Skip to content

Adam Dant’s Stories Of Hackney Old & New

March 5, 2015
by the gentle author

Contributing Artist Adam Dant presents this map of Hackney that he has created as a complement to his maps of Shoreditch & Clerkenwell

1. In the sixteenth century, Hackney is the first village near London accommodated with coaches for occasional passengers, hence the name of Hackney carriages.
2. 1521 – Thomas More’s third daughter Cecilia marries Giles Herond in ‘Shackelwell’ & resides at an ancient manor there.
3. 1536 – Henry VIII is reconciled with his daughter Mary at Brook House, Hackney. Mary had not spoken to her father in five years.
4. 1559 – London’s last case of leprosy is recorded at St Bart’s isolation house, ‘The Lock Hospital.’ Established in 1280, it was Hackney’s first hospital.
5. 1598 – Playwright Ben Jonson kills fellow actor Gabriel Spencer in a duel in the fields at Shoreditch and receives a felon’s brand on this thumb.
6. 1647 – The presence of Elizabeth of Bohemia & The Elector Palatine at an entertainment at ‘The Black & White house’ is commemorated in a window bearing their arms.
7. 1654 – Diarist John Evelyn visits Lady Brook’s celebrated garden at Brook’s House, Hackney.
8. 1682 –  Prince Rupert discovers a new and excellent method of boring guns at his watermill in Homerton, but the secret of Prince Rupert’s metal dies with him.

9. 1701 –  A bull baited by twelve dogs breaks loose at Temple Mills.  Confusion and uproar ensue amongst the crowd of three thousand and a nine year old girl barely survives being tossed by the enraged animal.
10. 1750 – Legislature obliges people not to keep any other dogs but ‘such that are really useful’ after Charles Issacs at Hackney is bit by a dog and dies raving mad.
11. In the seventeenth century, the noted ‘Hackeny Buns’ of Goldsmith’s Row are as well regarded as those of ‘The Bun House’ at Chelsea.
12. 1665 – To be seen at Cooper’s Gardens for sixpence a person, the greatest curiosity that was ever seen, a white Dutch radish two feet and two inches round.
13. 1667 – In the church of St Augustine, Samuel Pepys eyes Abigail Vyner ‘a lady rich in Jewels but mostly in beauty, almost the finest woman that I ever saw.’
14. 1788 – In Cat & Mutton fields is seen the inhuman sport where any contestant catching ‘a soapy pig by the tail & holding it over his head’ wins a gold laced hat.
15. 1797 – The Hackney Militia gain a reputation for bumbling incompetence during the Napoleonic Wars.
16. 1811 – At The Mermaid Tavern pleasure gardens James Sadler & Captain Paget Royal Navy ascend in a balloon decorated in honour of The Prince Regent on his birthday.

17. 1787 – Plants from ‘Loddige’s Gardens’, originally owned by John Busch, gardener to Catherine the Great, are transferred to Crystal Palace.
18. 1805 – A stagecoach is broken to pieces and two ladies suffer severely when the vehicle overturns on the edge of a precipice at Hackney Wick.
19. 1816 – Brooke House, former home of Lady Brookes and Balmes House at Hoxton are opened as private lunatic asylums.
20. 1821 – Repairs are made at Hackney’s oldest brewery, Mrs Addison’s Woolpack Brewery on the Hackney Brook.
21. 1848 – Prince Albert opens The Hospital for Diseases of the Chest and in 1867 Princess Louise opens the North-Eastern Hospital for Sick Children in the Hackney Rd
22. 1850 – The construction of Victoria Park sweeps way hovels, formerly known as‘Botany Bay,’ and the inhabitants who are sent to another place bearing the same name.
23. 1866 – At the Parkesine Works in Wallis Rd and Berkshire Rd, Alexander Parkes manufactures the world’s first plastic.
24. 1880. – Hackney Wick firm Carless Capel & Leonard claim to have invented the term ‘petrol’ (St Peter’s Oil).

25. 1902 – Smallpox re-surfaces in Hackney with contagion found in a family of costermongers living in filthy conditions in Sanford Lane.
26. 1959 – Richard Burton films a scene for John Osborne’s ‘Look Back in Anger’ at Dalston Junction Railway Station.
27. 1952 – The great fog causes death and chaos in Hackney when a motor-cyclist collides with a bus, a man dies on a railway line and crime has a little hey-day.
28. 1964 – Teenagers at The Dalston Dance Hall adopt the ‘purple heart’ pill popping craze.
29. 1970 – M.O.D investigates the sighting of a U.F.O over Hackney by Mr Douglas Lockhart, gliding across a clear sky at 11.35pm on a Saturday night.
30. 2007 – Terry Castle and volunteers at Bethune Rd unearth a hoard of Nazi twenty dollar gold coins whilst digging a frog pond.
31. 2011 –  Grandmother Pauline Pearce ‘Hero of Hackney’ bravely stands up to a gang of looting rioters at the Pembury Estate.
32. Thousands of ‘booze fuelled revellers’ leave a trail of destruction along the Regents Canal ‘Canalival’ floating party.

The map of Hackney Old & New was commissioned from Adam Dant by James Goff who has been a patron of artists in Hackney since the eighties and you may see the original displayed in the Hackney office of Stirling Ackroyd in  Mare St.

You may also like to take a look at

Adam Dant’s Stories of Shoreditch Old & New

Adam Dant’s Stories of Clerkenwell Old & New

Click here to buy a copy of The Map of Spitalfields Life for £4, drawn by Adam Dant with stories by The Gentle Author

5 Responses leave one →
  1. March 5, 2015

    Really love these maps, so gorgeous. Hope you do some of Notting Hill one day …

  2. March 5, 2015

    I love all the detailed facts, but am confused by no. 17: the Crystal Palace wasn’t built until 1851. ( Perhaps to Hyde Park, where the Palace was originally sited?

  3. March 5, 2015

    Very interesting to see all the old places om the map. Valerie

  4. Ros permalink
    March 5, 2015

    What a great post. The maps are marvellous, the news items well selected, and the comparison of shop premises a hundred years on tells us so much. Well done Adam Dant!

  5. Greg Tingey permalink
    March 6, 2015

    Err… the A Dant map of Tudor Hackney shows a pub … the Cock.
    There is still a “Cock” on the site, a superb 1930’s Trumans rebuild, now an independent brewpub ..
    But it does not appear on the 1915/2015 sketch-map.
    Why not?

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS