Thanks to the Open House weekend - and the even more admirable volunteers of the Friends of Hornsey Church Tower - I have achieved a longstanding ambition. I've been to the top of St Mary's church tower in Hornsey.
The tower - fifteenth century in part - has outlived a whole succession of adjoining churches, and now stands alone and aloof with its trademark turret and crenellations.
The vestry has been restored and is in wonderful condition. Religious services are held here a few times a year (this is no longer Hornsey's parish church but it's still owned by the church) - otherwise it's available for hire, an 'intimate space' for performance or kids' parties, with room for about twenty-five.
But this isn't the way up the tower. That's through a recessed side door, and a perilous spiral staircase with 120 narrow steps. That leads first to the bell ringers' chamber (though the bells have long gone) and then beyond, past the deserted bell chamber, to the larger-than-you might-expect roof.
From the top you have a commanding view of Muswell Hill, Alexandra Palace, White Hart Lane, Crouch End's "hog's back" and beyond t0 the skyscrapers of the City and Canary Wharf.
I took this short video - starting off facing, very roughly, south and then moving clockwise:
And here's a selection of views from the top of St Mary's tower:
Next time Open House weekend comes around, head straight to Hornsey!
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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