A Local Local History

This website contains a vast amount of information about Stoke Newington which different pupils, teachers and interested adults will want to use in different ways. We will go into that later but first, here is a sample chapter to show what the website is like.

The introduction to most books consists of the author's grateful thanks, explanations and apologies. Instead, this one is a brief history of a small triangle of land bounded by Green Lanes, Stoke Newington Church Street and the New River. Small, undistinguished except to those who live there, and surprising ?? (++). This brief history uses many of the local history sources which we shall discuss in more detail later. It is an hors d'oeuvre, a savoury, with hints of the fuller discussions further on. There are links from many of resources used in this short history (maps and text and pictures) to further discussion of the particular subject. So the Introduction is a story, an example others may like to copy, and a 'click-on' contents list.

The Story of Newington Hall

Newington Hall was an old house, long forgotten, which stood at the corner of Stoke Newington Church Street and Green Lanes, with the New River, still open to the skies, as its third boundary.

This chapter traces the history of this small triangle of meadow land, from John Rocque’s map of 1741, to the complexities of today. On that map it is shown in the junction of Green Lanes and Church Street, exactly three miles from Cornhill. The village of Stoke Newington was still clustered at the junction with the High Street. The Old St Mary’s Church and the Rectory opposite are the only buildings shown in the rest of the district.

This triangle appears time and again over the years in all the maps and one can still walk round its rather bedraggled edges today. There is a lot to look at, think about and perhaps tidy up. This tiny study serves as a brief introduction to the nature of the whole disk. Other chapters may be longer or shorter, and pitched at different levels of study, but each tells a more or less self-contained story.

John Rocques map of 1741

The John Rocque map of 1741 shows the junction of Stoke Newington Church Street and Green Lanes with the open New River passing across them. The two roads are still in their old positions, but now completely altered of course. There were bridges which Rocqe does not name, but later map makers will do. This empty triangle of meadow is the subject of our brief history. The black triangle represents the position of Stoke Neington School today, in what was then a large meadow.  

The New River followed the contour, turning and twisting all the way from Ware. It passed through what is now Clissold Park, beside some vague dots which must represent the Old St Mary's Church and perhaps the churchyard. Rocque's fields are always very large and often purely notional. The triangle he drew is wider than other maps will show. Notice that the old houses in Paradise Row, in Church Street, facing what is now Clissold Park*, were already there in 1741. These are the houses which are coloured gold in the Booth Povety Map. In thoses days they were in a "Millionaires' Row". In 2007 they are over 250 years old and have watched a lot of changes.

*Rocque called our Clissold Park ‘Newington Common' but this was a mistake and the name has been removed in this copy of the map. Newington Common was on the other side of the High Street.

Click on each map to see
a bigger view of the map

Milne's Land Utilization Map of 1800

Milne's Land Utilization Map of 1800

Milne's Land Usage Map of 1800 shows land use by means of different colours and shadings. Each field has a tiny letter in one corner ('a' for Arable, etc.).   The triangle coloured green for Meadow, and larger meadows nearby have an 'm' in the corner. Other areas, houses with large sites are called paddocks and coloured pink.

The Milne map has 12 twelve colours to show the different land uses but only four are on this part of the map.

These small fields were surved by the newly formed Ordinace Survey as Peter Barber explains below.


Peter M Barber FSA FRHistS, Head of Map Collections, The British Library, says:-

“ ---the infant Ordnance Survey had begun to map the environs of London at scales of two and three inches to the mile and between 1805 and 1822 one inch to the mile printed maps derived from them were published. The preliminary maps provided the source for Thomas Milne's precocious – and extremely rare – land use map of the environs of London in 1800 – the first of its kind in which colours were used to distinguish between various categories of use. Ordnance Survey also produced extremely large-scale maps between 1848 and 1851 containing detailed information on ground levels, an essential step towards providing the city with much needed modern sewers. Because of opposition from commercial mapmakers to what they saw as unfair government competition, however, the maps showed no more than the outlines of the buildings which were included only so that the ground levels could be easily located. It was several decades before this opposition could be overcome and Ordnance Survey maps began producing the same quality of large-scale map that they had prepared for other English cities, particularly in the north.”

