When Hornsey Historical Society was formed in 1971 the choice of the name ‘Hornsey’ was much more obvious to the new members and people interested in the society than it is today. Based on the ancient parish, Hornsey had become a municipal borough in 1903 and remained so until 1965 when it was amalgamated with the municipal boroughs of Tottenham and Wood Green to form the London Borough of Haringey. This was part of the reorganisation of Greater London.
So the demise of Hornsey Borough had happened only six years before HHS started. The old borough comprised of Crouch End, part of Highgate, Harringay, Hornsey Village, Muswell Hill and Fortis Green, Stroud Green and some of Finsbury Park which had originally been called Hornsey Wood. These areas were part of the county of Middlesex.
The areas of historical interest covered by Hornsey Historical Society were extended in 1983 when the parliamentary constituency of Hornsey (formed 1885) became Hornsey and Wood Green. Bounds Green and Bowes Park are part of Wood Green.
Hornsey lies approximately six miles north of central London. It is an undulating area where residents are never far from a hill or ridge. Dominating the scene is Alexandra Palace, on a ridge known as the Northern Heights which extends through Muswell Hill and Highgate to Hampstead. Panoramic views of London can be glimpsed along this ridge where the last Ice Age stopped.
Hornsey has a number of buildings of historic interest including: St Mary’s Tower in Hornsey Village, Cromwell House in Highgate, Hornsey Town Hall and the Clock Tower in Crouch End, The Old Schoolhouse (HHS headquarters) in Hornsey and Alexandra Palace, birthplace of television.
Originally part of the great Forest of Middlesex, Hornsey was an area of hamlets and large villas in extensive grounds. Suburbia reached Hornsey from the 1860s and accelerated in the last years of the 19th century until the First World War by which time lines of streets and rows of mainly large terraced houses covered the fields. Important open spaces were preserved such as Highgate Wood and Queen’s Wood.