Finsbury Park

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Finsbury Park
Finsbury Park - - 681145.jpg
Finsbury Park
Location Harringay, London [1]
Area110 acres (45 ha)
DesignerFrederick Manable [2]
Operated by London Borough of Haringey
Open24 hours
Awards Green Flag Award 2007–2018 [3] [4]
Designation Grade II Listed [5]
Public transit access Finsbury Park, Manor House, Harringay, Harringay Green Lanes

Finsbury Park is a public park in the London neighbourhood of Haringey, north London, England. The park lies on the southern-most edge of the London Borough of Haringey. [1] It is in the area formerly covered by the historic parish of Hornsey, succeeded by the Municipal Borough of Hornsey. It was one of the first of the great London parks laid out in the Victorian era. The park borders the neighbourhoods of Harringay, Finsbury Park, Stroud Green, and Manor House.


Finsbury Park should not be confused with Finsbury, which is a district of Central London roughly 3 miles (5 km) to the south, forming the south-eastern part of the London Borough of Islington.


Walking in Finsbury Park.jpg
Sunset in Finsbury Park
Mackenzie Garden Finsbury Park.jpg
Mackenzie Garden, Finsbury Park
City From Finsbury Park.jpg
View of The City from Finsbury Park

Before the park

The park was landscaped on the northeastern extremity of what was originally a woodland area in the Manor or Prebend of Brownswood. It was part of a large expanse of woodland called Hornsey Wood that was cut further and further back for use as grazing land during the Middle Ages. In the mid-18th century a tea room had opened on the knoll of land on which Finsbury Park is situated. Londoners would travel north to escape the smoke of the capital and enjoy the last remains of the old Hornsey Wood. Around 1800 the tea rooms were developed into a larger building which became known as the Hornsey Wood House/Tavern. A lake was also created on the top of the knoll with water pumped up from the nearby New River. There was boating, a shooting and archery range, and probably cock fighting and other blood sports. The Hornsey Wood Tavern was demolished in the process of making the area into a park, but the lake was enlarged. Once the park had opened, a pub across the road from its eastern entrance along Seven Sisters Road called itself the Hornsey Wood Tavern after the original. This pub was later renamed the Alexandra Dining Room and closed for business in April 2007. It was subsequently demolished. [6]

Creation of the park

During the early part of the second quarter of the 19th century, following developments in Paris, Londoners began to demand the creation of open spaces as an antidote to the ever-increasing urbanisation of London. In 1841 the people of Finsbury on the northern perimeter of the City of London petitioned for a park to alleviate conditions of the poor. The present-day site of Finsbury Park was one of four suggestions for the location of a park. [7]

Originally to be named Albert Park, [6] the first plans were drawn up in 1850. [5] Renamed Finsbury Park, plans for the park's creation were ratified by an Act of Parliament in 1857. [2] Despite some local opposition, the park was opened in 1869.

During the wars

During the First World War the park was known as a location for pacifist meetings. [8]

During the Second World War, the park was used as military training grounds and also hosted anti-aircraft guns. [9]


Through the late 20th Century the park began to fall into a state of disrepair with most of the original features gone by the 1980s. This decline was worsened in 1986 when the then owner, Greater London Council, was wound up and ownership was passed on to Haringey Council, but without sufficient funding or a statutory obligation for the park's upkeep. [10]

A £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund Award, made in 2003, enabled significant renovations including cleaning the lake, building a new cafe and children's playground and resurfacing and repairing the tennis courts. The park now contains tennis courts, a running track, a softball field and many open spaces for various leisure activities. [11]


The park has a mixture of open ground, formal gardens, avenues of mature trees and an arboretum. There is also a lake, a children's play area, a cafe and an art exhibition space. Sports facilities in the park include football pitches, a cycling club, a bowling green, [12] a skatepark, [13] an athletics stadium, and tennis and basketball courts. [3] Unusually for London, the park hosts two facilities for "American" sports: an American football field, home to the London Blitz, and diamonds for softball and baseball, home to the London Mets.

The Parkland Walk provides a pedestrian and cycle route that links the park with Crouch Hill Park, Crouch End, and Highgate Underground station.


Live music

The 2008 Rise Festival being held in Finsbury Park Rise festival 2008.jpg
The 2008 Rise Festival being held in Finsbury Park

The park has hosted many live music performances [14] and music festivals including: the Irish-themed Fleadh (Irish for ‘festival’; 1990–2003), [15] Great Xpectations Festival (1993), [16] Big Gay Out (2004–2005), [17] Rise Festival (2006–2010) and Wireless Festival (2014–2019, 2022–).

