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Manorial courts from c.1800 distinguished the parts north and south of Lea Bridge Road as Upper and Lower Clapton, and those names soon passed into general use.[1]

Jolly Angler (formerly Anglers Tavern) constructed or reconstructed at Middlesex Wharf.


A description of the route from London to Hainault Forest and Fairlop Oak. ‘The pleasantest route it is by the Lea Bridge road: those leaving town by the city will do well to take the Shoreditch road, by Hackney and Clapton; …… At the bridge, over the river, the country opens to the left in a vast amphitheatrical space, through which the Lea is seen meandering for a considerable distance; until woods and hills, intersecting its course, close up the view; alternately presenting the boundaries of both the counties of Middlesex and Essex. From thence the road continues with a gentle ascent to Laytonstone, five miles from London. A profusion of seats and villas line the road on either side….’[2]


Unsourced reference to ‘Paradise Cottage’.


Arthur Ashpitel, W.H. Ashpitel’s son, was born in Hackney. In boyhood, he has an accident which left him physically disabled for life. He was trained by his father to the architects’ profession, and in 1842, he began work on his own account. Architect of St Barnabas Church, Homerton.[3]


From 1808, W.H. Ashpitel held land between Wick Lane and Hackney brook and, by 1813, had leased three small sites for building c.25 more cottages, presumably put up by Ashpitel, passed to his sons in 1852.[4]


In 1809, a committee was specially appointed by the inhabitants of Hackney to report upon the lammas lands. They came to the conclusion that there had been many unlawful enclosures and other violations of the lammas lands.  Their meetings were held at the once famous Mermaid Tavern, and their report published in 1810 gives some very interesting details of the lammas lands at that time. It appears from this that the rights of turning cattle on to lammas lands are manorial privileges, and that they existed six or seven hundred years before the grant of the Manor of Hackney to a lay subject.

River god sculpture (Public Monument and Sculpture Association (http://pmsa.cch.kcl.ac.uk Click to enlarge (opens in a new window)


River God Sculpture by Joseph Theakston of York (1772-1842) was commissioned by East London Waterworks Company and installed and unveiled at Old Ford in 1811. When the Old Ford works closed, the sculpture was moved to the Old Water Wheel House at Lea Bridge Works. When the Lea Bridge site closed in 1971, the statue was reinstalled in a sunken courtyard at Coppermill Lane Waterworks.[5]

LB1 2

Hackney Archives  Click to enlarge (opens in a new window)


Hackney Phalanx, a loosely defined group of Anglican High Churchmen in the early 19th Century, associated with J. J. Watson, Rector of Hackney, and H. H. Norris, Rector of South Hackney. They are sometimes known as the ‘Clapton Sect’ (from the home of one of them). Prominent members of the National Society founded in 1811 and in its offshoot, the commission formed under the Church Building Act, 1818. J. J. Watson, although hampered by ill health, encouraged both church and school building, providing his own parish as a field where the group's ideals could be put into practice.


In 1815, Thomas Saunders, coal merchant renewed a lease at Middlesex Wharf in 1815.[6


Development of the Tyssens' lands north of Hackney village led in 1816 to the laying out of Clapton Square. In 1817, residents on its west-side included the manorial steward Thomas Tebbutt,[7]. In 1821, when building was still in progress, 15 householders included the surveyor W.Hurst Ashpitel (d. 1852) in a detached villa at the north-east corner near Clapton Passage.


Head lease from William George Daniel Tyssen, lord of the manor of Hackney, to W.H. Ashpitel, local surveyor responsible for building of Clapton Square. Ashpitel sublets portions of the land to various builders for the erection of houses in King’s Head Yard, including Fulham Place and Waterloo Place. Final document is a grant of right of way, including demolition of certain properties for the extension of the road as Prout Road.[8]


The wooden bridge, which had stood for 62 years, appeared in danger of collapse.


