  Next to the Bull Inn, which is one of the old inns of Tottenham, were the cottages called Bull Row, one of which was a toy shop, kept by Mrs. Travell, and another a cake and sweet shop, kept by Mrs. Oakman; there were so few shops then that these two small places were well patronised.


In the second of the two houses on the south side, the Rev. G. B. Twining lived when he first came to Tottenham.  The next estate belonged to the Rev. Richard Momford Wood; it consisted of 22 acres of meadow land, rented by Mr. Thomas King; the fields reached to the Hale.  It was afterwards rented by Mr. Goddard’s father, who lived at the High Gross, on the opposite side to where they now live.  He kept a quantity of geese, and every morning, at 10 o’clock, they left the yard and went to the fields; all alone they crossed the road, walking two by two, like school children.  At 4 o’clock they returned in the same manner; and never met with any mishap.  One can judge by this the amount of traffic there was in the High-road at that time.

This is now called Springfield Estate.  The large house occupied by Mr. Rickman was taken down, and the Tottenham Hospital erected.  The three houses adjoining are still there.

In the year 1798 my grandfather, Mr. Thomas Sanders, purchased the next estate.  There was a detached house with good garden, and a great many coach-houses and stables, built in the time the stage coaches p. 12were on the road, a beautiful meadow, and a large orchard, stocked with choicest fruit trees.

Dr. Robinson, in his History of Tottenham, speaks of “A singular duel” that took place in this field.  “That upon Thursday, the 8th November, 1610, there was a meeting of the neighbours to warme Mr. John Syms, his house, the signe of the Swanne, at High Cross, among whom came John Nelhamte and John Whiston, whoe, having some grudge or quarrel between them, diner being done they two did use some private speches within themselves.  Taking leave of the company, went to their houses, either of them taking his pick-stafe in their hands, mett in a field behind Mr. Edward Barkham’s house, commonly caull’d or knowne by the name of Baldwin’s.  Theare they two fought till John Nelham receyed a wound by John Whiston in his throate, fell down dead, and never spake word after.  So the Coroner, upon the Saturdaie next, sate upon him; was buried the same daie, being the 10th of November, 1610.”

After the death of my grandmother we lived in this house, and I well remember one evening in winter a mad bull rushing down the private roadway, crowds of people following it.  After what seemed a very long time someone fetched a gun and shot it.  It caused a very great commotion for the time, and we felt very thankful when it was all over.  Wonderful to relate, no one was hurt.

At the death of my mother the house and land at the rear was sold to Mr. William Hawley, who formed Colsterworth-road and p. 13built houses and flats to accommodate about 200 families.

The next large house, with garden in front, was occupied by the father of the Rev. G. H. Thompson, and afterwards by various tenants, the last of whom was Mr. Marsden.  After he vacated it was unlet for a long while, and during that time my dear husband used a room for a work room, in which he made a model of a design for Westminster Bridge.  It was very beautiful, all in small pieces of brass.  When finished he had a glass case made, and presented it to Mr. Hawksley, civil engineer, Great George-street, Westminster, who was a great friend of his, and for whom he went to the Island of Barbadoes, West Indies, as there was a great scarcity of water, and stayed until he found a sufficient supply, to the entire satisfaction of Mr. Hawksley and the inhabitants of Barbadoes.  He also made a model of the “Streets of London,” and a “Floating Battery,” both of which he presented to the Royal United Service Institution, Whitehall-yard, and they were afterwards removed to South Kensington Museum.  These models are well worth seeing.

The Congregational Chapel was erected on this site about the year 1867.

At the back of this Chapel there was, and still is, a very old house with gabled roof, originally the “Old Ship Inn,” a very noted place when the stage coaches were on the road.  It was afterwards used as a Boys’ School, kept by Mr. James Holmes, p. 14and called Tottenham Green Academy.  It was the property of Mr. Benjamin Godfrey Windus, who left it to his daughter, the wife of the Rev. Peter De Putron.  Then came three houses, which lay back, with a long piece of waste land in front, planted with a row of trees, which gave them a very pretty appearance.  One of these houses had a very large cupboard, like a small room, in the back bedroom, which was built into the next house, where Dr. Babbington’s sister lived, and here there was a very beautiful ceiling.  This house is still there, but in ruins.


The shops here are about the same, only modernised, and lowered.  There used to be a butcher’s, baker’s, stationer’s (which was then the post office), poulterer’s, carpenter’s, tailor’s, Rose and Crown Inn, chandler’s shop, hairdresser’s, fruiterer’s, and grocer’s, at the corner.  The post office was afterwards on the Green, and then removed to the stationer’s, where it is now.

High Cross-lane, now called High Cross-road, was a very different place to what it is now.  As the word lane indicates, it was a very quiet place.  On the south side there were a good many old cottages, looking more in keeping with their surroundings then they do at the present day.  Then came two detached houses, followed by fields till one came to the old cottages at the commencement of The Hale.  On the north side, near the High-road, there were stables, and out-buildings jutting out, which made the roadway just there very narrow.  From p. 15these sheds there was a continuation of fields almost to the end of the lane.


Here, on one side, stood some very old cottages, with long gardens in front, and the White Hart Inn.  On the other side was the Pound, standing on the waste land opposite “The White Cottage,” and next came the old farmhouse, and land, in the occupation of Mr. Willan, the proprietor of the West End omnibus.  This was afterwards Ware’s Nursery Grounds (he was son-in-law to Mr. Willan).  It is now covered with factories.  Then there were fields down to the River Lea.


This main Eastern Counties lines was the first railway in Tottenham.  Soon after it was opened there was a bad accident at the Hale Station; we had no hospital then, so the injured passengers were taken in by various residents.  The railway carriages were none too comfortable, the third-class being all open.  This was a very busy station, so much cattle coming here for the London market.


It was a beautiful walk along its banks, with forget-me-nots growing by the water’s edge.  The numerous boats and barges gave it a very animated appearance.


In a field here quantities of wild orchids grew.  The river was frozen one very severe winter; I remember walking across it.


These mills stood one on either side of the road leading to Walthamstow, by Tottenham Lock.  They were formerly paper mills, and there seems to have been a good deal of bad fortune attached to them; they were burnt down 23rd February, 1778; rebuilt in a very substantial manner, and sold September 25th, 1779, when they were started as corn and oil mills.  In January, 1816, they were so much damaged by a flood that they were not completely at work for nearly the whole of the following year.

I often accompanied my father on horseback.  The road to the Forest was a favourite one with him, and, although I, too, enjoyed it, having to pass these mills rather took the edge off my pleasure, the noise was so deafening.  I never could lose the fear that the horses would be frightened; I always felt thankful when we were safely past.  There was another very large fire about the year 1860, and the mills have not been rebuilt.

The turnpike house and toll bar was near that spot.  The charge was 6d. for a carriage, 1d. for a single horse, 3d. for a chaise, 4d. for a taxed cart, 1s. for a waggon with 4 horses, with 5 horses 1s. 6d., and for more than 5 horses 2s., and ½d. for each foot passenger not a resident in Tottenham.  A few hundred yards further on by the Ferry Boat Inn there was another turnpike, and the same charges were made there.


There are about 298 acres of marsh land.  The several names are “Lock Mead Marsh,” “Clendish Hills,” “Mill Mead,” “Mitchley,” “Broad Mead,” “Wild Marsh.”  The latter is the largest.  Beautiful cowslips used to grow here.  To cross from one marsh to the other there was a ferry boat at Page’s Lock, and another at Higham Hill, where passengers were punted over at a charge of 1d. each person.

The names of the common fields are “Down Field” and “Hale Field.”

The above were closed on the 5th April, and open on the 12th August for grazing of horses and cows belonging to the resident parishioners in Tottenham.  Before the cattle went on they were all branded by the Pound Keeper.  The marshes belonged to a great many different owners, who had small wooden land marks with their initials on each.  In the case of the New River Co. their’s were iron.  Some left their grass and made hay; others did not seem to care for it.

All the marshes on the East side of the River Lea have been sold to the East London Water Works, and those on the West to the Urban District Council.

The Rifle Butts were built about the year 1860, and have been twice burnt down.  Mr. Delano, who lived at Asplin’s Farm close by, built himself a nice cottage with garden all p. 18round on his land on the Marshes for his own use and called it “Butts Farm.”

This side of the Lea is not so very much altered.  The old Blue House was pulled down, and a new one erected where Mr. Page’s son lived and managed the locks.  There was a beautiful wild garden on the right hand side, made by Mr. Page’s father, just beyond the boat yard, and had taken a very great number of years to cultivate.  There was a quantity of high trees, and all sorts of wild flowers, and it ended with a stile on to the banks of the Lea.  Unfortunately, during a very heavy succession of storms, some few years ago, this was all swept away.  The forget-me-nots were especially beautiful large flowers; it seemed very sad they should be swept away after all the trouble and expense incurred.


In 1809 a subscription was raised to repair the Cross, which was then in a very dilapidated state.  The shape was not in any way altered, but it was covered with cement, and at the same time various architectural embellishment were introduced.  On each face of the octagon is a shield containing one of the letters composing the word Totenham in the old characters.  The Cross was then surrounded with a curb and iron railings, which were removed a good many years ago.

