The significance of this building has only recently been fully appreciated, thanks to a £1.8 million restoration grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2015.
Not only will Percy House be the new home of the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, it will also create an employment, skills and education hub to contribute to the regeneration of one of the most deprived communities in the country. This will help create new jobs and also bring more tourism to the area.
With the support of local historians, Percy House will also provide a Heritage Learning Zone, exhibition space and library, all of which will help deliver outreach sessions in schools and the local community.
As a history student, I was especially interested in the heritage value of Percy House, as many people who have grown up in Tottenham may not actually be aware of the area’s rich history.
A Grade II* listed building, Percy House is a ‘particularly important building of more than special interest’. Its special features include the forecourt walls and iron railings, which have been standing since the 17th century.
Percy House also has strong connections to Tottenham Hotspur. According to local historians, it was the first headquarters of the original football club, with meetings organised there by the club’s first president, Reverend John Ripsher. Without John Ripsher, Tottenham Hotspur would never have existed. Today he is known as the Father of Spurs.
In addition, Percy House was originally owned by the Duke of Northumberland, whose family name was Percy. One of their antecedents, Sir Henry Percy was very enthusiastic in battle, which earned him the nickname ‘Harry Hotspur’ and no doubt inspired the club’s Latin motto, ‘Audere est facere’ (‘To dare is to do’).
It was interesting to learn about the process of repairing and returning the existing exterior and interior of the building to its 18th-century glory. Much of the house’s original features will be kept so as to maintain its status as a heritage building, such as the lime plaster mixed with horse-hair, a common way to reinforce plaster in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The original cast iron fireplaces will also be kept for decoration, along with the wooden paneling, which has been coated with fire resistant paint. Another impressive aspect of the building was its prominent role in the launch of the pirate radio movement in the 1960s, as the basement of Percy House was once used as a recording booth.
Percy House will not only help preserve the area’s history for future generations, it will also create more social cohesion. This is particularly important when considering the divisions created in the area after the Tottenham riots in 2011.
The restoration of this important building will help create a sense of pride and community identity, and – along with the newly built stadium – will bring people together from across the UK and the world.
The renovation of Percy House should be completed by this December. Overall, I was left very impressed by my visit to the construction site. It was fascinating to see the layers of history behind the building and the process involved in revitalising it. It will be exciting to see what impact Percy House will have on the future of the Tottenham community and the football club.
To find out more about the history of Tottenham and the football club, watch the trailer for Exposure’s documentary ‘Memory Lane’ below. You can access the full documentary by making a donation to Exposure: