Stoke Newington

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Not to be confused with the neighbouring Newington Green; nor with Newington, in the London Borough of Southwark.
Stoke Newington
Stoke newington town hall 2.jpg
Stoke Newington Town Hall, built 1935–37 for the Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington is located in Greater London
Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington
 Stoke Newington shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ335865
   – Charing Cross 5 mi (8.0 km)  SW
London borough Hackney
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district N16
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Hackney North and Stoke Newington
London Assembly North East
List of places
UK
England
London

Coordinates: 51°33′41″N 0°04′23″W / 51.5615°N 0.0731°W / 51.5615; -0.0731

Stoke Newington is a district in the London Borough of Hackney. It is 5 miles (8 km) north-east of Charing Cross.

Boundaries[edit]

In modern terms, Stoke Newington (informally called Stokey by the local residents [1][2]) can be roughly defined by the N16 postcode area (though this also includes parts of Stamford Hill and the almost forgotten district of Shacklewell). Its southern boundary with Dalston is quite ill-defined too, but it was once a well-defined administrative unit. In 1899 the Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington was formed out of the greater part of the parish of that name. The resulting boundaries seem rather anomalous now; the entire eastern side of Stoke Newington High Street and beyond, including Stoke Newington Common, were included in the next door Metropolitan Borough of Hackney, but in fact this area was then part of the parish of Hackney – not Stoke Newington – and much of it would have been regarded as being in Shacklewell at the time. These apparent oddities became moot when in 1965, the Metropolitan Borough became part of the London Borough of Hackney. Immediately to the south of Stoke Newington is Newington Green, also ill-defined, though originally they were two distinct villages separated by a mile of fields.

Throughout all these changes, the core of Stoke Newington, centred around Church Street, has retained its own distinct 'London village' character; indeed, Nikolaus Pevsner confessed[3] that he found it hard to see the district as being in London at all.

Open space[edit]

The Castle Climbing Centre, once the main Water Board pumping station

For one small district, Stoke Newington is endowed with a generous amount of open space. To its north, there is the extensive West Reservoir, now a non-working facility, but open for leisure and surrounded by greenspace, at the entrance to which is the architecturally bizarre Castle Climbing Centre, once the main Water Board pumping station. It was originally designed, by William Chadwell Mylne, to look like a towering Scottish castle, and is now much-loved in the area.

South of these facilities is Clissold Park, an extensive swathe of parkland complete with a small menagerie, aviary and Clissold Mansion, a Grade II listed building, built for Jonathan Hoare, a local Quaker and brother of Samuel Hoare, in the 1790s.[4]

Tracking east from here and past the two Church of England parish churches, both called St Mary's [1] (Stoke Newington strangely decided to retain the old one, unusual in a London parish), leads to Abney Park Cemetery, one of the most splendid and enlightened of Victorian London cemeteries. It is now a nature reserve, a role that it was in many ways originally intended for, as it was set up as an arboretum, but Abney Park became scheduled in 2009 as one of Britain's historic park and garden at risk from neglect and decay.[5] Finally, across the high street to the east is the fragmented Stoke Newington Common. This, however, has its charms, largely due to the extensive and diverse programme of tree planting it has enjoyed in recent years.

Reservoirs[edit]

From the 16th century onwards, Stoke Newington has played a prominent role in assuring a water supply to sustain London's rapid growth. Hugh Myddleton's New River runs through the area and still makes a contribution to London's water. Although this originally terminated at the New River Head in Finsbury, since 1946 its main flow has ended at Stoke Newington reservoirs, though a slow ornamental trickle flows past the West Reservoir to go underground for a stretch on Green Lanes, reappearing for a time in Clissold Park only to disappear underground again on its way to Canonbury. The river bank, the New River Path,[6] can be walked for some distance to the north through Haringey and on to its source near Hertford, though not all sections are open.

The West reservoir, looking north.

Stoke Newington East and West Reservoirs, to the north of Clissold Park, are quite substantial for urban facilities. Stoke Newington Reservoirs were constructed in 1833 to purify the New River water and to act as a water reserve. As mentioned, the West Reservoir is now a leisure facility, offering sailing, canoeing and other water sports, plus Royal Yachting Association- approved sailing courses. On its western edge stands the former filter house, now set out as a visitor centre with a café; some of the old hydraulic machinery can be viewed in the main hall. The pumping station at the reservoir gates, converted to a climbing centre in 1995 (as mentioned above) was designed in a distinctive castellated style by Robert Billings under the supervision of William Chadwell Mylne and built in 1854–56.[7]

Besides the water board facilities and the New River, Clissold Park also contains two large ornamental lakes, a home to many water birds and a population of terrapins. These lakes – purportedly the remains of clay pits dug for the bricks used in the building of Clissold House – are all that is left to mark the course of the Hackney Brook, one of London's lost rivers, which once flowed from west to east across Stoke Newington on its way to the River Lea. In flood at this point, the brook was known to span 10 metres. The two lakes are not actually fed from the brook, which has long disappeared into the maze of sewers under London, but from the mains supply – ultimately the New River.

