The Story of the Albion Road Area
Selling off the Estates
By 1810 the Earl of Darlington
From the start of the Eighteenth Century London started moving slowly northwards. Before 1741, when John Rocque mapped it, Newington Green had become an elegant square. The route to Stoke Newington was still along Green Lanes to the Clissold Park end of Stoke Newington Church Street. Clearly there was room for a new road to connect the two villages of Newington Green and Stoke Newington.
By the end of the Eighteenth Century, the parts of the Stoke Newington and Brownswood estates south of Church Street had become the property of the Earl of Darlington and he decided to sell. His land would make a greater return if he could attract speculative builders to his land. He would be the Ground Landlord. They would build houses and roads and sell them or lease them as soon as they could. AS the Ground Landlord, the Earl of Darlington would charge the new householders ground rents for living on his land for ever and ever.In 1810 sixty-seven acres of the Stoke Newington and Brownswood Estates were offered for sale in twenty seven lots. It was called ‘A valuable Copyhold Estate of Inheritance, held under the Manor of Stoke Newington’ and was described as ’remarkably rich and fertile Meadow, Garden, and Nursery Ground’ and ‘Abounding in every Part with valuable Brick Earth, of considerable Depth.
It was very desirable ground indeed. These were the fields which had provided London with hay, corn and vegetables, for centuries. The rich Brick Earth was famous for growing splendid crops and for producing the rosy-red bricks of Queen Anne’s London, and such houses as Sister’s Place, in Stoke Newington Church Street. Below the Brick Earth was Gravel, so the ground would drain well. Dry basements could be built on the gravel and the surface Brick Earth sold to brick-makers. The gardens would have deep, fertile soil. The attraction for builders was obvious and one can see the future generations of estate agents salivating, anticipating fat fees for ever and ever.
The Planning for the New Albion Road
Church Path had run in an almost straight line to join the villages of Newington Green and Stoke Newington for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The northern half ran along the edge of the Vicar’s Glebe Field and from there on, through open fields to Newington Green. Builders needed plots which were of a manageable size, about a 100 feet deep to give room to build houses with generous gardens, and long enough to hold eight or a dozen houses according to size. This was as much as most builders could afford to tackle at any one time. Even so, many would later have to sub-divide their plots with smaller builders to spread the risk. All building was a gamble, slightly less risky than cards, but almost as unpredictable and this particular game goes on for years.
The agents selling the estates were aware of these problems, so they laid out the new Albion Road about 100 feet east of the Glebe field, and lined it on both sides of the road with half acre building lots, about 100 feet deep and 220 feet long on both sides of the road. Thus Church Path became the back border to the houses on that side. At the southern end of the Glebe Field the new road crossed Church Path to form what is now the shopping parade. It then continued on the west side of Church Path and the same 100 feet from it, all the way to Newington Green. Church Path now became the back border of the houses on the east side of Albion Road, instead of the west. Thus Church Path controlled the shape of Albion Road all along its length.
1810 Sale Map of the Darlington Estate
Today these building lots echo the fall in prosperity of the area over the following seventy-five years. The first houses, were built by Cubitt in the 1820s at the Stoke Newington end of the road. They sold slowly and he continued to build into the eighteen thirties and forties. His first houses, at the Church Street end of Albion Road (now numbered from 246 to ???) were in brick. Further down the road he built some large stucco ones, with three or more houses built together so that they look like small palaces, This was a design he later multiplied, acre after acre, in the West End and on the Isle of Wight. They make an impressive show, with their wide frontages and repainted stucco, even if today, some of them in Albion Road are masked behind hard standing and even garage forecourts. Later builders, nearer Newington Green, when faced with less prosperous purchasers, built on narrow frontages, with long, thin gardens. Later the Church Path ends of these gardens would be built on, as we shall see.
Click on map to see more information on the 1810 Sale
This search for smaller sites on smaller frontages was to continue over the decades, as land prices increased and the demand for smaller properties increased.
