Stoke Newington: Growth, Newington Green

Pages 171-172

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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Newington Green (fn. 47)

Newington Green, first mentioned by name in 1480, (fn. 48) was fringed in the 1490s by cottages, homesteads, and crofts, at least on the three sides in Newington Barrow manor in Islington. (fn. 49) The northern side, all copyhold, was divided between the prebendal manors of Stoke Newington and of Brownswood in South Hornsey. By 1541 there was a common well on the green and there were houses on the northern side within Stoke Newington parish. (fn. 50) In the 1570s most if not all the area north of the green belonged to the London butcher Richard Heard. His estate included at least two houses and a cottage among the copyhold of Stoke Newington prebend (fn. 51) and a house among that of Brownswood. Heard himself probably lived in the Brownswood house, which was sited in 24 1/2 a. of meadow and woodland on the east side of the green. (fn. 52)

No. 42 Newington Green, the large house belonging to the Brownswood estate, on the west side of Albion Road, possibly dated from c. 1680, had timber framing, and in 1870 contained oak panelling attributed to Grinling Gibbons (fn. 53) but probably some 60 years later. A Presbyterian (later Unitarian) meeting house replaced one or more houses in the centre of the north side of the green in 1708. (fn. 54) By the 1730s houses on the north side included the Golden Lion inn and a house which was leased to a carpenter by Edward Newens, the builder of much of Church Street. (fn. 55)

In 1742 the green, previously 'a most rude wilderness with large old trees' was railed in. (fn. 56) At that time building on the north side was continuous, except for Church Walk west of the chapel. Building had begun along the walk and there were isolated farmhouses to the west (on the Pulteney estate) and east (probably on the site of Heard's house). (fn. 57) In 1761 Newington Green was a 'pleasant village' consisting of a 'handsome square' surrounded by generally well built houses, with a row of trees on each side and an extensive grass plat in the centre. (fn. 58) There were some 11 dwellings and the chapel in the Stoke Newington part in 1781-2 (fn. 59) and 5 houses in the Brownswood parts in 1796. (fn. 60) Among the inhabitants was Daniel Defoe (c. 1660-1731), who was educated at Morton's academy and in 1684 married a girl from Newington Green, where in 1692 he tried to raise civet cats. (fn. 61) Others included Abraham Price (d. 1756), the first manufacturer of wallpaper in England, and Rawson Aislabie (d. 1806), a former soapboiler from East Smithfield. (fn. 62) Thomas Holloway (d. 1827), the line engraver and painter, lived at no. 37 in 1797 (fn. 63) and James Mill (1773-1836), the philosopher, lived from 1810 to 1813 at Newington Green, which his son John Stuart, then a small boy, described as an almost rustic neighbourhood. (fn. 64)

Three cottages were 'lately erected' in 1804 behind the meeting house, at the southern end of Church Walk, to be replaced in turn by two houses, Howard and Warwick houses, by 1854. (fn. 65) By 1809 there were four houses on the Pulteney estate, some at least of which had been built since 1784. (fn. 66) In 1821 the estate was sold for building but, apart from the construction of Albion Road to link Newington Green with Church Street, there was little immediate change at the green because the adjoining land was bought by James Browning, whose estate in South Hornsey centred on his house in the western angle of the green and Albion Road. (fn. 67) The north side of Newington Green retained an essentially 18th-century facade until the 1890s, although building in the 1870s on the Browning estate on the west side and on the Grove House site on the east made Newington Green part of one continuous line of building. (fn. 68) When Albion Road was widened at its junction with Newington Green in 1892, the two three-storeyed 18th-century houses between Albion Road and Church Walk were demolished and a bank in Italianate style was built on the narrowed site. (fn. 69) In 1893 an application was made to build the Mildmay club on the site of old houses at no. 34, (fn. 70) although the foundation stone of the present building is dated 1900.

In 1820 Newington Green was said to be principally inhabited by merchants and gentlemen, (fn. 71) of whom at least three owned land and houses on the Stoke Newington part of the green in the 1820s. (fn. 72) William Browning, who in 1841 and 1851 lived in the large house on the western- most Brownswood portion, was an oil merchant. (fn. 73) In 1851 the inhabitants included capitalists and merchants, Dr. Robert Brett, the High Church general practitioner, and 13 servants. (fn. 74) By 1851 Grove House had been built on Brownswood land as a private lunatic asylum, (fn. 75) and in 1871 one of the houses on the green was a boarding school. (fn. 76) In 1888 one house was occupied by the East Highbury Liberal club. (fn. 77)

