It was inevitable that thoroughfares built adjacent to, or on property belonging to, the Earls and Dukes of Suffolk would be given their name. However, there are four such areas in London, all within walking distance of each other, that are particularly rich in their historic associations, each having had in turn a Suffolk House. These are detailed in the first four sections below.
In addition there are also a number of other streets and places in London associated with Suffolk through the family connections with our county. In the entries following we provide details of the more interesting ones, and give a summary of these families and a list of the many thoroughfares of London that have borne the name “Suffolk”.
Finally we have Suffolk Wharf in Camden Town, which has only recently acquired the Suffolk name, but nevertheless has a rich & interesting history.
Order of contents on this page: (Click on the links below)
See also London Suffolks album in the Photo Gallery
Running between Cannon Street and Thames Street, Suffolk Lane is on the alignment of an original Roman road, and excavations in 1994 indicated that there was a large Roman building complex in the vicinity that has been interpreted as the “Governor’s Palace”. By the 10th century the original north to south alignment of the Roman road had established this as the direction for the numerous lanes that linked the riverside quays to the City, the future Suffolk Lane being one of them.
Being wholly within the City, it is the oldest of the thoroughfares bearing the name Suffolk. It marks the western end of a mansion site built in the 14th century by Sir John Pulteney, a wealthy merchant and lord mayor of London, the eastern end of the site being marked by Laurence Pountney Hill which runs parallel to Suffolk Lane. The mansion came into the hands of William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, in about 1447, and came to be known as Suffolk House. The family held the mansion until 1519. Hence the name Suffolk became attached to the lane marking its western boundary. After the Suffolk family relinquished the mansion, it was held by the Duke of Buckingham and became known as “The Manor of the Rose”. It is referred to in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, Act I, Sc. I, as “the Rose”. The origin of this name is unknown.
Suffolk Lane is notable for the Grammar School that was founded there in 1561 when the western portion of the mansion site was bought by the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors. The Merchant Taylors’ School occupied this site in Suffolk Lane until 1874, its boarders living in the Manor of the Rose building, the name of which is still retained by the present school. Its most famous scholar was the Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser, author of the Faerie Queene, although many will be more familiar with another old boy, the notable actor Boris Karloff (original name William Pratt) best remembered for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in the early cinema. The original timber-framed building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, but was rebuilt as a large brick building in 1675. In 1874 the school moved to Charterhouse Square, and then in 1933 to its present site at Northwood in Middlesex. Both moves were brought about because of the cramped accommodation and lack of facilities, particularly for sports, in the crowded inner city area of London. Victorian and post-war development has meant that nothing remains of the former buildings in Suffolk Lane.
The name of Suffolk House was revived in the late 19th century when the whole area underwent development, and one of the early high rise office buildings, built by Laurence Pountney Hill, was given this name. The building was demolished in 1994-95 when the remains of the Roman complex were discovered, giving rise to the site becoming a scheduled monument. It is now protected and contained within a new 10-storey office block which has taken the name “Governor’s House”.
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The Liberty of Suffolk Place also known as The Liberty of The Mint was an area that was exempt from the normal criminal and civil jurisdiction of the land.
The Brandon family from Wangford in the county of Suffolk were staunch supporters of the Tudor dynasty. From before 1465 the family held property, known as Brandon Place, located on the west side of Borough High Street in Southwark. Sir Thomas Brandon inherited Brandon Place in 1497 and created a private park adjoining it. After his death in 1510 the property passed to his nephew Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, who married King Henry VIII’s sister in 1515. The Duke of Suffolk enlarged the estate and by 1522 had built a mansion, called Suffolk Place, in the Renaissance style. The mansion was a large, stately edifice, fronting on the High Street. It was ornamented with turrets and cupolas, and enriched with carved work; at the back, the outbuildings formed an enclosed court. Since the mansion was rather palatial, in 1536 King Henry VIII “persuaded” the Duke of Suffolk to surrender the property in exchange for the house of the Bishop of Norwich in The Strand. Henry VIII granted it to his new Queen, Jane Seymour, in 1537, but when she died later that year it reverted back to the King with the status of a royal palace. In 1545 the house was converted into a Royal Mint and it produced silver and gold coinage until 1551. In 1556 Queen Mary granted it to the Archbishop of York. However, the archbishop soon acquired Norwich Place to use instead, and sold the lease on Suffolk Place in 1557.
