Stoke Newington Secondary School Walk 1
Betty Layward Primary School Walk 1
The Walk along Church Street
This Walk is along Clissold Road from the school gates to Stoke Newington Church and along as far as the top of Clissold Crescent. Teachers may choose to conduct this particular walk in one of two ways. The class can walk along Church Street itself, or walk within the safety of Clissold Park and look through the railings. In either case, some preparation in the classroom will help children to understand what they are going to see and imagine the changes to this small area over the past centuries.
This is a long walk so teachers may prefer to split it into two parts. Secondly it can be walked along the pavement or from inside Clissold Park, viewing the houses through the part railing.
Preparation for the Church Street Walk
Before we start, let us remind ourselves of the houses shown on the Paradise Row side of Church Street which are shown on the 1812 Prebendal map. The remains of some of these can still be seen today in their dark red bricks. (The Manor of Stoke Newington was owned by St Paul 's Cathedral and the vicars, who lived there and administered it for the cathedral, were called Prebends, hence prebendal map).
This piece of land is very old indeed. The Old St Mary's Church was rebuilt by William Patten in Tudor times, so there must have been a church on this site for many years before that. The New St Mary's Church, on the other side of the road, was a latecomer, built in 1855, only a hundred and fifty years ago. The curved terrace of houses numbereed 207-223 Stoke Newington Church Street are of about the same age.
Clissold House was a private house standing in its own grounds. It had been built for the Hoare family, who were wealthy bankers The estate was bought by a mine owner called Crawshay, reputed to be the richest commoner in England. Crawshay House, in Clissold Crescent, records the name. His daughter fell in love with the Vicar of St Mary's, who lived next door. Her father, who hated all clergymen, objected and forbade the match. They could not marry until Mr. Crawshay died, but then they did so and lived in the house for many years. Then it began to be called Clissold House.
The engraving shows the curving carriage entrance sweeping up to the first floor of the house, just as it does today. Now it is full of people, but then the public had no right of entrance. In later times, when Clissold had died, and another member of the Crawshay family had inherited, the public was allowed into the park occasionally, for a few days, in some years. This was regarded as a great privilege at the time.
There were red brick houses along Paradise Row overlooking the Park. Some can still be seen there today, but others have been swept away and replaced. The Old St Mary's Church can be seen on the right with a much earlier tower.
The 1814 Prebendal Map
This very important map was made in 1814, when landowners near London wanted to let their land to builders. At that time landlords could only grant thirty year leases. At the end of that time, any building on the land would become the property of the landlord. Builders and tenants would not risk their money on those terms, so builders would not take thirty year leases. The only way was for St Paul 's, who owned the land, to ask Parliament for an Act giving them permission to grant long leases. To do this they needed an accurate, modern map.
The large pink field was the Glebe Field which the Vicar may have worked as his Home Farm, or rented out to a farmer. The red brick houses in Paradise Row came up to the edge of the Glebe Field. The Old St Mary's Church is shown but the new one, on the other side of the road, would not be built until 1855.
The Glebe Field is very important to us since both Stoke Newington School and Betty Layward School are built on it. There were no houses on it in 1814 and no thought of our modern schools.
There was a row of very old houses in Stoke Newington Church Street, next to the Old St Mary's Church. They were not demolished until the 1930s, when the New Town Hall was built on the site. The picture below shows what they were like.
Will Owen was an artist who published many sketches in newspapers and books during the period after the First World War. Buildings were springing up at that time all over London and Owen was recording the past before it was demolished for ever.
These were built on the site of the old Manor House before 1734 and demolished in the 1930s, when the new Town Hall was bult on the site
The tithe Map was made in 1846, thirty two years later than the Prebendal map, and during that time four Glebe Place Houses had been built at the top end of the Glebe Field. The New River was then open to the skies. It entered Clissold Park from what is now Riversdale Road, ran up to the house, turned sharply and ran back parallel with Church Street. It crossed Church Street under Paradise Bridge, which was opposite our modern Garland House, and under Paradise Bridge. From there it ran under another bridge at the top of Clissold Crescent, along what are now the allotments and into Petherton Road. It has all been covered now except for the small length in front of Clissold House where the ducks and terrapins live.
These were the first houses built on the Glebe Field. Swift's Cottage was the Labourer's cottage mentioned in the 1851 Census Return. Today they are the site of Manston House flats and the Swimming Bath is on their gardens and Swift's cottage.
Building the Glebe Place houses.
About 1835 the first houses were built on the Glebe Field. It was an ideal situation, overlooking the beautiful grounds of Clissold House and with easy access to London via Stoke Newington High Street or Green Lanes. The houses were handsome, built in the latest fashion, with shared carriage entrances and large gardens.
