Housing in Stoke Newington before 1855

Stoke Newington was always a small village well outside London but the old Roman Road which we now call Stoke Newington High Street was one of the best, straightest and best maintained roads in the country. Therefore the prosperous could always travel into Town quickly while dissidents, non-conformists and others who disliked being under the eye of the government, could find refuge.

It was always a relatively prosperous place and seems to have boasted no fewer than four manor houses over the years.

Stoke Newington had been a retreat for the wealthy and powerful from the time of Henry VIII and before. After the English Revolution, 11641-49, several of Cromwell’s generals had estates in Stoke Newington and later, in the time of Daniel Defoe, it became a place where Dissenters could live and worship away from the repressive force of the cities of London and Westminster. The Quakers had a Meeting House and cemetery here. Manufacturers rode to and from their warehouses in the City each day, leaving their families in the clean air of Stoke Newington. All this meant that there was solid money about and some of the old houses in Stoke Newington Church Street reflect this.

A walk along the Stoke Newington Church Street reveals some beautiful buildings.

The newer developments were built on old properties, so this account includes some Sale plans which show the fossil traces of houses now lost to us.

The reference book here is The Eighteenth Century House, by Dan Criukshank, which describes some Stoke Newington houses in detail. This is about the only 18 th.Century. There were other buildings before and after that. It is a road of immense interest.

This is a handsome door case with a triangular pediment, a moulded frieze and dentil work both inside the pediment and under it. The pediment is supported at each end by Gibbs brackets and the doorway is surrounded by an egg and dart border with broken corners. The moulded frieze above the door has a face between two elaborate swags.

The door has three fielded panels and two glass panels in frosted glass to allow light into the hall.

This house is from the Augustan Period at the end of the eighteenth Century, in time of Swift. The window bars are very fine and the frames have been recessed behind a thickness of brick, to reduce the danger of fire. This gives a delicate look to the windows. The straight lintel over the window is carefully formed of wedge-shaped bricks.

The doorcase is severely classical, with shapes taken directly from some wooden Greek temple. The porch roof stands on a pair of simple, round pillars, which are, if anything, Doric. The heavy wooden door has solid panels at the bottom and lighter fielded panels above, with all the panels carefully graded in height. Above is a semi-circular fanlight to let some light into the hall.

At this period architects had discovered the Classical World of Greece and Rome and were bringing the designs to England. The Roman Emperor Augustus had ‘found Rome in brick and left it in marble’ Eighteenth Century England could not afford marble, so Augustan architects built in yellow grey London Stock bricks and plaster.

Another Classical doorway.

Built about 1810?

The Greek Revival began about 1791 and the designs would have taken some years to spread

At some time the plinths at the base of the columns must have been damaged and replaced clumsily with square blocks, but otherwise the doorway is as it ever was. The top door panels are glass, to increase the light in the hall. This cast iron fanlight can be found all over the country at this period and later. Many different fanlight designs can be found in Stoke Newington houses of different periods. The porch has a tessellated floor in small black and white tiles.

This is another doorway, of a slightly later period, with a rectangular fanlight above the door. The curious blocks in the fanlight glass are reflections of the tops of the windows in the houses opposite. The elaborate cast iron or wrought iron security panel in the fanlight has gone, but the opening is now too narrow for anyone to squeeze through. Security has been preserved. The porch has been reduced to a token moulding on small Gibbs brackets and there is a narrow Egyptian key pattern above the door. Everything has been simplified.

The ground floor and basement walls have been rendered in stucco, with the stucco lined to imitate stone. No doubt, if the stucco was removed, it would reveal cheap bricks made from local clay, instead of the London Stocks which were used above. These contained chalk, were made in the Thames Estuary and were far more expensive. It must have been cheaper for the builder to render with stucco than to build entirely in London Stocks. Looking at this house one can see a builder determined to create an attractive, efficient house, but keeping his costs down.

Built about 1790?


A block of three Cubitt houses in Albion Road,
built as if they were one small palace. Built about 1840

This is a complicated façade, with many different window shapes, but the three houses are balanced, with the large one in the centre and the two wings bringing the block to an end on both sides. The original houses had front gardens with heavy railings and were the houses of wealthy people. Now they are commodious flats.

One house in the terrace of eight by Cubitt
next to Barton House Health Centre


More on Cubitt and Albion Road


South House, opposite Albion Road Triangle

This block of houses was built was built by Cubit when he built Albion Road. It is a very row of very plain brick houses. To see how it was damaged in, and repaired after, the Second World War go to Grasmere Walk 3


Housing Conditions up to 1900

Sale Plan of a large estate in Church Street in 1873

Photographed by permission of the Hackney Archive


(Photograph by permission of Hackney Archive)

Sale Plan of the Manor House, on the corner of Church Street and Bouverie Road

The date not clear but, from the style of houses erected later
in Bouverie Road, the sale was probably about 1875.


(Photograph by permission of Hackney Archive)

Sale Document for the Manor House in Stoke Newington Church Street


The Manor House Sale Description in ?????

Land was measured in Acres, Roods and Perches.

1 Acre = 4840 square yards

4 Roods = 1 acre

A perch = 5 and a half yards (5.03 metres).

A Square Perch (which is what is meant here) = 30 and a quarter square yards.


The houses on the south side of Church street with long gardens sloping to the sun


A thatched cottage in Woodberry Down in 1868


What People Need; The services of a House

A description of life in the English countryside in 1912, comes as a shock today. Here is a description of life in a Sussex village, in 1912, by Leonard Woolf.

'In the 50 years since we had Ashar House the physical basis of life in the English countryside has been revolutionized. Conditions in 1912 were pretty primitive and our daily life was probably nearer to that of Chaucer's than of the modern man with water from the main, electricity, as, motor buses, telephone, wireless. When we went down to Ashar, (their country house in Sussex) for a week-end we sometimes got a fly, which the dictionary tells us correctly was 'a one horse hackney carriage', from Lewes; but more often than not, wet or dry, we walked the four miles along the river bank and across the fields with knapsacks on our backs, All the water we used in the house we had to pump from the well, Sanitation consisted of an earth closet. We cooked on an oil stove or a Primus; at night we used candles and oil lamps. Even in 1919, when we bought Monks House and moved across the river to a house in the riddle of a village, conditions were just the same, no buses, no water, no gas or electricity and the only 'sanitary convenience' an earth closet discreetly, but ineffectively hidden by a grove of cherry laurels in the middle of the garden,


From 'Beginning Again', by Leonard Woolf, p, 60, written in 1972,

From Chaucer to 1912

Back to Growth of Stoke Newington

From Chaucer to at least 1868 in Stoke Newington.


A Traditional Country Cottage

It has a well, earth sanitation and a rain-water butt, facilities unchanged since Chaucer's day,

These are the services which would have been normal for some cottages in Stoke Newington until at least 1868. There were some fine brick houses in Stoke Newington Church Street, of course, but the farm labourers and poorer peole would have lived in cottages like this. The fine Glebe Houses, built in 1835 at the corner of Church Street were modern then and very desirable, but it is possible that Swift’s Cottage, tucked away at the back, may have been thatched.

1868 O.S. showing the Glebe Houses and Swift’s Cottage
next to the letter A in Park Street (Clissold Road).


The area must have been very mixed at the time, with some houses newly built and some, like the red brick Sisters’ House in Church Street of 1714 and others much older than that. None of them would have had a modern sewage system of course.


To these should be added a dish aerial, Broadband via the telephone and a salvage collection.

This study of Stoke Newington houses is essentially the history of the change from the traditional Chaucer cottage to our modern houses.




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Revised: October 25, 2011 8:31 AM