The house was demolished and smaller tenements were built on the site which came to comprise of several narrow streets with 400 houses on 17 acres. It became a “rookery”. This was the colloquial English name given to a city slum occupied by poor people and frequented by criminals and prostitutes. Such areas were overcrowded, with low quality housing and little or no sanitation; densely-populated areas of gloomy narrow streets and alleyways. The district became known as “The Mint” after the recent activities on the site. However, as the site of a royal palace it was deemed immune from normal legal processes. This was emphasised in a charter of 1550 that created the Liberty of Suffolk Place, removing the area from the jurisdiction of the City of London that owned Southwark at the time. The Mint, therefore, became a haunt of criminals and fugitives. In the Liberty of Suffolk Place persons were immune from liability of arrest, and the area was known for offering protection against prosecution for debtors. Those who were in danger of being thrown into debtor’s prison could run to The Mint to hide. Once in The Mint, such debtors risked immediate arrest if they were found outside of it. Within The Mint, life was hard. Since persons there could not leave (except on Sunday, when no debts could be collected), they could not get jobs to raise enough money to pay off their debts. Those who went to The Mint would frequently die of malnutrition or murder. In 1723 The Mint lost its protected status as a result of The Mint in Southwark Act 1722, although it remained a slum into the 19th century. The 1722 Act states “the place, commonly called Suffolk-place or the Mint” in its abolition of the Liberty. Charles Dickens lodged in a street in The Mint as a boy, and in The Pickwick Papers he depicts Bob Sawyer in lodgings there and remarks on the melancholy engendered by the area.
The name Suffolk is retained in Great Suffolk Street which is a thoroughfare that runs along the southern boundary of the former district. Until the late 18th century, it was known as Dirty Lane because it was still a dirt track. It was felt that a more suitable name should be given to a major thoroughfare en route to London. There was already a Suffolk Street that ran from Dirty Lane to Lombard Street that had long been named after Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. This was one of the narrow streets in The Mint. Around 1798 Dirty Lane was renamed Great Suffolk Street. The “Great” was added to indicate that it was a major thoroughfare, and the old Suffolk Street became Little Suffolk Street. In 1881 the latter was renamed Sudrey Street. With the building of Southwark Bridge in 1819 it was intended to build a new road to its southern approaches, but as this proved too expensive it was decided to improve the existing roads. This is when Great Suffolk Street was widened and generally gentrified. In this street lived the last barber who let blood and drew teeth in London, the last of the barber surgeons; he died there about 1821.
Norwich Place in The Strand was the town house of the Bishops of Norwich from at least 1237. In 1536 King Henry VIII, after providing the Bishop of Norwich with a house in Westminster, granted Norwich Place to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, in exchange for the Duke’s house in Southwark. Henceforth Norwich Place was known as Suffolk Place. The Duke seems to have used the Strand house only occasionally. In 1556 the Duke’s heirs surrendered it to Queen Mary, who immediately granted it to the Archbishop of York under the description of “the capital messuage commonly called Suffolke Place alias Norwiche place”. Thenceforward “Suffolk Place” became “York House”, a name it retained for the rest of its existence. Its neighbours were Suffolk House (later Northumberland House) on the west and Durham House, London residence of the Bishop of Durham, to the east. In 1622 it was given to the royal favourite George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham. In 1672 his son, also named George, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, sold it to developers. He made it a condition of the sale that his name should be commemorated, thus Villiers Street now stands where once there was the third Suffolk residence, but no reference to the Suffolk name exists today.
Suffolk Street & Suffolk Place are near to Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross, at the western end of The Strand. Suffolk Street runs north from Pall Mall East, and Suffolk Place connects Suffolk Street to Haymarket.
Until the 17th century this area was still fields adjacent to the Royal Mews that were located where today’s Trafalgar Square is situated. From 1377 the royal hawks were kept at this site. The name “Mews” is derived from the hawks being confined during moulting (“mew”) time. In 1534 the Mews were destroyed by fire and rebuilt as stables but it kept the former name. The present site of Suffolk Street & Suffolk Place is shown as a close of land on a plan of 1585 that can be traced back as a separate entity to the time of Henry VIII, where it is identified as a croft of 3 acres next to the Royal Mews. Henry VIII later purchased it and the land was leased out to various tenants by the Crown thereafter.
In the 16th century The Strand, which connects the City of London with the royal centre of Westminster, was lined with the mansions of some of England’s richest ecclesiasts and noblemen. Around 1605 Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton, cleared a site at Charing Cross and built himself a large mansion, which was at first known as Northampton House. In 1610 he obtained a long lease on the land where Suffolk Street & Suffolk Place are now located and built stables and coachhouses, being conveniently placed opposite Northampton House. In 1614 Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, obtained possession of both Northampton House and its stables, and in consequence they underwent a change of name to Suffolk House and Stables. In 1642 the Earl of Northumberland married the daughter of the 2nd Earl of Suffolk and, as part of the marriage settlement, the mansion was passed to her husband. So the fourth Suffolk House also passed into history and became better known as Northumberland House, the London residence of the Percy family, who were later the Dukes of Northumberland, and one of England’s richest and most prominent aristocratic dynasties for many centuries. The mansion overlooked Trafalgar Square which replaced the Royal Mews in 1830. It was an imposing building but took up far too much space on land that had become of prime commercial value. The family could not resist the price offered by the developers, and Northumberland House was demolished in 1874.
