Stoke Newington: Growth, London Road

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8, Islington and Stoke Newington Parishes. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.

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'Stoke Newington: Growth, London Road', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8, Islington and Stoke Newington Parishes, (London, 1985) pp. 168-171. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

The London Road (Stoke Newington Road, High Street, and Stamford Hill)

Settlement was probably early along the London road, the Roman Ermine Street, especially at its junction with Church Street. There were roadside inns (fn. 69a) and by 1570 at least three houses on the Stoke Newington side of High Street, of which two were occupied by a tailor and a shoemaker respectively. A house (domus) was built in High Street in 1571. (fn. 70a) Settlement was concentrated at the junction with Church Street in the 17th century. (fn. 71a) A fine group of town houses was built north of the junction with Church Street in the early 18th century, one of which (no. 187), dated 1712, may have been built by the merchant Edward Lascelles, (fn. 72a) whose daughters sold it in 1755 to John Wilmer (d. 1764). Wilmer, a wealthy Quaker, was buried in a brick vault in the garden with a bell attached to his wrist, for fear of being buried alive. (fn. 73a)

In the 1740s buildings stretched from Church Street northward half-way to Hackney brook and southward to Cut Throat Lane. There were scattered buildings a little to the south, one of them the White Hart at the northern tip of South Hornsey detached, which had existed since 1723 and possibly since 1625. Farther south again there was a gap before the isolated Palatine houses. (fn. 74a)

The Palatine houses were built following a decision by the parish in 1709 to house four families of Protestant refugees from the Rhine Palatinate. (fn. 75a) In 1710 the parish estate was leased to Thomas Thompson, gentleman of Stoke Newington, on condition that he spent £100 on building. (fn. 76a) One house subleased by Thompson in 1720 had been rebuilt as a substantial brick house by Thomas Slennet, a gardener, by 1736. (fn. 77a) The White Lion existed by 1723 and in 1736 a piece of the parish field was leased to a Shoreditch bricklayer, (fn. 78a) who had built one house by 1738 (fn. 79a) and three by 1740. At that date the Palatine houses consisted of the large house built by Slennet, the White Lion, three other houses, and the three recently built. (fn. 80a) There were nine houses by 1752 (fn. 81a) and ten (two of them described as new) by 1782. (fn. 82a) There were two taverns on the estate in the mid 18th century, one probably the ancestor of the Hare and Hounds, which by the end of the century was in the middle of a terrace fronting the London road. One large house, Palatine House, lay well back from the main road on the north of the estate and four cottages ran back from the road at the southern border. (fn. 83a) In 1781-2 Palatine House was occupied by Charles Greenwood, a London upholsterer, and used as a retreat by his friend John Wesley. (fn. 84a) The largest and most northerly of the terraced houses may formerly have been the White Lion but by 1781-2 was occupied by Thomas Ellis (d. 1802), a stockbroker. (fn. 85a) In the 1820s the Quaker Anna Sewell (1820-78), author of Black Beauty, lived with her mother Mary (1797-1884), herself an author, in the converted coach house west of Palatine House. The Sewells remembered it as 'very pretty', with 4 a. of garden and meadow. (fn. 86a) In 1830 a 'proper public house' was built on the site of the Hare and Hounds. (fn. 87a)

Two cottages were built by 1774 abutting southward on South Hornsey. (fn. 88a) There were 43 houses fronting the London road in 1781-2, of which 13, including the Three Crowns, lay north of the junction with Church Street; 30, including the Green Dragon, stretched southward, of which 10 were on the Palatine estate. (fn. 89a) By 1796 there were 17 houses, including 10 in Diapason Row, on the Hornsey estate, where there had been one or two in the 1740s (fn. 90a)

