Before the Cypriot Community Centre

The Cypriot Community Centre
The Cypriot Community Centre

This building in Earlham Grove, Wood Green, serves all sections of the local Cypriot community, providing vital community services and facilities. The land it stands on has a long history, having been the site of a family home and educational establishment. What story has it to tell?   

The original building: Brabançonne Villa

James Coleman, like his neighbour and business associate Thomas W S Oakes at Westbury House, decided on semi rural Wood Green for his country family residence.  He bought a half acre plot of land in 1870 on the southern corner of Earlham Grove and the High Road opposite the old police station.  On this he built Brabançonne Villa, giving it the name, for some reason, of the Belgian national anthem, La Brabançonne. 

Brabanconne Villa, c.1930
Brabanconne Villa, c.1930

Coleman sold the house almost immediately to Alfred Durrant JP (1839 – 1899) who was an East India Company merchant, successful business man and property owner. He became an important Wood Green politician (Liberal) and local dignitary. He added an extra half acre to the grounds. The house was to be the Durrant family home for fifty years. There were seven children, five of whom were born in Wood Green. During this time the house became surrounded by mature plantings with a lawn and tennis court and an orchard to the rear.

Durrant was known locally as Colonel Durrant on account of the honorary rank bestowed on him by the Honourable Artillery Corps. He was prominent in the campaign to establish Wood Green Board of Health and the administrative separation of Wood Green from Tottenham achieved in 1888. He was also very active in the campaign to establish the Wood Green Cottage Hospital and was a trustee of many local charities and a keen supporter of the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon (PSA) movement. Durrant was a regular worshipper at St Mark’s Church Noel Park. He died in 1899 and his widow and children remained at Brabançonne Villa until her death in 1920.

Providence Convent School

Brabançonne Villa and grounds were sold in 1921 and purchased by the Daughters of Providence, a Catholic teaching order from Normandy, for the senior department of their Providence Convent School to occupy. This school had been founded in Wood Green in 1905. A new purpose-built St Angela’s Providence High School was erected in the orchard behind the house in 1926 which housed the junior and the senior schools. In the same year the Villa became the Providence Convent for the sisters. 

The school amalgamated with another convent school in Palmers Green in 1934. Both senior schools were located on the Earlham Grove site. The convent also located to Palmers Green and the villa was sold for commercial use in 1938 with restrictive covenants that any development must not be detrimental to the school. During the war the villa was used for Air Raid Precaution (ARP) purposes.

The senior schools were evacuated and the building in Earlham Grove occupied by the Middlesex Yeomanry, the Army Medical Corps. Also, it housed a British Restaurant. These were communal kitchens created during the war to help people who had been bombed out of their homes, had run out of ration coupons or otherwise needed help. 

Municipal and community use

The villa was acquired by Wood Green Council in 1955 and demolished by Haringey Council in the early 1970s to make way for council housing fronting Wood Green High Road. The school returned to the Earlham Grove site after the war. It closed in 1975 when pupils were transferred to an enlarged school, St Angela’s Catholic School for Girls in Palmers Green, a comprehensive school.

The school building subsequently became the Cypriot Community Centre, a charitable organization in partnership with the Borough of Haringey to provide vital community services and facilities for Haringey’s diverse and multi-cultural community. 

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