Hornsey church history explored in long-awaited book

In telling the story of a long-vanished parish church, architectural historian Bridget Cherry has delved into the heart of what was once Hornsey village.

In the late nineteenth century, the population in Hornsey and across London rapidly expanded, transforming Hornsey from a village into a suburb.

“Hornsey is special; it wasn’t just a suburb – it has this historic core,” Ms Cherry explained.

Ms Cherry’s long-awaited book, Ivy-Mantled Tower, A History of the Church and Churchyard of St Mary Hornsey, was launched by the Hornsey Historical Society.

It tells the story of a succession of buildings from the medieval church with its bell tower (still standing), to an 1833 church, followed by a late Victorian one demolished in 1969.

Now all that remains is an ancient tower and courtyard, saved from neglect by the Friends of Hornsey Church Tower.

In her book, Ms Cherry gives a vivid account of medieval and Tudor Hornsey, with its wealthy residents leaving money for church embellishments in the hope of securing their place in heaven.

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She pieced together the story of the church, partly through artist’s views of the area. “Hornsey was a rural beauty spot around 1800 – a welcome change from the urban city,” she said, describing how artists were drawn to the image of the church in the green.

Having lived in Hornsey for 40 years, Ms Cherry has been piecing together the story for more than 25 years.

“It’s been a challenge,” Ms Cherry said. “I haven’t written anything quite like this before. I’m glad the information is now accessible.”

The Ivy-mantled Tower, £19.50, can now be purchased from the Old Schoolhouse.