In 1801 the Green Dragon and two houses were acquired by Richard Payne (d. 1809) of Rochester, who built the 'Rochester Castle' and Rochester Terrace on their site. (fn. 91a) In 1813 his daughters owned some 50 houses and cottages in courts, alleys, and terraces on High Street between Church Street and the White Hart. (fn. 92a) In 1804 the Stonefields estate in the southern corner of the parish was acquired by the auctioneer John Graham, whose agreement with the lords of the manor in 1805 enabled him to begin large-scale building. (fn. 93a) He had built Nelson Terrace fronting Stoke Newington Road by 1810, (fn. 94a) and by 1814 building was continuous from Kingsland to the Hornsey border. (fn. 95a)

Between 1801 and 1813 two cottages were built in Chapel Court and by 1833 there were five, described as newly erected. (fn. 96a) Manor Road had been driven westward from Stamford Hill by 1827 (fn. 97a) and Thomas Maughan had built semidetached houses fronting Stamford Hill by 1829, although his plan for a terrace between them and Hackney brook was frustrated by the dangerously projecting bridge. Freshfield had built houses south of the brook by 1830 (fn. 98a) and they apparently made way in the 1840s for Abney Park cemetery with its lodges. (fn. 99a) Between 1829 and 1841 houses were built bordering the London road in South Hornsey, Victoria Grove and Road being constructed, presumably in or after 1837, as side roads, together with the Victoria tavern and cottages in terraces, places, and courts off the main road. (fn. 1a) On the Rochester estate seven houses, called Duke's Buildings, had been 'lately erected' in 1840. (fn. 2a) Five houses were built in High Street in 1846 and another 13 in 1848-9, the latter probably including the terrace south of Abney Park cemetery. (fn. 3a)

By 1851 there were 132 houses on the west side of the London road between Kingsland and Church Street, with another 65 in courts, yards, and alleys. North of Church Street there were 8 old and 11 new buildings, some still unoccupied, before the entrance to Abney Park. In Stamford Hill there were 10 on Maughan's estate. (fn. 4a) Three more houses were built on Stamford Hill in 1852 and Maughan's terrace, south of his semi-detached houses, was probably built in the late 1850s, after the culverting of Hackney brook removed the dangerous bridge. (fn. 5a)

On the South Hornsey part of the London road, Gordon Road was constructed between 1855 and 1861 and Walford Road between 1861 and 1870. Terraces on the London road were constructed during the same period, (fn. 6a) as was the police station (1868) at no. 33 High Street and the Devonshire Square Baptist chapel (1870) at the junction with Walford Road. (fn. 7a) Nelson Terrace was rebuilt in 1868-9, (fn. 8a) and in 1873, when there were still only 15 houses and cottages on the Palatine estate, the trustees were authorized to enfranchise it, construct roads and sewers, and make building agreements. Palatine Road was constructed through the centre of the property and in the 1870s William Osment replaced the 18th-century houses (except Palatine House) and the Hare and Hounds with houses, shops, and a new public house. (fn. 9a) Brighton Road was built through the site of Sisters Cottage at the southern end of the Hornsey portion by 1878. (fn. 10a) Shops and houses (nos. 83-93 odd) were built in High Street in 1887. In 1894 three side roads were constructed on the remaining part of the Stonefields estate between Barrett's Grove and Palatine Road and 24 houses and shops were built fronting Stoke Newington Road, some on the site of earlier houses. (fn. 11a) In 1899 the London school board's Princess May school replaced houses at the corner of Stoke Newington Road and Barrett's Grove. (fn. 12a) In 1900 a 2-a. building site fronting the London road between Gordon and Victoria roads in South Hornsey was for sale. (fn. 13a) In 1902 its purchaser, the Four Per Cent. Industrial Dwellings Co., commissioned Dove Bros. of Islington to build a block of artisans' dwellings, completed in 1903. (fn. 14a) Adjacent blocks were built by the company in 1915-18 in Coronation Avenue, which had been constructed in 1910, and Imperial Avenue. (fn. 15a)

