diamond geezer

 Sunday, September 09, 2007

Somewhere historic: Bruce Castle
Bruce CastleHmmm, this sounds like it ought to be the home of millionaire Bruce Wayne, with a secret Batcave in the basement, but alas no. It's not even a proper castle, just a Tudor mini-mansion with a castellated round tower in the garden. Haringey Council have opened up Bruce Castle as a small museum telling the borough's story, and you can get inside for free (any afternoon except Mondays and Tuesdays). And, what do you know, the museum's actually worth a look. This is an endearing stuck-in-the-past attraction, with a broad range of local exhibits from Roman remains to tram tickets all lovingly piled high inside glass cases alongside typewritten labels stuck down with glue. This is the place to come if you want to see the Lord Mayor of Hornsey's official chair, or a Victorian school desk, or photographs of what the Broadwater Farm Estate used to look like when it was still a farm. There's currently a whole room devoted to Tottenham's vast Lebus Furniture factory (opened 1904, made thousands of utility wardrobes, closed 1970), and a splendid interactive "inventory" where Haringey's more creative types, such as Heath Robinson, are celebrated.

Rowland HillEven better, Bruce Castle is the site of real, actual history. When the building was used as a school in the 19th century, the first headmaster was a certain Rowland Hill. In 1837 he crystalised his philatelic thoughts in a seminal pamphlet - Post Office Reform, Its Importance and Practicability - which led to the introduction of the national Penny Post three years later. His marble statue now dominates one of the downstairs rooms, and there are four old pillarboxes in a courtyard out the back just in case you'd like to go and reminisce properly. Oh, and one last local hero is commemorated just down the road at number 7 Bruce Grove. A plaque on the wall of the Tottenham Trades Hall reveals this to be the last home of Luke Howard, "Namer of Clouds". In 1802 clouds didn't have names, so Luke categorised them into three groups - cumulus, stratus and cirrus. His simple classification revolutionised meteorology, and we still use his Latin names today. Altostratus yesterday, sadly.
by train: Bruce Grove  by bus: 123, 243, 318

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