Inventory Site Record

St Mary's Churchyard and Garden of Remembrance (Haringey)

Brief Description

The public garden is on the site of the former church and churchyard of Hornsey Parish Church of St Mary. In 1831 the medieval church, with the exception of its early C16th tower, was demolished when a new church was built to serve the growing population. This was replaced by a larger church in 1889 and eventually demolished in 1927, leaving only the tower. In 1950 the area east of the tower was re-landscaped and dedicated as a Garden of Remembrance to those who died in WWII. It has a formal, symmetrical layout. North of the tower is the densest area of tombs and to the south the site is more open.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Hornsey Parish Church
Site location:
Church Lane/High Street Hornsey
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
unrestricted. Tower open at times during year, including Open House.
Special conditions:
Tower regularly opens for London Open House
Public transport:
Rail: Hornsey. Bus: 41, 144.
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.communigate.co.uk/london/fohct/

Full Site Description

Hornsey was a medieval parish and remained a small village centred on the High Street until the mid C19th, when the Great Northern Railway opened a station at Hornsey in 1850 and the area began to be developed. In 1894 Hornsey was designated an Urban District Council and in 1903 became a borough. The public garden is a more or less rectangular site set around the tower of St Mary's, the only surviving part of the parish church for which records go back to 1291, the tower itself dating from c.1500. In 1831 the medieval church, with the exception of the tower, was demolished and a new church by George Smith was erected. The nave of the old church was rebuilt and the tower was heightened, possibly using stone from the medieval name, but by the 1880s this was considered too small and another church was erected on the site now occupied by St Mary's School. The new church, designed by James Brooks, was consecrated in 1889. The churchyard of the old church was closed to burials in the late C19th and the church remained standing but disused until 1927 when it was pulled down leaving only the tower. Subsidence made the structure of the 1889 church unstable and it too was demolished in 1969. The parish of St Mary's was then annexed to that of St George's, Cranley Gardens, becoming the parish of St Mary's with St George's.

The burial ground was converted into a public garden in the 1950s and gravestones were laid flat or removed. The area east of the tower was re-landscaped and dedicated as a Garden of Remembrance to those who died in WWII by Bishop Curzon on 12 November 1950. The garden has a formal, symmetrical layout with raised shrub beds behind low stone retaining walls, York stone paths, and a pair of Gingko biloba. North of the tower is the densest area of tombs including C18th chest tombs; a large ash tree stands to the west of the main path. The churchyard is more open to the south of the tower with mature trees including yew, ash, holly, hawthorn, hornbeam, sycamore, plane, horse chestnut and sycamore. Among the monuments is the railed chest tomb of the poet Samuel Rogers (1763-1855) and his brother and sister; the tomb has recently been restored. Another poet buried here is Gerrit van de Linde (1808-58) who came to England from the Netherlands in 1834, establishing a school in Highgate. He was buried near the western edge of the churchyard, where later his son Frederick (d.1862 was buried. A large horse chestnut tree stands to the south-west of the tower. In 1951 Pevsner described 'the old tower standing in the overgrown well-wooded churchyard', which echoes an earlier description of the churchyard: 'screened by tall elms, wears a secluded and rural air, and has always been a favourite with those who love to meditate among the tombs' (Quoted in Murray p 31, no source given).

The Friends of Hornsey Church Tower was formed in 1989 with the object of ensuring a future for the historic tower and encouraging the maintenance of the churchyard and memorial garden as a place for quiet recreation for the local community. The churchyard remains in the ownership of the parish and regular services are held in the Tower. Hornsey Churchyard won a Green Pennant Award in 2010.

Sources consulted:

Murray, Ian 'St Mary's Church Hornsey' Hornsey Historical Society Bulletin, no. 26 pp 2-3 and no. 27 p 31; Schwitzer, Joan An Introduction to St Mary's Hornsey Churchyard. Ten Notable Victorians and their Families Friends of Hornsey Church Tower (FHCT), London 1990; Robinson, Eric St Mary's Tombstone Trail FHCT, London 1990; Cherry, Bridget, Hornsey Church Tower. A Brief History and Guide. FHCT, London 1993; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ306893 (530640,189260)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
PCC of St Mary's with St George (Diocese of London)
Site management:
LB Haringey/Friends of Hornsey Church Tower volunteers
medieval; 1950
Not known
Listed structures:
LBII: St Mary's Church Tower
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:
Conservation Area name:
Hornsey High Street
Tree Preservation Order:
Yes - 1 horse chestnut
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Local Importance
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes (part) - Northern part inc. tower : area of archaeological importance
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.