Reprinted by permission of Peter Barber


This map was made in the piping years when Napoleon was still a prisoner in Elba and Britain thought that she had finally finally won the long drawn out war with France. It was a period of great forward planning. A year later Napooleon escaped and for a hundred days was free. After Waterloo and his final defeat, the Stoke Newington Estate, which belonged to St Paul's Cathedral, could continue to plan for the future and the map was ready. The map shows a more accurate triangle, with a footpath passing through it to cut off the corner. It was still a meadow, but the estate was thinking about selling off building sites. Later on this path was moved to the othe side o the river, as John Rocque had placed it half acentury earlier.

The 1814 Prebendial Map

The 1828 Cruchley map

Newington Hall has been built and so had two houses on Paradise Place. The owners have chosen the widest plots and set their houses back from Green Lanes.The footpath appears to have been extinguished but may have been diverted to the other side of the river where it is today.

The elegant lithograph of
Newington Hall, 1850
Newington Hall, Paradise Row (now part of StokeNewington Church Street) - 1850 coloured lithograph by Dean and Mundy.

The 1868 Ordnance Survey Map

This is a very beautiful map, with trees and garden layouts mapped in detail. It was so expensive to make that no similar ones were ever attempted, but it allows us today to see how these out-of-town houses, with their ample gardens, were developed and cossetted. Newington Hall is a classic example. In Milne's 1800 map some properties of this type and size are coloured pink and called 'paddocks'. If Newington Hall had been built thirty years earlier, it too might have been coloured pink.

This is the first Ordinance survey Map of London to be printed since about 1805, as explained by Peter Barber above. If you want to know about London maps over this gap of 60 years read the History of Edward Stanford. This describes how closely Stanfords and some other private map makers worked with the Government to produce maps of Europe, Russia, The British Empire and all points of political interest to the Government. Stanfords was so closely involved with officials in the Government that when they ran out of office and storage space in Whitehall they were very doubtfall of moving as far as Long Arce in case the civil servants could not walk so far andthey might loose their influence.

The 1868 Ordnance Survey

The Newington Hall Auction Sale Map

With thanks to the Guildhall Library.

(The Newington Hall triangle has been
coloured to match the other maps on this page)


My interest in this site began when I found a folded poster of the Sale of Newington Hall, Stoke Newington, in a box of ephemera in the London Guildhall Library. The plan showed a large house on the corner of Church Street and Green Lanes, with the New River running down its eastern side. The map, 30 inches x 20 inches [76 cms x 46cms] with an elaborate border, was printed on thin, fragile paper. This had to be opened tenderly and photocopied in four pieces, The separate parts were gradually reduced on a photocopier, the border removed, the best parts from several photocopies selected, the title moved in, and the parts pasted together. Over the years the printing ink had stained through the folded sheets. There was one solid river on the front, but fainter copies of the river on the other side, reversed themselves and ran in all directions. These ghost rivers had to be whited out with a fine paint brush and graphic white paint. Then the true lines of the river could be inked in firmly. The reduced lettering was too small to read, so larger versions from earlier reductions were cut out and pasted over. The Sale Map reproduced here is an accurate reduction, made clear and easy to read, but its rescue was a long, slow process.

This map shows clearly that the footpath had been moved to the other bank of the river.

Notice that parts of the houses n the south side of Park Lane ( Clissold Crescent and the ones in Burma Rd have been shown.


Development Map

The Development of the Newington Hall Site

The adjoining site to the south had already been covered with large houses, called Paradise Place, facing Green Lanes and backing on to the New River. They were the homes of prosperous people, in a peaceful, bucolic setting. The families would have fished, and no doubt bathed, in the New River.

At some period a new Church was built on the site.

When the developer came to plan his new houses, the peaceful views across the river were a major asset, so he wanted to build as many houses as possible with this view. Secondly he wanted to keep his lengths of road as short as possible to reduce costs. As Green Lanes and Church Street were already built, houses there would have low road costs.

The solution was quite obvious, Statham Road was cut parallel to the river, with houses on both sides, to give three rows of houses across the site. The houses in Church Road were rectangular, so Statham Grove starts out at right angles to Church Road, but quickly turns parallel to the river. A short right angle turn without houses completed the road pattern by giving entrance to the back gardens of the Green Lanes houses and some of the Statham Grove ones.

In the 1930s the river was diverted into a 48 inch underground pipe and the river bed filled in as allotments. The triangle to the south has been redeveloped to give blocks of flats and a new church. All that remains of the original church is a fossil gate post and a Victorian gothic arch, standing bewildered by the side of the allotments.

Today the New River terminates at the East Resevoir. The old filter beds have been covered with houses and the water diverted to Copper Mills and Tottenham Lane for purification. From there it is fed into the giant ring main which circles London. The 48 inch pipe is redundant.

The Booth Poverty Maps of London, 1889

Charles Booth, a wealthy business man and not to be confused with General Booth of the Salvation Army, was told that over a million people in London lived in unhealthy, sub-standard housing. He did not believe it and started a long study to prove the radicals wrong. The work took seventeen years and showed that the situation was even worse than he had been told.

He and his many helpers assessed the different streets of London according to the rental value, number of servants, appearance, dirty curtains, bedraggled appearance and similar signs. They consulted the police, the clergy, the school visitors who checked on truancy and knew their areas intimately. They Graded them as follows, from Yellow (Houses rated at £100 a year with three or more servants to Light Bluue, Dark Blue and Black for different degrees of poverty.

The houses in the map to the right include a mixture of Red and Pink. The Red had at least one servant living in, with the Pink were Comfortable, with regular incomes - the foremen and small managers, described by Both as, ‘the non-commissioned officers of the industrial army’. These were not poor and further along Church Street were very wealthy people (Yellow) with three servants of more living in. This wqas a very prosperous area.

1889 Booth Poverty Map

Between St Mathias Church and St Jude's there was a small pocket of light blue where people were in permanent povety.

Now compare the yellow and red colours of Paradice Row with the the dark-blue and black colours in Essex Road. Here they were so poor, and the housing was so bad, that Peabody built one of the first of his blocks of Industrial Dwellings there to start to tackle the problem.

The source of my copies is the London Topographical Reproduction plus one sheet from London School of Economics. However, all the maps, supporting document s and compilers' Reports, are available free on a brilliant website. lse.ac.uk/ booth


Millionaire's Row

The houses on Church Street facing the Park were some of the most desirable in London at this time, but Mr. Alexander, who had owned the whole sweep of Clissold Crescent as his private pleasure ground, had died and the first houses in Clissold Crescent were being built. The rich were getting ready to pack their bags and go.

The Threat to Clissold Park in 1886

While Booth was compiling his maps on the Poverty of London, Stoke Newington was fighting a different war. The tenants of the new houses in Statham Grove had chosen their houses because they were near the City, while on the edge of the country, and immediately opposite Clissold Park. The Park was open to the public on certain conditions, so it was a most desirable situation. These were well off people. Their attractive neighbourhood was being attacked and the value of their houses was likely to fall.

On 22 June 1886, Mr Beck wrote to the paper from Barton House, his home in Albion Road. His letter was a warning and an urgent call to action. Despite earlier statements by the then owner of the Park, he had parted with all his interest in the estate. Clissold Park was to be sold, the trees felled and the land laid out as building plots. Stoke Newington had already lost its open spaces at an alarming rate. In the previous ten years, from 1776-1866, nearly a third of its 2000 acres had been built over. The letter said:-

Now Clissold Park, the very last and most beautiful [open space is under threat]. I appeal and beg of the inhabitants to bestir themselves and use every effort to preserve Clissold Park as an open space for the recreation of the public.

This lovely open space would become a maze of anonymous streets, bleak, characterless and repulsive to everyone who loved the Park. Trees which people had known for years would be felled. The New River, which came along Riversdale Road, under a bridge in Green Lanes, swept into the Park, up to the house which had been sited to take full advantage of the curving view, and back again along Church Street, left the Park under Paradise Bridge and down to Petherton Road, had been there from king Charles time. Nobody knew the area without the river and its rural setting. The river bank, where generations had fished and promenaded and courted, would be asphalted over. All heaven would be lost.

The Story of How Clissold Park was saved and its part in the huge Open Spaces Movement in the Nineteenth Century click on The Threat to Clissold Park.

( Barton House has now been demolished and the Barton House Health Centre built on the site.)

1894 Ordnance Survey

The 1894 Ordnance Survey Map

By 1894 the area has been fully developed, with houses on both sides of Green Lanes and Aden Terrace built on the east side of the New River.