At the back of the Cross there were the three shops still standing, a stationer’s, draper’s, and butcher’s; by the side there was a green planted with beautiful elm trees, p. 19only three of which remain now.  At the back of this stood two pretty old houses, in occupation of Mr. Thomas Corney and Rev. James Baird.  This was originally one house and was occupied by Dean Wood, who about the year 1600 had the present cross erected, which in 1809 was repaired and altered to its present appearance.

Next to Mr. Baird’s there was a blacksmith’s shop, where the old skeleton horse stood over the gateway.  This horse belonged to Mr. Charles Tuck, who kept the butcher’s shop at the corner, which is now a chemists, and was such a willing animal that one day it fell down dead, drawing a load which was too much for him.  I remember him well, and used often to feed him with bread.


This was originally up to the year 1877 a Free Grammar School endowed by Sarah, Dowager Duchess of Somerset, who in 1686 bequeathed the sum of £250 for the enlargement of the school house, and a further sum of £1,100 for the purpose of extending its benefit to all children of such inhabitants of the parish of Tottenham as were not possessed of an estate, either freehold or copyhold, of the annual value of £20.

The Savings Bank used to be held here every Monday evening, and was kept by Mr. Peter Rickards, the school master and clerk to Trinity Church.  It was afterwards removed to the Post Office, where it now is, at the corner of High Cross-road.


In 1685 Nicholas Reynardson, Esq., by his will, dated April 2nd, 1685, and by a codicil dated February 20th, 1688, bequeathed the sum of £2,000, with part of which he directed that an almshouse should be built for six poor aged men and six poor aged women, with a chapel; and that the residue should be laid out in lands, and for the endowment and repairs of such almshouses, and for the payment of £4 to each pensioner annually by quarterly payments, besides a gown of black frieze of 20s. value once in two years, and £20 a year to the reader for reading prayers once every forenoon, and for teaching twenty poor children to read and write, inhabitants of the parish of Tottenham whose parents were not able to pay for the same.  Mr. Reynardson also directed that the said salary of £20 per annum should be allowed out of the lands to be purchased to the reader of prayers and teacher of such children, and a black gown of 20s. value every year at Christmas for ever.  The residue of the rents to be distributed amongst the poor, except 30s. allowed for a dinner on the 1st August every year at a meeting of the Trustees, including the minister and churchwardens, and the surplus and residue of the estates to be distributed among the poor.

Where the police Station now stands there originally was a large house enclosed in a high brick wall, and was built in 1776 by Will Latimer, of Warwick.  It had a flight p. 21of stone steps to the front door, and a window in the hall on each side of the door.  The occupier was the Rev. Thomas Powell, afterwards called “Miser Powell.”  He was going to be married, and on the morning of the day of the wedding was to take place he received a message from the lady, saying she had altered her mind.  From then until his death he never let a woman enter his house, and never went out, excepting now and then when he preached at St. Paul’s Cathedral.  He had a large garden with bathroom and swimming bath in the middle of the lawn, all beautifully tiled; at the back there was a fish pond and meadow.  The last time I saw him he was looking over the high brick wall with a blanket over his shoulders.  He used to give dinner parties to his gentlemen friends; everything prepared and sent down with waiters from London.

The Rev. Thomas Powell was a very clever author and artist, and had commenced drawing figures of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John on the staircase.  It was his intention to have them frescoed.  I was told he left all his money and estate to the London Hospital, but that only £40,000 went to the Hospital, the estate had to go to the heir at law, a gentleman named “Mieux,” his sister’s son, who afterwards sold it to the British Land Company.

I think Mr. Powell must have been particularly fond of violets, they grew in his garden in such profusion.


There were originally only four almshouses, but in 1847, when the Pound was removed to the waste land in The Hale, three old inhabitants, Mr. Thomas Corney, Mr. William Janson, and Mr. John Day, had three others erected at their own expense.


The building which still stands at the corner of the road was originally the Girls’ Green School, or School of Industry, and was used for this purpose until 1862, when the present buildings were erected in Somerset-road.  The girls always looked very nice in their uniform, which consisted of a green dress, white tippet, apron and cap, and a coarse straw bonnet trimmed with green.  The school was supported by voluntary contributions.  Stoneley South, at the entrance, has not altered much in appearance since I first remember it, but in those days after passing the house and premises which stands between Balthazar-street and Stoneleys-road, which was then occupied by William Humphreys, carpenter and builder, there was nothing but fields, with a public footpath across leading into Down-lane.  This was the only way of reaching The Hale, unless one went by way of High Cross-lane.


The old Plough Inn was a long, low building, very quaint and picturesque with gabled roof, lying back from the road, with large p. 23open space in front, and cottages down one side.

The Court Leet for Tottenham was held here for a great number of years.  John Brooks, the landlord, was also one of the Homage.  The old inn, which was built in 1537, was taken down in 1891 and another building erected by the side of the roadway, which was then opened, and leads to the Marshes.


The Plymouth Brethren Chapel was built at Mr. Robert Howard’s expense.  It has a burial ground on the opposite side of the street.  I never remember seeing more than one tomb stone; it was to the memory of Jane Johnson, and that has lately been taken away.

There was an old sweet stuff shop in front by the High-road, the floor of which was below the level of the road.  Adjoining here is the block of houses and shops which are now about being taken down to widen the road for the electric tramway cars.  On the site where Knight’s, the pawnbrokers, was built, at the corner of Waverley-road, stood the old George and Vulture Inn.  It had a very large room at the back, and the Royal family used to come down to attend balls there.


At the back, down the turning, there was a good sized house and large garden, with p. 24lake and bridge, in occupation of Mr. Thos. Finney.

The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was the first built in Tottenham.  The lease had just expired in 1882, when it was burned down.  It stood back a little distance from the road, with burial ground in front, reaching to the footpath in High-road.

On this site Messrs. G. L. Wilson’s premises were built.  This is the second time they have been built as there was another very large fire in 1904.


In 1815 a mill for winding silk was built; this failed, and in 1820 it was opened as a lace factory.  This also proved unsuccessful, and in 1837 it was opened as an India rubber factory, and was the means of providing work for hundreds of people.

Some years ago half of this factory and Silk Mill-terrace was sold at auction to the Licensed Victuallers’ Company.  This half has lately been taken down and Pembroke-terrace, as it was afterwards called, converted into shops and Parr’s Bank.


A pretty white house, with verandah covered with creepers, and large garden.  The house stood back in its own grounds, and was enclosed by a brick wall and a beautiful row of chesnut and lime trees that were very much admired, as were also the sweet voices of the birds who made their nests there.

p. 25This house has been pulled down and shops have been built on the spot.  A good many years ago there was a very sad accident.  A drove of bullocks was being driven past; one got loose, pinned Mr. Glover, the coach builder, who lived opposite, to the wall, and gored him to death.

Before we had the railway in The Hale many droves of cattle were continually driven along the High-road to the London markets.

Where Commerce-terrace now stands there were several houses, one called the “Ivy House,” as it was covered with ivy, occupied by Mr. Henry Hayes.  It was enclosed in iron railings with very beautiful iron gates, and had a large garden, which extended all the way down to the end of Reform-row.


These almshouses bearing his name, and consisting of eight tenements, were built by him in the year 1596.  Four were for aged women widows, and four for aged men widowers.  Each pensioner had £4 annually by quarterly payments, and there was a biennial allowance of £6 for the purchase of a gown of black frieze of 20s. value from the owners of the Stoneleigh Estate.  The latter was discontinued years ago and money given instead.  There was also £1 per annum recreation money for the Committee.  They are now closed, pending rebuilding.

It was a pleasure to talk to the inmates.  One in particular, a Mrs. Martin, loved to recall the days of her youth, which had p. 26been passed in a village near Hatfield.  She remembered when Napoleon Bonaparte was regarded as a kind of ogre, and when naughty children were told “Boney is coming” it reduced them to a state of abject terror.  One day a man was seen coming towards the village on a dandy horse, when the cry was raised “Boney has come at last.”  The children fled in wild alarm to hide themselves.  She and her little brother crept under a four-post bedstead, and it was a long time before her mother could induce her to believe that there was no cause for fear, and that she might emerge with safety, which after much persuasion she did, but her brother refused to leave his hiding place for the whole of that day.  When she was a little older she was put to school by a lady, and in return she had to do her needlework, most of the school time being taken up in this way.  Before sewing machines were invented a woman’s time was fully occupied in doing the needlework for her family.  Ready-made articles were unknown.  Girls were taught to be very thorough in their work, and if they wished for embroidery they had to make it themselves.


or Society of Friends is adjoining.  It was erected in 1744, and enlarged about the year 1775, and fitted with seats for about 400 persons.  Considerable additions were made in 1832.  There is also a burial ground p. 27attached to it, which was added in 1803, and was closed some years back.

The deceased were interred in rows without any distinction, and a plan kept which identified the spot where the departed friend was interred.  There are neither grave stones nor any other monuments to mark the spot where any one lies.

At one time there was a number of this sect in Tottenham—a very admirable class of people, thoroughly just and genuine.  Their dress was rather quaint, but worthy of great admiration; neatness, goodness, and simplicity form the three features of it.  The poke bonnet was perfect, with the sweet little goffered frill round, in nearly all cases, a nice face, so suitable to the wearer; then generally a dove or mouse-coloured silk gown, neatly made and very ample in the skirt, just to escape the ground.  It would have been a great fault to have a speck of dirt on them of any kind.  They were scrupulously clean and on no account did they like or allow their ankles to be seen.