Throughout the 19th century the London road remained the principal shopping centre of Stoke Newington, full of crowds and traffic, its 'lively and bustling appearance' noted in 1826. (fn. 16a) Merchants and brokers still lived there: at Palatine House in 1841, (fn. 17a) in other Palatine houses, Nelson Terrace, no. 189 High Street, and Stamford Hill in 1851, (fn. 18a) in Nelson Terrace in 1861. (fn. 19a) A newspaper proprietor lived in Stamford House (? no. 191 High Street), a silk manufacturer and several retired people with servants in Stamford Hill in 1871. (fn. 20a) Many buildings, particularly the larger houses, were taken over by institutions. In 1794 no. 187 High Street was occupied by a schoolmaster (fn. 21a) and from 1832 until the Second World War by the invalid asylum for respectable women. No. 189 was in private occupation until 1864 when it became a dispensary, which it remained until after the Second World War. (fn. 22a) No. 191 housed an infant orphan asylum in 1848, (fn. 23a) reverted to residential use during the 1850s when it was occupied by the rector, (fn. 24a) had become a girls' school by 1860 (fn. 25a) and a private house by 1871, (fn. 26a) and from 1884 until the Second World War housed the London Female Penitentiary. (fn. 27a) Many private schools opened in the London road. (fn. 28a) Most of the smaller houses in High Street and Stoke Newington Road were occupied by retailers living above their shops, by clerks, dressmakers, craftsmen, and, especially in the cottages in the courts off the main road, labourers in the brickfields or nurseries. Small-scale industry occupied the upper floors and back yards. (fn. 29a) At the end of the century the Alexandra theatre was built in Stoke Newington Road. (fn. 30a)

At the beginning of the 20th century Stamford Hill, High Street, and Stoke Newington Road north of Gordon Road were classified as well-to-do, while the portion to the south was fairly comfortable. Several of the courts off High Street were moderately or very poor. (fn. 31a) By 1915 the private schools had gone from the London road but several cinemas had been built. (fn. 32a) Most of the courts were declared clearance areas in 1933 (fn. 33a) and, together with part of High Street, demolished in 1936. (fn. 34a)

There was some redevelopment after the Second World war. The Alexandra theatre was replaced by a probation office and flats (Alexandra Court) between 1954 and 1964 and most of the cinemas closed. (fn. 35a) A block of flats, Hugh Gaitskill House, replaced nos. 35-9 (odd) Stamford Hill in 1964 and another, Ockway House replaced no. 41 about the same time. (fn. 36a)

By the 1980s the run-down state of High Street which, with Church Street, constituted the town centre of Stoke Newington, provoked the borough council to declare nos. 183-91 (odd) High Street a development site. (fn. 37a) Nos. 187-91 (odd), early 18th-century houses each of three storeys and five bays, formed an 'uncommonly impressive trio'. (fn. 38a) In 1961 a preservation order was put on no. 187 but it suffered further damage in 1968 (fn. 39a) and during the 1970s, (fn. 40a) despite efforts by the G.L.C. to save all three houses. (fn. 41a) In 1976 shopkeepers complained that Stoke Newington had declined markedly in the last ten years, partly because the one-way traffic system diverted business to Dalston and partly because of the growth of Wood Green as a shopping centre. (fn. 42a) In the same year a fire at Whincop & Son's timber yard at the junction of Church Street and High Street prompted the decision to pull down houses and shops in Aldam Place (behind the Three Crowns) and nos. 183 and 185 High Street and replace them by offices. No. 187 was refurbished and extended in 1983. No. 189, nearer the road and with a massive Victorian porch, was restored in 1982 as Newington House, 'unusually elegant offices'. (fn. 43a) No. 191, also being refurbished and with additions made at the rear in 1901, (fn. 44a) appears to have been built with a wide central passage dividing the ground floor. The only other surviving 18th-century building is no. 107 Stoke Newington Road, Palatine House, three-storeyed and with a large semicircular bay, (fn. 45a) in a poor condition behind a housebreakers' yard.

