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Located on Lordship Lane in the north London borough of Haringey, Bruce Castle, previously known as the Lordship House, is an old manor house that was home to nobility throughout the centuries. Now, the castle stands as a museum, and contains archives and is dedicated to local history.
While you won't find many local castles in the Tottenham area of London, let alone with their own local history museum, Bruce Castle might just be the exception to the rule. However the Grade I listed building we now know as Bruce Castle Museum hasn't always existed in this way. There is actually evidence that, way before the castle was built, there is believed to have been a building on the site that dates back to medieval times. The 'castle' is named after the Scottish family Bruce of King Robert the Bruce fame, who owned the land the castle stands on back in the 13th century. While the building that now exists is called Bruce Castle, there actually was never a castle in the vicinity. In 1306 the land was taken back by the English crown, and while it isn't known when the original build date of Bruce Castle was, it is known that there was a building there in 1514, when it was owned by Sir William Compton, a close friend of King Henry VIII. The Tudor tower that you can now see on the grounds was built at this time, and the distinctive red brick and elaborate design make it a standout area of the grounds. There is documentation that it was used as a well in the past, as excavations have shown that the site goes down much further than ground level. It might also have been a place for young birds to be raised, so they could be hunted for sport, which was a popular recreation activity for nobility at the time.
Throughout the years, Bruce Castle changed hands many times, and was remodelled multiple times, in particular by the 2nd and 3rd Baron Coleraine, who were both named Henry Hare. The first Henry Hare, who lived from 1635 - 1708, is said to have been cruel to his wife and locked her away at the top of the castle, resulting in her jumping from the balcony. There are rumours that his wife, Constantia, or the 'ghost of Bruce Castle', haunts the grounds, and can sometimes be seen looking out from the castle window.
Following changes to the castle and the amount of money this cost, Bruce Castle was eventually sold at the turn of the 19th century. From then it was used as a private boarding school, which was sometimes visited by Charles Dickens. Following the closure of the school in 1891, the grounds became a public park, and Bruce Castle became a museum in 1906. Now, you can find the archives of the Borough of Haringey stored at Bruce Castle Museum, as well as artworks, photography, and the history of the famous football team Tottenham Hotspur.
On your visit to Bruce Castle, as well as exploring the museum and grounds of Bruce Castle park, there are lots of activities to take part in as a family. There are regular family arts and crafts events at the castle, that are free and take place every weekend. Here, kids can enjoy a variety of themed workshops that change every week, and make something beautiful to take home with them. Around Bruce Castle Museum itself, kids can have a ball dressing up like a Tudor, and seeing how people used to live in the manor house hundreds of years ago. From reception, you can pick up a special sticker book for £1, in which kids can help Wilbur and Willow the Wyverns find lots of different things around the museum. For a bit of outdoor fun, the Bruce Castle Tree Trail is also a top option for families with kids of all ages. With downloadable sheets that you can find on the Bruce Castle Museum website, the whole family can explore the grounds, answer quiz questions and identify trees and wildlife. Plus, if you're looking for London museums open on Sunday, Bruce Castle is the perfect option, as it is open all weekend with two days off in the week.
There are lots of things to explore and discover in the grounds, including a formal garden, memorial garden, children's playground, wildlife area, and basketball and tennis courts. With so much to see and do, a walk in the park is the perfect way to spend an afternoon after exploring the beauty of Bruce Castle. And, if you get a little peckish, head to 'T on the Green' in Bruce Castle park, where you'll find a variety of hot meals, sandwiches, and over 25 varieties of tea! This is also the place to go for tennis court hire, if you fancy brushing up on your racquet skills with the kids on your trip. The surrounding area also has lots of food options if you feel like a wander. Head down Lordship Lane towards Bruce Grove station, and along High Road you'll find plenty of eateries, including takeaway options, and the Beehive Pub for a yummy pub lunch. With great connections to the rest of London, Tottenham is the perfect place to come for a day out.
If you enjoyed your visit to Bruce Castle Museum and are keen to have a gander at some other historic locations nearby, why not head to Highgate and check out the 17th-century Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath? Or, explore Burgh House and Hampstead Museum to learn all about the local area, and check out another Grade I listed building.
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