Stoke Newington Secondary School Walk 1

Betty Layward Primary School Walk 1

Along Church Street

(++ work in progress)


This Walk is from the top of Clissold Road, along Stoke Newington Church Street almost to Green Lanes and back. Though it is only along a few streets the houses vary greatly in age.

Clissold Road was built on the Vicar's Glebe Field so, when we stand today at the entrance gates to Clissold Park we are just opposite the site of the old glebe houses.

Starting the Walk

Leave the school gates and walk to the corner of Church Street. Cross the road and stand at the gates to Clissold Park. Opposite are two very different sets of buildings. Clissold Crescent was built about 1855, about the same time as the new St Mary's Church. Manston House was built about 1936, as part of the Slum Clearance programme of the period. They were built at completely different times and for completely different sorts of people. On the left is the terrace of houses called 207-223 Stoke Newington Church Street


The 1855 Terrace

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 wererendered 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. 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 anti porch tops give a pleasant sitting-out area and a place of rescue in the case of fire. 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). The pediment has been replaced in various ways along the crescent, over the years.

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, 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, or ventilating openings.

The Basement has been converted into a flat. Originally it would have been the kitchen and sculleries, with coal cellars and an open Area in front, railed off for safety. This was the servants, entrance. They never went through the front door.

This is a very successful conversion of attractive buildings which might easily have been demolished.

Wood engraving by Bewick

The same terrace in 2007

++ Replace later with a picture without scaffolding.



The Church Street corner of Manston House


++ Text about slum clearance




Manston House looking east, with St Mary's Church in the distance

This view shows the construction of the flats clearly. They are in a warm red brick, with windows almost flush with the wall. The windows were replaced recently after seventy years of service. There are five floors all of the same height, not with different height rooms for the family and the servants like the 1855 houses further along the road. The roof is behind a pediment. We cannot see the roof but it is probably not a flat one. Flat roofs were not normal in the Nineteen-thirties when these flats were built, but came in as an economy measure after the Second World War. Generally speaking they were a disaster and have had to be replaced all over the country.

Each flat has a balcony, built with iron railings on a ferro-concrete floor. These ones look over the Park, with a pleasant, unobstructed view for ever. This is why this part of Church Street, from Clissold Road to Green Lanes, was called Paradise Row and at one time was full of really wealthy people.

++ Piece about Paradise School

A mixed row of very old Paradise Row houses

The oldest of these houses are at both ends of the terrace. They reach back to the middle of the Eighteenth Century, perhaps 1750. They are in London Stock with flat lintels made of wedge-shaped red bricks.

Over the years the houses have been modified, added to, altered, re-fronted, in an unending change, and are still being altered today. The left-hand block has gained an extra storey. End walls were built up to chimney stack height and a Mansard roof added. The five ceiling-height windows have small window panes to match the lower ones. The new roofs were civered in metal. Presumably this alteration was made a number of years ago, as the chimney pots were not removed and the houses must still have been heated by coal. Today the chimneys would probably have been removed and capped off, to give ventilation.

The next house still has its original roof line, with that slight tell-tale sag, showing that it is quite old. The house front appears to have been modifies at about 1860, at about the same time as Clissold Road was being built. The stucco mouldings round the windows, and the rendering of the ground floors are similar to the Clissold Road houses. Perhaps the owner admired the new houses and asked the builders to give his house a face-lift.

The next house seems to have been rebuilt or re-fronted, with completely different floor levels. There is a three-sided bay on the ground and first floor and a higher pediment above. Not content with plain brick, the pediment ha been rendered and painted. The roof too reaches higher than its neighbours.

The next house is rendered like the Clissold Road ones, but has a red roof in clay pantiles, with a semi-circular pottery ridge. It would take a team of architectural historians weeks to tease out the changes that have overtaken this row of houses

Another view of some of the original Paradise Row houses

The windows are a strange mixture. They are all sash windows, with top and bottom sliding sashes. Which one is in front and why? The panes on the ground floor are large, the first floor ones are smaller and the top ones smaller still. It is rather odd.

These three storey houses are built with a pediment and the roof safely tucked away behind it. There are no projecting eaves to trap the heat of a fire and cause it to spread. The ground floor has been rendered in stucco and moulded to look like stone blocks. There is an elaborate door case with a triangular pediment above. The window curved heads have are shaped tos like cavetto mouldings upside down. This whole frontage, with its elaborate stucco mouldings was designed to show itself off. It said Look how important I am and the three or more servants had plenty to do to keep everything looking smart. Behind was a long garden.

By the end of the Nineteenth Century these houses had lost heir charm. The back gardens had been sold offa and Industry had built factories on the, Printers, piano makers and others had taken over. In the area down to Carysfort Road.

The entrance with iron gates must be a reminder of the period at the start of the 20th Century, when Industry moved into Stoke Newington and factories became common in and behind the houses.

These houses are in London Stock bricks with red brick lintels and vertical strings.

The right-hand building must have been re-modeled at some time, as the house makes no apparent sense. The left hand houses have a recognizable pattern, but this one is different. It has redbrick lintels and these extraordinary inside bays were added saved as Millington house plaque ut to proper wedge shapes which are exactly what one would expect in late eighteenth century houses. The right hand house has only one level of windows in the two upper floors and extraordinary bay windows which fit INSIDE the house. Normal bay windows project, to allow more space in the room and sideways views of the street.

It looks as if the two upper floors were rebuilt at some time, perhaps as a factory space, and these extraordinary inside bays, built like gun emplacements, were added.


Millington House


Millington House and the London County Council plaque, with its
Cross of St George and the waves of the River Thames.


The other corner of Millington House


Garland House

This is the old site of ‘The Willows', a large house which had grounds stretching
the full length of Clissold Crescent, right up to the corner of Clissold Road.


Compare Millington House and Garland House

Millington House and Garland House are both blocks of flats housing lots of families. There the resemblance ends.

Millington House is a five storey block. Millington House has six storeys but is about the same height, so the ceilings must be slightly lower. That is a minor difference, caused mostly by cost. Lower buldings are slightly cheaper to build.

The real difference is in the construction used. Millington House was built in solid brick. Garland House was built as a series of concrete platforms on Ferro-concrete pillars or walls. The brick walls keep out the rain. They do not hold carry the weight. An architect would say, “They are not structural.”

This is the end of Walk 1. Return to school and, as you go, look again at the houses you have seen.



If you wish to continue the walk along Church Street, or to come back on another day, CLICK Walk 3 NEWINGTON HALL.




Figure 2

Betty Layward School

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Revised: October 25, 2011