A friend of mine knew two old lady Quakers who many years ago kept, for amusement, a small private school of twelve or fourteen children; she herself was one of the pupils for eight or ten years, and admired them exceedingly with their pretty white caps drawn tightly with cords, but at the same time thought them a little sharp.  Of course in those days each child had individual attention, and she remembers perfectly well, when being taught to write, the old lady with ruler in her hand, the pupil p. 28seated at the table; if the pen was not held properly, down came the ruler thump across the knuckles without any warning.

Another little incident.  They were very keen on sampler work, and if one did not put the needle into the canvas quite right, the first thing cue felt was the needle run into one’s fingers.

The child of to-day would not appreciate that kind of treatment; nor did they then.

This same friend also told me of a Quaker who had a very large grocer’s shop.  He was often asked for a little piece of string by the country women, and I suppose he got rather tired of giving it, so on one occasion he said in his quiet way, “Take what thy conscience will allow.”  The woman said it would allow her to take it all.

They always looked well after their pounds, shillings, and pence, and very often amassed large fortunes; it is rare to hear of a really poor Quaker.  In this respect they are very good to one another and talk little about it.

I must not forget to mention the men’s attire; it was then as quaint as the women’s.  They were always dressed in brown or drab cutaway coats, without any collar to them; low hats with a brim nearly as wide as the depth of the hat; and very often knee breeches.  Many allowed their hair to grow very long.

Then the service in their meeting house, as their place of worship was called, is rather strange.  They all sit perfectly quiet, until the spirit moves them, and then, be it man or woman, stand up and expound.

p. 29Next to the Friends’ Meeting House there used to be an apothecary’s shop, kept by a Mr. Silver.  It was a one-storey building.  The shop had two rounded windows close together, the door being at the side.  In each window stood a row of coloured bottles, but for many years no business was transacted here.  By the terms of Mr. Silver’s will the shop was to be left for a certain number of years as it was on the day of his death.  During this time Mr. Thomas Shillitoe, one of the Society of Friends, opened a chemist’s shop next door.  He had what I considered a very objectionable habit.  When pouring out medicine he always licked the last drop from the bottle.


In front there is what was formerly known as the Blue School, where the girls were educated free.  It is now the Middle Class School.  Upon a portion of the site stood the Watch House, prisoner’s cage, and John Fowler’s house, who was the Parish Beadle.  This was quite sufficient at that time, and in case of more help being required, a constable was sent for to London.  Then the Police Station at the High Cross was built, and the whole of the site taken for the Middle Class School.

A great many of the old cottages are now standing on Scotland Green.  They used to have strange names to identify them then, such as “Ward’s Alley,” “Tubby’s Alley,” “Stack Yard,” etc., by which names they are still known.  The Moselle crosses the road there from High-road and empties itself into the Carbuncle Ditch.

p. 30There used to be an old-fashioned house and large pleasure and kitchen garden, occupied by Mrs. John Holt.  This was taken down and two good houses built, both occupied by doctors, viz., Dr. Watson and Dr. Jackson, who were the first tenants.

The adjoining detached house, now called “Rheola,” was occupied by Miss Mary Stacey for a very great many years.  She was a very philanthropic lady, and one of the Society of Friends.  She would often have gentlemen who were to give addresses at the meeting at her house, and would entertain them.  Once one called whom she did not know, but believing him to be what he represented himself, she invited him to take tea and spend the night, but the next morning he was missing, and so was her handsome silver tea pot which had been used the evening before.

The next house was called the “White House,” and for many years was occupied by Mrs. Martha Horne, also one of the Society of Friends.  A small white house adjoining, occupied by Mr. Linzell, and the old Red Lion Inn, which extended over the land which now forms the entrance to Lansdowne-road, were pulled down and the present Red Lion built and Lansdowne-road formed in or about the year 1870.  I do not see much difference till we come to the Bell Brewery.  On this side stood a pretty one-storey detached cottage, where Mr. Haddon’s clerk lived.  This was taken down and the bottling stores erected.

There was a large shop next, kept by Mr. Johnson, tallow chandler—a shop much p. 31patronized, as candles were our principal illuminant.  It was not till 1847 that the Gas Company was formed.  The window was very tastefully arranged with different coloured wax candles of all sizes; very high ones in the middle, graduating to quite small ones.  The house adjoining was at one time a school, afterwards a chemist’s shop, and is now in the occupation of Mr. Bately.

“Marie House” was the property of, and occupied by Miss Jemima Arabella Holt.  She gave the ground on which St. Paul’s Church was built in 1858.  For some years previous to this services had been held in an iron building by the Rev. Mr. Harrison.  He once had bills printed announcing he would preach three sermons on consecutive Sunday evenings, the subjects being “Thieves, Thieves,” “Fire, Fire,” and “Are you Insured.”  On each occasion the building was crowded.


Near the High-road was an old house called “The Beggars’ Lodging-house.”  It was a great boon to tramps, as they found accommodation here for a very small sum.  A large fire was always burning brightly in the winter evenings.

The National School for Boys was built in 1841, and the Drill Hall in 1864.  Here the Vestries were held for some years.  There were two nurseries on the left hand side of the lane, and then on both sides fields till one came to Willoughby-lane.  Here stood Willoughby House; there was not much p. 32architectural beauty about it; it was a one-storied, straight-looking, white building, with three windows on either side of the door, and seven on the floor above.  There was not much land attached to it, only a little over nine acres in all.  Mr. Henry Lewis Smale was the owner and the last occupier.  In the eighteenth century it belonged to Daniel Booth, Esq., the Governor of the Bank of England.

“The Crow’s Nest,” a quaint old house, was on the opposite side of the way, and next came Willoughby Farm, the property of the Rector of St. Luke’s, Old-street, E.C.  There was an old farmhouse and upwards of fifty-one acres of land.


which in the eighteenth century was called “Coney Bee’s Croft,” was formerly the Workhouse, and quite large enough for all requirements.  The deeds relating to the Parish lands were kept here, in a tin box, within an iron repository.


which was built in 1841–2, is one of the largest in England, and none too large for present requirements.  Coombes Croft was then used for several different purposes.  At one time it was a Home for Little Boys, and afterwards offices for the Local Board of Health.  This body was not organised until 1850, when the meetings were held at the Free Grammar School.

The private improvement rate was made when the main works for the water supply and drainage were approaching completion.  p. 33This the owner could either pay at once, and in that case was entitled to a reduction, or it could extend over a period not exceeding thirty years.  All who were able to pay in one sum did so.  Mr. Heath was the first clerk.  He served the Board for nineteen years, and was succeeded in 1869 by Mr. Crowne, who still holds the office of Clerk to the Tottenham Urban District Council.  When Mr. Crowne first came Tottenham and Wood Green were one parish.  In 1888 they were separated, and Wood Green became a separate parish in 1894.  Years ago there was so little postal work that only one postman was employed for the two parishes.

“The Three Coneys” was the original name of what is now known as “The Bell and Hare.”  Passing by Park-lane there were several good houses—one was called “The Cedars.”  The name was given to it on account of two beautiful cedar trees in the garden, which were planted by Queen Elizabeth on one of her visits to Tottenham.  The next house has been occupied by a doctor as long as I remember, and the adjoining house, lately called “The Vicarage,” was first used for that purpose when the Rev. J. G. Hale was Vicar of All Hallows; prior to this it was occupied by Capt. Goss, the first commanding officer of the local Volunteers.  The title deeds of the next house, occupied by the late Mrs. Mudge, date back as far as the time of Charles I.  It has a basement kitchen, with very low ceiling.  The steps from the road lead into the sitting-room, and when one has passed through the door there is still a step to p. 34be taken to get on the floor; the windows extending below the level of the floor.

In the small house, which came next, James Filsell, the Parish Clerk, lived.  He had the care of the parish map; this is now kept in the vestry room at All Hallows.


which has a sun dial on the side of the house, dated 1691, still stands to speak for itself.


was the peculiar name of a very old house which formerly stood opposite White Hart-lane.  It was partly built of brick and partly of stone, with large iron gates before it.  This house belonged to a favourite of Henry VIII., named Hynningham, whose family are buried in the church.  Henry VIII. frequently came here.  In one of the rooms was an inscription, “In this chamber King Henry VIII. hath often lyen.”  The remains of this house were in 1631 part of the out-offices of Mr. Gerard Gore, in whose mansion Sir John Coke, Secretary of State, resided during the summer months.  The same house was later on occupied by Sir Hugh Smithson, who on the death of his wife’s father became second Earl of Northumberland.

