Tottenham: A Cultural Guide

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Theres more to Tottenham than Spurs - community projects, a booming food scene and bags of culture: Tottenham is buzzing!

With a rich cultural diversity, a palpable sense of community, unrivalled transport links, and an ambitious multi-million pound regeneration programme in full flow, Tottenham is positively booming. Prospering with creativity, conceptual arts collectives, musicians and a food and drinks movement that is rapidly gaining momentum, Tottenham is one of London’s last great, non-gentrified secrets.

A Little History

Tottenham, which lies 6 miles (or 10km) north-north ast of Charing Cross, got its name from an initial mention in the great British land survey the Domesday Book in 1086, which recorded that the land belonged to a famer called Tota - the book referred to the land as ‘Tota’s hamlet’ which, over time, became ‘Tottenham’. Now you know!

If you've ever wondered why Tottenham's football club are called the Tottenham Hotspurs, it's because of Sir Henry Percy, who lived in the area and whose descendants owned the land on which the club’s stadium was built - the knight fought against Scottish invaders who gave him the nickname “Harry Hotspur” for the speed and readiness he showed in attacking them! 

In the Tudor period Tottenham became popular as a leisure and recreation destination for wealthy Londoners - Henry VIII even visited Bruce Castle (see Leisure, below) and hunted in Tottenham Wood (which in 1619 stretched all the way past Alexandra Palace to Muswell Hill!)

Tottenham became more urbanized in 1870s when Great Eastern Railway introduced special workman's trains and fares from stations in Enfield and Walthamstow, and so the land was developed into affordable housing for industrial workers commuting into central London. It became the home of the Premier League football team soon after, in 1882. Today it’s a vibrant and diverse part of London, a last bastion of un-gentrified London with lots to offer...

Arts & Culture

Tottenham has its fair share of arts venues to suit different tastes; The Bernie Grant Arts Centre (named after Tottenham’s late long-standing MP before David Lammy) is a passionate nerve-centre of the borough that showcases and fosters culturally diverse creativity with an exciting programme of theatre, film, exhibitions classes, workshops and talks in its £15 million purpose-built multi-arts centre. Highlights include performances by the Urdang Academy for musical theatre and dance and the annual Bernie Grant Memorial Lecture, as well as weekly Reggae Choir sessions and summer arts camps. 

Unit 58 is a warehouse project with a 275 capacity performance area and 16 affordable music/multi-media studio spaces, hosting a diverse live programme including underground club music, immersive art events, theatre, live performance and exhibitions - click here for information on upcoming events. 

The Post Bar is a music venue and café with an Argentine grill and beer garden in the heart of Tottenham, with a varied programme of music performances (plus Open Jam sessions), dance performances and workshops and club nights - in 2021 the venue beat the trend of music venues targeted for closure by raising over £30,000 in crowdfunding!

If you’re in the area and fancy trying some arts classes, look to The New School of Art, which offers a diverse range of classes from beginner to advanced level in varied painting disciplines, including Life Drawing, Landscape Painting and Portrait Painting. Or check out Tottenham Arts Classes - low-cost art classes in the local area, including weekly drop-in life-drawing sessions at The Beehive (see below).

Tottenham has plenty of home-grown talent, too! 

Zone Arts is an online gallery curated by founder Elena Davidson to showcase affordable art by local Tottenham residents and artists like Benjamin Phillips and Natso Seki.Rift, based in Ashley Road, are a local theatre company comprised of duo Felix Mortimer and Joshua Nawras which creates in-vogue immersive and experiential events, aiming to “tell stories without boundaries” - past productions include a telling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest over six-months and six photo-realistic installations, all in one East London shop.

It was announced in 2021 that Yinka Ilori would be the new artist in residence at Tottenham Hale’s newest creative neighbourhood, Heart of Hale - check out some of his designs here - the debut installation “As you pass me by, know that it is nothing but love from me” (below) is situated opposite Tottenham Hale station.

Food & Drink

If youre looking for good food, Tottenham has plenty! The Post Bar (mentioned above) serves great Argentinian cuisine, with offerings from their BBQ Box and Burger Box, plus empanadas. Maki Mayo on West Green Road is a Korean-accented spot which came to Tottenham after started popping up in Brick Lane and around Shoreditch in 2014, owned by mother and son team Gary and Ah Mooi Luh. Keeping it in the family, Chuku’s is a Nigerian tapas restaurant on High Road brought to you by brother-and-sister duo Ifeyinwa and Emeka Frederick. Another great place a little further afield is JOKA Sushi, whose plates are as pretty as they are delicious!

For fantastic fried chicken at an unbeatable price, everyone knows it has to be Chick King on White Hart Lane, and if you want some authentic Caribbean cusine, head to High Road for some Electric Grubb (or get a takeway - we don’t mind!)

In terms of pubsThe Beehive (set just off Tottenham High Road on Stoneleigh Road) is one of London’s best kept secrets. Serving cask ales and Phileas Hog pulled pork sandwiches, the inviting outdoor decked area (charmingly lit with fairy lights) is the ideal place to while away many a summer afternoon. Owned and run by the local community, The Antwerp Arms (affectionately know as ‘The Annie’) on Church Road is well worth a visit for its distinct family feel at heart, powered by craft beers from the local Redemption Brewery.

Tottenham also has a nice selection of brewery taprooms, including The ORA Taproom and Mother Kelly’s, and the Hotspur Stadium boasts its own Beavertown Lab Microbrewery!


Bruce Castle is an impressive (and Grade 1 listed) 16th century manor Manor which It is open to the public for tours and has a museum, historical archives and two art galleries (including a decidcated Little Explorers gallery for families), surrounding beautiful parks and garden. The organisation runs free events throughout the year and during school holidays, and has a range of activity trails and booklets - click here for more information.

Tottenham Hale has its own Stronghold Climbing Centre with indoor climbing for kids and adults, coaching and workshops plus yoga!

Beyond the football, there’s plenty to see and do at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium including concerts (Pearl Jam and P!nk are playing this year!), tours, events and experiences like F1 Drive and The Dare Skywalk Edge - click here to check out all of your options!

If you want to escape the hustle and experience some of Tottenham’s outdoor pursuits, then head to the Tottenham Marshes; a glorious series of interconnected waterways, reservoirs and reserves, the area is flourishing with flora and fauna. Take a stroll here off the beaten track and you could spot Kingfishers, Skylarks or Owls along the banks of the picturesque River Lea (which marks the border between Tottenham and Walthamstow), and even go so far as the Walthamstow Wetlands. It’s a far cry from Tottenham’s mistaken rough-and-tumble reputation, and a welcome world away from the bustle of London’s perpetually busy thoroughfare. Click here for the Lee Valley website.