View from Alexandra Palace over Crouch End, Hornsey and London Skyline
Crouch End and Hornsey
Crouch End is an area of North London, approximately 5 miles from the City of London in the western half of the borough of Haringey. It is within the Hornsey postal district (N8).
Crouch End lies between Harringay to the east; Hornsey, Muswell Hill and Wood Green to the north; Stroud Green and Archway to the south; and Highgate to the west. It is located 4.6 miles north of Charing Cross and 5.1 miles from the City of London.
The name Crouch End is derived from Middle English. A ‘crouch’ meant cross while an ‘end’ referred to an outlying area. Some think that this refers to the borders of the parish, in other words, the area where the influence of the parish ends. Its name has been recorded as Crouchend (1465), Crowchende (1480), the Crouche Ende (1482), and Crutche Ende (1553). In 1593 it is recorded as “Cruch End”.
Crouch End was the junction of four locally important roads. A wooden cross was erected at the junction of these roads, roughly where the Clock Tower now stands, and a small settlement developed around it. Crouch End seems to have developed as the early centre of cultivation for Hornsey, and was where the farmsteads seem to have been grouped.
From the later part of the eighteenth century, Crouch End, along with most of Hornsey, became home to wealthy London merchants seeking a refuge from the City. However, the area remained rural in character until around 1880. The development of the railway changed the area significantly. By 1887 there were seven railway stations in the area. By the end of the 19th century, Crouch End had become a prosperous middle-class suburb due to an influx of mainly clerical workers who could easily commute to the city. The large old houses were replaced by comfortable middle-class housing, public parks were created, and a number of new roads and avenues, such as Elder Avenue and Weston Park, were laid out.
It expanded greatly in the late Victorian period and most of its present-day streets were built up in the late 19th century. By the mid-1930s Crouch End had a popular shopping centre that included a Music Hall in the middle of Topsfield Parade.
Until 1965 it was administratively part of the Municipal Borough of Hornsey and that body’s forerunners. In 1965, when local government in London was reorganised, Hornsey merged with the boroughs of Wood Green and Tottenham, and Crouch End became part of the London Borough of Haringey.
Crouch End Broadway and clocktower
In the post-war years, the London-wide provision of social housing led to the building of council homes in and around Crouch End, Hornsey Vale and Hornsey itself. Many of the older houses in the area lay empty post-war and many were bought cheaply by speculative landlords who then let them out to the growing student populations of the Mountview and Hornsey Art College as well as to artists and musicians, who flocked to the area because of cheap rents. The area became known as student bedsit land for several decades into the early 1980s until rising house prices changed the social profile of the area and progressively wealthier residents moved in. These social changes were accompanied by changes in the shop types over the period; the change brought a large number of estate agents, hairdressers, restaurants and cafes. However, Crouch End retains a good selection of traditional high street shops including 2 butchers, a fishmonger, 2 grocers, 3 bakers, 2 bookshops, 4 children’s shops, over 30 places to buy a cup of coffee, 8 pubs and 2 cinemas.
Hornsey Town Hall
Hornsey Town Hall is in the centre of Crouch End
Among its more prominent buildings is the modernistic Hornsey Town Hall, built by the Municipal Borough of Hornsey as their seat of government in 1933–35. It is now a Grade ll * listed building one of about 21,767 . The architect was the New Zealand-born Reginald Uren. The interior and exterior have been used several times as a location by the BBC series The Hour, written by Abi Morgan, and other TV and films, including a scene in The Crown. The building is about to undergo renovation and conversion into a hotel, apartments and an arts centre by the Far East Consortium.
The red-brick Clock Tower has become a much-loved icon of Crouch End. Designed by the architect Frederick Knight, it was originally built as a memorial to Henry Reader Williams in 1895. Williams was Chairman of the local authority of Hornsey from 1880-1894, and played a key part in shaping the district, in particular campaigning against developers for the preservation of Highgate Wood and Queen’s Wood. He also paved the way for the purchase of Alexandra Palace and Park by a consortium of local authorities in 1901. After Williams’s retirement the newly designated Hornsey Urban District Council decided to erect a clock tower to celebrate his achievements. Out of the estimated cost of £1200, £900 was raised by public subscription, such was the respect the community had for Williams. On 23 June 1895 a ceremony was held for its unveiling. The Broadway was hung with flags, and the Tower connected to nearby houses with festoons. Over a thousand people assembled, and at 12 noon the Earl of Stafford, Lord-Lieutenant of Middlesex, released a blue ribbon hanging from the belfry and the clock struck its first notes. The bronze sculptor of the portrait head of Williams was created by Alfred Gilbert, who also designed Eros in Piccadilly Circus.