This short study was a broad brush approach to the development of Albion Road. The South Villa study is an examination of one site from before 1848 to today.
The Story of South Villa (106a-d Albion Road) & Church Path
The Allerton Estate Map of the southern end of Albion Road, showing the east side was partially built and no houses on the west. South Villa is shown at the northern edge of Hornsey Removed.
1868 Ordnance Survey of South Villa, with Stoke Newington shaded
The South Villa site map, with the School Building erected at the Church Path end of the garden site. The garden and, as we shall see later, the adjoining factory built on the next door garden, both followed the old hedgerow shape.
At this period some fields in Stoke Newington were administered by Hornsey. They had been given to Hornsey decades before and would continue to be administered from there until 1900, when there was a general tidying up of borough boundaries.
The 1868 map shows South Hornsey marked off from Stoke Newington by an irregular field boundary. No doubt these hedges were centuries old and the shape still continues in the property boundaries today. The front garden of No.106D is wider at the front than the back because of a curve in the old hedge boundary. All the houses numbered 106a-d are the same size but the front garden of No 106d splays wider to follow the old field hedge line.By 1868 South Hornsey had been filled with houses, but development was only starting in the Stoke Newington area to the west. Clearly, Hornsey Removed was quicker off the mark in the building race than Stoke Newington.
Who lived in South Villa in the early days?
The Census was first taken in 1801 but, unlike today, the returns were made by the local vicar, or some other prominent person. People did not fill in their own returns. Many could not have done so as they could not read or write. In any case the Government was not much interested in individuals. It wanted how many men there were in four different groups. These were:-
Britain had recently lost the American Colonies and America had declared her Independence in 1776. Now there was a threat that America would develop into a great manufacturing nation, as indeed she did, and Britain wanted to prevent engineers from emigrating to America. Whitney, the founder of the great American agricultural machinery firm and eventually Pratt and Whitney engine manufacturers was one of the thousands who emigrated. To do so he had to dress up in an agricultural smock and left England carrying a shepherd’s crook.
The local vicar sent in his census returns to London in the four categories. They were compiled as a set of statistics and the originals thrown away. Therefore we have no details about individuals in the early days. In 1841 the first Census Return showing individual households and their members, with ages and other details was taken. This is the first we know about the people who lived in South Villa.
The Census Returns of South Villa
The 1841 Census Find ++ do or lose
The 1851 Census Find ++ do or lose
In 1851 ++ do or lose
The 1861 Census of South Villa, Albion Road
A page from the 1861 Census
The Enumearation District for 1861 included:-
Church Street South side, Park Crescent, Glebe Place, Paradise Row, Paradise Place, Park Road West, Park Road East, Albion Road West, Park Road East, Albion Road West, The Terrace, Clarence cottages, Clarence Terrace, Sudnay Plae, York Villas, York Cottages, York Place, and Albion Road East.
This huge area, now so densely packed, held only 180 households in 175 houses.
The Census Returns of South Villa
The 1861 Census of Albion Road
In South Villa were Elizabeth Mc Grath a widow of 61, who was a fundholder, and her daughter aged 23. They had a Cook, aged 50 and a housemaid aged 26. On census night they had a visitor. She was a governess, 26 year old.
In neighbouring houses were a Banker and Agent, the Clerk of Leadenhall Market, a Printer employing 16 men, 4 apprentices and 4 boys. Clearly this was a prosperous middle-class street of large houses, with gardens stretching back to Church path.
The 1871 Census of Albion Road
No. 104 Sarah Elizabeth Allen, the wife of the Secretary of a Queensland meat preserving company, was at home but her husband was not. They had three sons of school age, 9-6. There was a nursemaid and a cook who both lived in.
No. 106 (South Villa) Thomas Thorpe was a commercial clerk, aged 49, who had been born in Chelmsford, Essex. His wife, Mary Elizabeth, was 52 and had been born in Baldock, Hertfordshire, so neither was a Londoner. They had a son aged 17 and two daughters aged 16 and 12. The older was living at home while the younger was still at school. The son was also a commercial clerk. He had been born in Peckham and the girls in Old Kent Road. There was a servant aged 16 who lived in the house. These are very bare facts to go on, but they suggest that Thomas Thorpe had been promoted and moved to a large house in Stoke Newington.