The green was still a middle-class, comfortable area in 1900 and 1930, but it was close to slums in the north-east (fn. 78) and in 1909 a factory was built adjoining no. 42 on the west side of Albion Road. (fn. 79) By 1929 all the buildings on the north side of the square, except for the bank, chapel, and Mildmay club, had become shops. (fn. 80) No. 42, at different times called Holland (probably after Edward Hollands who bought it in 1870) (fn. 81) and Olympic House, a three-storeyed, five-bayed, red-brick house with quoins, probably dating from the early 18th century with a later porch, (fn. 82) made way c. 1965 for factory buildings (fn. 83) which in 1983 stood empty behind the 18th-century iron gates and railings of the house. The chapel survives in 1983, together with the remaining 18th-century houses, nos. 35-9, (fn. 84) three-and four-bayed terraced buildings of three storeys with a plain facade, mostly hidden behind projecting shop fronts.


  • 47. For the part in Islington, see above.
  • 48. P.N. Mdx. (E.P.N.S.), 159.
  • 49. G.L.R.O., M83/NB/1.
  • 50. Consistory of Lond. Rec., Bks. of Depositions and Answers, vi (1541), f. 22 (copy in S.N.L. letters 78 Arnold, LC 2123).
  • 51. Guildhall MS. 1423 3/1.
  • 52. P.R.O., SP 12/113/17; cf. ibid. STAC 8/182/21.
  • 53. S.N.L. illus. 57.6, LC 602; sales parts. 1870 (HA M 3895).
  • 54. Marcham, Digest, pt. 1; below, prot. nonconf.
  • 55. M.L.R. 1735/4/28; 1738/4/548.
  • 56. Lewis, Islington, 311; Stoke Newington, Official Guide (1950).
  • 57. Rocque, Map of Lond. (1741-5).
  • 58. R. & J. Dodsley, Lond. and its Environs described (1761), v.
  • 59. Guide for assessors of par. 1781-2; Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, ii, no. 9 (1783), 19.
  • 60. Guildhall MS. CC. 184832 (nos. 72-8).
  • 61. D.N.B.; B.L. Add. MS. 28094, ff. 165-6; above, Church Street; below, econ., industry; educ.
  • 62. Cuttings of Stoke Newington 1722-1895, pp. 3i, 5P (S.N.L. 80, LC 2411); Mdx. & Herts. N. & Q. i. 23; above, plate 44.
  • 63. Holloway letters (HA M 3781-2); List of Bldgs. in Stoke Newington having historical interest (TS. 1912, S.N.L. cuttings 57.2, LC 2231).
  • 64. D.N.B.; John Stuart Mill, Autobiography (1873), 6.
  • 65. Marcham, Digest, pt. 1.
  • 66. Abstract of title, Albion Rd. 1837 (HA M 3894); below, other est.
  • 67. Cruchley's New Plan (1829); above.
  • 68. O.S. Maps 1/2,500, Lond. X. (1870 edn.); XXX (1894-6 edn.); above, plate 43.
  • 69. Photos. (S.N.L. illus. 80.9 NEW, LC 579-80).
  • 70. G.L.R.O., AR/BA 4/40, vol. 287, no. 22.
  • 71. Ambulator (12th edn. 1820), 234-5.
  • 72. Abstract of Ct. Rolls 1802-32, 278, 282, 290.
  • 73. P.R.O., HO 107/663/4; HO 107/1702/1/4.
  • 74. Ibid. HO 107/1503/11/2. For Brett, see below, churches.
  • 75. P.R.O., HO 107/1702/1/4.
  • 76. P.R.O., RG 10/311/9/1C.
  • 77. Highbury, Stoke Newington Dir. (1888-9).
  • 78. Booth, Life and Labour, 3rd. ser. (1), map facing p. 164; New Lond. Life and Labour, iv, Map of Eastern Area, sheets 1, 3.
  • 79. Kelly's Dir. Stoke Newington (1929); sales parts. 1923 (S.N.L. cuttings 60.5, LC 1718).
  • 80. Kelly's Dir. Stoke Newington (1929).
  • 81. Sales parts. 1923 (S.N.L. cuttings 60.5, LC 1718).
  • 82. Listed Bldgs. 1952 (S.N.L. cuttings 55); 1953 (S.N.L. 55). It is wrongly numbered 35 in Summerson, Georgian Lond. 294, and Pevsner, Lond. ii. 432.
  • 83. K. Janzon and A. Johnson, Changing Face of Newington Green (1977), 10.
  • 84. Listed Bldgs. under 1971 Act, 1974 (S.N.L. cuttings 55).