There are no fewer than 41 houses on the old Newington Hall site, while the 7 houses in Paradise Place, with their large gardens, occupy about the same area. Some time before1875 the first house in Paradise Place had sold off the corner of its garden and a Methodist Chapel had been built. It is shown on the Newington Hall Sale Map but not on the 1863 Ordnance Survey. From the remnants which remain today it appears to have been a stone building. Try to find a picture.

The 1914 Ordnance Survey Map

The 1914 Ordnance Survey Map

The site has hardly altered since 1894. Park lane bridge still has the same name. The house and garden layouts area as before abd the New River is still open to the air. In fact little change was to take place here until the Second World War.

Further along Stoke Newington Church Street there would be Local Authority building as part of the Slum Clearancework of the nineteen thirties, but this corner of the borough stayed much as it had been for many years.

The Wesleyan Church in its heyday.

This view is from Petherton Road and shows the trees as
recently planted saplings still protected in metal cages.

Wesleyan Church from Petherton Road with all the shops flourishing

"18th Century Housing" by Dan Cruikshank

This book is about the 18th Century and so describes some good examples of Stoke Newington houses of this period which still in Church Street, opposite Abney Part Cemetary, for everone to admire today.

The view along Green Lanes in 1917 with the houses in Paradise Road on the left.

At this time the trams ran to Manor House and beyond. The church had become Methodist and the spire had been removed for safety reasons.

The 1935 Ordnance Survey Map

The 1935 Ordnance Survey Map


By 1935 there had been little change although more people had started dividing their houses, letting off rooms and finding other ways of paying the rent. The Wesleyan Church had become a Methodist one but the structure was still the same.

The ares shaped pink, which used to be the site of three houses, had been developed. It looks as if the gardens have been converted into garages. More research is needed on this.

Post Second World War Rebuilding in the Triangle

Post War Building along Paradise Row

During the Second World War the houses in Paradise Row suffered damage. They were old and had large gardens, so it was decided to demolish them and create a new eatate. This covered the old area south of Statham Grove and the Aden Grove houses.


The layout of Burma Court in Green Lanes

These are the new flats built on Paradise Row and Aden Grove.

Arakan House.

This single tower block stands well back from the road, surrounded by much lower blocks, Thus its height is not overpowering and stands as a central symbol, rather as church spires do. The spire of the Methodist Church is gone and this has taken its place.

The use of the Chaucer House tower block in the Milton Gardens Estate, behind Albion Road, is a similar use of a single tower surrounded by lower blocks.


Prome House with Arakan House behind


The New Methodist Church built on a small part of the original church site
The Church was destroyed in the bombing and only a few fragments remain.

The modern view of the Church taken from the same position as the 1904 picture

++ which 1904 picture?

The trees, which were sapling then, have recently been replaced.

Thus the lower end of the Newington House Triangle has become part of the Burma Court Estate and these flats have replaced the Aden Grove houses

Post Second World War Building: The Burma Estate


The Story of the Newington Hall Site in 1987

About 1980 Stoke Newington began to become fashionable

Saturday September 5 1987

"It's a bit like Upper Street in Islington was ten years ago only a lot more friendly - rather like a medium sized market town, in fact." Staring out of the estate agent's window at the buses and lorries thrusting their way down Stoke Newington Church Street in North London, you would have to be gifted with a fairly powerful imagination to see what he meant. Still, an inexhaustible optimism is the stock in trade of a successful estate agent, and in this part of North London, successful estate agents are popping up everywhere, elbowing their way between the vegeterian bistros and Filofax shops, the sine qua non of the North London gentrifying classes.

On the view of Stoke Newington as Islington ten years on, we are on safer ground. Such is the sharp climb of upwardly mobile London house prices, that more and more buyers are foresaking the more mature environs of Highbury, Islington, Barnsbury, and Canonbury for the fresher fields of Clissold Park, Church Street, or Albion Road.

Why hang on to a two-bed flat in Highbury, worth perhaps £140,000, when you can buy a four or five bed house in Albion Road or Clissold Crescent for about the same price? The new frontier, as far as these buyers are concerned, is Stoke Newington High Street with prices for comparable properties plumetting perhaps 20 per cent east of the High Street.

 But as London house prices have risen the 'Rubicon, as far as house buyers generally are concerned, has edged its way eastwards and northwards. Standard three bed houses that were selling for about £20,000 some six years ago, now fetch between £100,000 and £115,000, while big four and five bedroom houses fetch upwards of £150,000. At the lower end of the market, one bedroom properties are between £50,000 and £55,000, and two bed flats about £85,000.