On the night of the census they had their granddaughter aged 2, staying with them, so there must have been an older son or daughter who had married and had a child. Her home was still in their old haunt of Peckham.
No. 108 The Head of House was Catherine Burton, aged 72, who was widowed and a landowner. She had an unmarried daughter of 42 and there were two servants.
No. 110 William Webb, a solicitor aged 33, and his wife Margaret, aged 38, had no children living with them on census night. If they had any at all would require further research. He had been born in Clerkenwell and she in Dalston, so both were Londoners. Living with them were two unmarried sisters of Mr Webb, aged 36 and 29, born one in Clerkenwell and the other in Stamford Hill. The two sisters were in receipt of dividends, so there was probably a good income coming into the house. On the night of the census a seven year old nephew, also a Webb, was visiting them.
There were also two resident servants - a Cook, aged 25, who had been born in Soho, and a Housemaid of 16, who had been born in Clapton. On the night of the census there was a Sick Nurse of 53, in the house, born in Westminster, We do not know who was ill.
A Bottler of Beer and a Bottler of Beer's Wife lived at no 107 rather like players in Happy Families.
This short stretch of census returns, and local photographs, show that, in 1871 these houses were occupied by professional people and those with incomes from property or investment. They lived, with their servants, in large houses with tall garden railings and looked across the road at open fields stretching as far as Green Lanes.
The same census also had entries for houses with odd numbers as well as even so the west side of Albion Road had been built up by then. However the number bear no relation to our present street numbers. The road has been renumbered at least three times so the correct numbers can only be obtained through the Hackney Archive.
The Building of the School Room on the South Villa Site.
Private and State Education
It is interesting that a ‘ Middle Class School’ was opened in 1870, the year when the Compulsory Education Act was passed. For the first time in British history all children were to be educated by law and here was a man appealing to the paying public on the basis if snobbery, separating off his pupils from the rabble. Presumably his appeal was successful, for seven years later he was opening a Preparatory School nearby. This separation has damned British Education ever since.
What sort of people were the actual builders of small properties like this school?
Samuel Dyer, the builder of the School Room, had been born in Yorkshire, in Leeds, and was married to Juliet’ who was 25. They had a son called Richard, aged 3 and lived at 107 Euston Road, The house was occupied by 12 people living in 4 households.
The Dyers had a lodger, Edward Frere (or Faire) who was 55 and described as ‘Late Solicitor’, which seems early for a solicitor to retire. On Census night the Dyers had two visitors; a bookkeeper born in Scotland and John Edmonds, a farmer, born in Peterly (sic) Buckinghamshire.
In the same house lived George H. Lewis, a butler aged 40 who was ‘out of employ’. He had been born in Middlesex. His wife was 35 and had been born at Crondall, in Hampshire.They had a son aged 2, born in Middlesex.
In the same house were two sisters, aged 29 and 26, Emma and Charlotte Rollinson. They were dressmakers, born in Tooting, Surrey.
Lastly, there was William Rollinson, also born inTooting, aged 23, but living slightly apart from his sisters, as he is listed as Head of a separate household.They were brother and sisters but presumably all not eating together.
Clearly this builder was not a very prosperous man, living as he was in a small way. Perhaps not unlike many small jobbing builders today.
The 1881 Census of Albion Road
In 1881 South Villa was occupied by George L. Bokenham, aged 28, who was a member of the Stock Exchange. He had been born in Stoke Newington. His wife Kathleen, who had been born in Maidstone, was two years younger. They had two daughters aged three and two, and a son of ten months. There were two servants, aged 18 and 21, and on the night of the census a lady of 60 was visiting them. She had no occupation, which means of course that she was living on some form of income from property or investments. It seems clear that there was no connection between the school and South Villa at this time, if indeed there ever was one.
