Museum Entrance

Bruce Castle Entrance




Castle maybe a slight misnomer as the main building is a fine Tudor mansion, somewhat like a small Hampton Court. The name Bruce Castle is derived from the House of Bruce, who had historically owned a third of the manor of Tottenham. Upon his accession to the Scottish throne in 1306, Robert I of Scotland forfeited his lands in England, including the Bruce holdings in Tottenham. It is generally believed that the first owner of the house was Sir William Compton, Groom of the Stool (a better job than it sounds) to Henry VIII and one of the most prominent courtiers of the period, who acquired the manor of Tottenham in 1514. The earliest known reference to the building dates from 1516, when Henry VIII met his sister Margaret, Queen of Scots, at "Maister Compton's House beside Tottenham". In the early 17th century the house was owned by Richard Sackville, 3rd Earl of Dorset and Lady Anne Clifford. Sackville ran up high debts through gambling and extravagant spending; the house (then still called "The Lordship House") was leased to Thomas Peniston. Peniston's wife, Martha, daughter of Sir Thomas Temple was said to be the Earl of Dorset's mistress. By 1626 the house and land was owned by Hugh Hare, 1st Lord Coleraine. Hugh Hare died a sudden and painful death in 1667 by choking on a turkey bone! ‘... being at supper one night and talking merrily with some gentlemen of his acquaintance and having a turkey bone in his mouth, it was hard hap through extreme laughter to cause it to go down the wrong way which was ye the instrument of his death.’

The house is haunted (as all the best houses are). His son, Henry Hare (1635–1708) settled at the Lordship House, renaming it Bruce Castle in honour of the area's historic connection with the House of Bruce; his wife, Constantia died there in 1680. Although sources such as Pegram speculate that Constantia committed suicide in the face of a continued relationship between Hare and the Duchess of Somerset, little is known about her life and the circumstances of her early death, but her ghost reputedly haunts the castle. The earliest recorded reference to the ghost appeared in 1858—almost two hundred years after her death—in the Tottenham & Edmonton Advertiser "... the lady one night succeeded in forcing her way out and flung herself with child in arms from the parapet. The wild despairing shriek aroused the household only to find her and her infant in death's clutches below. Every year as the fearful night comes round (it is in November) the wild form can be seen as she stood on the fatal parapet, and her despairing cry is heard floating away on the autumnal blast."


Bruce Castle is now a museum, holding the archives of the London Borough of Haringey, and housing a permanent exhibition on the past, present and future of Haringey and its predecessor boroughs, and temporary displays on the history of the area. Other exhibits include an exhibition on Rowland Hill (his family owned the property in Victorian times, Rowland Hill was headmaster of the boys school and went on to become Postmaster General, initiating the Penny Post system) and postal history, a significant collection of early photography, a collection of historic manorial documents and court rolls related to the area, and one of the few copies available for public reading of the Spurs Opus, the complete history of Tottenham Hotspur. There is same-level access to the Museum via the front entrance and also a ramped entrance from the car park. The ground floor has same-level access to all areas. There are 24 stairs or a stair-lift to the first floor.


Location : Lordship Lane, N17 8NU.

Transport: Bruce Grove (London Overground). London Buses routes 243,123 and 318 stop nearby.

Opening Times: Wednesday to Sunday 13:00 to 17:00

Opening Times: Archives, Thursday - Friday 09:30 to 17:00

Touch Tours by appointment. Large Print information available.

Tickets : Free

Tel: 020 8808 8772.