In April, 1889, there was in the “Quarterly Review” an interesting article on the “Annals of the House of Percy,” from which it appears that the Duke and Duchess of Somerset had a large family, of whom six attained maturity.  The oldest of these was Algernon, Earl of Hertford.  He married p. 35the daughter of Henry Thynne, and in 1722, on the death of his mother, he succeeded to her honours, and was summoned to the House of Lords as Baron Percy.  He had two children, Elizabeth, born in 1716, and George Lord Beauchamp, born in 1725.  When Lady Elizabeth Seymour was twenty-three years old she paid a visit to her cousin, Lady Lowther, at Swillington, and here she met Sir Hugh Smithson, a Baronet of good family and possessing a large estate in Yorkshire.  The young people were mutually attracted.  Lady Elizabeth received his attentions with pleasure, and wrote to her mother regarding his proposal of marriage that “had it met with my pappa’s approbation, and your’s, I should very willingly have consented to it.”  Satisfactory answers having been received to questions as to Sir Hugh’s position, Lord and Lady Hertford gladly consented, but the proud Duke of Somerset did not consider the alliance was good enough for his grand-daughter.  However, he at last gave a grudging assent, mainly because the suitor was in the present possession of an ample fortune, and had a good prospect of a future inheritance from an uncle, old Mr. Smithson, of Tottenham High Cross; but he made it plain to Lady Elizabeth that he considered it her duty to stand out for more advantageous terms than had satisfied her father and mother, for he said, “You are descended by many generations from the most antient familys in England, and it is you that doth add antient blood to Sir Hugh Smithson’s family; he adds no such antient blood to p. 36your family.”  But the old uncle absolutely declined to be tied up by any legal process, saying “It was true, he was no Duke, nor boasted of any such great alliance, but in point of honourable dealing he would yield to no man.”  The Duke being at last satisfied, the marriage was solemnized on the 18th July, 1740.  The happy pair did not lose much time before they paid a visit of state to the kind uncle who had paved the way to happiness for them, she in a silver stuff of four pounds a yard, and Sir Hugh in a lead colour and silver stuff embroidered with silver.  For four years life ran smoothly for them, and then suddenly, in the autumn of 1744, young Lord Beauchamp died of small-pox at Bologna, and Lady Elizabeth Smithson became sole heiress of the honours which her father had inherited from his mother, the last of the Percys.  The Duke of Somerset was furious at the extinction of all hope of the direct continuance of his honours.  He had always hated his daughter-in-law, Lady Hertford, and he now included his son in that hatred, to whom, as Horace Walpole said, “he wrote the most shocking letter imaginable,” telling him that it is a judgment upon him for all his undutifulness, and that he must always look upon himself as the cause of his son’s death.

The old Duke petitioned the King to confer upon him the Earldom of Northumberland, with remainder, after his son’s death, to his grandson Sir Charles Wyndham, and so to exclude Lady Elizabeth, the rightful heiress.  In this project he was not successful, p. 37and in due time Lady Elizabeth’s husband became Duke of Northumberland, assuming the surname of Percy.  Their married life was a very happy one; he was devoted to her, and she returned the devotion, calling him “my dearest angel” and “joy of my soul.”  The house in which they lived in Tottenham was taken down and a row of houses erected, called “Northumberland Row,” the middle one being named “Percy House.”  In some of these houses is some very curious carved work.  Part of the old house and part of the garden wall still remains next the road.

Passing Northumberland Park there are still some old houses to be seen before arriving at Union Court, which is on the boundary of Tottenham and Edmonton.

Having spoken of the East side of the High-road, I will now start again from Stamford Hill on the West side.

First came a large detached house standing in its own grounds with a moat and a drawbridge.  This drawbridge was last used in the early part of last century, when a large number of gipsies were seen approaching the house.

Mr. Josiah Wilson, J.P., lived next; it was also a large detached house, which lay back a long distance from the High-road, with large grounds attached.  This was, I think, the first house taken down on Stamford Hill, and from that time dates the immense change that has taken place all over Tottenham.  Then there were a good many other large residences, among which was the “Clock House,” occupied by Miss p. 38Deborah Dermer, and two pretty semi-detached houses at the corner of the lane, then called Hanger-lane, now


This was a very quiet road, with only a few cottages and one or two good houses on the left hand side, and fields on the right hand, as far as the four cross roads, where the Midland Railway now crosses the road.


leading from St. Ann’s-road to the Green-lanes, was a private road, the property of Mr. Scales.  There were beautiful fields on either side, and half way up on the left stood four good houses, each standing in its own grounds.  First came “Bridge House,” where Mr. Shirley Hibberd at one time resided.  He was particularly fond of ivy, and had twenty-five different varieties growing in his garden.

Next was “The Retreat,” and then “Vale House,” of which the last occupier was Mr. San Giorgie.  He kept an emu in the field opposite his house; children all round were very fond of going to see it.  Lastly came “The Swiss Cottage.”  The road was enclosed with park gates at each end.  In those days it was a charming walk; now the aspect is entirely changed, the estate being covered with houses.


Opposite to this was a farm known as St. John’s Farm.  A little further on there was a pretty house and large grounds, where Mr. John Robbins lived, the son-in-law of Mr. Newsam, who built St. Ann’s Church, p. 39Schools, etc.  The Metropolitan Fever Hospital now stands on this site.  A little further on, on the opposite side of the road, there was another farm, with cottage, having a verandah covered with white clematis which blossomed freely every year.

We now return to the High-road.  Sherboro House School stood at the corner of Hanger-lane, one or two fields next to it, and then two large detached houses stood close together in their own grounds, well back from the road.  These had fences of cleft oak palings; outside this was a strip of waste land turfed.  Then a narrow ditch or water course, more turf enclosed with low white posts, and chains painted green, which gave it a very pretty and novel effect.  Then more fields extended to the end of the road called the New-road, so called when it was completed in 1833 opening a thoroughfare from the High-road to Gloucester Gate, Regent’s Park.  It was a quiet road and very lonely at night.  There were only two houses before one reached the “Manor House,” where Queen Victoria alighted on her return journey from Cambridge in the year 1843.  Close by was Hornsey Wood, and Hornsey Wood Tavern, where on Saturday afternoons noblemen came from the West End in four-horse coaches to practice rifle shooting.  I remember hearing my mother say the nurse had taken me for a walk in the wood and lost her way, and after wandering about for some time was finally obliged to climb a tree to see what direction to take for the way out.  On the left was the famous “Sluice House” and “Eel Pie House.”  The wood was cleared, p. 40and the land added to that purchased to form Finsbury Park.  Where the New River Bridge crosses the road there was on the left hand side a large house called “River House” in occupation of Mrs. Heathcote.

The West End omnibus ran to and fro three times daily.  The fare was one shilling and sixpence each way.  Mr. Willan, of The Hale Farm, was the proprietor.

This road is now known as the Seven Sisters-road, at the north corner of which there stood a pretty white detached house, with waste land in front, enclosed with posts and chains.  It was called “Suffield Lodge,” and occupied by Mr. Bonny.


now called West Green-road.  The grounds of the last-mentioned house extended some distance up the lane; then there were two large semi-detached houses with gardens in front and rear, belonging to, and the first occupied by Mr. John Beadnell.  Then again fields and two cottages, and a small inn called “The Fountain”; then a terrace of good sized houses with large gardens, called Gloucester-terrace; then more fields to the end of the road, where stood two large semi-detached houses at the corner of “Spratt’s Row,” now called “Dagmar-road.”


There was a pond in the middle of the green, railed all round, with an opening for cattle to be able to get to the water.  A little distance further on was an estate called Lords Grove.  Facing the pond there was an old-fashioned white house called “Gothic p. 41Cottage,” with garden and fields extending some distance down Blackup-lane; then all fields till one reached a large white house with verandah covered with beautiful creepers standing in its own grounds, with meadow beyond.  The last tenant and owner was Richard Anstey Simmonds.  He had the walls of his dining and drawing-room hand-painted, having artists from London to do it.  Unfortunately the firm in which he placed all his money failed, and as it was before the time of limited liability, he was absolutely ruined.  A subscription was started, to which the public generously responded, as every one was very sorry for him.


This was a very pretty sheltered place.  There was a row of fine lime trees, and one especially beautiful chestnut tree in the middle.  It was well turfed and enclosed with white posts and rails.


Years ago this house was occupied by Mr. Ardesoif, a noted cook-fighter.  He was once so enraged by his bird losing his bet that he threw it on a large fire.  Grove House was afterwards occupied by Mr. Thomas Smith, the then Lord of the Manor.  There is no house now attached to the Manor of Tottenham.  The Society of Friends afterwards established a large boys’ school there, generally known as the Quakers’ School.  This is now used for the Polytechnic and the Magistrates’ Court.


There was a large brick house, called “Eagle House,” which was afterwards used for a boys’ school.  This was destroyed by fire, and Mr. Chassereau, the owner, had Norma-villas and Eagle-avenue erected on the site.  Eaton House came next; Miss Toogood was owner and occupier.  Then there was a very old-fashioned white-fronted house, which was unoccupied for a great many years, and the garden became overgrown with thistles and weeds.  A Quaker lady named Coare kept a school here, and it was the scene of my mother’s earliest school days.  About the year 1845 the house was demolished and two semi-detached houses erected.  The tenant of one house kept a horse and chaise with a hood to it, and as there was no side entrance or accommodation for either, the horse was always led through the hall into the garden, where a temporary shed was erected, and the chaise was kept in the front garden, opposite the drawing-room window.  Then came two large detached houses, only one of which now stands.  The other, with the two white houses just mentioned, also Eaton House, were recently purchased by the Tottenham Urban District Council, and the Municipal Buildings erected.  Lastly came a pretty white house, the residence of Mr. Benjamin Godfrey Windus.  He was the possessor of some very fine paintings by Turner, and once a week he kindly allowed the public to see them, by ticket of admission.  A few years after his death the house was taken down.  With gardens, orchards, and meadows the land comprised p. 4331 acres, 3 rods, 37 poles, and reached up what was then called West Green-road (now Philip-lane) as far as where the last of Stowe-villas now stands.  Then there were fields as far as West Green Common.

