Selling off the Stoke Newington Estates
by the Earl of Darlington in 1810

(incomplete)

last revised: January 10, 2013 9:08 AM


Milne’s Land Usage Map, 1800

Milne’s Land Usage Map shows how Newington Green had been developed in the previous few years. Church Path was still a bridle path through the fields joining Newington Green and Church Street, as it had been for centuries. The only carriage road to Stoke Newington was still along Green Lanes.

By the end of the eighteenth century London was moving steadily northwards. Newington Green had become an elegant square, faced with fine buildings, near town but in the country. Clearly there was room for a new road to connect the two villages of Newington Green and Stoke Newington and so build more houses. By the end of the Eighteenth Century the parts of the Stoke Newington and Brownswood estates had become the property of the Earl of Darlington and he decided to sell.

The Sale Notice,
dated 6th December, 1810

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.’

Clearly this 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 of the houses 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.

Tithes in kind had long gone in this part of the country. Earlier the church had demanded a tenth of all corn and other crops, the tenth egg, the tenth of a slaughtered pig, and even a tenth of the grass mown from the road verges. It was a frustrating and annoying procedure, leading to endless disputes. Instead, this had been changed into a money tithe of eighteen pence an acre, but as the value of money had fallen, this had become worth less and less over the years. In 1810 the bus fare to London was three pence. Three return bus tickets a year would not have saved the vicar much shoe leather. The total tithe rent for the 67 acres would have been only just over five pounds a year, and this to be divided between the vicars of the two estates, so that by 1810 the tithes were almost worthless.

Sale Plan

I am not yet clear how well the sale went. The site was being advertised as valuable building land, close to London and covered with thick Brickearth and this was all true. However, there would have been difficulties. The area was only three miles from the centre of London, but there were still plenty of building land in Clerkenwell and Islington which was even nearer. Houses there could be expected to sell more quickly and that was what speculative builders wanted. Small builders, building perhaps four houses, wanted to sell quickly and move on before they over-extended themselves and went bankrupt.

The second problem was that the landlord could offer only 30 year leases. People would not buy houses which would become the landlord’s property after only thirty years. They wanted long leases of 99 years, which would last their lifetimes and more, but the Law did not allow this. Only a special Act of Parliament for a particular area of land could give the landlord the right to grant long leases.

Clearly the builders would not come in those conditions, so the estate applied for a Special Act of Parliament. For this they made the new 1814 Estate Map.

The Act was granted in 1814 and the way ahead must have seemed clear. Politics, History and Geology all decided to intervene. Britain was still at war with France as she had been for decades. Napoleon had attacked Russia but had been defeated by brutal snows in 1812 and forced to retreat. He was weakened, but still a formidable enemy. It was not until 1815 and the Battle of Waterloo, that Napoleon was finally defeated.

Then there was a post-war slump. The Government stopped all orders for military supplies overnight. Factories could no longer make the uniforms, boots and armaments, which had kept them in business for years. It would take some years to switch from military to civilian production and in the meantime, factories closed and the workers had no money, or any other help but Parish Relief.

Then, to make matters worse, in 1817 Mount Tambora exploded. This was the biggest eruption ever recorded and the dust cloud covered the whole Earth. The skies were so dark that it became known as ‘the year with no summer’. Crops failed, People starved. Charity was overwhelmed.

Unemployment was so bad that, for example, the Government agreed to lend the Regent’s Canal Company money to continue cutting the canal from Paddington to Whitechapel and the Pool of London. The Company had run out of money yet again and the work was stalled. The government was not much interested in the canal, but saw it as a way of providing work for the unemployed and so staving off possible food riots. Roosevelt and the New Deal Programme did the same thing on a vastly greater scale in the nineteen thirties. Perhaps one could say that the 1917 Regent’s Canal loan was one of the first examples of Keynseian economics.

Other areas would have tried to solve their problems in other ways, but still malnutrition and even starvation occurred. This was not the time for speculative building.

Slowly economic conditions improved, but it was not until 1821 that there was a second sale of the Darlington Estate and builders ventured into Stoke Newington.


The Second Darlington Estate Sale in 1821

1810 Sale map of the Darlington Estate with the Cubitt purchases marked.

 

The Planning for the New Albion Road 

The Sale Map shows the first planned layout of Albion Road across the early meadows. For hundreds, if not thousands of years, Church Path had run in an almost straight line to join the villages of Newington Green and Stoke Newington. The northern half ran along the edge of the Vicar’s Glebe Field to the old St Mary's Church.

