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TOTTENHAM’S OLDEST & MOST HAUNTED HOUSE


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A CASTLE! IN TOTTENHAM? Well, not really. Bruce Castle is a manor house which was probably built out of the bricks of an old castle. Kings and Queens might not have lived here, but they have visited, and there’s been a house here for at least 1000 years - it was mentioned in the Domesday book in 1086.

HUNTING THROUGH WOOD GREEN In Bruce Castle Park is a tree that’s over 500 years old. “500 years ago, all of the land would have been covered with similar trees,” says Robert Waite, Assistant Curator at Bruce Castle Museum. “Just imagine all of Haringey being hunting ground. If you go to places like Epping, there are still wild deer out in the forests and all sorts of wild and wonderful creatures. Hunting would have been brilliant.”

A ROYAL BUM WIPE In 1514, King Henry VIII gave Bruce Castle to his very close friend William Compton. “William had a strange kind of job: he was Groom to the Bedchamber, which meant he used to wash Henry, put him to bed when he was drunk, and probably had to wipe his bottom,” says Robert.

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DID YOU KNOW... No one knows exactly what the Round Tower was used for but the latest theory is they used it to keep hawks. If so, it’s probably the last hawk mews in the whole of Europe.

DID YOU KNOW... In the 16th century people hid in Bruce Castle to escape the bubonic plague.

DID YOU KNOW... The Domesday Book is two big books that list everyone in England and what they did in 1086.


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HARINGEY’S MOST HAUNTED... People have seen faces, heard unexplained footsteps, and found strange footprints on the back staircase. The people who lived opposite used to hear screams. So who is the ghost of Bruce Castle? “Lord Coleraine’s first wife was a woman called Constantia Lucy,” says Robert Waite, Assistant Curator at Bruce Castle Museum. “He locked her in the room below the clock tower and the sound of the clock and the bell drove her mad. One night she jumped with their young son, Hugh, landed outside, and died. In 1858, the local newspaper, the Edmonton Advertiser, ran a story saying someone had seen her face at the window.” That was beginning of the ghost story. What’s more spooky is that even though the servants heard her fall, and she certainly existed, there’s no record of her ever being buried. And she might not be the only ghost - someone once saw a group of 18th century figures walk through one of the Castle walls!

DID YOU KNOW... Bruce Castle was the only museum in London to stay open when the Second World War started.

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DID YOU KNOW... Bruce Castle gets its name from the family of Robert the Bruce, who fought and beat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

DID YOU KNOW... This 300-year-old picture of Bruce Castle (above) was found in the Castle attic in 1993 - in 37 pieces! “You wouldn’t know that a great chunk in the middle was actually missing,” says Valerie Crosby, Library Assistant at Bruce Castle Archive.


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DON’T GET CANED In the 19th century, schools were mostly just for boys, and they risked getting caned, beaten or even whipped. But when Roland Hill set up a school in Bruce Castle things were very different: he didn’t believe in corporal punishment. “Believe it or not, in 1827, Tottenham was the place to have your son educated,” says Robert Waite, Assistant Curator at Bruce Castle Museum. “You have to imagine a nice village away from London, lots of land, fresh air, and this wonderful manor house. Rowland Hill thought it was a perfect place for a school. It was advertised around the world so boys would come from Hong Kong and far flung parts of the Empire.” Bruce Castle remained a school until 1891.

SPENDING A PENNY In 1837, Bruce Castle headmaster Rowland Hill came up with an idea that changed postage forever: he invented the stamp! Until then, postage had to be paid by the person who received a letter. Hill suggested that ‘a small piece of gummed, coloured paper’ could be stuck on the outside of an envelope to prove the postage had already been paid by the sender. The first stamp was the Penny Black, which went on sale in 1840. 68,158,080 Penny Blacks were printed, and there are well over a million still around today.

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DID YOU KNOW... The oldest things in Bruce Castle Archive are the court rolls from 1318. The Castle would have held a court for things like people who had a dunghill (pile of poo) outside their house when they weren’t supposed to.

Anyone can use Bruce Castle Archive to research local history or their family tree - but no pens! “You really don’t want a leaky biro on 14th century court rolls,” says Valerie Crosby, Library Assistant at Bruce Castle Archive.


Catrise Noel Remi Gallet Joel Freeman

Katie Allen James Kelly

Nick May

The following young people took part in this project:

and Sam Benjamin

illustration by Remi Gallet

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OPENING TIMES Wednesday to Sunday: 1pm - 5pm Summer Bank Holidays: 1pm - 5pm Visiting groups including schools may book to visit at other times. It is advisable to book an appointment to use the archive. The museum and archives are free to all visitors. The museum offers free workshops for schools and community groups and lots of activities for families at weekends and during school holidays.

020 8883 0260

This booklet was produced by young people at Exposure, Haringey’s award-winning youth media charity, with help from BTCV and Bruce Castle. It was paid for by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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For more information, or to book an appointment, call 020 8808 8772, email museum.services@haringey.gov.uk or write to: Curator Bruce Castle Museum Lordship Lane London N17 8NU

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