History[edit]

Early[edit]

Unusually, Stoke Newington retains two parish churches. St Mary's Old Church (left) and New Church (right).

Stoke Newington or 'new town in the wood', has been lightly settled for many hundreds of years, close to larger neighbouring Saxon settlements near the River Lea. In the 19th century it was discovered that Stoke Newington Common and Abney Park Cemetery had been part of a Neolithic working area for axe-making, some examples of which can be seen in the Museum of London.

Stoke Newington is recorded as part of the Ossulstone hundred in the county of Middlesex in the Domesday Book of 1086. In the 17th century, for administrative purposes the west of Stoke Newington High Street became part of the new Finsbury division and the east part of the Tower division. Both divisions were in 1889 then incorporated into the County of London.

In the Middle Ages and Tudor times, it was a very small village a few miles from the city of London, frequently visited by wayfarers as a pit stop before journeying north, Stoke Newington High Street being part of the Cambridge road (A10). At this date the whole manor was owned by St. Paul's Cathedral and yielded a small income, enough to support part of their work. During the 17th century the Cathedral sold the Manor to William Patten, who became the first Lord of the Manor. His initials 'WP' and the motto 'ab alto' can be seen inscribed above the doorway of the old church next to Clissold Park.

18th century[edit]

A century later, it passed to Lady Mary Abney who drew up the first detailed maps of field boundaries and began to lay out a manorial parkland behind today's fire station on Church Street, with the aid of her daughters and Dr Isaac Watts.

19th century[edit]

During the early 19th century, as London expanded, the Manor of Stoke Newington was 'enfranchised' to be sold in parcels as freehold land for building purposes. Gradually the village became absorbed into the seamless expansion of London. It was no longer a separate village by the mid-to-late 19th century.

Being on the outskirts at this time, many expensive and large houses were built to house London's expanding population of nouveau riche whose journey to the commercial heart of the capital was made possible by the birth of the railways and the first omnibuses. The latter were first introduced into central London in the 1820s by George Shillibeer, following his successful trial of the world's first school bus for William Allen and Susannah Corder's novel Quaker school, Newington Academy for Girls. By the mid-nineteenth century, Stoke Newington had "the largest concentration of Quakers in London", including many who had moved up the A10 from Gracechurch Street meeting house in the City. A meeting house was built in Park Street (now Yoakley Road) by the architect William Alderson, who later designed Hanwell Lunatic Asylum.[8]

St Mary's Lodge on Lordship Road, the 1843 home of architect and district surveyor John Young, is the last-surviving of several grand detached houses built in the area around that time for well-off members of the new commuter class. Gibson Gardens, an early example of quality tenement buildings erected for the housing of 'the industrious classes', were built off Stoke Newington High Street in 1880 and still stand today.

As a late Victorian and Edwardian suburb, Stoke Newington prospered, and continued in relative affluence and civic pride with its own municipal government until changes brought about by the Second World War.

Early 20th century[edit]

Between 1935–37, the curved brick and Portland Stone Town Hall was built for the Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington by J. Reginald Truelove.[9]

Second World War[edit]

Abney Park Blitz memorial. Most of the space is taken up with the names of the victims of the 1940 Coronation Avenue incident.

During World War II, much of the area was damaged in the Blitz and many were made homeless, although the level of destruction was much lower than in those areas of East London further south such as Stepney or Shoreditch or even in next-door Hackney. The death toll was also relatively low: almost three-quarters of civilian deaths being due to one tragic incident on 13 October 1940 when a crowded shelter at Coronation Avenue off the high street received a direct hit. The memorial to all the residents of the Borough who died in the air raids, including local Jewish people, can be seen in Abney Park Cemetery. Like Hackney and Tottenham, Stoke Newington avoided most of the later V-weapon attacks, which fell disproportionately on South London; only a total of seven V-1s and two V-2s hit the borough.

Most of the historic buildings at the heart of Stoke Newington survived, at least in a repairable state. Two notable exceptions are the classically grand parish church of West Hackney, St James's, on Stoke Newington Road, which dated from 1824, and St Faith's, a Victorian Gothic church by William Burges. Both were so severely damaged, the former in the October 1940 bombing, and the latter by a flying bomb in 1944, that they were entirely demolished. St James's was replaced after the war by a much more modest structure, St Paul's, which is set well back from the street. Traces of the old church's stonework can still be seen facing Stoke Newington Road.

Postwar developments[edit]

After the war a substantial amount of residential housing, particularly to the east of modern Stoke Newington, in Hackney borough at the time, had been either destroyed or left in such a bad state that it was seen by the urban planners of that era as better to demolish it. Postwar redevelopment has replaced many of these areas with large estates, some more successful than others. Much of this residential redevelopment was planned by Frederick Gibberd, the designer of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

Political radicalism and terrorism[edit]

Ever a home to radicals, Communist Party meetings were held in the Town Hall in the post-war years. And although Stoke Newington became part of the London Borough of Hackney in 1965, it has never quite lost its own identity. Indeed, following the 1960s, it increasingly became home to a number of squatters, artists, bohemians and also political radicals. Famously, the 'Stoke Newington 8' were arrested on 20 August 1971 at 359 Amhurst Road for suspected involvement in The Angry Brigade bombings.