By the 2010s, the number of live festivals decreased, as local council finances were stretched thin. Furthermore, there were the issues of damaged park property and yellowing, unsightly grass, as well as no-entry blockades due to the special events. Local residents would be inconvenienced and prevented from accessing select areas and thoroughfares of the park, often for several days at a time, during the run of a festival. Local MP David Lammy went as far as to say: "There are parts of the park that look like the Serengeti—a bald dust bowl where there was once grass." [18]

A local group, The Friends of Finsbury Park, (unsuccessfully) took Haringey Council to the High Court in a bid to stop future large, live music events. "The group had contended the council had no right to grant the festival permission under the Greater London Parks and Open Spaces Act 1967, claiming Haringey’s actions were unlawful because the event shuts off 27 per cent of the park when the maximum permitted by legislation is 10 per cent." [19] They lost the case, [20] but the decision made it abundantly clear that the council held Finsbury Park in trust, and that any funds raised in the park from events must be used for the park itself. This somewhat reduced the number of events in the park, moving forward, but also allowed for more rational investments to be made in improving the park (e.g., maintaining the property, new playgrounds, refreshing the Richard Hope play space, etc).


Finsbury Park has been used as a filming location for music videos such as Groove Armada's "Song 4 Mutya", feature films such as Rachid Bouchareb's London River and TV programmes such as Silent Witness . [21]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hornsey</span> Area of London, England

Hornsey is a district of north London, England, in the London Borough of Haringey. It is an inner-suburban, for the most part residential, area centred 10 km (6.2 mi) north of Charing Cross. It adjoins green spaces Queen's Wood to the west and Alexandra Park to the north, and lies in the valley of the now-culverted River Moselle. The central core of the area is known as Hornsey Village.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Muswell Hill</span> Suburb in north London, England

Muswell Hill is a suburban district of the London Borough of Haringey, north London. The hill, which reaches over 100 m (330 ft) above sea level, is situated 5.5 miles (8.9 km) north of Charing Cross.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wood Green</span> District in England

Wood Green is a suburban district in the borough of Haringey in London, England. Its postal district is N22, with parts in N8 or N15. The London Plan identifies it as one of the metropolitan centres in Greater London, and today it forms a major commercial district of north London.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">London Borough of Haringey</span> London borough in United Kingdom

The London Borough of Haringey is a London borough in North London, classified by some definitions as part of Inner London, and by others as part of Outer London. It was created in 1965 by the amalgamation of three former boroughs. It shares borders with six other London boroughs. Clockwise from the north, they are: Enfield, Waltham Forest, Hackney, Islington, Camden, and Barnet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crouch End</span> Human settlement in England

Crouch End is an area of North London, approximately five miles (8 km) from the City of London in the western half of the borough of Haringey. It is within the Hornsey postal district (N8). It has been described by the BBC as one of "a new breed of urban villages" in London. It was recently voted the best place to live in London by the Sunday Times, who said, "A creative edge and friendly neighbours give this lofty northern enclave social capital in the capital".

Harringay is a district of north London, England, within the London Borough of Haringey. It is centred on the section of Green Lanes running between the New River, where it crosses Green Lanes by Finsbury Park, and Duckett's Common, near Turnpike Lane.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parkland Walk</span> 2.5-mile linear green walkway in London

The Parkland Walk is a 3.1-mile (5.0 km) linear green pedestrian and cycle route in London, which follows the course of the railway line that used to run between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace, through Stroud Green, Crouch End, Highgate and Muswell Hill. It is often mistakenly described as 4.5 miles long, but even taking in the gap between the two sections it still only totals 3.1 miles (5.0 km). The route follows the bridges and cuttings of the line, but avoids the closed surface section of Highgate station and its adjoining tunnels, which are closed to walkers for safety reasons. The walk is almost all in Haringey, but a short stretch between Crouch Hill and Crouch End Hill is in Islington and this section incorporates Crouch Hill Park.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stroud Green</span> Human settlement in England

Stroud Green is a suburb and electoral ward in north London, England, split between the London boroughs of Haringey and Islington. On its south-western side, Stroud Green Road forms part of the boundary between the two boroughs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Manor House, London</span> Human settlement in England

Manor House is a district in the London Borough of Hackney. Located in North London, it lies immediately east of Finsbury Park, west of Stamford Hill and south of Harringay.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hornsey railway station</span> Railway station in London