Most of the buildings on Maughan's estate at Stamford Hill survive, including the terrace of nos. 1-19 (odd) which, standing well back from the road, is of three storeys with attics and basements and has paired Ionic porches. Some of the houses are used as industrial premises or are dilapidated but others are being renovated as flats. Other Victorian survivals include the Egyptian-style entrance to Abney Park cemetery, dating to the 1840s, many terraces behind projecting shop fronts in High Street and Stoke Newington Road, and Oak Lodge, no. 127 Stoke Newington Road. Oak Lodge was built in the 1850s, a detached house on the South Hornsey estate. (fn. 46a)


  • 69a. Below, social.
  • 70a. Guildhall MS. 14233/1.
  • 71a. Ogilby, Map of Mdx. [1677].
  • 72a. Date on rainwater head; M.L.R. 1720/4/84.
  • 73a. J. Dailey, 'No. 187 Stoke Newington High St.' (TS. 1969, S.N.L. cuttings 57.2); S.N.L. cuttings 78 Wilmer, LC 1882, 2036).
  • 74a. Rocque, Map of Lond. (1741-5); below, social.
  • 75a. Vestry mins. 1681-1743, 129, 131; below, other est.
  • 76a. Vestry mins. 1681-1743, 141.
  • 77a. M.L.R. 1721/1/325; 1736/3/448.
  • 78a. Ibid. 1736/4/239.
  • 79a. Ibid. 1738/1/333.
  • 80a. Vestry mins. 1681-1743, 466.
  • 81a. J.R. Spratling, Hist. of Palatine Estate (Stoke Newington Recs.), 21-2.
  • 82a. Guide for assessors of par. 1781-2.
  • 83a. Spratling, Palatine Estate, plan (1797) facing p. 24.
  • 84a. Guide for assessors of par. 1781-2; J. Vickers and B. Young, Methodist Guide to Lond. and SE. 27.
  • 85a. Guide for assessors of par. 1781-2; Spratling, Palatine Estate, plan (1797) facing p. 24; Robinson, Stoke Newington, 180; M.L.R. 1782/3/95.
  • 86a. D.N.B.; Mrs. Bayly, Life and Letters of Mrs. Sewell (1889), 61-3.
  • 87a. Spratling, Palatine Estate, 27; Shepherd watercolour (HA WP 8628).
  • 88a. Marcham, Digest, pt. 1.
  • 89a. Guide for assessors of par. 1781-2.
  • 90a. Guildhall MS. CC. 184832; G.L.R.O., MR/DE/HOR (map and award).
  • 91a. Marcham, Digest, pt. 1.
  • 92a. Ibid.; ref. bk. to Wadmore map (1813), nos. 320-72.
  • 93a. Above.
  • 94a. Plan of turnpike roads from Shoreditch to Enfield, 1810 (copy in S.N.L.).
  • 95a. Robinson, Stoke Newington, frontispiece map.
  • 96a. Abstract of Ct. Rolls 1832-82, 321; ref. bk. to Wadmore map (1813), nos. 316-17.
  • 97a. Guildhall MS. CC. 212291.
  • 98a. Cruchley's New Plan (1829); Abstract of Ct. Rolls 1802-31, 307; G.L.R.O., MJ/SPB 457-65.
  • 99a. Cf. tithe map.
  • 1a. Cruchley's New Plan (1829); P.R.O., HO 107/663/4.
  • 2a. Abstract of Ct. Rolls 1832-82, 333.
  • 3a. Tithe (1848), no. 348.
  • 4a. P.R.O., HO 107/1503/11/1, 3, 6; HO 107/1702/1/4.
  • 5a. Above, communications.
  • 6a. Miller, Plan of Stoke Newington (1855); Cassell's Map of Lond. (c. 1861-2); O.S. Map 1/2,500, Lond. X (1870 edn.); P.R.O., RG 9/791/4.