 As with many Inner London areas, the demand for lower price properties has led to the local planning authority claming down on the kind of rabbit hutch conversions of large terraces into small, one bed or studio flats.

Areas, such as Stoke Newington, which began to be gentrified in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s benefited greatly from the generous local authority grants then available.

Those were the days when street-wise, do-it-yourselfers would snap up crumbling Victorian terraces together with labour-intensive and dust–attracting period features and fittings. Then, with the benefit of a handout from the local authority, bring the property up to scratch and make themselves a handome profit.

At least that was the theory. The reality was often that grants were smaller than expected, the cost of the work higher and the tendency to spend more on the property than it was really worth. Add to that the hastle factor of living in brick dust and rubble for a couple of years and the financial benefits begin to pale.

Today's buyers, with full-time city jobs and short-time investment attitudes to property, are more concerned to get fully modernised properties with original fixtures and fittings, rather than get their own hands dirty. Today in Stoke Newington, a modernised property might cost £120,000, while an unmodernised version, of the same thing might attract £100,000 and need perhaps more than £20,000 to be spent on modernising it.

According to local agent Toby Holden, modernised properties with a full complement of original fittings will fetch 10 per cent or more than the same house without fireplaces, cornices, ceiling roses and sliding sash windows.

"If they see a house with metal framed windows, you can't get buyers past the door," he says. "They don't realise that you can get a new sliding sash window made for, what - £300?”

An area like Stoke Newington, is a rich hunting ground for the original Victorian fixtures that home improvers of the 1960s and early 1970s ripped out, in the not unreasonable supposition that we had seen the last of open coal fires.   But fashions change and here we are in the late !9808 with virtually every local hardware store and some coal merchants selling real coal to burn on real fires - a practice theoretically illegal since the smokeless zone legislation of the sixties. Many local firms specialise in fireplaces, architectural ceiling mouldings, reproduction sash windows, and panel doors, even authentic bathroom fittings (well, authentic as you can be in houses which were built without bathrooms), dado rails, anaglypta paper and the whole panoply of DIY Victoriana.

The real bargain house of the late 1980s has coal effect gas fires with fake stone surrounds in every rim, needed hardboard over all of the panel doors and the bannister rail boxed in. It has double glazing, a built in cocktail bar and stone cladding.

In an increasingly fashionable house-buying area all of that can knock perhaps £10,000 off the asking price, while most of those things, stone cladding and double glazing excepted, can be remedied fairly cheaply.   Fireplaces can be bought land installed for perhaps a couple of hundred pounds, panel doors can be replaced for £10 or £20 and, if you are prepared to go to the trouble, most ceiling mouldings and roses call be either restored or replaced altogether with reproduction substitutes.

In the 21st Century these prices have been much increased, as house prices have skyrocketed.

The Goad Fire Insurance Maps

There is one other set of maps which can be a valuable source but I have not yet found any in Stoke Newington. These are the Goad Fire Insurance Maps.

They were produced by the Goad Firm for the use of Insurance companies and not for the general public. The companies needed to work out the correct premium for each customer according to the potential fire hazard, not only for the individual building but for the building in its surroundings. For example, a building next to a timber yard may be at greater risk than one surrounded by water.

Charles E. Goad was born in England in 1848and obtained a degree of Associate of Arts at Oxford. In 1869he went to Canada and found himself in a wooden world. Few major cities in Canada had escaped massive fires. Halifax, Montreal, Quebec, had all suffered destruction. They were in the situation of London in 1666. Goad established a flourishing business providing maps showing the materials, construction, heights of buildings, the positions of water mains, hydrants, and alarm boxes, etc. The system of signs is most ingenious. Goad later moved his business to Britain and had an office in Crouch End. Over the next hundred years the firm made Fire Insurance Maps for cities all over the then British Empire.

These maps were specialised and not for sale. They were collected in atlases and hired to the insurance companies for a fee. The areas were re-surveyed every three years and any changes were then redrawn. The atlases were withdrawn from the companies, the small patches of change were pasted over the old, and the atlases were returned.

Only in the 1960s did the firm decide to sell its maps to the public and they are now a unique source of information. Camden History Archive has a complete atlas of the Regents Canal, so any schools south of Stoke Newington would find information there. Other archives will hold other Goad maps.

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