skip to page content
About the Building Exploratory About this site
georgian landscape
Roman Medieval Tudor Georgian Victorian Early 20th C Late 20th C
In the 1740s Hackney Village was still built around a single street, Mare Street, but by the end of the Georgian period, in the 1830s, the many villages of Hackney and Stoke Newington parishes were beginning to blend into one. Building was determined by the two main north/south roads, Kingsland Road and Mare Street. Homerton and Hackney had merged on the map, and building stretched continuously from Hackney Village down to Cambridge Heath.

These numerous interconnected villages and hamlets were still surrounded by farms, meadows, and hayfields however. Land that was not used for fields or pasture was parklands for the great houses of the gentry. Shoreditch on the other hand was by now a built up area, the result of city overspill.

Stamford Hill, owing to its brick earth and high vantage point was attractive to the gentlemen classes and many affluent and important Jews lived there too during this period, establishing a community that still exists today. Homerton, particularly in the early Georgian period, was an affluent area.

Dalston and Kingsland had both been small settlements at the beginning of the eighteenth century, but by the start of the nineteenth, inns and streets had sprung up that transformed them from hamlets to villages. In particular Kingsland, having the benefit of Kingsland Road which was a major thoroughfare from the city, had spread almost as far as Hackney Brook. The brickfields, quarried since at least Tudor times and now quite extensive, also dominated Kingsland's landscape.

Another dominant feature that appeared toward the end of the period was the reservoirs that were built to provide a supply of clean water for the emerging suburbs. Now overlooked by the Woodberry Down Estate they have been declared a conservation area.

Towards the end of the Georgian period in the early nineteenth century the in-filling of these rural areas began because it was the start of a speculative housing boom and the gentry moved out. Many charitable institutions took over the old houses of the gentry, such as Brooke House, which became an asylum. However its was still fashionable amongst the rich to go for carriage drives through Hackney on summer nights and take in the country air.

The completion of the Regents Canal in 1820 meant building materials could be easily transported to the area, and prompted the developer William Rhodes to lease 150 acres of what had been the Balmes Estate from the elderly Reverend Peter de Beauvoir. It was said to be the largest single development proposed by a speculative builder in London. The De Beauvoir Estate, was planned as residences for the very well-to-do and covered an area stretching from Downham Road, just north of the canal to Tottenham Road, just south of Balls Pond Road. The original 1820s plans show four tree filled squares with at their centre another large, octagonal, green space. However Rhodes was found to have obtained the lease unfairly and the land reverted to the de Beauvoir family. Once building resumed, after a lengthy delay, its proposed clientele had moved on to the new suburbs of the West End. It was never developed on the grand scale originally intended and was instead occupied in the 1840s by the newly emerging middleclass. Instead of five squares, only the south-east square was built, now called De Beauvoir Square.

Buy related books

A Guide to the Architecture of London: Updated for the Millennium, Christopher Woodward, Edward Jones

The Times History of London, Hugh Clout (Editor)

A History of the Borough of Hackney, David Mander

In Association with

Brickfields film
A film of a reconstruction of the brickfields along side Kingsland Road. The Building Exploratory.
Click to see the whole film. This will open in another window and take a few minutes to download.

You will need Quicktime 6 for this. Click here to download it.

Urbanisation map
A map showing the urbanisation of Hackney, in red. The blue patches in the top left are reservoirs. The Building Exploratory.

De Beauvoir map
This map shows the proposed development of De Beauvoir. Balls Pond Road is at the top and the dark horizontal line near the bottom is Regent's Canal. Hackney Archives

Home pagegeorgian landscape
Contact us Links Terms & Conditions