In No. 107 were three unmarried women aged from 43 to 36, who all lived on ‘interest on money’. They had a cook, aged 25, and a housemaid of 19.
In No. 108 was a widow of 39 who had a son and two daughters living with her. The son was a commercial clerk of 18, while the girls, of 17 and 16, were still at school. The mother must have been living on savings of some sort.
The 1891 Census
In 1891 South Villa was still a large house in its own grounds, much as it had been on the 1871 Ordnance Survey map, but with the school at the Church Path end. The house was occupied by Sandor Szivessy who was a naturalized British subject, born in Hungary. He was 48 and had married a Dalston girl called Ada, aged 24. They had four children, all of whom had been born in Stoke Newington. Ethel A. was 6, Nina 4, a boy called Kare aged 3, and Harold who was one year old. It is interesting that three of them have English names, but the first son was called Kare. Clearly there was some link here to Hungary – perhaps Sandor’s father’s name.
Listed last on the schedule is Beatrice M. Szivessy, daughter, aged 19. Since she was 19 and Mrs. Szivessy only 25, she must have been the daughter of a previous marriage.
Mr. Szivessy was a furrier and his nephew, Calinary Lynx, who lived with them and had also been born in Hungary, was also a furrier.
Also in the house were two servants. Catheine Skeels, aged 19 and born on Brighton, was a Nurse /Domestic servant. Lena Schlinsy, from Germany, was a General domestic servant.
People living on neighbouring houses in the 1891 Census,
In No. 108 were William Clover, 32, who was a Metropolitan Police Constable and his wife Sarah, 31. They had no children but on census night a nephew called George Russell, aged 15, and his sister Eleanor were living with them. There was a visitor on census night, Alice Kelke, aged 6. This group were born all over the place - Cretingham in Suffolk, Charlton in Somersetshire, London, London-Bloomsbury, and Derby.
In No. 110 lived Henry William Henisworth, a retired barrister aged 75, and two servants aged 66 and 48. An elderly household. The barrister was married, not widowed, so perhaps his wife was away on a visit, or in hospital. The barrister and the elderly servant had both been born outside London, in Norwich and Loddon, Norfolk, whereas the younger servant was born in London. Perhaps the older servant had been in the family for years.
At No. 112 was a lady of 74 living on her own means. Living at home were her children, a daughter who was a music teacher and a son who was a bank clerk. There was also a boarder, who was an electrician, and a general servant.
At No. 114 were a solicitor, managing clerk, his wife, their son who was a Glass Manufacturer’s clerk, and their daughter aged 10. There was also a domestic servant.
At No. 116 was Arthur Ellis aged 29, and Ada Ellis, down as his daughter but aged 24. This sort of error crops up in census returns. Was she his wife and he much older? He was a tailor and she was a chain maker, so she could have been his sister.
The 1894 Ordnance Survey Map
In 1893 the surveyors were working their way along Albion Road, preparing the next Ordnance Survey map. They compared what they found with the previous Ordnance Survey of 1868 and redrew accordingly. When they came to No. 106 they found a building site. South View had been demolished and five houses were being built along Albion Road. The garden had not yet been divided into five separate ones and the School Room was still standing. No doubt the builder was using it as an office and storing materials there.
The Demolition of South Villa
We can imagine what happened to South Villa. It was old and no doubt the roof had leaked, and been repaired. There would have been no damp-proof course, so woodwork may have become rotten.
Today we use Portland cement, which is hard and strong, to make our mortars. When modern foundations sink, bricks crack along the joints and the wall breaks apart in blocks. In the early days mortar was made from lime and, quite often, to save money, the mortar was bulked up with horse manure and road sweepings, so that the joints were weak. The walls tended to slump, rather than crack. The whole building might have sunk or bulged. No doubt the house could have been repaired by re-pointing the joints and making all good, as happened to houses nearby. Instead it was demolished and five houses replaced the original one.
END OF THE SECTION ALBION ROAD TO 1893
++Give Us The Tools. By Rolt.