Stoke Newington Bookshop, one of the many independent retailers in Stoke Newington

The most famous examples of political terrorism by Stoke Newington residents, none originally from the area, are Patrick Hayes, Jan Taylor and Muktar Said Ibrahim. The first two were convicted of two bombings and had substantial links to the huge lorry bombs of the 1990s. Both were arrested, firing at officers in Walford Road and later sentenced to thirty years imprisonment.

The third, Muktar Said Ibrahim, was convicted, as the ring leader, on an indictment of conspiracy to murder. He planted a failed bomb on a 26 bus, which misfired later on the Hackney Road on 21 July 2005. Ibrahim used to work at an off-licence on Amhurst Road. In February 2005, police were seeking Ibrahim on an arrest warrant for an outstanding public order offence and sent a letter to his Farleigh Road address saying "Call us, before we call you." After the attack, Ibrahim was seen on the run in Farleigh Road and was later arrested in Dalgrano Gardens, W10. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of forty years before being considered for release.

21st century[edit]

These days, Stoke Newington is a very multicultural area, with large Asian, Irish, Turkish, Jewish and Afro-Caribbean communities. The area continues to be home to many new and emerging communities such as Polish and Somali immigrants.

Stoke Newington has undergone major gentrification, as have neighbouring Newington Green, Canonbury and Dalston. Much of the gentrification of the area has been based around Church Street, where there are many independent shops, pubs, bars and cafes.[10]

On Saturday mornings, St Paul's churchyard in Stoke Newington High Street hosts an active farmers' market – relocated in July/August 2011 from its earlier site in the playground of William Patten Primary school on Church Street. This was the first farmers' market in the UK to have only organic and biodynamic producers.

In June 2011 property developer Newmark Properties LLP announced their proposed development for Wilmer Place. This includes a large Sainsburys supermarket, "high quality private and affordable residential apartments" and a 90+ vehicle car park. This development requires the demolition of some of the existing properties in Wilmer Place and 195–201 Stoke Newington High Street. There has been strong local reaction against this development during the brief pre-planning consultation. Several local groups are protesting against this development, including Hackney Unites, the Hackney Liberal Democrat Party, and Stokey Local, a group formed by local business leaders and residents.

Education[edit]

One of the early London School Board schools: Stoke Newington High Street 1877, now a private residence.
For details of education in Stoke Newington see the Hackney article

Primary schools[edit]

Secondary schools[edit]

Defunct schools[edit]

Architecture[edit]

Although Stoke Newington contains only one Grade I listed building (St Matthias Church), it contains a fair number of Grade II* buildings for one London district. Unsurprisingly, given its nature, residential buildings are strongly represented, and this becomes even more clear when the lowest grade, Grade II, is considered, where almost whole streets are listed in some cases.[11]

Grade I
Grade II*
Grade II

There are many Grade II listed properties on Stoke Newington Church Street, the historical heart of the district, and two other notable residential streets to the west of the district – Albion Road and Clissold Road – are replete with listed properties.

Close to the local pub The Lion, local resident and property owner Sofie Attrill gave consent for pop group Blur to create some publicity for their 2003 single "Crazy Beat". The album's cover and single artwork were undertaken by graffiti artist Banksy, with the single featuring a spoof image of the British Royal Family, replicated as a mural on the building. By 2009 it had become a tourist attraction, but Hackney Council had wanted to remove all graffiti from the area and tried to contact the building owner to gain her agreement to remove the artwork. Unable to contact her due to incorrect Land Registry records, they started painting over the artwork with black paint. They were stopped after they had partly covered the mural.[13]

Transport and locale[edit]

Districts within the London Borough of Hackney.

About 1.5 miles (2.4 km) away, the nearest London Underground station is Manor House on the Piccadilly line.

It is served by bus routes 67, 73, 76, 106, 149, 243, 276, 393 and 476 and Night Buses N73 and N76. 149 and 243 are 24-hour services.

Entertainment[edit]

Stoke Newington is well known for its pubs and bars, lively music scene, including contemporary jazz, and open mic comedy sessions. The Vortex Jazz Club used to be on Church Street but has now moved to Dalston.

Since 2010, Stoke Newington has also had its own literary festival, created to celebrate the area's literary and radical history. It takes place in early June in venues across the area and was described in 2011 by Time Out as 'Just like Hay-on-Wye, but in Hackney', by The Times as one of its 'Top 5 Summer of Books' and by Londonist.com as 'a literary festival that's thrown its pretensions in a skip'.

People associated with Stoke Newington[edit]

Historic[edit]

C20/C21 entertainers, musicians, actors, etc[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]