Inventory Site Record

Well Street Common (Hackney)

Brief Description

Well Street gets its name from a spring that was once here. Well Street Common was previously part of South Hackney Common, which was owned by the Lord of the Manor of Hackney and used for agriculture. As the area was becoming built over, 180 acres of Hackney's common land was saved from development following a local petition and campaign in the 1860s, which led to its preservation for public use. All these lands were transferred to the MBW although it wasn't until the 1880s that the rights were purchased from the Lord of the Manor. Common rights were extinguished by an Act of Parliament 1884. Well Street Common was laid out with paths, seating and some planting and has mature horse chestnut and plane trees.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
South Hackney Common
Site location:
Victoria Park Road/Gascoyne Road/Meynell Crescent Road/Lammas Road
E9 7AS
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Park
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Play area, Keep fit equipment
Annual May Festival
Public transport:
Rail: London Fields. London Overground: Homerton. Bus: 26, 30, 277.
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.hackney.gov.uk/well-street-common.htm; www.wellstreetcommon.co.uk

Full Site Description

In the Middle Ages a Pilgrim's Way reputedly ran through this area of south Hackney, and a curative spring here was the origin of the name Well Street that is recorded as early as 1484. The well may have had connections with the Palace of the Priors of St John of Jerusalem, which was situated where the Frampton Park Estate is now. Well Street Common was previously known as South Hackney Common and is former Lammas land (again recalled in the local street name). It was part of land owned by the Manor of Hackney and was used for agricultural purposes. The Common was preserved as public open space as a result of a petition raised by local people in the 1860s following the Metropolitan Commons Act of 1866, who fought to enclose and conserve in all 180 acres of land in the borough for public use. The land was acquired under the Metropolitan Commons Supplemental Act 1872. Collectively described as Hackney Commons, these included Millfields Park (q.v.), Hackney Downs (q.v.), London Fields (q.v.), Clapton Common (q.v.), and Stoke Newington 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 the 1880s that the MBW finally purchased the rights from the Lord of the Manor, under an Act of 1881. Common rights were extinguished by an Act of Parliament 1884.

In the late C19th Well Street Common was laid out with rectilinear paths, seating and some planting. Previously the gardens of Hackney Terrace, which fronts onto Cassland Crescent (q.v.), met the northern boundary of the common, but new housing has since been built over the gardens. At its southern end the common is overlooked by the former French Protestant Hospital designed by Robert Lewis Roumieu, himself of Huguenot descent, which opened in 1866 to house 40 men and 20 women over 60, Hackney's largest almshouses. Its grounds were described as 'very picturesque' in 1892 (Clarke); the hospital closed in 1949, becoming a convent and it is now part of Cardinal Pole School.

The Well Street Common User Group was formed in 2001 and has campaigned for and successfully funded a number of improvement projects on the common such as fitness and play equipment provision, planting projects and also runs events such as the May Festival. A hawthorn hedge has been planted in 2011 along the Meynell Road boundary. The installation of a new drinking fountain on the common is currently in progress.

Sources consulted:

Arthur Mee 'The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster' (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 1972); Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); Benjamin Clarke, 'Glimpses of Ancient Hackney and Stoke Newington' (first published 1892/93; new edition published by LB Hackney/Hackney Society, 1986); David Mander 'Strength in the Tower, an illustrated history of Hackney' (Sutton, 1998)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ359844 (535890,184290)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Hackney
Site management:
Hackney Parks Service; Well Street Common User Group
late C19th
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Yes: Common (CL33)
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:
Victoria Park
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Green Link, Open Space

Well Street Common

Well Street Common - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 21/08/06 14:28

Click a photo to enlarge.

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.