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Uncovering secret “Stokey”.

by Andrea on April 14, 2010

Stoke Newington has a colourful history, two churches, a park and bags of character (image credit below)

Stoke Newington is one of London’s many “villages”: a community with its own character, swallowed up in a sea of Victorian terraces.  Let London Hotels Insight guide you on a tour of this fascinating, underrated area.

“Stokey” has two axes, each with its own distinctive buzz; Church Street, with its yummy-mummy cafes and boutiques, and the High Street with its Turkish supermarkets, woodwork, carpet stores and kebab shops.

Stoke Newington is fascinating because it’s got so many layers of history.

For instance, there is a massive neo-gothic Victorian church at the west end of Church Street; but the much smaller Tudor church was kept, too – the two spires certainly form an interesting vista.

There’s an art deco town hall, recently restored – but in the foyer, you can see the brick arches of the Tudor mansion that originally stood here.

Clissold Park contains the delightful Clissold Mansion of 1790, a classical house built for local Quaker Jonathan Hoare – Stokey has always been a radical headquarters, and dissenters such as Daniel Defoe lived here too.

Clissold Mansion is an attractive Grade II listed building (image credit below)

Further north are the reservoirs that originally supplied the area with water – and the weird water board pumping station, like a dysfunctional Gothic castle (it’s now a climbing centre).

At the other end of Church Street is Abney Park Cemetery.  Highgate Cemetery gets the tourists – Abney Park gets the connoisseurs!

In line with the parish’s radical population, it was set up as the first non-denominational burial ground in London – the founders of the Salvation Army are buried here, for instance.

Marvellous Egyptian-style gates open into the cemetery from the High Street, while the ruined Gothic chapel looks like something out of a dystopian fantasy: it’s highly spooky, especially at night!

There was recently a Banksy mural at 129 Stoke Newington Church Street. However, the council painted over it last year, an astonishing act of cultural vandalism!  It now seems to be rather embarrassed, as it’s offered to restore the art; but all you’ll see now is a plain wall.

Stoke Newington isn’t the kind of place tourists go to see.  It is however the kind of place you get to know over time and which grows on you.

So if you fancy a bit of urban exploration, it’s got so much history and such a vibrant spirit, you won’t regret a trip on the 149 or 73 bus.  Don’t forget to stop at Best Turkish Kebab (next to the police station on the High Street), for one of London’s best kebabs (veggies catered for too)!

In terms of top-rated hotels, Stoke Newington is a bit of a desert, however you need not venture far to find the well-regarded Hilton Islington in nearby Islington or the trendy Hoxton Hotel near Clerkenwell.

Check the best rate for Hilton Islington from 30+ hotel booking sites

The Hilton Islington is not too far from Stoke Newington and offers comfortable accommodation off vibrant Upper Street

But if you’re determined to stay in Stoke Newington itself, there is a good guest house in the vicinity – the Rose and Crown.  This is a popular pub with nice bedrooms and reasonable prices currently ranking number 17 out of over 300 London guesthouses on TripAdvisor.

As an added bonus, recent guests at the Rose and Crown have commented that the food and drink in the pub is well-priced and of decent quality.

Finally, if you enjoy staying in B&Bs, don’t forget to check out our in-depth feature on London’s best B&B.

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Photo credits: Hilton Islington, Kevglobal’s photostream and Brapps’ photostream.

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