Hackney: Shacklewell

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10, Hackney. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1995.

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'Hackney: Shacklewell', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10, Hackney, ed. T F T Baker( London, 1995), British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol10/pp35-38 [accessed 16 July 2024].

'Hackney: Shacklewell', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10, Hackney. Edited by T F T Baker( London, 1995), British History Online, accessed July 16, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol10/pp35-38.

"Hackney: Shacklewell". A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10, Hackney. Ed. T F T Baker(London, 1995), , British History Online. Web. 16 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol10/pp35-38.


Shacklewell originated in a settlement along Shacklewell Lane, a loop east of the high road between Dalston and Stoke Newington common. (fn. 1) In the 19th century the northern part of the loop was built up as Rectory Road, whereupon Shacklewell came to denote the district stretching eastward from Stoke Newington Road to where Hackney brook skirted Hackney Downs and northward to include the common. (fn. 2) Shacklewell and Newington, however, were by tradition separate localities and the area described here is confined to that around the surviving Shacklewell Lane, stretching from Downs Park Road only to the north end of Amhurst Road between the high road and Hackney Downs.

Despite its Old English name, (fn. 3) Shacklewell was not recorded until 1490 when Thomas Cornish, a London saddler, had a tenant there. (fn. 4) Presumably its quiet but accessible position off the high road and the presence of a spring or well had made the hamlet attractive to citizens.

Richard (d. 1504), son of Richard Cornish, also a Londoner, left lands in Hertfordshire and at Shacklewell. (fn. 5) Sir John Heron (d. 1522), perhaps the richest man in Hackney, had an estate extending into neighbouring parishes and centred on his seat at Shacklewell, (fn. 6) where his reputed manor included the holdings of five tenants in 1540. (fn. 7) Most if not all of Shacklewell was copyhold, part of a larger estate held in turn by the Herons, the Rowes, and the Tyssens. (fn. 8)

Shacklewell, normally assessed with Kingsland, Dalston, and Newington, had only 14 householders listed for hearth tax in 1672, when by far the largest house was the Rowes'. (fn. 9) The number of ratepayers rose from 11 in 1720 to 16 in 1735, 29 in 1761, and 47 in 1779. (fn. 10) Samuel Tyssen was Shacklewell's one select vestryman in 1729. (fn. 11) Its one inn in 1725 and 1750 was the Cock, (fn. 12) south-west of the village at the junction of Shacklewell Lane and the high road. (fn. 13) The Green Man at Shacklewell green was licensed by 1760. (fn. 14)

The village grew up along both sides of Shacklewell Lane c. ¼ mile east of the high road, where a strip of waste formed the green. (fn. 15) From the high road to the green the lane was known as the Crossway in 1701, when a watch house was to be built beside it, and in 1745. Waste which had been dug for gravel (fn. 16) apparently adjoined a plot at the north end of Shacklewell green which was leased in 1706 to William Francies, a merchant tailor, who built two brick houses and paid rent to the Tyssens 'in the hall of the mansion house at Shacklewell'. (fn. 17) The mansion with c. 3 a. was leased in 1741 to Richard Tillesley, a Shoreditch carpenter, who had pulled down part by 1743, when he mortgaged new houses to Charles Everard, a Clerkenwell brewer. (fn. 18) Everard was leased 12 new houses on the site in 1762. (fn. 19) He held most of the property on the north-west side of the lane by 1765, including part of the old manor house and at the north end of the village a house which before 1766 had been the poorhouse of St. Bride's parish, Fleet Street. (fn. 20) The Cock remained the only building at the south-west end of Shacklewell Lane. Shacklewell ponds filled part of the verge where the lane curved north towards the village, in the angle between the lane and the track to Hackney Downs (later Downs Park Road). (fn. 21)

