Grazebrook School Walk 1

(Version 2)

The Actual Walk

The Route of the Walk laid out on the 1914 Ordnance Survey map. This will allow you to compare what was there in 1914 and what has been changed, or rebuilt at different times since then.

The Route of the Walk laid out on the 1814 Ordnance Survey map.

From the School gates we can see a variety of houses, some old some new. We are going to look at them quite closely. The Bombing map will tell you what happened to the different houses and will help you to notice what has changed since then.

A pair of early Manor Road houses similar to Willow Lodge (shown above).

These are large, generous houses on wide street frontages. One could fit two smaller houses into the same road length. Some houses like these have side entrances but here they have been built over to give another complete stack of rooms. The houses have semi-basements and a flight of steps leading to the ground floor rooms.

Each house has a porch with round pillars and Corinthian Capitals. These are the most elaborate of the Greek capitals. In stone, they cost an enormous amount to carve. These ones are in stucco, a mixture of sand, cement and other materials, poured into elaborate moulds. The moulds were themselves expensive to carve, but of course a great number of capitals could be cast from one mould. They were still expensive because the risk of damage was high. Compare these Corinthian capitals with the simple ones to be found elsewhere in the neighbourhood. Cubitt’s ones in Albion Road are particularly plain and economical.

The top of the porch has a projecting canopy supported by rows of brackets and dentil work (like rows of teeth).

Porch detail showing stucco Corinthian capitals on round pillars.

Until about 1850 whole area around the present Grazebrook School site was still fields, as it had been for centuries, but then large houses began to appear. The old curved border of the Crooked Field, which is shown on the Lady Abney map id 1734, was still a field boundary, but Lordship Road and Manor Road had opened the Abney Estate for building. Large houses with long gardens were appearing. There was a house at the corner where the United Reform Church and its Playgroup now stand. Willow Lodge, shown below, was one of these houses. The houses opposite the School are now divided into flats, but once they were single houses with very large gardens behind, tennis courts, conservatories and small orchards.

The plan of a Willow Lodge, Lordship Road, which was typical of the area


The Garden


A stately tennis match. There was room for the garden
and for a tennis court in the grounds of The Willows.

Restored houses, now blocks of flats, in Lorship Road

Look at the tops of the windows. Some are flat and some are curved. These window heads, which are designed to stop the bricks above from falling down, are called lintels


The purpose of lintels is to support the weight of the brickwork over a window or door opening and carry the weight sideways to the brick columns on either side. One can look on a house as a series of brick pillars with windows and doors between. Imagine arranging windows at random over the front of the house. It would look wrong and be most upsetting. We would expect it all to fall down and it would soon oblige.

The architect of this pair of houses used two different sorts of lintel.

A curved brick lintel with stone or stuccoed abutments on each side and a central keystone. An abutment is something that a lintel, or a bridge, can push against.

A top floor lintel.

This straight lintel is made of wedge-shaped London Stock bricks, elegantly moulded and laid. Together the bricks form a wedge which pushes against the bricks in the house. On either side is a pair if brackets supporting the eaves of the house and the pantile roof above. The original roof would have been in slate. Pantiles were quite rare in England in the Victorian period.

The window bars are extremely fine and the window frames have been set behind a layer of brickwork for safety against fire. This means that very little of the wooden window frame shows from the outside and the windows appear very delicate.

This post- war extension to the house is built completely differently from the original pair of houses.

Lintels in the new extension

The lintels here are linked into a curious band of brickwork four courses deep. The bricks are ordinary ones pretending to be wedge shaped, so the effect is far less elegant than the older shaped ones. The windows are shorter and the frames are not covered by a layer of brickwork, so that they look more chunky then the originals.


Chimney pots in Lordship Road houses show how
many fireplaces there are in houses this size.

There are twelve chimney pots for each house. Imagine these houses a hundred years ago, with an army of servants to clean out, relight and carry coals for all these fireplaces every day. In Kitchen Fugue, Sheila Kaye Smith described her late Victorian childhood in a similar house in Sutherland Avenue, W2 in 1885.


Sutherland Avenue , Paddington

In 'Kitchen Fugue', Sheila Kaye Smith wrote about her Late Victorian childhood in another, but similar road, which had been built in 1885.

'Besides the nursery staff we had a cook, a house-parlourmaid and a housemaid. I do not suppose that anyone today in my father's position would keep more than two maids, or indeed more than one. But in keeping three he was doing no more than most. In Arabella's house there also were three maids, and in every other house from number one upwards to the top of the hill. Forty-six houses - one hundred and thirty-eight maids in white caps and white aprons, print dresses in the morning and black dresses in the afternoon - one hundred and thirty-eight maids, sleeping in basement bed-rooms, eating in basement kitchens, carrying meals up basement stairs - up other stairs as well, for we had all our meals carried up to the nursery - carrying hot water to each bedroom four times a day, carrying coals for half a dozen scuttles, lighting and making up half a dozen fires, cleaning and blackleading half a dozen grates, sweeping carpets on their knees with dustpans and brushes, scrubbing floors, polishing furniture and "brasses" with polish they had to make themselves, and, lighting the gas in every room and pasage when darkness fell, besides all besides the business of cooking and waiting at meals and washing up afterwards - No, I do not think we were over staffed.