A temporary bridge was erected prior to the construction of a new bridge which was commenced on 5th June 1820. A new lease for the Water Mill at Lea Bridge was granted in 1820 to a Mr. Killick.[9]


Second Lea Bridge of iron replaces the timber bridge. The new iron bridge of 1820 being 140 feet long.[10] It was designed by James Walker FRS FRSE (1781-1862). James became a pupil of his civil engineer uncle, Ralph Walker, in 1800. In 1807, Ralph became Engineer to the newly established East London Water Works Company. In 1810, James was appointed Engineer to the Commercial Dock Company. Vauxhall Bridge was Walker’s first major bridge design and was also the first iron bridge over the Thames and it opened in 1816. In April 1811 James took as a pupil of Alfred Burges (1797-1886) who became a partner in 1829 when the firm became known as ‘Walker & Burges’. In the 1830s the firm was described as ‘the great nursery of civil engineers in England’.[11]


The Trust was renewed and tolls adjusted by subsequent acts, including that of 1820 confirming that Samuel Tyssen of Narborough hall, Norfolk, was to continue to receive his £150 annuity on the rights of Jeremy's Ferry, and no bridges were to be built or ferries operated within half a mile of Lea Bridge. (Tonkin).


On 25th March 1821, the new Lea Bridge opened.

New tollgates were installed on the rebuilding of the bridge.

Riverside settlement grew up at Lea Bridge.[12] Lea Bridge had 21 householders in 1821 and Lea Road, presumably Lea Bridge Road, had 22, all tradesmen or labourers.[13] The Jolly Anglers at Middlesex Wharf, on the site of Smith's Ferry, and a dock to the north may have been included in those numbers. Riverside settlement at Lea Bridge and Lea dock had been restricted by the Mill fields.


William Rhodes (after many years of petitioning) received a 99-year building lease from Peter Beauvoir (the ancient and last surviving member of the family) at an undervalued price of just £1300 per annum, despite Beauvoir being advised four years previously by his surveyor W.H. Ashpitel that the property was worth over £4000 per annum if it was to be let on a building lease.[14]

The gardens of riverside inns, including the Horse and Groom at Lea Bridge in 1821 and the Mount Pleasant at High Hill ferry in 1838, remained an attraction, along with fishing and boating.[15]


The Wragg horse drawn coach service operated nine return journeys per day to the City via Lea Bridge.


On 31st December 1826, the half-penny toll on Sundays on foot passengers over Lea Bridge was abolished by Daniel Midldred on behalf of the Trustees.


The Metropolitan Turnpike Trust (officially the Commissioners of the Turnpike Roads in the Neighbourhood of the Metropolis North of the River Thames) was the body responsible for maintaining the main roads in the north of the conurbation of London from 1827 to 1872.  The Metropolitan Trust was created following pressure from business interests in north London, who found that the numerous toll gates  throughout the area were interfering with the passage of goods and conduct of trade.[16]


A character of Charles Dickens was said to be based on a local resident, Porter Leigh (Mrs John). Said to have been the original Mrs Joseph Porter in the sketch of that title Sketches by Boz. She was the wife of a corn dealer living at Lea Bridge Road, Lower Clapton from 1828-1833. Ref. The Beadnell Letters.[17]


[1] A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney: Clapton, pp. 44-51. T.F.T. Baker (Editor), 1995

[2] Picturesque rides and walks with excursions by water, thirty miles round the British Metropolise, Volume 1. John Hassell, 1817

[3] Dictionary of National Biography volume 02. djvu/186

[4] A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney: Homerton and Hackney Wick, pp. 51-59, Fn 14. T.F.T. Baker (Editor). 1995

[5] Public Monument and Sculpture Association National Recording Project

[6] A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney: Economic History, pp. 92-101. 1995

[7] A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney: Clapton, pp. 44-51, Fn 23. T.F.T. Baker (Editor). 1995

[8] Title Deeds relating to Kings Head Yard, Upper Clapton. 1 bundle; 1979/38 BRA. 1961. Reference  M4079. Hackney Archives

[9] A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney: Public services, pp. 108-115. T.F.T. Baker (Editor). 1995

[10] The Municipal Parks, Gardens, And Open Spaces Of London. Lieut.-Col. J. J. Sexby, V. Delliot Stock. 1905

[11] A biographical dictionary of civil engineers, Volume 1 1500-1830. A. W. Skempton. 2002

[12] A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney: Clapton, pp. 44-51, Fn 48. T.F.T. Baker (Editor). 1995

[13] A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney: Clapton, pp. 44-51, Fn 49. T.F.T. Baker (Editor). 1995

[14] De Beauvoir CAA May 2008

[15] A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney: Social and Cultural Activities, pp. 65-73. 1995

[16] Metropolitan Turnpike Trust (Wikipedia)

[17] A Dickens Dictionary.  Alexander John Philip, W. L. Gadd. First published 1928 

Recollections, comments, contributions and corrections

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