Crossing over the road there was a good sized house and grounds.  Next came a field with a stile at each end and footpath across.  By the side of the field there was a road or carriage drive to


This was the property of Rowland Stephenson, Esq., and when he died it was, in 1808, offered for sale by auction by Messrs. Skinner, Dyke, Tuckin, and Forest, at Garraway’s Coffee House, Change Alley, London, in seven lots.  The house was described as “The truly desirable residence of the late Rowland Stephenson, Esq., situated at Mount Pleasant, West Green, Tottenham, on a delightful eminence, commanding rich and picturesque prospects and agreeably remove from the public roads, and forming one of the most complete residences in the county.”  The estate included a productive farm and lands containing three hundred and thirty acres, lying nearly within a ring fence.  At this time the House was called “Mount Pleasant.”  When I first knew it it was known as “Downhills.”  Later on for a short time it was called “Uplands,” but in its last days was again called Downhills, when it was purchased by the Tottenham Urban District Council.

Across the fields by the house there was a public footpath, and it was a pretty walk leading to where Hornsey turnpike gate then p. 44stood.  Not far from this was the very quaint old house called “Duckett’s Farm.”

Returning to West Green-road one next came to a very large house, the residence of Henry Scambler, of Scambler’s Livery Stables, City.  Later on his nephew Thomas Owden lived there.  He was Alderman, and in due time Lord Mayor of London.  The house lay some distance back from the road, and was approached by a long straight carriage drive, with beautiful meadows on both sides.  The estate was 31 acres 3 rods 39 poles in extent.  The garden of the lodge was a sight to behold, especially in the spring time, when it was gay with flowers of every hue.  Then there were four large houses, and adjoining a stretch of beautiful fields.  The two first belonged to Mr. Robert Forster, where we children spent many a happy hour in haymaking time.  The next belonged to Mr. Wm. Fowler, the banker.  There, after haymaking was over, horses which were ill and required medical care were taken into graze, and it was a very pretty sight to see them march in a body to meet the veterinary surgeon when they saw him coming.  It showed how grateful they were for his skill and kind attention.  On the left hand side, where the fields belonged to Mount Pleasant Estate, there was a footpath across these fields into Lordship-lane.  West Green-road was very lonely.  Two young ladies, friends of mine, were walking alone, when just by these fields two tramps appeared and commenced taking off their jackets and dresses to steal them.  Fortunately just at this moment a gentleman drove p. 45down the lane, and attracted by the children’s cries he came to their rescue.  The tramps immediately made off, and he kindly drove the frightened girls to their parents’ house.  Mr. Robert Forster lived, with his sisters, in the old-fashioned house that came next, and they built the almshouses that stand on part of their land, and called them “Forster’s Almshouses.”  Round the bend of the road there were two large white houses.  Mr. William Janson lived in the first, and in later years the other was occupied by Mr. Joseph Howard.  He was the first member of Parliament for Tottenham, when in 1885 the ancient Parish of Tottenham and Wood Green was made into a separate constituency, and continued to be its Parliamentary representative for 20 years.  Then came two good houses; next to these was a large garden and builder’s yard and house, occupied by Thomas Ashwell.  On these premises was the room used for the infants’ school belonging to Trinity Church.  It was also used for missionary meetings.


is the property of Sir William Curtis Baronet, the Lord of the Manor, and he gave a portion of it to the parish for the erection of Holy Trinity Church in 1829.  In May, 1830, Holy Trinity, which was the Chapel of Ease to the Parish Church, was consecrated.  The first minister appointed was the Rev. George Hodson Thompson.  He lived at the corner of Page Green, and was succeeded by the Rev. George Brewster Twining.  In the centre of the Church were benches which p. 46were free, and there were doors to the pews; there was always a full congregation.  The gallery was mostly used for the children of the Green School on one side, and on the other the boys from Sherboro House School, Stamford Hill, of which Dr. Williams was the Principal.  Mr. Barton was the organist, Peter Rickard the clerk, and the pew-opener was Mrs. Perrin.  Occasionally the Rev. Mr. Newcome, the Vicar of All Hallows, would take the service.  Once he told the congregation he would he unable to preach as he had left his spectacles at home.  My grandmother called the pew-opener and sent him hers, which fortunately suited his sight.  In those days a clergyman could hold two livings at a time.  He was Vicar of Tottenham, and also of Shenley, where he resided.  He used often to come and see my father, and always gave my mother his blessing.  I remember once hearing him say, “I give you my blessing my dear, and oh what a pretty gown you have on!”  At one time a lady living on the Green who was one of the congregation, asked my father, as churchwarden, to have the middle post at the entrance moved to make a wider space as she was so stout she could not get through.  He at once complied with her request.  I must not forget to mention how beautifully the churchyard was turfed, and how lovely it looked with the long-stalked white daisies.  On coming out of Church I occasionally gave way to the temptation of gathering a few, although my mother used to say I ought not to do so, particularly on Sundays.  I used to wonder why it was worse to do it on Sundays than other days.

p. 47I must not forget to mention at one time the organist played a voluntary between the prayers and the Litany, but it was discontinued as it was not generally liked.

For a great many years Mr. Twining rented a cottage in “Bull-row” to provide a home for four poor old women.  They had one room each, and were very thankful for it.

There was always a large bonfire and fireworks on the Green on the 5th of November.  This was discontinued when the traffic increased, as it frightened the horses.  Boys used to play cricket here, and horses and cows were allowed to graze.  On the occasion of the marriage of the Prince of Wales, now our King Edward VII., we had a captive balloon on the Green, and anyone who liked to ascend could do so.  John Fowler, the beadle, availed himself of the offer.  He did not appreciate the trip, as it made him feel very ill.

The large tree in the middle of the Green, by the High-road, I well remember being planted by Mr. Deane, of “The Yews,” a great authority on parish matters.  Some of the trees on the East Green were planted by Mr. Twining’s son and my brother when they were boys.

We next come to the High Cross Pump.  The well was dug and the pump erected at the expense of Mr. Thomas Smith, the Lord of the Manor, in the early part of last century, in consideration of his having been allowed to enclose a piece of waste land, near Grove House, where he resided.  The water from this pump supplied a large portion of the parish, and many people earned their p. 48living by taking it about in barrels upon wheels, selling it at a penny a pail.  In 1883 the well was closed.

The White Swan Inn at the opposite corner of the road had a small railed-in garden at the side in which stood a high white pole surmounted by a large white swan.  This inn was a favourite resort of Izaak Walton, the famous angler.  He often came to Tottenham to enjoy fishing in the River Lea, and rested, as one may read in “The Compleat Angler,” “in the sweet shady arbour which Nature herself has woven with her own fingers; ’tis such a contexture of woodbines, sweet briar, jessamine and myrtle.”

Adjoining were a lot of small, old-fashioned houses; a narrow entrance called High Cross Court, with cottages in the rear.  There was a large carriage factory next, with a yard and more cottages, and the builder’s house in the front; three more houses, then the two houses, in the first of which Dr. Edward Curtis May, father of the present Dr. Edward Hooper May, lived.  Tottenham at that time could only boast of two doctors—Dr. Holt and Dr. May.  I always think with pleasure of the mansion that came next; it was here I spent such happy days at school, the three Misses Wilson were such kind and considerate teachers.  It was a boarding school, but my sister and I, with a few others, were day boarders.  We had to rise early, have our breakfast, and be at school at 7 a.m., say our lessons with the boarders, and then while they were breakfasting we learnt our lessons for the next day.  The p. 49house was called “The Elms.”  In front of it stood a magnificent row of elm trees; at the back was a large garden, and beyond that a meadow.  My father sold this estate to the Drapers’ Company about 1848, when the house was taken down and a school for boys and two rows of almshouses built.

The houses after this were all small and, I may say, uninteresting, and reached as far as the field, which Mr. Robert Forster used as a brickfield.  Here there was a pond, and the well, known as St. Loy’s Well, in a field adjoining, about 500 ft. from the High-road.  This well was said to be always full but never running over, and the properties to be the same as the waters of the Cheltenham Springs.  It was cleaned out in the sixteenth century, and at the bottom was found a great stone having certain letters or characters on it, but unfortunately the workmen carelessly broke and defaced it, so it was not known what the characters meant.

The houses next were only medium-sized as far as “The Old Ship Inn,” which was then a long, low, rambling building one story high and attics.  At the corner by Bruce Grove there was Myers’ the builders’ and stonemasons’ yard and two good houses, one occupied by Miss Keating, sister to the Keating of cough lozenge fame, the corner one by Dr. Edward Curtis May after he left the High Cross.  These were all pulled down and the great Eastern Railway Station built on the site.


This was a quiet retired spot; the houses were all good, some very large, and nearly p. 50all were occupied by Quakers.  Mr. William Fowler’s house, at the end, had beautiful grounds, the meadows extending to the end of the narrow walk leading to Bruce Castle.  Flocks of rooks made their nests and found a shelter in the trees there.  It was so peaceful, with fields on either side, with a low open iron railing.  The only sound to be heard was the caw caw of the rooks who always seemed as if they had something important to discuss, and they left off reluctantly when their bedtime came.

On the North side was a row of very old and noble elm trees.  By the side of the middle one stood a box which was a shelter for a “Charley.”  Charleys were the precursors of policemen.  One of their duties was to call out every half-hour the time, and the state of the weather.  I remember hearing “half-past nine, and a fine starry night,” or “ten o’clock and a foggy night.”  Their life was not altogether an enviable one.  It occasionally happened that some young men, returning home rather late, thought it a joke to upset the box with the Charley inside, and there he had to stay till by some means or other he was liberated.