The house had been built in 1885, and when my parents took possession of it as its first tenants it was regarded as the very latest expression of modernity and domestic enlightenment. It had, for one thing, a "housemaids cupboard" half way up the second flight of stairs, a sensational improvement on those houses where no water at all was laid on above the basement. We had a bathroom, too, and there was a cloakroom with hot and cold water taps on the ground floor. Nothing could be more up to date.

'Kitchen Fugue', published in 1945
but written about a period sixty years earlier.


Post-war houses in Lordship Road

Post-war houses in Lordship Road

These new houses are very simple three-storey cottages with sloping roofs and in a brick which was unusual for London. These liver-coloured bricks are typical of the nineteen sixties and seventies. At that time there was a frenzy of building to house the thousands who had been bombed out, or who wanted to get married and have families. Local Authorities in London, like Hackney or Harringey, each built more houses and flats each month than Local Authorities built in the whole of the country in 2005.

As a result of this flurry of building, there was a national shortage of bricks and types which had never been seen in London before suddenly appeared. All sorts of colours and types were pressed into service. Harlow even had black bricks made partly from coal dust – a most depressing type – but fortunately London was spared these.

Now turn into Lordship Grove and go to the terrace of old houses on the right.

A terrace of Lordship Grove houses in mature London Stock brickwork.
Houses in the New Estate can be seen at the end.

These houses are shown on the 1868 Ordnance Survey map and must be some of the first in the area with Back Additions.

1868 Back Addition Houses in Lordship Grove

These particular Back Additions cannot be seen from the road but are shown on the map and can be seen from inside Churchill Court. You will have seen plenty of them elsewhere.

Back Additions

The Plan of a typical Bye Law House

By the 1860s terraced cottages were being built everywhere, narrow and extremely small. This need for narrow frontages, to keep down the road building costs, conflicted with new health regulations, Landlords wanted short road frontages (which were cheaper) and to build behind, so that the ground that had once been gardens became covered with warrens of interlining tenements.

Local authorities had other ideas. They were faced with the problem of bad health. They demanded healthy buildings with through draughts, to blow away some of the germs. At this time they did not know what germs were but they knew that fresh air saved a lot of lives.

Up to this time it had been possible for landlords to open rooms out of other rooms, so that inner ones might have had no windows opening to sunlight, or fresh air, Tuberculosis was rife. Streptomycin, our modern cure for Tuberculosis, was not invented until the1950s. When these houses were built people thousands were dying of tubeculosis each year. People needed fresh air and landlords were building unhealthy, airless dens.

New bye-laws made by the local authorities, not central government, insisted that every habitable room had to have windows which could be opened to the air and these had to be of a size related to the floor area of the room, This would reduce fevers and contagious disease by allowing the free passage of air into every, room, These regulations led to the Bye-Law House, with its back addition and typical L shaped plan. It gave three thicknesses of rooms with windows to fresh air, instead of the normal two, The design swept the country.

Queen's Park Houses

Back Addition Houses
(back view)

Party Walls and the
Fire of London Building Regulations.

A pair of houses which have survived in perfect condition

London Stock bricks, containing about 15% of Chalk were made in the Thames Estuary, where Chalk and London Clay are found conveniently close together. The mild colour became very fashionable in the late 17th Century, about the time of Swift and Defoe, and London Stocks have been popular ever since. They suit stucco and white paint particularly well. These bricks are almost certainly not real London Stocks but were made from local London Clay in the brickfields on this side of the High Street.


Mylne’s Map of the Geology and Contours of
London and its Environs

This map shows the Stoke Newington area in Mylne’s Map.

Reprinted with an Introduction by Eric Robinson
and Topographical Notes by Simon Morris,
London Topographical Society. 1993.

The Mylne Geological Map.

The Key to Mylne’s Geological map.

This map shoes that the Gravels have been swept away by the water melting at the end of the Ice age and exposing the London Clay (coloured grey) which Mylne calls ‘Strong Clays’. Stoke Newington Church Street runs along the northern edge of the gravel.

To return to the houses

The front doors, with square transom windows above to let light into the hallways, and the door surrounds in stucco, are all simple and quiet. The windows have most of their frames hidden by a layer of bricks as a precaution against fire, so little is showing. The sash windows have large panes and thin glazing bars, giving the whole a delicate appearance. These sash windows can be opened to any position and they will stay there. They do not fall down by gravity, because each sash has a balancing weight on either side to hold it still.

There are two different kinds of lintels. The top ones are curved and use ordinary bricks. The lower ones are straight and use special wedge-shaped bricks. The slate roof has a low slope, which gives a good run off but keeps the timber lengths and the number of slates quite small. This slope was found to be an efficient use of materials and can be found all over Victorian London. Later on, in the 1860s, the fashion for Victorian Gothic houses came in, with steep slopes to the roofs. Grazebrook Road has rows of them.

Grazebrook Primary School

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Grazebrook School Walk 1part 2A.doc
last revised: January 10, 2013 9:08 AM