Builders needed plots which were of a manageable size, each 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 risky game goes on for years, through times of prosperity and trade depressions.

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 with half acre building lots, each about 100 feet deep and 220 feet long. Thus Church Path became the back border to the houses on the west side of Albion Road. Today the back border is Stoke Newington School.

At the southern end of the Glebe Field the new Albion 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.

 


The Northern Half of Albion Road on the Allerton Tithe Map of 1848

By this time this part of the road was fully built up and the site numbers represent the different properties Cubitt had built.

The 1848 Tithe map shows houses on both sides of Albion Road as far down as the bottom of the Glebe field. Cubitt and his brother had bought several extra plots over the years to add to those he had bought in 1821, so most of the houses in the northern part of Albion Road would have been built by Cubitt. He held the freeholds of these houses for years and financed much of his later speculation and building with them as security.

 

 

++ Insert Albion Rd street plan from Hobhouse.


The Southern Half of Albion Road 1848

++KEITH is it possible to recocile the colours of these two maps please? One was with flash and the other not.

At first houses were built only on the east side of Albion Road between what is now the Shopping Parade and Newington Green. This was because the East side of Albion Road ws controlled by Hornsey and they seem to have been quicker off the mark than Stoke Newington The first of these were large houses, occupied by very prosperous people who were buying properties with views across farmland as far as Green Lanes.The later houses, nearer Newington Green, became smaller and on shorter frontages.

++Earliest Cubitt pic

 

++Stuccoed Cubitt pic

 

++Utilitarian Cubitt. pic

One can find rows of houses like this, efficient but unadorned in Camden Town and Paddington.

 

Typical Albion Road Houses of different types

Today these building lots all along the length of Albion Road echo the fall in prosperity of the area over the following seventy-five years. The first houses, were built by Cubitt in the 1830s at the Stoke Newington end of the road. They sold slowly and he continued to build into the eighteen 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 pattern he later multiplied, acre after acre, in the West End, on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere. 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.

Photograph of houses in the first Cubitt block.

 

A block of three Cubitt houses in Albion Road, built as if they were one small palace.

 

++INSERT PHOTO OF SOUTH PLACE.

  

 

 


 

A terrace of smaller houses on the west side of Albion Road, built about 1870

 

 

 

 

 

Early houses in the southern part of Albion road were substantial but later ones became smaller and on narrower frontages.

 

prices increased and the demand for smaller properties increased.

 

In Church Path they built flats with several separate doors.

South Villa, 106- 106d Albion Road & Church Path

 

South Villa on Allerton’s Tithe Map of 1848

 

South Villa was numbered 791 on this map. All the houses built by this time were in Hornsey Removed and South Villa was in its very north-west corner.

 

 

Stoke Newington and South Hornsey

 

 

1868 Ordnance Survey of the area, with Stoke Newington shaded.

 

The border between Stoke Newington and Hornsey Removed was the old field boundary, which must have been centuries old. These bends and twists in the old hedgerow persist to today, as we shall see as we follow the history.

Saved as south hornsey final

 

 

 

South Villa stood in a larger site than the neighbouring houses. Hornsey Removed consisted of two large fields which had been given to Hornsey and were administered from there. This arrangement did not alter until 1900, when many similar anomalies were ironed out.

South Villa was in the north-west corner of Hornsey Removed On one side was Albion Road and at the other was Church Path. There was a building at the Church Path end, probably a Stable.

 

 

 

 

The Northern Half of Albion Road in 1848

The 1848 Tithe map shows houses on both sides of Albion Road as far down as the bottom of the Glebe field. Many of these would have been built by Cubitt.

 

 

 

 

 

The Allerton map of the southern end of Albion Road, showing house on the east side only.

 

 

1868 Ordnance Survey of the area, with Stoke Newington shaded

Saved as south hornsey final

 

The 1868 map shows South Hornsey (to the east of Albion Road) 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 the old hedge boundary.

By 1868 South Hornsey had filled up, but there were still no houses on the west side of Albion Road. Clearly, Hornsey Removed was quicker off the mark in the building race than Stoke Newington.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The South Villa site, with the School Building erected at the Church Path end of the garden and the later factory site fitted in to follow the old hedgerow shape.

 

Saved as 108-110 albion rd factory site.

FIND THIS SCHOOL SITE DRAWING

 

Samuel Dyer of 107 Euston Road NW applied to build a School Room in the south-east corner of the site in Church Path. The site on which the school was to be built is given as 105 feet wide and 95 feet from the nearest corner of South House.

