We are sure that many Tottenham fans will be aware that the name ‘Hotspur’ originates from Harry Hotspur who was a brave and courageous character whose name appeared in one of Shakespeare’s plays. Harry Hotspur or ‘Lord Percy’ was also the son of the Duke of Northumberland who once held considerable estates in Tottenham,

However, few people will be aware that Tottenham has had an association with ‘Spurs’ that long precedes the founding of the football club.  Last year I purchased an old book dating from 1792 titled 'The History and Antiquities of Tottenham High Cross in the County of Middlesex' .

 illustration.jpg (37530 bytes)


The cover page claims this information has been collected from authentic records with a copious appendix, in which is contained an account of the parish as written by the Rt Hon. HENRY, last LORD COLERANE accurately printed from his Lordship's ms, now deposited in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

Ironically the book is dedicated to the Duke of Northumberland and Earl Percy and was written by Richard Randall Dyson.

Immediately inside the front cover of the book is an illustration plate headed 'Antiquities of Tottenham'   (Pictured left) which reads:

' In the foreground is emblematically represented a roll or charter; near which is a pair of Spurs, being the tenure by which the manor Tottenham is held'


It then refers you to an explanation further into the book from which I have extracted the following passage:

'There are five lesser manors which, according to Bedwell, in 1631 belonged to Lord Colerane now held by his descendent, Henry Hare Townsend esq. The names of these lordships are PEMBROKE's, BRUCE's, D'AWBENYS's, MOCKING's and DOV'COTES, or DUCKETT's. This last formerly belonged to the priory of St John of Jerusalem, and gave name to a family who occur in the Parish Register in this century. The other four are held by this service. That as often as the King goes to war in person, the Lord of them shall furnish him with a pair of silver spurs gilt'

So it would appear that under the tenures by which the ancient Manors of Tottenham are held, and dating back prior to the 15th century, there is a requirement that ‘As often as the King goes to war in person, the Lord of the Manors shall furnish him with a pair of silver SPURS gilt’. By coincidence the former manor house for the ‘Pembrokes’ lordship, one of the five former manors, was once situated in White Hart Lane.

In a later paragraph it refers to a decree by King Henry VI (King Harry VI) to those that serve him in his demeyne in Tottenham in the county of Middlesex 'and that they hold the manors of Pembroke's, as of the honor of Huntyngdon, by the service of paying to the King a pair of spurs of silver, gilt and each of the said manors etc..'

In conclusion it could be argued that, following his debut last year, the current Captain of Tottenham Hotspur
‘Ledley KING’ went into battle in person to represent England and, in keeping with the ancient tenure, should now receive from the historic manor of Tottenham a pair of silver Spurs gilt !

Alan Swain - Nov 2005

Note: These facts have been verified by Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham and this story has now been published in the Spurs match programme versus Everton 15th October 2005



There are perhaps four phases in the ancient history of Tottenham that form an association with SPURS and COCKERELS that long precede the founding of the Football Club. The first connection, concerning the Manorial rolls or tenures under which the town of Tottenham was originally held, were first brought to your attention back in 2005 and have been adequately referred to above. (Phase I)

I now submit a summary of the further facts:




The 'Towne of Tottenham High Crosse'

For many centuries the words “High Cross” were added to Tottenham making it the “ Towne of Tottenham High Crosse”. It is evident that the “High Cross” had been a feature of the village of Tottenham for time immemorial. Also, contrary to some belief, Tottenham High Cross is not an ‘Eleanor Cross ‘. On the death of his wife ‘Queen Eleanor’, en route to Scotland in 1290, King Edward 1st erected a cross in her memory in every town or place where the body of the Queen rested. There were 15 Eleanor Crosses erected including one at nearby Waltham Cross.
However, it has been ascertained, by renowned historians of Tottenham, that the corpse of Queen Eleanor did not pass through Tottenham and that the High Cross at Tottenham was erected many years before this time



Tottenham High Cross

Having established that a cross has existed for in excess of 800 years, it is interesting to take note of the various forms the cross has taken over this time. The earliest structure was said to be of wood and Bedwell, writing in 1631, and Dyson’s history in 1790, refer to the period of 1580 when a column of wood covered with square sheets of lead to shoot the water off every way and supported by four SPURS and crowned with a Weathercock.
In 1600 the cross was reconstructed by Dean Wood, who erected an octangular brick column which was pointed at the top and crowned with a Weathercock. Further repairs were carried out in 1788 when again it refers to an octangular brick pillar divided into four stories with little ornament but still crowned by a

high_cross_etching_1805.jpg (44762 bytes)


By 1809 the cross had fallen into decay and the inhabitants of the parish entered into a subscription for the purpose of putting it into a proper state of repair. They did not depart from the octangular plans and proportions of the cross but they did introduce some new decorations that had been formed from the exterior and interior of the chapel of Henry VIII (King Harry).
As there were eight faces to the upright, of course there are as many shields and each was to bear a letter at each cutting, beginning at the west face, T O T E N H A M; in consequence of there being only eight shields one of the ‘T’s in the spelling was necessarily dispensed with. However there was still a weather vane at the top but now with
N. E. W. S.
So the High Cross for many years was supported by four SPURS and always bore a Weathercock and in 1809 was redesigned with some architectural reference to the former chapel of KING HARRY.



Time for Change - Modernisation

A writer in 1865, says, “ In 1809, contemporary taste, not being satisfied with the plain brick monument which had stood the storms of so many years, determined to ‘Modernise’ it, and it was accordingly Stuccoed and Gothicised” .

tottenham_high_cross_1820.jpg (43401 bytes)



painting_high_cross_tottenham.jpg (31432 bytes)


So what better precedent do we have? Clearly Tottenham has had a long association with Spurs both from an historical sense and of course for its footballing achievements. The historic ‘High Cross’ has borne the symbol of a Cockerel on its Weathercocks and, dating back to 1809, the structure was modernised and reflected design elements once afforded to no less than the most famous King Harry (Henry VIII).
We are now in the process of developing a new stadium for Tottenham Hotspur and our history tells us that to modernise is acceptable and we should therefore continue the long association of
Tottenham and the Spurs and retain the club in the Borough of Tottenham where it rightly belongs.
Alan Swain
December 2010
Source:   The History and Antiquities of Tottenham High Cross In the County of Middlesex By: Richard Randall Dyson – 1792

              The History of Tottenham in the County of Middlesex By: Fred Fisk 1913



back_button.jpg (3190 bytes)                                       home_button.jpg (2320 bytes)