Bruce Castle is a Grade I listed 16th-century manor house in Tottenham, London. It is one of the oldest surviving English brick houses.
Bruce Castle is named after the House of Bruce who formerly owned the lands on which the castle was built. The castle is situated in a 20 acre park land and was remodeled a few times in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The house was home to Sir William Crompton, the Barons Coleraine and Sir Rowland Hill, and others. In the 19th century the house was converted into a school and after the extension of the west wing the building was converted again and this time into a museum to display the history of the Royal Mail and the areas of the surrounding London boroughs.
Bruce Castle Museum History
The first time that the house is mentioned was in 1619 in a detail of the Survey of Tottenham by the Earl of Dorset in which he also mentioned the Norman All Hallows Church and priory, then as now the oldest surviving buildings in the area.
Bruce Castle Museum Collections
The extensive collection of items related to the history of the Royal Mail and the connection between Sir Rowland Hill and the Hill School. The building also houses the archives of the London Borough of Haringey and an exhibition devoted to Luke Howard, named the Cloud Variations.
The surrounding gardens are open for public since 1892 and make it the oldest park in Tottenham.
Bruce Castle Architecture
The cylindrical Tudor Tower on the southeast of the house is the oldest part of the building. The tower is 21 feet tall and the walls are 3 feet thick. There is archaeological evidence that parts of the building are dated in the 15th century. The principal facade of the Grade I mansion has been substantially remodeled over time. The house is constructed of red brick with ashlar quoining and the principal facade, terminated by symmetrical matching bays, has tall paned windows. The house and detached tower are among the earliest uses of brick as the principal building material for an English house.
Bruce Castle Residents
Among the people who have lived in Bruce Castle were
• Sir William Compton, Groom of the Stool to Henry VIII and one of the most prominent courtiers of the period.(16th century)
• 1st Baron Coleraine Hugh Hare, (17th century)
• 2nd Baron Coleraine Henry Hare, (17th century)
• 3rd Baron Coleraine. Henry Hare, (18th century)
• James Townsend, (18th century)
• Thomas Smith, (1792 – 1804)
• John Eardley Wilmot, (1804 – 1815)
Bruce Castle & Hill School
In 1815 Bruce Castle was bought by John Ede who never lived in it. He sold the house and grounds to Rowland Hill and his brothers for use as a school. The Hill school moved to Bruce Castle in 1827 and Hill became the headmaster. In 1839 Rowland Hill was appointed as head of the General Post Office and he left the school in the hands of his brother Arthur Hill.
The appointment of Rowland Hill as head of the General Post Office explains the link between Bruce Castle and the Royal Mail exhibition that is on display. The school closed in 1891 and the council of Tottenham purchased the house and grounds. The grounds were opened for the public and named Bruce Castle Park.
Bruce Castle Restoration works
As many old buildings, Bruce Castle almost suffered the fate of being demolished in the 1950’s. Due to the poor condition of the walls the building was almost falling down and needed intensive restoration. One of the main towers was already demolished and in 1959 the first restoration works started. In the period between 1959 and 1971 most of the restoration was completed and in 2006 a large archaeological dig was done on the grounds by the Museum of London to celebrate the opening of the Bruce Castle Museum.
Bruce Castle Museum Address and Opening Hours
Stations Seven Sisters or Wood Green
By Bus: 243 and 123
By Train: Bruce Grove Station
By Car: Small car park to be accessed via Church Lane
The Museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday between 1pm to 5pm
For more information please visit their website at; http://www.haringey.gov.uk/leisure/brucecastlemuseum.htm