Many years ago there lived in one of the houses here a lady who thought and said she was unable to move from her chair.  The doctor who was attending her assured her again and again that it was only her imagination.  As she still persisted in refusing to try, he determined to prove to her that it was possible; so on his next visit, after talking to her for some time, he got up and rang the bell.  On her asking his reason he replied p. 51he wished to speak to his coachman.  When the maid came in response to the ring he requested her to send him up.  The lady, in amazement said, “What can you want with your coachman in my bedroom, doctor?”  He simply replied, “You will see, madam.”  The man came and received the order, “Bring up a truss of straw,” which he did, and was told to put it under that lady’s chair and set light to it; but before this could be done up sprang the lady, and from that day no more was heard of her refusal to move, and the doctor congratulated himself on his success.  At that time there were several doctors living in Tottenham who did not practise here, one of them being a friend of a lady living in Bruce Grove and who attended her through an illness.  When she quite recovered he told her he should not be coming again for a little while as she was so much better.  She told him she hoped he would continue his visits, as the truth was she had taken a fancy to him, and would like to be his wife.  Unfortunately he was not of the same mind.

The Crossway Path was a pretty walk leading to Love-lane, which was a narrow lane running parallel with the High-road to White Hart-lane.  Part of this lane is now Pembury-road.  In 1871, when the G.E.R. bridge was erected, this path was closed.

At the corner of Bruce Grove was a lodge, and where Maitland-terrace now stands was a long and very pretty garden rented by Mr. William Janson; at the end of this he had “The Lecture Hall” built, which was used for p. 52a library and different kinds of entertainments.  As the facilities for getting to town were not what they are now, it was a great boon to the neighbourhood.  We spent many a pleasant evening there, but after a time it was not successful.  I have been told that in its latter days the hall was engaged by some nigger minstrels for an entertainment.  The evening arrived and a good audience assembled in hopes of having an enjoyable time.  After waiting patiently, and as the entertainment did not commence, some one went to enquire the reason, when directly one of the performers came on the platform and sang, “We are going to skedaddle, skedaddle, skedaddle; we’re going to skedaddle away,” and then ran back into the retiring-room.  The audience laughed, thinking this was part of the performance and waited still longer; but getting impatient enquiries were again made, when it was found the minstrels had been as good as their word.  Not finding them in the retiring-room, some one looked out of the front door and saw the last one in the act of getting in the omnibus, which at once drove off.  They took the admission money with them, and were never heard of again.

For many years this hall was then used by the Plymouth Brethren, as their place of worship.  When Mr. Janson’s lease expired the hall was let to the Tottenham Constitutional Club.  There used to be four houses next, with gardens in front.  These were taken down and the sorting office and the London and Provincial Bank built.  When this Bank was first opened the business was p. 53carried on in one of the shops in Commerce-terrace opposite.

Adjoining Bruce Grove House, where Dr. Vos now lives, is the carriage factory, the business of which was for so many years carried on by Messrs. Glover and Sons.  One son had a most miraculous escape from death.  During a very heavy thunderstorm, not feeling well, he went upstairs to lie down.  Some time after, feeling better, he went downstairs again.  He had only just left the room when a thunderbolt fell on his bed, on the very spot where he had been lying.

The private roadway at the side led to the Tottenham Brewery (then kept by Messrs. Fullagar and Freeman) and ended in Love-lane.  Adjoining Charlton Cottage was the house Dr. Holt lived in; one of the two doctors then practising in Tottenham.  He was succeeded by Dr. Hall, who was so well known.

But all this part is so little altered that description is unnecessary until one comes to Moulding’s Carriage Factory, which was built in the year 1871 on the ground where Messrs. Larkins, the brewers, had a kind of storehouse.  This factory was burned down in 1881, and in the course of a very short time re-built.


This was the next place of interest.  The grounds, nearly twelve acres in extent, were enclosed in a high brick wall, which went all round.  The lodge stood at the corner of what is now Pembury-road, and through the gates one could catch a glimpse of the p. 54beautiful hydrangeas, and other flowers bordering the carriage drive, leading to the mansion, which stood not far from Lordship-lane.  It was a good old house, with a fine entrance hall; it struck me as being very gloomy upstairs, the bedroom doors all being painted black.  There were many pretty, shady walks in the gardens and fields; in one part was a nut walk.

When the hall was pulled down in 1867 a portion of the ground was thrown out to widen Lordship-lane, which was at that time very narrow.

There was a row of pretty, small cottages on the right-hand side of the lane, several of them built of wood.  The tenants took great pains with their gardens and grape vines, which were covered with bunches of white grapes.  The houses that came next, called Bruce-terrace, were built by Mr. Thomas Finney, an ironfounder.  They have one peculiarity—each house has an iron step at the gateway in lieu of stone.  From this point to Bruce Castle grounds there were fields on both sides.  On the left-hand side there was a row of majestic elm trees.  The white house in the middle of the field was the residence of Mr. Francis Fox.


Bruce Castle has always had a fascination for me, thinking of the changes that have taken place since Robert Bruce, father of Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, who died in 1303, lived in the castellated mansion that formerly occupied the site.  Later on, when it came into the possession of Sir p. 55William Compton, he re-built it, and again it seems associated with Scotland, for on the Saturday after Ascension Day, in 1516, King Henry VIII. met his sister, Margaret, Queen of Scots, at “Maister Compton’s house beside Tottnam.”  One can imagine the scene that was enacted there, when Sir William’s grandson, Henry Lord Compton, was honoured by a visit from Queen Elizabeth in May, 1578.  History says the Castle was repaired, and almost re-built, in the latter part of the Seventeenth Century, by Henry Lord Coleraine, who succeeded the Comptons.  He removed the arms of Compton from the old porch, and placed them over the entrance of the inside, out of respect to that illustrious family.  At this time there was stabling for twelve horses, and a treble coach-house, with lofts over.  Gradually the glory of the place departed; it passed from owner to owner, and when Mr. Ede, a merchant, of London, purchased it in 1814, these stables and coach-houses were pulled down.  Up till the early part of last Century the principal entrance was in the centre of the Castle, and on either side of the door orange and lemon trees were growing in large tubs, which gave it a very pretty appearance.  This door was afterwards closed, and the entrance made at the side.  In 1827 Mr. Ede sold the mansion, with 15 acres of pleasure grounds, gardens, etc., to Messrs. Hill, who started a boys’ school, which was under their management for fifty years.  It is interesting to know that Sir Rowland Hill, to whom we are indebted for the Penny Postage Stamp, was one of the joint purchasers.  In p. 561877 the Rev. W. Almack, M.A., took over the school, and it remained in his hands until the school was dissolved in 1890, when Mr. Pedley rented the Castle and grounds for two years, and during this time the building was used for a Loan and Industrial Exhibition.  The estate was finally sold for the use of the public, and called Bruce Castle Park.  Till within quite recent years the trees and bushes in the front of the Castle were a sight to behold when out in full bloom—white and pink horse-chestnuts, laburnum, white and pink may, guelder roses, and lilac.  The ivy was so thick and broad on the top of the wall for some distance down Lordship-lane that it formed quite a verandah.  During a heavy storm a great part was blown down.  In olden times a curious custom prevailed at Bruce Castle: When any of the family died the corpse was not allowed to be carried through the gate, so an opening was made in the wall near the Church, and through this the coffin was taken.  In the time when corpses could be arrested for debt a man died there and, owing to this custom, the family were able to get the corpse into the churchyard before the creditors could claim the body.  When the last aperature was opened a Gothic door was fixed in its place.


At the beginning of last Century the Parish Church, dedicated to All Saints, was the only church in Tottenham, and although smaller than at present it was large enough for the number of worshippers.  But as the p. 57number of inhabitants increased, although other churches had been erected, it was necessary to enlarge it, and in 1876 the new chancel was built, north and south transepts, an organ chamber, double vestries, and a north porch added, and what was formerly the old chancel absorbed in the nave, and the new roofs made considerably higher than the old.  For my part, I like to think of the “Old Church,” as we used to call it, as it was when I was a child, with the high pews with doors to them, two of which were square, with seats all round, like a little room.  One of these was allotted to the tenant of the Moat House, Tottenham Park.  The centre alley of the nave was paved with grave stones, but they were so worn by time that in many cases the inscriptions were nearly obliterated.  There was a gallery at each side, and one at the west end, where the girls from the Blue School sat.  The organ was in this gallery; Mr. Stone was the organist for a great many years.  On the wall of the gallery on the south side were placed all the Hatchments that had been taken from the large houses in the neighbourhood.  The other gallery was private; built and presented to the church by three gentlemen of the congregation.  The pulpit was a three-decker; the lower part was where the minister stood to read the lessons, and by the side was the sort of box, where the Parish Clerk sat.  One of his duties was to say all the “Amens,” and also to read the alternate verses of the Psalms, etc.  We children used to look forward with pleasure to hearing Psalm lxxiv., for when it came p. 58to the eleventh verse, to our great amusement, old James Filsell always said: “Why pluckest thou not thy right hand out of thy ‘buzzum.’”  The Vicar then was the Rev. Thomas Newcome, who lived at Shenley; he was also Vicar of that parish, and it was only occasionally he came to Tottenham to take the service.  He never failed to come on the 25th Sunday after Trinity, and my recollection of him is hearing him say, in loud and impressive tones, the collect beginning, “Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the wills of Thy faithful people.”  The strong accent on the first two words always made them sound “Stour oop.”

