Is It Haringey Or Harringay?

Harringay Green Lanes is in the borough of Haringey. But hang on a second… why are they spelt differently? We decided to untangle this web of r’s, a’s and e’s — to see where the confusion arose.


Photo: Bel Fegore

Like much of London, this name dates back to the Saxon era; Haringey (or Harringay) derives from Haeringes-hege. It denoted the enclosure belonging to the Saxon chief Haeringe.
Most Saxon names were smoothed down into something more palatable for modern English sensibilities. Which explains how Haeringe became Haringey. But in this case, Haeringe also became ‘Hornsey’, another area that is today within the borough of Haringey.

‘Hornsey’ gradually became more prevalent, until the use of ‘Harringay’ was almost extinct. Then, in 1792, Harringay House was built. This kept ‘Harringay’ alive, most importantly, in legal records.


Haringey borough’s logo. Photo: Alan Stanton

The London borough of Haringey came into existence in 1965, a merging of the boroughs of Wood Green, Hornsey and Tottenham. The new borough tried to enforce their own spelling of ‘Haringey’ throughout the area, but locals rebelled, leaving us with the confusing situation we have today.

Why did the council go with with Haringey rather than Harringay? No one seems to know — it’s a mystery lost to the sands of bureaucratic time. Some believe it’s because in written form, Haringey does actually predate Harringay, harking all the way back to 1387. Still, there’s little evidence to prove this was the cause of the council’s decision.

For those who want a simple answer to the spelling conundrum: Haringey is the borough and Harringay is the area. And if you’re looking for a way to remember it, try this: Haringey is one R and an E, for Random Enclosure (because isn’t that really what a borough is?). Harringay has two R’s: Really Ravishing, because if you’re heading to Harringay Green Lanes, you’ve got to try the amazing Turkish food.

Whichever way you spell it, make sure you don’t end up doing this.

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