Travel back to Hornsey - the medieval idyll

PUBLISHED: 16:43 11 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:40 07 September 2010

St Mary's Church in Hornsey will be showing off its distinctive history later this month with an exhibition of watercolour reproductions and photography

Vicky Bottrill

St Mary's Church in Hornsey will be showing off its distinctive history later this month with an exhibition of watercolour reproductions and photography.

The original medieval church was demolished, except for the tower, in 1831. Despite being rebuilt, it was knocked down again in 1931 and only the distinctive church tower remains.

Hornsey Church Depicted, which opens on January 26, has been put together by Friends of Hornsey Church Tower secretary Bridget Cherry.

She helped found the charity in 1989 to save the tower from falling into disrepair and began collecting images to find out more about the church's past and how the building had changed.

As well as trawling local archives at the Bruce Castle Museum and Hornsey Historical Society, Ms Cherry's search took her as far as Wales to the Newport Art Gallery.

"Hornsey was an incredibly interesting subject for artists in the early 19th century because of its medieval history," said Ms Cherry, a trained art historian.

"It was also a well known local beauty spot - very attractive, rural and hidden away. People liked to escape to it."

The church also attracted interest last year when a tomb of a former African slave in its grounds was listed as a protected monument to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.

Jacob Walker was buried in 1841 along with his employer in England, Harriet Long.

The inscription reads: "A native of Virginia. In America the faithful slave. In England the faithful servant."

The restoration of the building unearthed several surprises. "As with most old buildings the story's more complicated than you'd think," said Ms Cherry.

"There was a bell frame dated 1785, which isn't documented. It must have been manually taken down and moved when the tower was heightened in 1832."

She added: "I hope the exhibition will inspire local artists and schoolchildren to continue the story with their own modern interpretations of the church."

The exhibition is at The Old Schoolhouse, 136 Tottenham Lane, from January 26 to March 8. It is open Thursdays and Fridays 10am to 2pm, Saturdays 10.30am to 4.30pm and Sunday Jan 27, Feb 3 and March 2 from 2pm to 4pm.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ham&High. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Hampstead Highgate Express