We only had morning and afternoon service, and as it used to get dusk on winter afternoons the pew opener placed two flat brass candlesticks on the top of the last pew on either side of the aisle to light the congregation out.  It was not a brilliant illumination, but it served every purpose.

The next Vicar was the Rev. W. J. Hall.  During the latter part of his time some of the congregation wished to have an evening service, and offered to pay for a minister from London to conduct it; but on talking it over with Mr. Forster’s father, his remark was, “I am getting into years, Forster, and so are you; so we will not consent to it, and if any one wishes for an evening service there are other churches to which they can go.”  But Mr. Hale, who succeeded Mr. Hall, willingly agreed to the request.

Over the Altar at the East there was a beautiful window of ancient painted glass divided into eight compartments, containing p. 59the representations of St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, with smaller figures of David, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.  It was given to the Church in 1807 by John Eardly Wilmot, who then resided at Bruce Castle.  The other windows were all plain glass.

The most remarkable monument in the Church, of fine white marble, against the upper end of the north wall, was erected to the memory of Maria, the daughter of Richard Wilcocks, of Tottenham, and the wife of Sir Robert Barkham, of Wainfleet, in the County of Lincoln, who died in 1644.  The monument is ornamented with the busts of the deceased and her husband; Sir Robert being represented in armour, with a peaked beard and whiskers, holding a book in one hand; and his wife habited in veil, necklace, handkerchief, and stomacher, very richly ornamented with lace, also with a book in one hand and resting the other on a skull.  On the base of the monument are on a black ground the effigies in white marble of four sons on one side and eight daughters on the other in praying attitude; the first on each side kneeling to a desk with a book on it.  One of the children on either side is represented as deceased, and laid wrapped in a shroud, with a death’s head under the pillow.

Underneath the painted window the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments were written, and on either side of the Altar rails were two large boards covered with leather; on these was written in letters of gold an account of the bequests to the Parish.

Formerly the Vestries used to be held in p. 60the Vestry-room, but as the population increased, and there was more business to be done, the accommodation was not sufficient, and so they were held, first at the Lecture Hall, and afterwards at the Drill Hall, and now at the Bruce Grove Board School.

The bell that is known as the saints or vestry bell was given to the Church in 1801 by Humphrey Jackson, Esq., M.D., who lived for many years in White Hart-lane.  This bell has upon it an ornamented cross on which are fleur-de-lis and on the upper part the inscription “Sit nomen Domine Benedictum I.H., Fecit, 1663,” together with two medals and an ornamental border.  On the lower part there are other medals, on one of which is a representation of the Virgin and Child.  This bell was the alarm bell to the garrison of Quebec, and was appropriated by some drunken sailors during the siege of that place by the force under General Townsend.  It is believed there is a quantity of silver in its composition, which accounts for its melodious sound.

In former years some poor pensioner was allowed to make a home in the room over the porch.  The last was Betty Fleming.  She kept a great many cats, and used to place saucers with milk for them all round the churchyard.  She died in 1790, aged 100 years, having lived in that room forty years.

A dog would not be permitted to enter a church now, but I remember when Charles Bradford (old blind Charlie as he was called) was led in by his dog, and it remained with p. 61him all the service, so quiet that no one would have known it was there.

One Sunday evening in the summer of 1876 there was a terrific storm.  All through the sermon it had been getting darker and darker, and when the last hymn was being sung the storm broke out in great fury, the last verse had to be omitted, and the Vicar gave the Benediction.  The noise was deafening; the hailstones were immense; they smashed the Lanthorne light, and glass was flying in all directions.  Outside the water was so deep that those who attempted to leave the church were obliged to come back.  To add to the confusion one lady went into hysterics.  Some one covered her with a waterproof so that she should not see the lightning.  Fortunately I had a bottle of strong smelling salts with me, which I sent to her, and after a time she recovered.  Everyone, I believe, was frightened; some were deadly pale, and it was a great relief to all of us when the storm abated.  But many people had cause to remember it as it did so much damage, destroying the crops in the market gardens and smashing such quantities of glass.

At one time the churchyard was sufficient, not only for Tottenham, but for Wood Green as well, and one could wander over the grass and amongst the graves.  There were not any very curious epitaphs; one I thought very beautiful was on a stone erected to the memory of a pupil at Bruce Castle.  It commenced, “Far from his native home the little Sulliot came.”  On another was written, “Charlotte, we shall meet p. 62again.”  The stone was erected by a man who lost his wife.  But after a time his grief subsided, and he married again, whereupon he caused these words to be erased.

When the Church was altered the churchyard also underwent a considerable change.  The paths were diverted, and many of the stones were removed to another part.  One lady strongly objected to having her family vault touched, and applied to the Secretary of State to uphold her in her refusal, which he did.  Her reply to the Vicar when he asked her to reconsider her decision was, “Cursed is he who removeth his neighbour’s land-mark.”

My grandmother was buried at the time there were body-snatchers, and my mother was so afraid of her body being disturbed, that, although she employed two men to keep watch, she went accompanied by her maid at various hours of the night to see that they were doing their duty, and always found them at their post.  It was a very lonely walk, but her love for her mother made her brave.  There was a watch-box on the north side of the tower, and for a fortnight or three weeks after a burial old David Hummett, who was one of the Charlies, kept watch.  I have heard that somewhere about this time a lady was buried in Edmonton Churchyard wearing some very handsome rings.  This was much talked about, and some men for the sake of the booty dug up the coffin that night, and opening it, commenced to cut off her fingers as they were unable to remove the rings.  To their horror she sat up.  They p. 63made off as quickly as they could, and she walked home to her husband’s house and rang at the bell and he opened the door to her.  What he felt no one can tell; at any rate it must have been a shock to his nerves.  She lived for some years after, and this account was given to my mother by the nurse who attended the lady when her baby was born.  She was in a trance, so the men’s greed was fortunate for her, as it saved her life.


an old-fashioned residence adjoining the churchyard, was in the year 1620 occupied by a Mr. Fenton.  On the beautifully carved ceiling of the dining-room his name appears thus: Fenton, and an illustration of a barrel or tun.  This design was also found on some Dutch tiles which were part of the original hearthstone.  I remember Mrs. Hannah Wakeling living here.  She was the owner of “Priory Side,” “Hornchurch,” and “Bruce Lodge.”  She left each house to the tenant who was living there at the time of her death.

Scotlands is the name of the sexton’s cottage—a quaint, detached, wooden building on the east side of the church.  It was for a great many years occupied by Mr. Joseph Forster, the sexton, and when he died his son, Mr. Alfred Forster, who succeeded him, bought and enfranchised it.  Turning the corner by Rose Cottage, the bar, which was placed there so many years ago to prevent vehicular traffic, still stretches across the road.


This was opened in January, 1858, a few years after the parish purchased the ground on the north side, and since then it has been much enlarged in the other direction.  Continuing along Lordship-lane, after passing Bruce Castle, on the left hand side of the road, there stood two good residences, in the first of which John Elliott Howard lived, and in the other Thomas Fox.  A short distance further the substantial farmhouse “Broadwaters” occupied by John Phillips, a prominent member of the Society of Friends.  This farm was part of the Downhills Estate, and was 220 acres in extent.  Some distance further up the lane was a small farm, then an unbroken stretch of fields to the four cross roads.  Passing Wood Green Common, where there were several good houses, one came to Tottenham Wood, an estate of 379 acres, the property of Thomas Rhodes, a relative of Cecil Rhodes, of South African fame; when he died it was sold to the Company who built the Alexandra Palace there.  It used to be said that whenever a fog, or mist, rose out of Tottenham Wood, and hung over it like smoke, it was a sign of rain and bad weather; the rhyme was:

“When Tottenham Wood is all on fire,
Then Tottenham street is nought but mire.”

Coming back to the High-road, where the offices of the Gas Company now stand was one of the many ponds for which Tottenham was noted; then a large house called “The Ferns.”  My mother well remembered p. 65the mansion which stood next; for many years her father dined there, every other Sunday, with his friend William Salte.  This was one of the most conspicuous residences in the parish.  In 1730 Philip De La Haize lived there; he was a wealthy London merchant.  At his death he bequeated the interest of £100 to the poor of the parish.  Mr. Salte died in 1816.  It was found impossible to let or sell the place as a whole, so the house was pulled down, and the materials, with the land, sold by auction, the materials alone realising £2,500, which shows that the house must have been very substantial.  There was a very handsome clock over the stables; Mr. Salte had it made by Thwaites, of Clerkenwell; he ordered it to be “as good as any between London and York,” and it cost him £400.  At the sale it was purchased by Miss Deborah Dermer for £75, who had it fixed on her residence, Coleraine House, Stamford Hill, which was from that time known as the Clock House.  The beautiful wrought-iron gates were left.  The land stood idle for so many years that many considered it to be in Chancery, but this was not the case.  The reason devolved upon the question of the heir-at-law.  Mr. Thomas Dermer, having a son or daughter, Mr. Gripper, of the Bell Brewery, very much wished to purchase it, but the risk was too great.  A few years before Mr. Dermer died he sold it to the Law Reversionary Society for a mere trifle, who a short time after sold it to Messrs. Harper, who built Criterion-buildings, Cedar-road (taking its name from the noble cedar tree p. 66which stood on the estate), Ruskin-road, and Pembury-avenue.  The land extended to the grounds of Bruce Castle.