Crouch End Hippodrome
Main article: Crouch End Hippodrome
The Crouch End Hippodrome originally opened on Tottenham Lane in July 1897 as the Queen’s Opera House with a production of The Geisha. The Theatre was a reconstruction of the former Crouch End Athenaeum and was built for the owners and managers H. H. Morell and Frederick Mouillot (who at the time owned another 17 Theatres between them). The theatre sat 1500 people. It was renamed the Hippodrome in 1907 and became a popular music hall. During a bombing raid in 1940 it was very badly damaged. It is now a Virgin gym.
Hornsey College of Art
Main article: Hornsey College of Art
In 1880 an art school was established by Charles Swinstead, an artist and teacher who lived at Crouch End. It became “an iconic British art institution, renowned for its experimental and progressive approach to art and design education”. In May 1968, as Hornsey College of Art, it was occupied by students as a protest against the ideology of art education and teaching in Britain. The occupation, soon joined by others around the country, and linked with similar events in Paris, offered a major critique of the education system at the time. After the authorities regained control, known as the ‘night of the dogs’, sympathetic lecturers and students who had taken part (including Tom Nairn and Kim Howells) were dismissed. Later the college was merged with Middlesex Polytechnic, now University, in the 1970s. Subsequently, it was relocated to a Middlesex campus at Alexandra Palace and the lease of the building taken over by the TUC, which used it as its national training centre. In 2005 Haringey Council took it over, extending and converting the building in order to enlarge Coleridge Primary School.
Further information: London Borough of Haringey § Education
There are three state secondary schools serving the N8 Crouch End area. Highgate Wood School in Montenotte Road is a nine form entry mixed school. Highgate Wood School was the senior school to the former Crouch End School based on the corner of Wolseley Road and Park Road, opposite the Maynard Arms. Hornsey School for Girls in Inderwick Road is the only single sex school in N8. In Hornsey, there is the Greig City Academy (formerly St David and St Katherines). Further away Heartlands High School which lies between Wood Green and Alexandra Palace was opened by Haringey in 2010; despite not being in Crouch End it is close enough to provide additional provision. St Thomas More Catholic School, Wood Green is the only Roman Catholic secondary school in the London Borough of Haringey.
Over 6,000 children school in the area, approx 2,300 in primary schools and 3,700 in secondary schools (11-18).
Kestrel House is an independent special school for pupils with autistic spectrum conditions and additional learning and behavioural needs. The vast majority of pupils are referred by local authorities in London and the Home Counties who pay the fees. It is housed in the former Mountview Theatre School premises at the north end of Crouch Hill -the end nearest Crouch End Broadway. Also in the independent (fee paying sector) are Highgate School and Channing School, both used by parents in Crouch End but located in Highgate.
There are a number of primary schools serving Crouch End (seven in total within the N8 postcode): Weston Park, Rokesly School, Coleridge Primary School at the top of Crouch End Hill near the border with Islington, St Aidans in Stroud Green (not N8), St Gildas and St Peter-in Chains, just off Crouch Hill and St Mary’s in Hornsey. Campsbourne Primary School on Nightingale Lane, North Harringay Primary School on Falkland Road and Ashmount Primary School. Ashmount was until December 2012 on the south side of Hornsey Lane, in Islington and in the N19 postal district, but only meters from Haringey. (The border between Haringey and Islington runs down Hornsey Lane.) The school moved January 2013 to a new building in Crouch Hill Park adjacent to the Parkland Walk in N8.
There are many nursery schools in the area, including Bright Horizons, Creative Explorers, Keiki and MTO.
Hornsey Library is located on Haringey Park, N8. The Grade ll listed building is on a site adjoining the south side of Hornsey Town Hall. The Library contains a large book stock, DVDs, provides free access to the Internet, meeting rooms for adult education classes, the Original Gallery for art exhibitions, literary groups and performers. There is also a children’s library, where events for pre-school children take place.
‘Reclining figure in Bronze’ sculpture dating from 1964 by Thomas Bayliss Huxley-Jones outside Hornsey Library in Crouch End
Permanent artwork includes the engraved Hornsey Window by Fred Mitchell, and a bronze sculpture outside by Huxley-Jones. The library contains the Community and Youth Music Library, one of largest collections of music sets in the country. Owned by a charitable company, it was started over 100 years ago and is now located semi-permanently at Hornsey Library.
To the immediate west, lies Highgate Wood, and the adjacent Queen’s Wood, as well as a large expanse of playing fields. To the north is Alexandra Park and to the south Finsbury Park. The Parkland Walk, a former railway line, makes a circuitous connection part of the way between these two parks. Other parks in the area include Stationers’ Park, Priory Park and Crouch Hill Park in Islington.
