Inventory Site Record

Priory Park (Haringey)

Brief Description

The park is named after The Priory, an early C19th house. It was laid out in two phases following initial land purchase by Hornsey Local Board in 1891. Originally known as Middle Lane Pleasure or Recreation Grounds, what is now the eastern part of the park opened in 1899 and this area preserves much of its C19th landscaping. The park was re-named The Priory Park after further land to the west was purchased in 1926 and added to the park, with tennis courts and other facilities added.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Middle Lane Pleasure Grounds or Recreation Grounds; The Priory Park
Site location:
Priory Road/High Street/Barrington Road/Middle Lane, Hornsey
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Park
Open to public?
Opening times:
7.30am to dusk
Special conditions:
Paddling pool with cafe, tennis courts, basketball courts, bowling green (events area), playground, toilets
Various, including the Crouch End Ten Kilometre Fun Run and annual Carter's Steam Fair; school holiday programme.
Public transport:
Rail: Hornsey then bus. Bus 41, 91, 144, W3.
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.haringey.gov.uk; www.fopp-n8.org.uk

Full Site Description

The name of the park originates from The Priory, a house in Priory Road built in the 1820s for the Warner family. In the late C19th this was the residence of Henry Reader Williams (d.1897), a wine merchant and the first Chairman of the Hornsey School Board, who is commemorated on a bronze relief portrait by Alfred Gilbert on Crouch End Clock Tower. The Priory Park is on an irregularly shaped site at the junction of Middle Lane and Priory Road, surrounded by C19th and early C20th residential streets, which prior to development was agricultural and waste land.

The park was laid out in two phases. The first followed Hornsey Local Board's acquisition of two parcels of land off Middle Lane in 1891, which together with the adjacent waste land was soon enclosed. Laying this out for what was to become Middle Lane Pleasure or Recreation Grounds did not begin until 1896. Initially road scrapings were used to fill up the low ground, a gate-keeper's cottage was built on Barrington Road, and in 1895 a fine grey granite drinking fountain was moved to the south end of the site from Crouch End Broadway. Inscribed with the words 'The Gift of C.T.P. Metcalf 1879', the drinking fountain consists of an obelisk surmounting a circular bowl and pedestal. The park's serpentine walks, shrubberies, trees and formal beds were completed in 1899 and a bandstand (no longer extant) was erected soon after 1900. In 1909 the large granite fountain at the north end was unveiled in the Pleasure Grounds. This was originally erected in St Paul's Cathedral Churchyard (q.v.) in 1880 but in 1909 the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's gave it to Hornsey. Made of 50 tons of Lamorna granite and formerly boasting a vertical jet from the vase and four jets spouting up into the upper basin, it is now used as a planter.

The second phase of the park followed in 1926 when a further 9 acres of land to the west known as Lewcock's Field was purchased from the family of that name, and from this time the enlarged park was re-named The Priory Park. This western section was laid out with tennis courts, and other facilities added in ensuing years included a bowling green in 1941, a putting green, and in 1960 a café, toilets and paddling pool. The putting green has since been removed and the bowling green is now a dog-free events and picnic area but the other features remain, together with a wooden kiosk with pitched tiled roof by the tennis courts and a wooden pavilion built for the bowling green.

The original eastern section of the park preserves much of its C19th/early C20th landscaping with well maintained bedding displays, serpentine walks, perimeter shrub beds, mature silver birches, plane trees and an attractive area of mixed tree planting just north of the large hard-surfaced playing area at the south end. These trees are on the site of a copse marked on the 1864 OS Map. The western section is generally laid to turf with lines of mature trees, including some C19th planes. An area known as the Philosophers Garden is in the western section, apparently so-called due to a debating society that used to meet here. Priory Park received a Millennium Festival Grant of over £4,400 for improvements in the Philosophers Garden, the work to include sculptures, sundial, water feature and tree seat. The Friends of Priory Park was established in 1996 and undertakes projects such as bulb planting, litter clearing, weeding and planting as well as organising events. The former Bowling Pavilion is now used as a Heritage Centre in partnership with BTCV, the Friends and the Hornsey Historical Society. The park received its first Green Flag award in 2003, retaining this in subsequent years. It has also won internal awards among Haringey Parks such as Best Park in 2004 and 2006. A 1km long Heritage Trail highlighting features of historical importance through a series of plaques and signs was opened by Michael Aspel in July 2006.

Sources consulted:

Victoria County History; Andrew Crowe, 'The Parks and Woodlands of London' (Fourth Estate, 1987); Travers; Gay and Whetstone; LB Haringey 'Priory Park Management Plan 2006-2010'

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ297892 (530001,189065)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Haringey
Site management:
Parks Service/Friends of Priory Park
1894/6-1900; 1926
Not known
Listed structures:
LBII: Metcalf Memorial Drinking Fountain; Fountain in centre of park
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Tree Preservation Order:
Yes - 15, 71 and 87 Priory Road
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Local Importance
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.