 

The Building of Numbers106-106 d Albion Road

 

In 1893 Mr. A. P. Osment, of 17 Lealand Road, Stamford Hill, bought South Villa. The property stretched from what is now 106 Albion to 106 D (a total of five houses) and back to Church Path. South Villa itself was in the north-west corner of this site, on parts of the present 106 C & 106 D. He planned to build houses on the site, but first he had to ask permission and submit drainage plans. The Local Authority has the duty to maintain the drains so that rain water, household water and sewage are carried away safely and healthily. All builders have to submit plans and ask for approval before they can tap into the Local Authority drains. Without this permission they cannot build.

On 22 September, 1893, Osment sent a hand-written letter giving notice that he proposed to build on the east side of Albion Road. He asked permission to build over an old barrel drain which he had found on his property. The original sewer ran along Albion Road, but a few years earlier the Local Authority had built a new sewer along Church Path and the houses in Albion Road were then diverted into it. The old pipes which used to flow into the barrel drain had been cut off. It was all empty and out of use. The presence of the drain had come as a complete surprise to Mr Osmond. He had bought South Villa but it was not mentioned in the lease. [The facsimile letter will be available as an extra piece of information]. The application to build was accompanied by a plan of the proposed houses, the drain layout, and a side view of the houses sunk in their semi -basements.

 

 

 

 

FASIMILE OF LETTER

 

(Printed by courtesy of Hackney Archives)

The original application drawings showing the plan of the five houses and an end view of the houses sunk in semi-basements, with the Back Additions at ground level. The various comments and conditions by the Local Authority have been written on the actual drawings as usual, so that drawings and permissions could not be separated.

 

The side view of the houses shows that they have back additions but no cellars. They start at the original ground level so that the front and back rooms are at different levels and are linked by short half staircases.

The plan shows that to squeeze in five houses along the Albion Road, the houses could be only 17 feet wide. This is quite narrow but the builder made up for this by building high. Old London houses in, for example, Fleet Street are only 14 feet wide, very tall and narrow. To increase the accommodation, he built up into the roof space by using Mansard roofs.

 

Picture of 106-106d

The houses were built on gravel, so the basements would drain well. This meant that people could live and work in the basements. The Geology map shows that houses South of Stoke Newington Church Street are built on Gravel, while most of the houses North of Church Street are built on Clay. Clay holds water so that basements built here would have become very damp and unhealthy. This is why you find only coal cellars in these houses. [Today basements in Clay can be made waterproof, but only by ‘tanking’ them with bitumen and facing this with brick or mortar. This is very expensive indeed and no builder could have sold his houses if he had tanked the cellars].

The side view of the houses shows that they have back additions but no cellars. They start at the original ground level so that the front and back rooms are at different levels and are linked by short half staircases.

The plan shows that to squeeze in five houses along the Albion Road, the houses could be only 17 feet wide. This is quite narrow but the builder made up for this by building high and building up into the roof. Old London houses in, for example, Fleet Street are only 14 feet wide, very tall and narrow.

Picture of a set of legal chambers in Chancery Lane, which may have been drawn by Thomas Hardy, the novelist, when he was working as a ‘gothic draughtsman’ for he architect W. Blomfield, in the eighteen sixties.

 

The houses in Albion Road have Mansard roofs behind parapets

 

 

Drain plan of 106-106D Albion Road dated 1893

 

End view of the houses and their basements

Mr. Osmond’s application to build the five Albion Road houses was approved, subject to using 12” drain pipes on 25 October 1893. He was free to build.

 

The 1894 ordnance Survey shows the five Albion Road houses built and the Church Path end of the site empty.

On 16th November Mr Osmond wrote again, this time for permission to build over the drain he had just built and to build five houses in Church Path. [the facsimile of the letter will be available] This again was submitted with a drawing.

 

Drawing of 109-117 Church Path dated 16th November 1893

 

The plan shows that a strip of land was added to the width of Church Path. The site curves round because the road narrows at this point. It changes from a road to a mere footpath and the site follows this curve. A century later the new houses built in 2005 have a curved front, to follow this same building line.

Back to Introduction to the Site

Back to Sequence of Maps

Back to Grasmere School Introduction to The Walks

Back to History of South Villa

Back to Housing in Stoke Newington before 1855

Back to History of Albert Town, Stoke Newington - Part 1

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