On the south side of the green Doggett's dairy of 1770 partly survived in a wall adjoining the 19th-century Grove House. John Godfrey by 1785 had houses east of the corner with Love Lane (later Norfolk Road), where the end house of Godfrey's Row was dated 1799. Prospect Row, with pedimented doorcases, stood on the north side of Shacklewell Lane immediately north of the green by 1785. (fn. 22) The Revd. John Hindle, presumably the biblical scholar, was authorized to do some building in 1787 (fn. 23) and a new house had been built next to two cottages on the south side of the lane in 1802. (fn. 24) The vicar hoped to provide a chapel at Shacklewell in 1807, (fn. 25) when the village was spreading towards the high road. In 1804 John Carruthers held five houses fronting Shacklewell Lane near the ponds and was to dig brickearth for neighbouring houses of the third or fourth class. (fn. 26) In 1811 six or more fourth-class houses were to be built almost opposite by John Hindle of Kingsland Crescent; he had secured an adjoining part of Cock and Castle field, which stretched to the high road. Thomas Greenwood was to replace four decayed houses in the village with one or more of the third class. (fn. 27) Two more third-class houses had been built by 1814, (fn. 28) when Hindle acquired land near Hackney Downs. (fn. 29)

Gentlemen lived along both sides of Shacklewell Lane between the high road and the green, with several tradesmen in the middle section, in 1821. Trafalgar Place at the west end had a mixed population, with cramped terraces in Ebenezer Place, a cul-de-sac to the south. (fn. 30) Old buildings west of the manor house were to make way for six fourth-class houses in 1824. (fn. 31) The composer Vincent Novello (d. 1861) moved in 1823 to Shacklewell green, reputedly to Milton House at the north-east end, but soon left lest his children's education should suffer from the village's seclusion. (fn. 32) George Thomas Landmann (d. 1854), an engineer in the Peninsular War, spent his later years at no. 2 Trafalgar Place. (fn. 33)

Meanwhile the high road north of Dalston Lane was built up with terraces, as was much of the Stoke Newington side by 1810. (fn. 34) A building plot with a 100-ft. frontage and c. 25 a. stretching to Shacklewell Lane were leased in 1806 to Thomas and William Rhodes. (fn. 35) In 1817 they obtained a 350-ft. frontage, with brickearth behind, (fn. 36) and in 1818 they were leasing new houses in Prospect Terrace close to the site acquired for West Hackney church. (fn. 37) An offshoot from the high road, called Wellington Place, had eight gentleman's residences by 1821; (fn. 38) it had been extended due east as Wellington Road (from 1939 Shacklewell Road) to meet Shacklewell Lane north of the green by 1831. To the south Wellington Street formed a short cul-de-sac, later also extended to Shacklewell Lane (and from 1886 called Arcola Street, after Napoleon's victory). To the north Brunswick Grove (later the west end of Farleigh Road) also formed a cul-de-sac, leading to cottages in Caroline Place. From Shacklewell village another cul-de-sac thrust northward, as Shacklewell Row. There were no other houses behind those along the high road and Shacklewell Lane. (fn. 39)

Infilling advanced with a building lease of 1837 for John Ross's nursery along the south side of Wellington Road, (fn. 40) which had led to the building up of much of that road and Somerford Grove by 1849 and of the whole by 1865. (fn. 41) Buildings or their gardens filled all the land between the high road and Shacklewell Lane south of Wellington Road in 1865, when crowded terraces formed Hindle, Middle, and John (later Dunn) streets west of Shacklewell Row. Meanwhile the slightly superior Foskett Terrace was built on the south-east side of Shacklewell Lane in 1866; (fn. 42) it replaced Shacklewell ponds, although some waste survived to be known locally as 'the small green'. (fn. 43) More terraces were later built between the high road and Shacklewell green, behind the manor house and its neighbours, where Seal and Perch streets were named from 1881.