Local Civic Society
Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum
The Neighbourhood Forum, set up in response to the government initiatives under the heading ‘localism’. The Forum is formally recognised by the London Borough of Haringey as representative of Crouch End. One of the first tasks of the Forum was to define the boundaries of Crouch End. The Forum’s main task is to produce a Neighbourhood Plan
Hornsey Historical Society
Founded in 1971, the HHS has over 400 members and is based in the old school house on the boundary between Hornsey and Crouch End by Holy Innocents The HSS was originally formed to research, preserve and promote the history of the parish of Hornsey, and from 1983 included the area covered by the parliamentary constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green. They have over 21,000 items including articles, books, documents & manuscripts, local newspapers, maps, photographs, postcards and video memories. They also sell books on the local history and organise talks. Link to HHS website
Local arts scene
Crouch End has long been associated with creativity, especially since the 1970s when many artists, musicians, film and TV makers, animators and performers of all kinds flocked here due to cheap rents. According to Haringey Council, a higher than average proportion of the population are a bit pretentious/ work in the creative industries.
Crouch End has two cinemas, the independent Art House and the Crouch End Picturehouse.
Crouch End is home to the Kings Head, one of the UK’s top comedy venues.
Crouch End is home of the symphonic choir, Crouch End Festival Chorus. The choir has worked with many classical and popular music artists including Ennio Morricone, Noel Gallagher, Andrea Bocelli, Katherine Jenkins. It has recorded with Lesley Garrett, Bryn Terfel, Ray Davies, Alfie Boe, EMI Classics and Classic FM, performed at The Proms in the Royal Albert Hall on several occasions and recorded works for film, television and sound track recording. Amongst those is the soundtrack for Doctor Who. It also commissions works from modern composers on its own account.
Crouch End Festival
The ‘Crouch End Festival’ re-instated in May 2012 by Chris Arnold, Robin Stevenson and Marice Cumber. It originally started as a group of egotists’ Facebook site, Crouch End Creatives. It includes art exhibitions, drama, dance, film, poetry, photography, fringe, music, an outdoor cinema, introduced by Peter Bradshaw, in the Hornsey Town Hall square and one of London’s biggest Zombie Walks. The Festival features over 200 artists plus 14 schools, 6 churches and numerous community groups across over 60 venues and was somewhat laughably described by the Ham & High Broadway as ‘London’s own mini Edinburgh Festival’.
The Church Studios, and Bob Dylan
In the early 1980s part of the old church on Crouch Hill was converted for use as a studio by Bob Bura and John John Hardwick, the animators who worked on Camberwick Green, Captain Pugwash and Trumpton. Named ‘The Church’, in 1990s the space was rented to Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics.
In the 1990s Bob Dylan worked on an album in the studio, and became so fond of the area he looked for a property in Crouch End. He was a regular at the now-closed Shamrat Indian restaurant.
Arts scene urban legends
- According to legend, in the 1990s Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics invited Bob Dylan to drop into his Crouch Hill recording studio any time he wanted to. It is said that Dylan took him up on his offer, but the taxi driver dropped him off on the adjacent Crouch End Hill. Dylan knocked on the door of the supposed home of Dave Stewart and asked for “Dave”. By coincidence, the plumber who lived there was also called Dave. He was told that Dave was out, and would he like to wait and have some tea? Twenty minutes later the plumber returned and asked his wife whether there were any messages. “No,” she said, “but Bob Dylan’s in the living room having a cup of coffee”
- The area gives its name to and is the setting for a short story of the supernatural by Stephen King. The writer and his wife, Tabitha, were invited to dinner by his friend Peter Straub, whose house is in Crouch End. En route to Straub’s house, they got lost, which was the inspiration for Crouch End. The story was later adapted as an episode of Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King.
- It is claimed that Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy once performed at the Crouch End Hippodrome and that they stayed at the Queen’s Hotel (now the Queen’s pub). Artist Richard Hamilton is said to have taken visitor Marcel Duchamp to the Queen’s Pub. The pub was built as a hotel in 1899–1902 by developer and architect John Cathles Hill to serve visitors to the Alexandra Palace races. The bar is an excellent example of a Victorian pub and also features a fine example of Art Nouveau decor and glass. Its larger sister pub, the Salisbury Hotel (now The Salisbury) in Harringay has some similar architectural details.
- Muswell Hill
- Stroud Green
Nearest tube stations
- Turnpike Lane
- Finsbury Park
Nearest railway stations
- Crouch Hill
- Finsbury Park
- Harringay Green Lanes railway station