To the north-east of central London, Hackney is made up of three ancient parishes: Hackney, Stoke Newington and Shoreditch, including the old settlements of Newington Green, Stamford Hill, Shacklewell, Clapton, Homerton, Hackney Wick, Kingsland, Dalston, Hoxton and Haggerston. Once connected to London by ancient tracks across fields and meadows, today Hackney stretches south from Stamford Hill to border the prosperous Square Mile of the City of London, and from London’s second largest river, the Lea, in the east, across to Islington.

Down the centuries Hackney has provided for the needs of London: producing food for its markets; offering quiet surroundings for the country houses of its wealthy; educating its children in select schools; furnishing asylums to look after its mentally ill; being a refuge for political and religious dissenters; selling exotic plants from Hackney’s  world-leading nurseries; entertaining Londoners with pleasure gardens and theatres; supplying workers for London’s growing industry and commerce and housing the city’s expanding workforce.

Humans first left traces of their activity in this area 200,000 years ago. Growing from Saxon settlements over 1000 years ago, during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the area was a popular retreat for royal courtiers and then London merchants, with their large mansions and estates. In the 18th century it was notable for its non-conformists, leading national campaigns for social reform.

The coming of the railways in the mid-19th century turned the country villages into a bustling, crowded London suburb. For the last 400 years immigration of people from various parts of the world has produced the rich diversity of modern Hackney, reflected in the different languages heard on the streets, the vibrant markets and the variety of restaurants. Recent development of art galleries, bars and clubs in Shoreditch, Hoxton and Dalston has given Hackney a new attraction.

What a fabulous talk Sean Gubbins did… He made it so interesting.

Attended talk on ‘Hackney and History’