Farther east villas were built in the mid 1860s in Downs Park and Norfolk (later Cecilia) roads and also along the central section of Amhurst Road, (fn. 44) where they had been preceded by the modest Amhurst Terrace along a footway to Hackney Downs (fn. 45) and where the villas' long gardens were cut off from the downs c. 1872 by the G.E.R.'s Enfield line. Market gardens survived north of Wellington Road in 1865. Only a few houses stood in Farleigh Road and in the northernmost section of Amhurst Road by 1868; Foulden Road, between them, was no more than a name. All the sites had been filled by 1891. (fn. 46)

Mid 19th-century Shacklewell was largely residential, served by a few shops in Shacklewell Lane, some of them facing the green, and more in Wellington Road. Stoke Newington Road, similarly, was less commercial than the high streets of Kingsland and Stoke Newington. (fn. 47) Industrialization, presaged by Eyre & Spottiswoode's works at the corner of Shacklewell Lane and Downs Park Road, (fn. 48) accompanied the building of terraces around Hindle Street and south of Arcola Street. A board school of 1876 displaced some houses, (fn. 49) local poverty induced Merchant Taylors' school to open a mission in Shacklewell Row in 1890, and factories, including a saw mill and an extension of the printing works, came to fill most of the nursery land behind the houses on the site bounded by Shacklewell Lane and Norfolk and Downs Park roads. A successor to the manor house was replaced by shops built c. 1880 by John Grover of New North Road, Islington. (fn. 50) Redevelopment in Stoke Newington Road involved the demolition of Prospect Terrace and the provision of shops at the corner of Amhurst Road c. 1878. (fn. 51) Institutions included the German orphanage, moved from Dalston, the North London magistrates' court in Stoke Newington Road, and a new synagogue for Stoke Newington near the west end of Shacklewell Lane. (fn. 52)

The synagogue, said to dwarf its surroundings, and new factories were criticized in 1903 by a resident who claimed to have witnessed over 25 years the village's absorption into London. The green, in public ownership since 1883, had recently been improved, (fn. 53) although at its northeast end it was planned to replace Acorn Cottage by two houses with workshops behind in 1896. Nearby it was planned that Milton House, latterly an academy, should make way for nine houses with workshops behind under a lease of 1906 to Frederick William Castle; a two-storeyed red-brick row ambitiously called Milton House Mansions was finished in 1907 and Milton works in 1908. (fn. 54) The streets south-east of Shacklewell green remained slightly better than those on the west side, whose poverty contrasted with the neatness of tree-lined Wellington Road and the spaciousness of Amhurst Road. (fn. 55)

Shacklewell was still mainly residential in 1928. Industry was spreading around Shacklewell Lane, in converted houses or their grounds, and a few workshops, chiefly for clothing, existed around Wellington Road; (fn. 56) Simpsons' large factory was built in Stoke Newington Road in 1929. (fn. 57) To the east villas in Amhurst Road near Downs Park Road made way c. 1934 for 320 flats in eight five-storeyed red-brick neo-Georgian blocks built by the Samuel Lewis housing trust. (fn. 58) East of Amhurst Road more villas, with gardens stretching to the railway, made way for the 320 flats of the Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Co.'s Evelyn Court; its five-storeyed blocks, designed by Charles Joseph and an early example of the use of pre-stressed concrete, were opened in 1934. (fn. 59) An adjoining 3½ a. to the south were compulsorily purchased by the L.C.C., which in 1936 opened the Downs estate, 204 dwellings also in five-storeyed blocks. (fn. 60) Hackney M.B. in 1936 replaced Prospect Row with the three six-storeyed blocks of Shacklewell House and by 1939 had replaced Hindle and Middle streets with 197 flats in five-storeyed ranges called Hindle House. (fn. 61)

