A Brief History of Stroud Green

The name Stroud Green signifies a wet, marshy place, overgrown with brushwood and liable to flooding. Stroud Green, near Highbury, was first mentioned in 1403 when it was no more than a number of farmsteads outside London on the low lying land of Tollington, in Islington, to the west of Brownswood in Hornsey.

Over the centuries it grew to become, in the late 19th century, a suburb of London, straddling the border between the parishes of Hornsey and Islington.

Frequent flooding

It was, however, still liable to frequent flooding, although the brushwood had been replaced with lines of terraced housing. By then most of Stroud Green was identified as a ward of the Hornsey District Council containing 8,500 people and occupying 216 acres, although 120 acres made up the new Finsbury Park.

What remained of Stroud Green in Islington was restricted to a small, remote, part of the parish of St Mary, Islington, between Upper Holloway and the parish boundary marked by Stroud Green Road and on both side of Crouch Hill.

Conservation areas

Today, Stroud Green includes two conservation areas; a large one in Haringey to the east of Stroud Green Road, and a small one, in Islington, on the other side of the road. Haringey’s Conservation Area roughly corresponds to the triangle formed by the railway line running north from Finsbury Park Station, the line of Mountview Road from east to west, and the border with Islington, beside Mount Pleasant Villas, and then the Stroud Green Road to the Seven Sisters Road.

The buildings within this Conservation Area are, to quote Haringey, ‘amongst the most diverse examples of domestic architecture to be found in any one area, ranging from elegantly crafted artisans cottages to Gothic and Italianate revival semi-detached houses’.

Two small settlements

Before the development of Stroud Green in Hornsey began in 1866 it consisted of two small settlements; one around Stapleton Hall, the residence of John Draper in the 16th century, at the bottom of Crouch Hill; another around Rose Cottage on the corner of Seven Sisters Road and Blackstock Road, which became known as the Sluice House estate, following the closure of the New River and demolition of the Highbury Sluice House built in 1618.

The residential development at the southern end of Stroud Green Road, became known as Finsbury Park; in anticipation of the park designed by the Metropolitan Board of Works and landscaped by Alexander McKenzie. The park opened in 1869 on the demesne land of Brownswood where the famous Hornsey Wood House first mentioned in 1634 had stood by the lake.

Bomb damage

In amongst the Victorian terraced houses of Stroud Green are numerous council houses and flats built after the Second World War to replace houses suffering extensive bomb damage. Between 1947 and 1960 a total of 25 blocks of flats and 15 houses were built by Hornsey Borough Council as part of the post-war re-construction.

The first blocks of flats, Norman Court and Wall Court, were opened to acclaim in the architectural press, and provided a model for all subsequent council dwellings built in the Borough. These former council properties now stand as monuments to a time when the local authority was a proud provider of good, affordable rented accommodation to its population. Their design and historical associations make them a special feature of the conservation area.

Further reading:

John Hinshelwood, Stroud Green A history and five walks, Hornsey Historical Society, 2011

Janet Owen & John Hinshelwood, A Vision of Middlesex The North Middlesex Photographic Society’s Survey & Record of Middlesex, Hornsey Historical Society, 2011, 72 – 75

Steven Denford, Hornsey Past, Historical Publications, 2008

John Hinshelwood, The Old Dairy At Crouch Hill, Hornsey Historical Society, 1999

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