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Tottenham,Bruce Castle, Tower.jpg
Grade I listed tower near Bruce Castle
Population 129,237 (2011 census)
OS grid reference TQ344914
• Charing Cross 8.2 mi (13.2 km) SSW
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district N15, N17
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Tottenham
London Assembly
  • Enfield and Haringey
List of places
LondonCoordinates: 51°36′18″N 0°03′29″W / 51.605°N 0.058°W / 51.605; -0.058

Tottenham is an area in the London Borough of Haringey, in north London, England. It is situated 8.2 miles (13.2 km) north-north-east of Charing Cross.



Tottenham is believed to have been named after Tota, a farmer, whose hamlet was mentioned in the Domesday Book; hence Tota's hamlet became Tottenham. It was recorded in the Domesday Book as Toteham.

Early history

1619 Tottenham map (full)
Dorset Map of Tottenham in 1619 (South shown at the top of the map)

There has been a settlement at Tottenham for over a thousand years. It grew up along the old Roman road, Ermine Street (some of which is part of the present A10 road), and between High Cross and Tottenham Hale, the present Monument Way.

When the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086, about 70 families lived within the area of the manor, mostly labourers working for the Lord of the Manor. A humorous poem entitled the Tournament of Tottenham, written around 1400, describes a mock-battle between peasants vying for the reeve's daughter.

In 1894, Tottenham was made an urban district and on 27 September 1934 it became a municipal borough. As from 1 April 1965, the municipal borough formed part of the London Borough of Haringey.

The River Lea (or Lee) was the eastern boundary between the Municipal Boroughs of Tottenham and Walthamstow. It is the ancient boundary between Middlesex and Essex and also formed the western boundary of the Viking controlled Danelaw. Today it is the boundary between the London Boroughs of Haringey and Waltham Forest. A major tributary of the Lea, the River Moselle, also crosses the borough from west to east, and often caused serious flooding until it was mostly covered in the 19th century.

From the Tudor period onwards, Tottenham became a popular recreation and leisure destination for wealthy Londoners. Henry VIII is known to have visited Bruce Castle and also hunted in Tottenham Wood. A rural Tottenham also featured in Izaak Walton's book The Compleat Angler, published in 1653. The area became noted for its large Quaker population and its schools (including Rowland Hill's at Bruce Castle.) Tottenham remained a semi-rural and upper middle class area until the 1870s.

Modern era

In late 1870, the Great Eastern Railway introduced special workman's trains and fares on its newly opened Enfield and Walthamstow branch lines. Tottenham's low-lying fields and market gardens were then rapidly transformed into cheap housing for the lower middle and working classes, who were able to commute cheaply to inner London. The workman's fare policy stimulated the relatively early development of the area into a London suburb.

An incident occurred on 23 January 1909, which was at the time known as the Tottenham Outrage. Two armed robbers of Russian extraction held up the wages clerk of a rubber works in Chesnut Road. They made their getaway via Tottenham Marshes and fled across the Lea. On the opposite bank of the river they hijacked a Walthamstow Corporation tramcar, hotly pursued by the police on another tram. The hijacked tram was stopped but the robbers continued their flight on foot. After firing their weapons and killing two people, Ralph Joscelyne, aged 10, and PC William Tyler, they were eventually cornered by the police and shot themselves rather than be captured. Fourteen other people were wounded during the chase. The incident later became the subject of a silent film.

During the Second World War Tottenham also became a target of the German air offensive against Britain. Bombs fell within the borough (Elmar Road) during the first air raid on London on 24 August 1940. The borough also received V-1 (four incidents) and V-2 hits, the last of which occurred on 15 March 1945. Wartime shortages led to the creation of Tottenham Pudding, a mixture of household waste food which was converted into feeding stuffs for pigs and poultry. The "pudding" was named by Queen Mary on a visit to Tottenham Refuse Works. Production continued into the post-war period, its demise coinciding with the merging of the borough into the new London Borough of Haringey.

Tottenham, The Broadwater Farm Estate, N17 - - 235156
Broadwater Farm, the scene of rioting in 1985

In 1985, the Broadwater Farm housing estate in Tottenham was the scene of rioting between the police and local youths following the death of Cynthia Jarrett, a resident of Tottenham but who lived about a mile from the estate who died of heart failure after four policemen burst into her home. The response of the members of the black community in Tottenham and surrounding areas culminated in a riot beginning on Tottenham High Road and ending in the local Broadwater Farm Estate. One police officer, Keith Blakelock, was murdered; 58 policemen and 24 other people were injured in the fighting. Two of the policemen were injured by gunshots during the riot, the first time that firearms had been used in that type of confrontation.