Further changes accompanied rebuilding after the Second World War. The west end of Shacklewell (formerly Wellington) Road and 9 a. stretching to Farleigh Road were taken for Hackney's Somerford estate, the first part of which was opened in 1949; ultimately with 150 dwellings, it consisted of one- to three-storeyed buildings with interconnected squares, designed by Frederick Gibberd as a compromise between the L.C.C.'s 'cottage' estates and high density flats. (fn. 62) Immediately to the south Shacklewell primary school filled part of the site of Hindle street board school from 1951 (fn. 63) and to the east the low-rise Shacklewell Road estate was built. Individual blocks of flats included Leigh House in Farleigh Road, Norfolk House in Cecilia Road c. 1957, Hurst Lodge in Farleigh Road by 1975, and, later, the Samuel Lewis trust's Charles Utton Court in Amhurst Road. (fn. 64)

In 1950 the Tyssen estate accepted that its property south of Arcola Street should be scheduled for light industry but asked the L.C.C. to retain shops at the corners of Shacklewell green and Cecilia Road. (fn. 65) Much small-scale industry survived in 1991, although at the south end of the green it had made way c. 1937 for Dalston county school, (fn. 66) which, as Kingsland school, came to occupy most of the land to the south. By 1991 the former printing works to the west, which had passed to the London Electricity Board, had been superseded by the yellow-brick Independent Place, advertised as offices and studios. Some clearance had taken place at the west end of Shacklewell lane, where the synagogue's conversion into a mosque was a sign of Turkish Cypriot immigration already apparent in the ownership of workshops and small factories, especially for clothing or for motor repairs, and of restaurants and shops.

Shacklewell is a mixture of council housing, late Victorian terraces, and industry, where the most notable building is St. Barnabas's church, (fn. 67) almost hidden off Shacklewell Row. The Amhurst Arms, at the corner of Amhurst Terrace, is mid 19th-century, stuccoed and with pilasters of different orders. (fn. 68) Shacklewell green, a strip of grass with railings and tall plane trees, serves as a traffic island. Its north-west side is still faced by two- and three-storeyed 19th-century houses, several containing empty shops. The 'small green' also forms an island, where some 19thcentury houses on the north side have been renovated; Foskett Terrace and a few shops are on the south side. Shacklewell Lane, with its reminders of the village, has been superseded as the commercial centre by Stoke Newington Road. Shops make that stretch of the high road virtually a continuation of the high streets of Kingsland and Stoke Newington; the magistrates' court and Simpsons' former factory remain prominent on the Hackney side, although to the north the building line has been set back for the Somerford estate. Least altered is the north part of Shacklewell, where stock-brick terraces line Farleigh and Foulden roads; the second is the more uniform, with long two-storeyed ranges regularly interspersed with three-storeyed houses. Off Shacklewell green a distinctive and partly pedestrianized enclave is formed by Perch, April, and Seal streets, whose modest yellowbrick terraces built by John Grover (fn. 69) have terracotta plaques dated from 1881 to 1886.