Hornsey railway station is in Hornsey in the London Borough of Haringey, north London. It is on the Great Northern route that forms part of the East Coast Main Line, 4 miles 4 chains (6.5 km) down the line from London King's Cross, and is situated between Harringay to the south and Alexandra Palace to the north.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tottenham (UK Parliament constituency)</span> Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1950 onwards

Tottenham is a constituency in Greater London represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2000 by David Lammy of the Labour Party. Lammy has served as Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs since 2021 in the Shadow Cabinet of Keir Starmer, in which he previously served as Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor from 2020 to 2021. Tottenham was re-created as a parliamentary constituency in 1950, having previously existed from 1885 to 1918.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Green Lanes (London)</span>

Green Lanes is a main road in North London which forms part of the A105 road. Covering a distance of 6.3 miles (10.1 km) between Newington Green and Winchmore Hill, it is one of the longest streets in the capital, passing through the N16, N4, N8, N13 and N21 postcode areas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Municipal Borough of Hornsey</span>

The Municipal Borough of Hornsey was a local government district in east Middlesex from 1867 to 1965.

The London Borough of Haringey maintains 240 hectares of parks and open spaces. By 2015, 20 of these were accredited with a Green Flag Award. Until their disbandment in April 2009, the parks were patrolled by the Haringey Parks Constabulary.

The history of Harringay tells the story of the development of the district of London five miles from its centre, affected by, but not always part of, the great city's history.

This significant period in Harringay's history witnessed the transition from a purely pastoral society and set the stage for the upheavals of the late 19th century.

The advance of late Victorian urbanisation during the last twenty years of the 19th century swept away the 18th and early 19th-century houses, their grounds and the farmland. By 1900 Harringay was completely urbanised.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Railway Fields</span>

Railway Fields is a Local Nature Reserve and a Site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation, Grade I, in Harringay the London Borough of Haringey. About one hectare in area, it was a railway goods yard until 1967.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Stroud Green</span>

Stroud Green in London, England, is a suburb adjacent to Finsbury Park in the northern part of Greater London. While most of the area is in the London Borough of Haringey, a very small part is in the London Borough of Islington. The Stroud Green Road not only forms the boundary between the two boroughs but is also the area's principal thoroughfare and a busy local shopping street, with many popular restaurants and bars.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stationers Park</span>

Stationers Park is a 1.5-hectare park between Crouch End, Stroud Green and Harringay, London Borough of Haringey.


  1. 1 2 Haringey Council boundaries classify the park as being within Harringay Ward - Haringey Council generated Google Map showing the ward boundaries.
  2. 1 2 "Finsbury Park, Finsbury, England". Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  3. 1 2 "Finsbury Park". Green Flag Award. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. Simon Allin (2018). "Finsbury Park stripped of Green Flag award after damning report". Islington Gazette.
  5. 1 2 "Finsbury Park". Historic England. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  6. 1 2 Hayes, Hugh (2001). A Park for Finsbury. Friends of Finsbury Park. ISBN   0-9540637-0-8.
  7. The Times, 9 August 1869
  8. War Office Official Topical Budget (Media notes). Imperial War Museum. May 1918. Newsreel item on the break-up of a pacifist meeting in Finsbury Park, London
  9. Edgerton, David (9 August 2011). Britains War Machine: Weapons, Resources, and Experts in the Second World War. Oxford University Press. p. 30. ISBN   978-0-19-991150-9.
  10. Jackson, Hazelle (October 2006). "Rising from the Ashes:The Resurrection of Finsbury Park". London Gardens Trust. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  11. "Heritage Lottery Fund Improvements". Haringey Council. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  12. "Finsbury Park Bowls Club". Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  13. "Finsbury Park Skatepark". The Skateparks Project. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  14. Baggs, Michael (8 September 2016). "Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, RATM and more: The Biggest Finsbury Park Gigs Ever" . Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  15. Wazir, Burhan (June 2003). "Irish acts in doldrums as festival is axed". The Guardian . Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  16. Kellman, Andy. "Great Xpectations Live". Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  17. Sullivan, Caroline (26 July 2005). "Big Gay Out". The Guardian . Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  18. Peyer, Robin de (11 July 2015). "Pictures show how Finsbury Park was left looking after the Wireless festival". Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  19. Peyer, Robin de (11 July 2015). "Pictures show how Finsbury Park was left looking after the Wireless festival". Standard. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  21. "Haringey on Film". Haringey Council. Retrieved 19 May 2020.

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