There used to be a huge medieval house on the edge of Church Path that led between the small villages of Hackney and Homerton. Called Tan House, it was owned by one Thomas Sutton who had prospered during the reign of Elizabeth I in a portfolio career that included becoming England’s premier money lender, a little high end property speculation and, of course, marrying well. He died still obscenely rich after having established numerous almshouses and Charterhouse School and, as such, can be lauded for his part in the creation of the rock group Genesis, who would later meet whilst at said school.
The house was torn down to allow a little more property speculation, such is always the way with London. On the south-side of the plot a beautiful Georgian terrace was erected between 1790 and 1806. It was named Sutton Place in honour of old Tom and it is still in place and in it’s pomp. It’s a superb example of a Georgian terrace and has been beautifully maintained. I could look at these ordered doorways for hours. I particularly like the self-consciously grand doorway out of the end of the terrace into Homerton High Street.
Next door on the High Street itself is Sutton House which is the oldest residential building in Hackney dating back to 1535 – just shy of 500 years old. I hate to “call out” such an esteemed and aged part of the neighbourhood but feel I must. It should never have been called Sutton House because Thomas Sutton never lived here! The house was originally known as Bryck Place and its name was changed in the nineteenth century in honour of Sutton, no doubt in an attempt to increase its value; the story of property and property prices is in many ways the story of the city. It has had a chequered past having been a home to schools, a trade union and a hippie squatting group.
Back in Sutton Place on the other side of the street, there are a couple of gorgeous Georgian houses that add further to the splendour of the area.