  • 1. Rocque, Map of Lond. (1741-5), sheet 5; Starling's Map (1831).
  • 2. Clarke, Hackney, 247.
  • 3. P.N.Mdx. (E.P.N.S.), 107.
  • 4. P.R.O., PROB 11/8 (P.C.C. 40 Milles).
  • 5. Ibid. PROB 11/14 (P.C.C. 10 Holgrave).
  • 6. Below, manors (Shacklewell).
  • 7. B.L. Add. MS. 35824, f. 28b.
  • 8. Below, manors.
  • 9. G.L.R.O., MR/TH/4, m. 3d.; MR/TH/34.
  • 10. H.A.D., P/J/P/76, 91, 121, 150.
  • 11. Vestry mins. 23 Aug. 1729.
  • 12. G.L.R.O., MR/LV4/15; MR/LV6/79. By c. 1785 the Old Cock: H.A.D., D/F/TYS/66.
  • 13. H.A.D., V 19.
  • 14. G.L.R.O., MR/LV7/49.
  • 15. Ibid. M79/LH/48, 25 Apr. 1701; Rocque, Map of Lond. (1741-5), sheet 5.
  • 16. G.L.R.O., M79/LH/48, 18 Apr. 1707.
  • 17. Ibid. M79/LH/126/14.
  • 18. M.L.R. 1743/3/256, 349.
  • 19. H.A.D., M 517.
  • 20. Ibid. V 19; ibid. M 516; Hackney Photos. ii. 38.
  • 21. H.A.D., V 19.
  • 22. Starling's Map (1831); Hackney Photos. ii. 38; H.A.D., M 3230, pp. 91, 116; ibid. D/F/TYS/66.
  • 23. H.A.D., M 532; D.N.B.
  • 24. M.L.R. 1803/4/198.
  • 25. Vestry mins. 31 Mar. 1807.
  • 26. H.A.D., M 544.
  • 27. Ibid. M 551-2.
  • 28. G.L.R.O., MR/B/C. 1814/84.
  • 29. Ibid. M79/127/10.
  • 30. H.A.D., P/J/CW/I24, pp. 146-9, 183-4; Starling's Map (1831).
  • 31. H.A.D., M 753 (1).
  • 32. D.N.B.; M. Cowden Clarke, Life of Vincent Novello [1864], 24-5; Clarke, Hackney, 250.
  • 33. Hackney Dir (1849); D.N.B.
  • 34. V.C.H. Mdx. viii. 169.
  • 35. M.L.R. 1807/1/435-6.
  • 36. Ibid. 1817/4/19; 1863/21/822.
  • 37. Ibid. 1818/5/350-3.
  • 38. H.A.D., P/J/CW/124, p. 181.
  • 39. Starling's Map (1831).
  • 40. H.A.D., M 718.
  • 41. Hackney Dir. (1849). Rest of para. and following para. based on Stanford, Map of Lond. (1862-5 edn.), sheet 3; Old O.S. Map Lond. 30 (1868).
  • 42. Datestone.
  • 43. H.A.D., M 3230 [scrapbk. hist. by A. J. Hooper], p. 154.
  • 44. Hos. leased from 1866 and 1867: G.L.R.O., M79/TA/20.
  • 45. H.A.D., M 3230, pp. 23, 52.
  • 46. Stanford, Map of Lond. (1891 edn.), sheet 5.
  • 47. P.O. Dir. Six Home Counties (1845); Hackney Dir. (1849, 1869).
  • 48. Below, econ. hist. (ind.).
  • 49. Below, educ. (pub. schs.: Dalston county).
  • 50. H.A.D., M 3230, p. 96; ibid. LBH 7/5/26/89; P.O. Dir. Lond. (1879).
  • 51. G.L.R.O., M79/TA/22, p. 57.
  • 52. Old O.S. Maps Lond. 30 (1868, 1894); ibid. 40 (1870, 1914); Kelly's Dir. Stoke Newington (1891); below, misc. institutions; manors (Shacklewell); Judaism.
  • 53. H.A.D., M 3230, pp. 12, 44; below, pub. svces.
  • 54. G.L.R.O., M79/TA/22-3; H.A.D., M 3230, pp. 109- 110, 114.
  • 55. W. Besant, Lond. North of Thames (1911), 571-2.
  • 56. Hackney M.B. Rep. on San. Condition (1928), 117, 119.
  • 57. Below, econ. hist. (ind.).
  • 58. P.O. Dir. Lond. (1934).
  • 59. Pearman, Excellent Accn. 93-4; below, plate 33.
  • 60. Hackney, Official Guide [1938]; L.C.C. Lond. Statistics, xli, 150-1.
  • 61. Hackney Photos. ii. 38; Hackney, Official Guide [1938; 1961].
  • 62. Archit. Rev. cvi. 144-52; Pevsner, Lond. ii. 169; Hackney, Official Guide [1961].
  • 63. Below, educ. (pub. schs.).
  • 64. P.O. Dir. Lond. (1956 and later edns.).
  • 65. G.L.R.O., AR/TP/2/419.
  • 66. Below, educ. (pub. schs.).
  • 67. Below, churches.
  • 68. List of Bldgs. (1975).
  • 69. H.A.D., LBH 7/5/26/89, 112.