Civic History

The Borough of Haringey

The London Borough of Haringey was formed in 1965 by the amalgamation of the Borough Councils of Hornsey, Tottenham and Wood Green, under the London Local Government Act of 1963.

Name of the borough

Under the Act, the new borough was listed as proposed 'London borough No.31'.

In 1963, the Minister for Housing and Local Government requested the submission of a name for the borough. Representatives of the Hornsey, Tottenham and Wood Green councils had formed a Joint Committee to plan for the future council. It was decided the Committee should submit to the Minister the name ‘Haringey’.

This name was considered to be of great antiquity and one that would be associated with the central area of the proposed borough.

The names 'Hornsey', 'Haringey', and 'Harringay' in use today are all different variations of the same Old English word - 'Heringes-hege' (with the 'g's pronounced as 'y's). Dr S J Madge M.Sc., F.S.A. (d. 1961), a teacher, historian and local antiquary of Stroud Green in Hornsey, was the authority who undertook a 35-year long study into the origin of the meaning of these names. He describes it as meaning 'the enclosure of Hering' or 'Hering's people'. In his published account of 1936, he established there were 162 variants of the spelling of the name in surviving historical documents from the medieval period onwards.

It is likely that Hering was an Anglo-Saxon who had settled in the area. It is unknown when or where this was precisely, but it is likely it would have been the original settlement of Hornsey village (near to St Mary's Church Tower today in Hornsey High Street). Over time the original name for this area has been shortened and changed to Harnsey or Hornsey. The name of the modern borough is a revival of one of the earliest medieval forms.

On 1 April 1965, Haringey Council’s first Mayor was Councillor Vic Butler, husband of Cllr Joyce Butler MP (who was the first 'Chair' of the newly-elected council in transition during 1964). As he signed the statutory declarations on his election as mayor, Councillor Butler did not have any robes, or chain of office or a mace. These items of civic regalia were still yet to come, following the granting of the armorial bearings for the borough.

The Haringey Coat of Arms

Haringey’s heraldic coat of arms were granted by the College of Arms in May 1965.

For more details and history of the borough please contact Bruce Castle Museum.

You may also like to read 'Haringey Before Our Time: A Brief History' by Ian Murray (Published: Hornsey Historical Society, 1993); available from Bruce Castle Museum.

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Page last updated:

January 3, 2023

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