A Story of Home Hackney Area Guide
The City Within a City.
Parallels are often drawn between Hackney and downtown Manhattan, based on a shared experience of warehouse conversion-led gentrification. But we think that comparison misses the point. Did you know that if you were to classify the five New York City boroughs as individual cities, Brooklyn would be the third-most populous city in America, after Los Angeles and Chicago?
What has that got to do with living in Hackney? Well, like Brooklyn, Hackney is a complete city in itself, with its own proud identity and everything needed for a great life – and with another amazing city on the doorstep. For Brooklyn and New York City, read Hackney and London.
And we think that’s one of two reasons people feel so strongly about living in Hackney. The second being the simple fact that it offers every type of home a city can, from new builds and refurbished industrial spaces to huge, classically maintained family houses and everything in-between. It’s why Hackney evokes such love from its life-long and newly-arrived residents. It’s why so many people never leave.
Meynell Crescent, Well Street Common, E9
A Matter of Conservation
It’s a regularly stated fact that there are more than 50 parks in Hackney, amounting to a thousand acres. That’s a wonderful thing, but our love of homes that have a story, of properties in which you put down roots and make the life you believe in and dream of, is drawn to the less talked about 30 Conservation Areas that form a tapestry of desirable enclaves across the entire borough.
An urban Conservation Area means character houses, buildings and street furniture that have kept their original design and features; streets of stylishly laid out architectural gems that hint at the history of the place. It means leafy roads, established gardens, mature trees, canal banks, and historical landmarks – all the things we get excited about when authoring our individual story of home.
When asking, what is it like to live in Hackney? We don’t think you need another listing of places to eat, drink, and hang out (even though we love them too), we’re interested in the sheer abundance of great housing stock that is at the heart of making a life there.
Albion Square, Hackney, E8
In the south-east corner of Hackney, the Victoria Park Conservation Area on the northern edge of The People’s Park, as it was known in the nineteenth century, or Vicky Park, as locals call it now, is full of beautifully restored properties of immense character. Lauriston Road, Victoria Park Road and Cassland Road are sumptuously wide, with stunning villas and houses. Gore Road is an elegant sweep and Meynell Crescent has attractive Edwardian redbrick terraces overlooking Well Street Common. The whole area is peaceful and defined by green spaces.
Queensdown Road, Hackney Downs, E5
The Regent’s Canal – itself a Conservation Area – runs through Victoria Park and across southern Hackney, a ribbon of natural wildlife lined with former furniture warehouses from the 1800s converted into creative spaces and apartments. You’ll want to know that the first Alternative Miss World was held here in a jigsaw factory, and also that other contemporary residential conversions of industrial architecture – on Orsman Road, Eagle Wharf Road and Wharf Road – are simply jaw-dropping, as is the RIBA Award-winning conversion of the Gainsborough Film Studios.
De Beauvoir Square, Hackney, N1
A few streets north of the canal, on the western edge of the borough, is beautiful De Beauvoir, the nineteenth century version of a ‘new town.’ The Square and the surrounding streets have the feel of a small country town, not least because traffic control measures mean this Conservation Area, like many in Hackney, is genuinely tranquil. It is also, yes, a beauty, with Tudor-Jacobean inspired architecture in De Beauvoir Square and Italianate stucco villas in Northchurch Terrace. On the north side of Buckingham Road the houses are particularly fine and the three storey houses on Culford Grove are set amidst majestic trees.
Hop across the Kingland Road to one of the smallest Conservation Areas, Albion Square – a community of classical, exquisite early Victorian housing (in particular on the Square itself and on Lavender Grove) and the open skies of Stonebridge Common, a remnant of the swathes of common lands that covered the borough hundreds of years ago. And all this, a 15-minute train ride into the City from Haggerston.
The Deli Downstairs, Victoria Park Village, E9
Classical and Industrial
One stop north, and you step into St Mark’s, the Conservation Area above Ridley Road Street market. Here, on the one hand, you find the huge family homes on St Mark’s Rise, the finely detailed architectural gems of Sandringham Road, the pretty gardens of Montague Road and Venetian windows of Colvestone Crescent. On the other hand, you have cool and classy conversions of a former rubber factory, at Time Square, and the Eyre & Spottiswoode printing works, at Independent Place. These diverse architectural styles share common ground – they all make stunning settings in which to make a home.
A 55-apartment industrial conversion on Orsman Road, N1 by pH+ Architects
Continuing north to the borough’s largest conservation area – Northwold and Cazenove – there is something quietly alluring about this desirable quarter. It’s the houses with large front gardens, on Cazenove Road, Brook Road and Evering Road; it’s the curved streets of Osbaldeston Road and Fountayne Road, and the mature London plane and lime trees that abound. London planes, beech and elm dating from the late nineteenth century also provide a wildlife haven in the gardens of St-John-at-Hackney Churchyard in the Clapton Square Conservation Area, and this remarkably verdant borough reaches a kind of arboreal crescendo as you arrive at the far north-west corner in the Clissold Park Conservation Area, with the stunning mid-nineteenth century houses of Queen Elizabeth’s Walk overlooking Clissold House and Park.
The high quality of urban living that Hackney’s Conservation Areas offer also hints at the history of the place – starting at a time when Hackney was a collection of villages, manor estates and open land, much of which survives today to make it the leafiest area of London, and revealing the ensuing periods when the finest architects of the day designed housing for the then ‘new towns’ that are now nestled throughout the borough.
Victoria Park, Hackney, E9
As we said, you don’t need us to tell you about the incredible variety of contemporary delights to be found in Hackney. We love them all, whether it’s Broadway Market, The Hackney Empire, London Fields Lido, Victoria Park, the City Farm, the West Reservoir, the coffee shops, bakeries, Michelin Star-restaurants, Ocakbasi, or art galleries.
What we wanted to share in this guide is just how good a place this is to live in, and how beautiful the streets, houses and converted industrial buildings to be discovered here are. It’s why, if you live or work here, you might never want to leave and, like many a Brooklynite, never need to. You can make a complete life for yourself in Hackney, and have a certain city called London on your doorstep.
Mole Man House – A derelict house in London that had tunnels dug under it by the infamous Mole Man has been restored and adapted by architects Adjaye Associates
Through the art of storytelling, years of experience, and sheer determination, we help London homeowners start new chapters.
If you are thinking about moving, we would be delighted to hear from you on 0207 867 3999 or firstname.lastname@example.org