Tottenham witnessed a high crime rate mostly related to drug dealers and gangs. In 1999, Tottenham was identified as one of the yardies' strongholds in London, along with Stoke Newington, Harlesden, Lambeth and Brixton.

The Mecca Dance Hall was demolished in 2004 to make way for local housing.

The 2011 England riots were precipitated by the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old man in Tottenham, by officers of the Metropolitan Police Service on 4 August 2011.


South tottenham station 1
South Tottenham railway station (November 2005)
  • The Northern and Eastern Railway – running from Stratford to Broxbourne – was opened on 15 September 1840 with two stations in the district: Tottenham and Marsh Lane.
  • The Tottenham & Hampstead Junction Railway was opened on 21 July 1868. South Tottenham station was opened in 1871, while two other stations on this line in the Tottenham area were opened later: Harringay Park (Green Lanes) opened in 1880, and St Ann's Road opened in 1882 but closed after service on 8 August 1942.
  • The Stoke Newington & Edmonton Railway – The section between Stoke Newington and Lower Edmonton opened on 22 July 1872 with stations in Tottenham at Stamford Hill (half of the station lies in the borough), Seven Sisters, Bruce Grove and White Hart Lane.
  • The Palace Gates Line opened in Tottenham on 1 January 1878 with stations at Seven Sisters and West Green. Passenger services ceased in 1963 with the line finally closing on 7 February 1965.
  • The Tottenham & Forest Gate Railway opened on 9 July 1894.
  • The London Underground's Piccadilly line extension through Tottenham opened on 19 September 1932.
  • The first section of the London Underground's Victoria line opened on 1 September 1968.



Tottenham is a large area incorporating the N15 and N17 postcode areas.

North Tottenham

This area stretches along Tottenham High Road from the Edmonton border in the north to Lordship Lane in the south: districts include Little Russia and Northumberland Park. Landmarks include White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham Hotspur, White Hart Lane station and Northumberland Park station.

Central Tottenham

Continuing along the high road, Central Tottenham includes Bruce Grove, Tottenham Green and Tottenham Hale wards, as well as Tottenham Hale station and retail park, Tottenham Marshes (part of the Lee Valley Regional Park) and Bruce Castle.

South Tottenham

Further along the A10 road until St Ann's Road, this area includes South Tottenham, St Ann's neighbourhood, West Green and Seven Sisters. Transport links include Seven Sisters station and South Tottenham station. Landmarks include the Markfield Beam Engine and Downhills Park.

West Tottenham

To the west of the area are Broadwater Farm, the Tower Gardens Estate and Lordship Recreation Ground.

Neighbouring areas


The northern limit of Tottenham is north of Brantwood Road where Upper Edmonton begins. This is also the border between the London Borough of Haringey and the London Borough of Enfield. To the northwest is Palmers Green.


The eastern limit of Tottenham is the River Lea, and across the river the neighbouring district is Walthamstow in the London Borough of Waltham Forest


The southern limit of Tottenham is the junction of St. Ann's Road with Tottenham High Road, which after becomes Stamford Hill. The district of Stamford Hill borders Tottenham, marking also the border of the London Borough of Hackney. To the southwest, Tottenham borders Manor House and Harringay, briefly meeting the London Borough of Islington.


Although the N15 postcode area extends to Green Lanes, the western border of Tottenham is better defined as Black Boy Lane, West Green Road and Downhills Way. The neighbouring districts are Harringay, Hornsey, Wood Green and Noel Park.