The row of houses called Moselle-terrace, lay back from the road.  In the enclosure a fountain was erected, the ground having been bored to the depth of one hundred and nineteen feet, the main spring was tapped and a plentiful supply of water obtained.  The fountain was in the form of a cast-iron ornamental pedestal; the water rose about six feet from the ground, and was discharged through the mouth of a dolphin about 18 inches from the ground.  The pedestal was removed in 1839, and the water, instead of being allowed to run waste as formerly, was conducted into a trough placed by the side of the road for the use of cattle passing to the London markets.


This used to be called The Nursery, as Charles Coleman had a large nursery there.  The ground was afterwards used for a brickfield.  Near Bruce Castle grounds was the Lancasterian School for boys, supported by voluntary contributions.

Messrs. Le Gros, Thompson and Bird, crape finishers, had a factory in Love-lane.  This was burnt down in the year 1860, and the business was then removed to Norwich.  The manager, James Bayliss, lived in the house in the front, which is now used as a Convent School.

Whitehall House stood on the site, now covered with shops and houses, known as Whitehall-terrace, Whitehall-street, and p. 67Moselle-street.  The estate consisted of between six and seven acres of land.  In one part of the pleasure grounds there was a Serpentine Walk.  The house was some distance back from the road, and in the front was a beautiful lake, with swans on it.  Mr. Charles Soames was the owner and occupier.


At one time called Parsonage-lane.  At the end of a turning on the right-hand side was the old Roman Catholic Chapel, which was used until the present Church was erected in the High-road.  The Grange needs no description, as it still looks as it did in the days when I remember Miss Buckworth living there.  After passing several good houses, one came to the Vicarage, which still stands; the senior curate, the Reverend John Saumarey Winter, lived there.  Then there were two good houses, the further of which was the scene of a very sad accident—two children being burned to death in their beds.  The parents were away from home, and the servants, taking advantage of their absence, gave a party, and forgot all about the poor little ones until too late.  Before St. Katharine’s College was built the ground was used for allotment gardens; there is so little alteration in the cottages and houses that follow that no description is needed.  Dr. Robinson, who wrote the History of Tottenham, in 1818, lived in the house now known as Trafalgar House.  There was a large field opposite, the path through which formed a quick cut to the bend of the lane.  On one side was a quick set p. 68hedge, and bank; in about the middle the path widened into what looked like a little room, and here, under the shelter of the hedge, poor old Blind Charlie lived for many years.  The Rev. Mr. Hall, the Vicar, kindly gave him a mattress to lie on.  In the field adjoining the Churchyard a poor, homeless boy dug a hole, near the hedge, where he used to sleep, the opening being covered with a tea-tray.  But he was not allowed to stay there long, as children were afraid of passing.  The old bridge crossing the Moselle was a pretty, narrow one, and on either side stood a fine oak tree.  The trees in the second field were very beautiful.


The large house covered with ivy which has quite recently been pulled down, was at one time the Manor House of Pembrokes, and called The Parsonage, or Rectory House.  I remember when it was called the Moated House.  It was built in 1636, and was surrounded by a moat, over which was a drawbridge.  In 1797 Henry Piper Sperling, Esq., purchased the Mansion House of Pembrokes, with forty-nine acres of land adjoining, and the whole of the great or rectorial tithes.  Soon after he had the moat filled up.  The staircase of this house was very fine.  There used to be a cheerful air of activity about the old Rectory Farm, with its well-stocked farmyard, and the ducks and the geese swimming on the pond.  The pretty little plantation by the side of the road, which a little farther on branched right and left, the road to the right leading to Clay Hill.  p. 69At the second bend of the lane, on the left stood a pretty, long, low house, with a creeper-covered verandah; this was called Turner’s Farm; the yard and outbuildings of this adjoined those belonging to River House.  The New River Company owned the next farm, and here the road ended in a beautiful cornfield, across which was a footpath leading to Tile Kiln-lane.  There used to be plenty of water in the river, but it has been gradually getting less and less.  There was an echo in one of the fields leading to Beet-lane, White Hart-lane; it was so quiet all round this spot we often amused ourselves with raising it.  A little farther on came Snakes-lane, leading to Lordship-lane, and Wolves-lane, leading to Tile Kiln-lane.  These lanes were all very lonely, and a practical joker created a scare by roaming round in the evening.  He was covered with a white sheet, and walked on high stilts; he was called Spring-heel Jack, but who he was or where he came from was never discovered; everyone was glad when he got tired of this form of amusement.  I knew one old inhabitant who was one evening walking along Lordship-lane with his daughters when they saw a white object in the distance.  The girls immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was Spring-heel Jack, and were so terrified they screamed so loudly that they were heard in Wood Green; but it was a false alarm, it was someone carrying home a basket of washing.  Speaking of the loneliness of the few houses in this lane, Mr. Thomas Fox, who lived there, made it a practice to go into the p. 70garden and fire off a gun every evening before retiring to rest in order to let people know he could defend himself against burglars.


In the year 1878 Tottenham High-road was flooded from Bruce Grove to White Hart-lane.  One of the sons of Mr. Gripper, of the Bell Brewery, had a boat, and rowed up and down, taking passengers at 6d. each, the money being given to the Tottenham Hospital.  The Tottenham Hospital and Deaconesses’ Institution was started by Dr. Laseron in 1868.  He worked indefatigably on its behalf, and people were so willing to help him that those who were unable to give money gave their jewellery.  It was recognised that a hospital was much needed; the present building shows how this need has gone on increasing.


was not such an easy matter when my mother was a child, and people did not expect to take the yearly holiday which is now considered a necessity.  Places which now can be reached in a few hours’ time were then quite a long journey, and one had to travel either by post-chaise or stagecoach, which was pleasant for the outside passengers on a fine summer day, but anything but comfortable if the weather was cold or wet.  It was very cheerful to hear the guard sounding his horn.  For those who could not afford these conveyances there was the waggon—a very slow mode of p. 71travelling, this.  It was a huge, clumsy-looking vehicle, drawn by four horses, the waggoner walking by the side and occasionally sitting on the shafts for some distance; at night carrying a horn lanthorn.  These waggons were used for moving goods from place to place, and were very roomy.  I knew a lady who, when she was a child, travelled in this way, under the care of a maid, from Lincolnshire to Tottenham.  My earliest recollection of travelling is of going to the sea-side in a post-chaise; two horses were sent on the day before we started.  We went either to Margate or Worthing, and left home at four o’clock in the morning.  We travelled all day, changing horses halfway, arriving at our destination that evening.  For those who liked the water there was a boat called “The Margate Hoy.”  Sometimes we varied our holiday and took apartments at a farmhouse at Finchley, which was then beautiful country.  On those occasions we went in my father’s phæton.  It was a very pretty drive all the way from Tottenham.

My mother remembered a public conveyance called a Shillibeer; this took its name from the inventor.  Later on this was transformed into the Omnibus, and there was a number of these conveyances on the road, running to London and back every hour, the terminus being the “Flower Pot,” Bishopsgate-street.  Occasionally one was confronted with the alternative of either walking home or waiting an hour.  For instance, when the May meetings were held, to which the “Friends” flocked in large p. 72numbers, there was keen competition for a seat; no woman would have thought of going outside.  I remember once seeing a respectable-looking country woman, taking her midday meal in the omnibus on her road to London.  She evidently thought she was making a long journey, for opening her basket she placed a small cloth on her knees; she then produced a packet of bread and butter, a little parcel of salt, and, putting an egg in a cup, calmly ate her lunch.  On another occasion a well-known rather eccentric character, having purchased some peas, shelled them in the omnibus to save time on his return home.

Tottenham lost its rural character when the railroads were made.  The first of these was the Great Eastern main line, the Hale and Park Stations being then opened.  Park Station being some distance from the main road Mr. Hall started a service of omnibusses from “The Horse and Groom” at Edmonton to this station.  The next was the Midland, and lastly the Great Eastern suburban line to Enfield.  When this was started the terminus was Bishopsgate-street.

Omnibusses were succeeded by horse trams, these again by steam trams, having a particularly clumsy appearance, and in a short time horse trams re-appeared, only to be again altered to electric trams.

It may not be generally known that once every year there used to be an official perambulation of the parish; this was called “beating the bounds,” and was regarded as an important occasion to mark the boundaries p. 73of the parish.  Of course nothing was allowed to be an obstacle; where necessary the beaters went through hedges and ditches, and even through ponds, and at various places one of the boys who accompanied the procession was well bumped against a wall to impress the boundary on his mind, so that in after years he could testify from personal knowledge if any doubt arose.

The first local paper in Tottenham was called “Paul Pry”; it was so personal in its remarks, and so much mischief was made by it, that its life was a brief one.  On the outside was the illustration of a man, with an umbrella under his arm, and the words, “I have just stepped in; I hope I don’t intrude.”

The “Weekly Herald” was started in 1861.  It had a lot of subsidiary titles, besides that of the North Middlesex Advertiser which it still bears, but they have since been discarded.  It was started by Mr. E. Cowing under the management of Mr. Crusha, who took it over in July, 1864.


Decorative graphic


Tottenham: Crusha & Son, Typ., 821, High Road.