This row of four houses was built about 1835 by Thomas Widdows. They were built as two pairs, in London Stock brick with stucco dressings. Each pair of front doors shared a covered portico with four reeded columns and Doric capitals. The windows were very simple and severe, with small panes of glass in sliding sashes. The attics had attractive semicircular windows. These consisted of quarter circles hinged vertically at the centre. This semi-circular shape gave far more glass than would have been possible if the windows had been oblongs inside the triangular attic wall. The building style was introduced about 1780 and has all the Classical severity of that period.
Who could afford to live in such desirable houses
The 1868 Ordnance Survey showing the new St Mary's Church,
the four Glebe Place houses with their large gardens,
Swift's cottage and the new Clissold Road (then called Park Road).
The two pairs of semi-detached houses, with their carriage entrances and large gardens, show up well in the 1868 Ordnance Survey map. Clissold Road was built on the Vicar's Glebe Field so, when we cross Church Street today and stand at the entrance gates to Clissold Park, we are opposite the site of the old Glebe Houses. Today they are the site of the Manston House flats. These were built in 1936 under the Slum Clearance Act to house people from slums being demolished in other parts of London and a few tiny pockets in Stoke Newington.
207-223 Stoke Newington Church Street
This shallow crescent of four storey houses with basements, appears on the 1855 map but not on the 1846 so they were built at about the same time as the new St Mary's Church next door. The following is the description of one typical house but details have been taken from several as none is in exactly its original condition.
The house is built in yellow London Stock brick and the ground floor and basements were rendered to imitate stone. The Ground Floor is approached by a flight of seven stone steps and a square porch. The porch has two simple, round pillars built of brick and rendered to look like stone. Porch and steps have cast iron railings (No. 221) screwed into a wrought iron handrail.
The tops of the porches are linked by a narrower balcony on stone brackets, which runs the whole length of the crescent. The balcony and porch tops gave pleasant sitting-out areas and places of rescue in the case of fire. Fire engines were far less poweful than our modern ones and could not pump water to the full heigt of a buding. These balconies were for rescuing people by ladder. The First Floor held the main Drawing Room, the tallest and most impressive room in the house, with french windows leading to the balcony. The Second Floor (family bedrooms) have shorter windows. Above, are the Attics in a Mansard roof, set back behind a pierced pediment (No 223). Over the years the pediment has been replaced in different ways along the crescent,.
A Mansard-roof (named after a French architect) is an economical way of putting rooms in the roof. Instead of a brick wall there was a draughty screen of wooden laths and hung slates. There were no fireplaces but plenty of air through the slates, which was said to be good for servants. In the original houses, the top windows would have been very small. This had a big advantage from the architect's point of view. His house appears to have a definite shape. As you look at the house from the front, the windows are very large on the First Floor, smaller on the Second, smaller still in the Attics. Keeping these proportions, with the windows getting smaller as they go up, the house could not go any higher or the top windows would have disappeared entirely.
This is the difference between designing a house where the owners have the best rooms (but the servants can be kept in the cellars and attics) and designing a democratic block of flats. Today, the windows and ceilings of the top flat must be as tall as the lower ones. This is much better for the people living there but, from the outside, it is much harder to stop the eye from rising. The flats seem to go on, one above the other, and then stop for no reason. In this crescent, the old attic windows have been replaced by modern ones as large as will fit, but the architectural effect is similar to before, The chimneys have been retained but the pots replaced by curved clay air-bricks as central heating, gas fire ventilation openings.
The Basements have been converted into flats. Originally they would have been the kitchens and sculleries, with coal cellars and an open Areas in front, railed off for safety. These were the servants' entrances. They never went through the front doors.
This row of houses was damaged during the Second World War and would have been demolished but squatters moved in. They had nowhere else to live, took over the properties and refused to leave. The squatters made the houses habitable after a fashion and continued to live there until the Council agreed to give them tenancies and restored the houses as flats. This squatting movement became very powerful and many later councillors cut their teeth as squatters' leaders. Some of the parents and grandparents of pupils in local schools may have been squatters here.
This is a very successful conversion of attractive buildings which might easily have been demolished.
Wood engraving by Bewick
The flats on the other side of Clissold Road were built in 1936, as part of the Slum Clearance efforts of the period. The people who came here from their insanitary rooms and cottages, without bathrooms, inside lavatories or baths, must have thought they had been transported to heaven.
Looking across Church Street at Manston House.
These flats were built on plots 666-670 on the 1846 Tithe Map.
(This is the same map as shown earlier)
from "FINALB Lay SNS Prep for Walk 2 Church st.doc" 30-8-2007
Betty Layward School