Bruce castle 1
Bruce Castle, the old Tottenham manor house, now a museum. (November 2005)
  • All Hallows Church – This is the oldest surviving building in the borough and dates back to Norman times. For more than 700 years it was the original parish church for Tottenham. Presented in 1802 with a bell from the Quebec Garrison, which was captured from the French in the 1759 Battle of Quebec, Canada. Adjacent to the church is
  • Tottenham Cemetery – A large cemetery, which makes up part of an open access area of land and habitat, along with Bruce Castle Park and All Hallows Churchyard.
  • Broadwater Farm – Housing estate built in 1967; it was the site of the Broadwater Farm riot in 1985.
  • Brook Street Chapel – Non-denominational Christian chapel, established in 1839, and one of the earliest Plymouth Brethren /Open Brethren assemblies in London that still exists. The church was associated with local notable Christians such as Hudson Taylor, Dr Barnardo, John Eliot Howard, Luke Howard and Philip Gosse.
  • Bruce Castle, Lordship Lane – Grade 1 listed, it was Tottenham's manor house and dates from the sixteenth century, with alterations by subsequent occupants. It was given the name 'Bruce Castle' during the seventeenth century by the 2nd Lord Coleraine, who was Lord of the Manor at the time. He named it after 'Robert the Bruce', whose family had been lords of the manor during the medieval period. The building was purchased by the Hill family, who turned it into a progressive school. Sir Rowland Hill was its first headmaster, and he was living there in 1840 when he, as Postmaster General, introduced the Uniform Penny Post. Now a local history museum, Bruce Castle holds the archives of the London Borough of Haringey.
  • 7 Bruce Grove – The building features an English Heritage blue plaque commemorating Luke Howard (1772–1864), the 'Father of Meteorology', who named the clouds in 1802.
  • Smithson house at Tottenham
    Centre-piece of Northumberland Row. (May 2013).
    Northumberland Row – Erected circa 1740 on the site of the former Smithson seat, previously that of the Hynningham family. The gate piers are possibly from Bruce Castle. The wrought iron gate bears the monogram HS for one of the two Hugh Smithsons, both Tottenham landowners and sometime MPs for Middlesex.
  • Clyde Circus conservation area
  • Edmanson’s Close – Previously known as the Almshouses of the Drapers' Company, they were built in 1870 and were established through the generosity of three seventeenth-century benefactors, Sir John Jolles, John Pemel and John Edmanson.
BWFE from Gloucester Road 2
The towers of the Broadwater Farm Estate dominate the western part of Tottenham
  • High Cross – Erected sometime between 1600 and 1609 on the site of an earlier Christian cross, although there is some speculation that the first structure on the site was a Roman beacon or marker, situated on a low summit on Ermine Street. Tottenham High Cross is often mistakenly thought to be an Eleanor cross.
  • Markfield Beam Engine
  • St Ann's Church – Consecrated in 1861, St Ann's Church houses the organ that was originally in Crosby Hall, Bishopsgate, on which Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, who composed the famous Wedding March from A Midsummer Night's Dream, regularly gave recitals.
  • St Ignatius' Church and College – Built between 1894 and 1902, with two towers in the style of a 12th-century German cathedral, this Catholic church is situated at the foot of Stamford Hill and dominates the area.
  • Tower Gardens Estate – Previously known as the LCC White Hart Lane Estate, this "out of county" LCC cottage housing estate was constructed beginning in 1904. The architectural style is said to be inspired by houses in Ghent, Belgium. The estate was the home of Harry Champion, a well-known music hall star and performer of the song "I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am".


Two London Underground lines serve the Tottenham area. The Piccadilly line, which opened in 1932, has one station Turnpike Lane, which was the first Underground station within the then Tottenham Borough boundaries. The Victoria line, which opened in 1968, has its operating depot in Tottenham at Northumberland Park, as well as two stations, Seven Sisters and Tottenham Hale, in the area. Stations Seven Sisters, Tottenham Hale, Bruce Grove, White Hart Lane and Northumberland Park also serve the area with train services provided by London Overground, apart from Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park which is only a National Rail stations, however if Crossrail 2 gets planning permission to be made then both those stations will also be served by Crossrail services between Hertford East and several destinations in Surrey. Those two stations are on the main Lea Valley Line; the West Anglian Main Line, with services provided by Abellio Greater Anglia, while Seven Sisters, Bruce Grove and White Hart Lane are all on the Lea Valley; Cheshunt/Enfield Town Line which services are provided by London Overground. London Overground trains also serve South Tottenham station on the Gospel Oak – Barking Line.


Tottenham cake
Tottenham cake

Tottenham cake is a sponge cake baked in large metal trays, covered either in pink icing or jam (and occasionally decorated with shredded desiccated coconut). Tottenham Cake "was originally sold by the baker Henry Chalkley, who was a Friend (or Quaker), at the price of one old penny, with smaller mis-shaped pieces sold for half an old penny." The pink colouring was derived from mulberries found growing at the Tottenham Friends burial ground. Originally "a peculiar local invention" of north London, the cake is now mass-produced by the Greggs chain of bakers.

Mentioned in films

  • In Bruges. "Purgatory's kind of like the in-betweeny one. You weren't really s*, but you weren't all that great either. Like Tottenham."

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