Inventory Site Record

Stoke Newington Common (Hackney)

Brief Description

Stoke Newington Common, once known as Cockhanger Green, was the village green and used for grazing until the C19th. The common extended to Stoke Newington High Road but was gradually eroded from the early C18th, particularly to the west. Part was taken for the railway in the 1860s although land was provided in compensation; since then the Common has been divided in two by the railway cutting. In 1872 the Common, now c. 5.5 acres, was protected as open space following the Metropolitan Commons Act 1866, when local people successfully petitioned to save 180 acres of common land in the borough for public use. It now comprises a number of green spaces of differing characters. The largest, eastern triangular area has mature London plane and lime trees.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Newington Common, Cockhanger Green,Shackleton Common
Site location:
Stoke Newington Common/Northwold Road
N16 7DH
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Play area; tree trail
Events and activities organised by Stoke Newington Common User Group, including annual picnic and funday,
Public transport:
Rail: Rectory Road. Bus: 106, 73, 67, 76, 149, 243, 243A.
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.hackney.gov.uk/stoke-newington-common.htm; www.stokenewingtoncommon.co.uk

Full Site Description

Stoke Newington was an old parish, recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Newtone, with the name Stoke Neweton first appearing in records of 1391. Stoke Newington Common was originally the village green, once known as Cockhanger Green (Clarke, Glimpses of Ancient Hackney) and was owned by the Lord of the Manor although its use for pasturage was allowed throughout the year and it was grazed until the C19th. The common once extended to Stoke Newington High Road but was gradually eroded from the early C18th onwards, particularly on its western edge; the Hackney Brook was at the northern edge. Stoke Newington remained a village until the C17th when the area began to develop and grand houses built. A number of them, such as Abney House and Fleetwood House, were built for the many Non-conformists forbidden to live in the City of London who moved to the area. Stoke Newington Common at that time was 'a free and open space, with a few good houses around it, especially on the south side, and standing in their own grounds' (Clarke). It was used as the site for preaching on at least one occasion in 1739 by the prominent non-conformist preacher George Whitfield. Further development of the area took place in the C19th particularly in the 1830s by developers such as Thomas Cubit, and between 1860-90 by the Tyssen family who had purchased the manorial land from the Powell family in the 1830s.

In the 1860s the Common had been cut in two when the Great Eastern Railway Company built its Enfield branch line, which opened in 1872. A plot of land equal to that taken for the railway was given in compensation in the south-west corner, and another compensatory parcel was added in the south by the end of the C19th. In 1872 the Common, by this time no more than 5.5 acres, was protected as open space as a result of a petition raised by local people in the 1860s following the Metropolitan Commons Act of 1866. They successfully fought to enclose and conserve in all 180 acres of land in the borough for public use, the land acquired under the Metropolitan Commons Supplemental Act 1872. Collectively described as Hackney Commons this included Millfields Park (q.v.), Hackney Downs (q.v.), London Fields (q.v.), Clapton Common (q.v.), and Well Street Common (q.v.) as well as various strips of land such as in Dalston Lane and Grove Street (later Lauriston Road). All these lands were transferred to the Metropolitan Board of Works, although it wasn't until 1881 that the MBW finally purchased the rights from the Lord of the Manor, under an Act of 1881. Common rights were extinguished by Special Act of Parliament 1884.

From 1898 maintenance of Stoke Newington Common was the responsibility of the LCC who over the years provided paths, seating, planting, fencing and a play area; the site boundaries have altered somewhat as a result of new public roads. By the late 1950s a memorial drinking fountain to Mrs Du Vergier had been installed in the section north of the railway cutting; in the section south of the railway a number of trees were planted in the 1990s and a plaque installed by members of the Kurdish and Turkish communities to commemorate 37 martyrs burned alive in Sivas on 2 July 1993.

The Common remains a flat grassy area divided by the railway cutting that runs north-west to south-east, and is surrounded by large plane trees and overlooked by ranges of C18th and C19th small terraced houses, including Sanford Terrace (q.v.). It now comprises a number of green spaces of differing characters. The largest, eastern triangular area has mature London plane and some lime trees. Stoke Newington Common Users Group was formed in 2000 under the auspices of Kyverdale Area Action Group with the aim of looking after the park, including erecting new signage, restoring the drinking fountain, establishing play facilities and seating areas, planting, and also plans to cover the railway cutting to form a 'green bridge' to connect the two main sides of the common. Since 1998-9 the Hackney-wide Tree Musketeers Group has planted and maintains over 60 trees of a variety of species here, providing information boards about the trees. A loggery has been created with the help of boys from the Sonshine Club, a Charedi Jewish organisation that provides healthy after-school activities for young people. As part of the Council's 'Mad about Meadows' project, a meadow has been planted on the common with involvement of local primary school children.

Sources consulted:

Public Open Spaces in Hackney; David Mander, 'Look Back Look Forwards! An illustrated history of Stoke Newington' (Sutton Publishing) 1997; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Benjamin Clarke, 'Glimpses of Ancient Hackney and Stoke Newington' (first published 1892/93; new edition published by LB Hackney/Hackney Society, 1986); Draft Northwold and Cazenove Conservation Area Appraisal, 2008; The Parks Agency 'Commons, Heaths and Greens in Greater London. A short report for English Heritage', 2005

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ338866 (533924,186584)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Hackney
Site management:
Hackney Parks Service; Stoke Newington Common Users Group
ancient; 1860s
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Yes: Common (CL27)
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Conservation Area name:
Northwold and Cazenove
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Area of Archaeological Priority
Other LA designation:
Open Space

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