Heritage Champions donned hard hats, steel-tipped boots and high-vis vests and stepped inside Percy House and Warmington House for tours of their ongoing renovation by Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.
Percy House, 796 High Road N17
First, we had a sneak peak at Percy House. This Grade II* listed Georgian building is being restored by F3 Architects for Hotspur Foundation as an Employment and Skills hub for North Tottenham.
The works are focussed on the restoration of the internal space to turn it into a community hub, as well as repair of the exterior of the building, to return it to its 18th century glory.
We learned that it was built in the 1740s by Hugh Smithson, Duke of Northumberland on the site of The Black House, whose inhabitants, the Percy family, were connected to the namesake of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club – Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy.
It was one of a group of large houses known as Northumberland Terrace, most of which were leased to wealthy merchants and professionals working in London. It is said that Henry VIII once stayed at The Black House as a guest!
Smithson was a wealthy City merchant, a haberdasher who built up ownership of much of the village and used these properties as his electoral base as Member of Parliament for Tottenham. The major rooms of Percy House are heavily moulded early Georgian; and the other secondary rooms are much lighter and simpler in character.
The buildings have had very few owners until the late twentieth century, so have not been subject to regular cycles of changing fashions. Percy House is one of the least changed and is therefore significant as one of the most complete examples of a mid eighteenth century Georgian house in Tottenham. Percy House is on both Haringey’s and English Heritage’s Heritage At Risk lists. We even got to see a recording booth in the basement; apparently the building played a pioneering role in the launch of the pirate radio movement in the 1960s!
We were very impressed by our behind the scenes visit to Percy House; it was fascinating to glimpse the layers of history visible at this stage in the restoration process and exciting to see the processes involved in bringing the building back to life.
Warmington House, 744 High Road N17
Next, the architects Corrie and Katie-Hannah offered to take us round their other ongoing restoration work at nearby Warmington House. This Grade II listed Georgian building will become part of the new Tottenham Experience museum and heritage centre, where the Spurs archive will be stored.
The project team faces a range of challenges, from sourcing bricks to match the unusual bright yellow ones on the upper floors of the facade to addressing significant structural issues and rotten timbers. The regulations applying to this building are different from Percy House, as there will be public access and it is contained within a new building. The architect, F3, and Corrie Newell, historic buildings consultant, are liaising closely with the council’s conservation and building control officers.
Built in 1828, the house was named after James Warmington, a farmer and merchant who occupied it from 1851-76. This coincided with Victorian modifications from the mid 19th century include knocking two rooms into one and blocking doors.
A later occupant of some note was John Alfred Prestwich, manufacturer of cine cameras, who lived there from 1888-98 and went on to invent the JAP motor cycle petrol engine. The building became a restaurant from 1911-23 and was most recently the supporters' club for Tottenham Hotspur FC. The current conservation works are scheduled for completion July 2018.
We are grateful to Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, F3 architects and BASE contractors for taking us on the tours and patiently answering all our questions. We’ve learned a lot and were impressed by the quality of conservation work at both properties.