  • 7a. Below, pub. svces.; prot. nonconf.
  • 8a. Above.
  • 9a. Spratling, Palatine Estate, 35-7, 41; Endowed Charities (County of Lond.), H.C. 128, pp. 15, 18 (1897), lxvi, pt. 1.
  • 10a. E. Stanford, Map of Lond. & Environs (1878).
  • 11a. Hackney bd. of wks. Surveyor's Rep. (1894), 3; O.S. Map 1/2,500, Lond. XXX (1894-6 edn.); 11. 15 (1915 edn.).
  • 12a. Cutting Feb. 1899 (S.N.L. cuttings 55.4).
  • 13a. Sales parts. 1900 (S.N.L. 60.5, LC 1638).
  • 14a. D. Braithwaite, Building in the Blood (1981), 42, 129.
  • 15a. Reg. of Electors (1914-15, 1918); Kelly's Dir. Stoke Newington (1900-23).
  • 16a. Pigot's Lond. Dir. (1826-7), 492.
  • 17a. P.R.O., HO 107/663/4.
  • 18a. Ibid. HO 107/1503/11/1, 5.
  • 19a. Ibid. RG 9/152/11/5.
  • 20a. Ibid. RG 10/309/9/1A.
  • 21a. Marcham, Digest, pt. 3.
  • 22a. Tithe (1848), nos. 344-5. For asylum and dispensary, below, pub. svces.
  • 23a. Tithe (1848), no. 346.
  • 24a. Letters 1924, 1927 by dau. of Thos. Jackson (HA M 3784).
  • 25a. Below, educ., private.
  • 26a. P.R.O., RG 10/309/9/1A.
  • 27a. J. Dailey, 'Stoke Newington in brief' (TS. 1972, S.N.L. cuttings 80, LC 3160).
  • 28a. Below, educ., private.
  • 29a. P.R.O., HO 107/663/4; HO 107/1503/11/1, 3; HO 107/ 1702/1/4; ibid. RG 9/152/11/4-5; RG 9/791/4; RG 10/310/ 9/1B.
  • 30a. Below, social.
  • 31a. Booth, Life and Labour, 3rd ser. (1), map facing p. 164.
  • 32a. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Lond. II. 15, V. 3 (1915 edn.); below, social.
  • 33a. Above.
  • 34a. Stoke Newington B.C. Ann. Rep. 1936-7.
  • 35a. O.S. Map 1/1,250 TQ 3385 NE. (1954, 1964 edns.); below, social.
  • 36a. O.S. Map 1/1,250 TQ 3386 NE. (1953, 1966 edns.); MS. note by J. Dailey on Dod, 1979 (S.N.L. cuttings 32 DOD, LC 3717).
  • 37a. Hackney Boro. Plan, Stoke Newington Planning Area (1982), SN 4-2.
  • 38a. Summerson, Georgian Lond. 294; Pevsner, Lond. ii. 430.
  • 39a. Pevsner, Lond. ii. 430; The Times, 9 Jan. 1968, 6g; S.N.L. cuttings 78 Wilmer, LC 1882; photos. (S.N.L. illus. 57.2 HIGH, LC 3011-20).
  • 40a. List sent to Scotland Yd. of items stolen (S.N.L. cuttings 57.2, LC 3640).
  • 41a. The Times, 12 Feb. 1971, 3c.
  • 42a. Hackney Gaz. 25 June, 17 Aug. 1976 (S.N.L. cuttings 80, LC 3346-7).
  • 43a. Pevsner, Lond. ii. 430; Hackney Gaz. 8 Oct. 1979 (S.N.L. illus. 57.2 HIG, LC 3644); Daily Telegraph, 5 Apr. 1982, 14 Nov. 1983.
  • 44a. S.N.L. illus. 57.2 HIG, LC 3183; J. Dailey, 'Lond. Female Penitentiary & Guardian Soc.' (TS. 1977, S.N.L. cuttings 41.32, LC 3351); Hackney Boro. Plan, Stoke Newington Planning Area (1982), SN 4-2.
  • 45a. Photos. (S.N.L. illus. 57.2 GRE, LC 628).
  • 46a. P.R.O., RG 9/791/4; O.S. Map 1/2,500, Lond. X (1870 edn.).