Stoke Newington overview
What’s it all about?
Stoke Newington, or ‘Stokey’ as its residents fondly call it, has always been something of a haven for radicals and non conformists and the area has retained a strong identity and community spirit. Stoke Newington Church Street and High Street boast a rich array of independent retailers, including bookshops, gift and clothing stores and vintage homeware shops, as well as a wide choice of places to enjoy coffee, lunch, dinner or a drink. Always popular with media and creative types, the area has fast become a destination for families looking to put down roots, as there is a choice of good schools nearby. The neighbourhood also has lots of green space, as well as the West Reservoir and an indoor climbing centre housed in an old water pumping station. Served well by trains and buses heading to central London, Stoke Newington’s population now also has access to Overground trains at Dalston, providing a route to Shoreditch and Docklands, as well as to South London and Clapham Junction.
- Novelist and political non-conformist Daniel Defoe lived in Stoke Newington. It is believed that the author took inspiration for his most famous work Robinson Crusoe from the story of local resident John Drury’s son Robert. Shipwrecked off Madagascar in 1703, he wasn't rescued until 1717.
- Stoke Newington was a centre of activity for the Quaker community, with many of the grandest local buildings being commissioned and built by them.
- Scenes for the video for Amy Winehouse’s hit Back to Black were shot among the headstones of Abney Park Cemetery.
Architecture and property
Much of the local architecture is thanks to the Quaker community, who had been in the area since Defoe’s time, building a meeting house in Yoakley Road in 1827 and Clissold House, now Clissold Park cafe, as well as many of the houses on Church Street and the High Street. During the 20th century, however, Quakers moved further out to the suburbs, and the large meeting house was demolished. Much of Church Street, however, now benefits from listed status.
Victorian properties of varying sizes are prominent, from three bedroom houses in streets south of Church Street, to four and five bedroom red brick houses in Clissold Crescent and Carysfort Road. Roads near the cemetery are wide and tree lined with solid Victorian terraces. Church Street has a handful of well preserved Georgian townhouses and there are some grand 19th century houses overlooking Clissold Park.
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Eating: Stoke Newington is a magnet for foodies of all tastes. For an impressive range of tapas, head to Black Pig With White Pearls on the High Street, or for a family friendly Mediterranean experience pop into Homa on Church Street. Vegetarians are well catered for, with Rasa offering a South Indian menu, and Nar Café and Bistro fusing Mediterranean and Turkish influences with lots of vegetarian and vegan choices. Longstanding and popular Thai local Yum Yum is always full. For takeaway Best Turkish Kebab on Stoke Newington Road has consistently been voted one of the best of its kind in the Capital.
Drinking: One of the best known haunts is The Auld Shillelagh, which claims to pour the best Guinness north of the river, and hosts live music. If real ale is your thing, head for The Jolly Butchers on the high street, once named by The Guardian as one of the top ten pubs in Britain. Bar and venue Stokey Stop has regular comedy nights and club nights. Backgammon players head for The Fox Reformed where they can enjoy a game over a glass of wine and a bar snack.
Culture: The Arcola Theatre is based between the two Dalston stations has been described by The Observer as a ‘powerhouse of new work’, putting on more than 60 productions and events a year. The independent Rio Cinema on Kingsland Road shows foreign language and arthouse movies. Once a year the area is transformed by the Stoke Newington Literary Festival, which takes place in June, and offers workshops, lectures, gigs and even walking tours.
Music: The Vortex Jazz Club on Gillett Square has been established for more than 25 years as a platform for jazz musicians, offering a chance for new and seasoned performers to show off their skills.
- Hansen & Lydersen in Shelford Place smokes salmon the Norwegian way, and supply Harrods and Ocado. The shop is open during the week and a delivery service is also available.
- If vintage furniture is your style, head to The Cobbled Yard, which offers an eclectic assortment of one off pieces. Bridgewood & Neizert offer sales, valuations and repairs of a wide range of stringed instruments. The Stoke Newington Bookshop offers a chance to find something to read before heading for a nearby cafe.
- The high street is home to a farmers’ market every Saturday, selling organic and biodynamic products. For everyday shopping needs, there are small Sainsbury’s and Tesco stores on the high street, with a larger Sainsbury’s in Dalston and a Morrisons on Stamford Hill.
- Kids and adults alike can enjoy the West Reservoir Centre on Green Lanes, which is a hub of water-based activity, with training offered in sailing and kayaking.
- A Grade II listed Victorian water pumping station is now the Castle Climbing Centre, which has five floors of indoor climbing facilities for both beginners and experienced climbers to explore.
- Stoke Newington Library is open seven days a week and offers reading groups for all ages, as well as a selection of music scores for hire.
Clissold Park is a 55acre community park that has tennis courts, a bowling green, ornamental lakes, an aviary, and an animal enclosure with deer, goats and chickens, as well as an attractive cafe at the 18th century Grade II listed Clissold House. There is a woodland park and nature reserve at Abney Park Cemetery, where entry is free, and there are lots of activities on offer, from wooden spoon carving to guided nature walks.
Despite local opposition, developer Newark has won planning permission from Hackney Council for a development at Wilmer Place to include a new Sainsbury’s store with more than 50 flats above.
Rail: Stoke Newington station is served by the West Anglia line with regular services into Liverpool Street. The Overground line runs through both Dalston Junction and Dalston Kingsland, giving easy access south and north of the river and to Shoreditch and Docklands.
Bus: The area is very well served with buses, including the 67 to Aldgate, 73 to Victoria, 76 and 243 to Waterloo and 149 to London Bridge.
Road: The main route through Stoke Newington is the busy A10. Hackney Council has put forward a proposal to abolish the gyratory system, which local residents hope will ease the congestion.
Cycle: Locals can follow a picturesque cycle route that meanders along canals, taking in the Olympic site and Broadway Market.
Getting away: Stansted Airport is less than 45 minutes away and Luton about an hour by road, so it’s easy to escape the city.
Parents are spoilt for choice in terms of primary education, with many options including William Patten on Church Street and Grazebrook on Lordship Road. The only state secondary school in the area is Stoke Newington School and Sixth Form, a media arts and science college. There is also a selection of Jewish single sex faith schools in the neighbouring community of Stamford Hill.
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