The Strand front of Northumberland House in 1752 by Canaletto.
Meanwhile, the Earl of Suffolk retained the lease on the plot of land where the stables had been built. To the west of the plot an unofficial hay and straw market had developed to serve the Royal Mews. By 1657 this had become a street known as Haymarket with houses along each side. The Earl of Suffolk realised the potential and in 1662 he obtained permission to erect houses on his land. The street which first appears in the rate books in 1664 was then named Suffolk Yard and the houses were known as Suffolk Yard Buildings. Another smaller street was built off the main street and first rated in 1672. Soon after 1674 these were renamed Suffolk Street and Little Suffolk Street. The latter was further north than the present Suffolk Place and extended on both sides of Suffolk Street. Houses were built for paying tenants. Most of these early residents could be classed among the lesser gentry, ambassadors, doctors and the like.
In Suffolk Street was an old tavern, the “Cock”, much praised by Samuel Pepys, “the house being famous for good meat, and particularly for pease-porridge”. The tavern was at one time the headquarters of the infamous “Calves’ Head Club”, established by the Puritans and Roundheads in derision of the memory of Charles I. These closet Republicans used to meet together for dinner on each 30 January, the anniversary of the execution of King Charles I. Their bill of fare was a large dish of calves’ heads, dressed in several ways, such that they represented the king and his friends; a large pike with a smaller one in its mouth as an emblem of tyranny; a large cod’s head, by which they represented the person of the king; a boar’s head with an apple in its mouth, to represent the king as bestial for preying on his subjects. On the table an axe held the place of honour. The club survived until 1735, when the diners were mobbed owing to the popular ill-feeling which their meetings provoked, and the riot which ensued caused much damage, requiring the Guards to be called, so this put a final end to the meetings.
In Little Suffolk Street lived the notorious Moll Davis, the illegitimate daughter of James Howard, 3rd Earl of Suffolk. Mary “Moll” Davis was a 17th century entertainer and courtesan, singer and actress who became one of the many mistresses of King Charles II, and a celebrated rival of Nell Gwynn. Moll Davis met King Charles II in a theatre or coffee-house in about 1667. She gave up the stage in 1668 and in 1669 had a daughter by Charles, Lady Mary Tudor, who became famous in her own right as a Jacobite sympathiser. Charles later dismissed Moll Davis, but she did not leave empty-handed. Charles awarded her an annual pension and Samuel Pepys noted that the King had furnished a house for Moll Davis, the actress, “in Suffolke Street most richly, which is a most infinite shame”.
By the beginning of the 19th century Suffolk Street and Little Suffolk Street (which were still Crown property) had fallen into decay and disrepute and a plan for their redevelopment was prepared by John Nash, the British architect responsible for the development of several Crown properties, including the enlargement of Buckingham Palace, and also much of the layout of Regency London. Building operations were begun in 1822. Little Suffolk Street was demolished and Suffolk Place built a little further south. By the end of 1823 most of the property was leased out. The whole street façade is carried out in stucco, and though the designs of the various buildings were the work of different architects, there is a certain amount of uniformity; the present buildings still display the Regency style, and make Suffolk Street & Suffolk Place a prestigious address today.
In the 17th century the hamlet of West Green comprised eight houses situated in a rural setting in the middle of the manor of Tottenham. It was the same in 1800, but during the early 19th century traders from the City began acquiring property. By 1840 there were about 18 houses, respectable family residences standing in their own extensive grounds, one of which was a Suffolk Lodge around half a mile south of West Green hamlet on the south side of a country track called Hanger’s Lane. To the north of Suffolk Lodge and southeast of West Green was a Suffolk Place with a couple of cottages for farm labourers. It is not recorded who named these, but it would appear that the person must have had some connection with the county of Suffolk, probably having come from there.
In 1843 a group of 13 cottages were built beside the grounds of Suffolk Lodge for the workers of Lee’s Clay & Tile Works further to the west. In 1858 St Ann’s Church was built just to the north of the lodge to serve the large residences in the south part of the parish. By 1861 a small hamlet had developed around the church. The railway reached West Green in 1876 and St Ann’s Station was constructed in 1882. The coming of the railway brought mobility to the workers and the developers soon moved in to provide housing for them. Hanger’s Lane became St Ann’s Road, and housing estates were constructed either side of it with standardised London stock-brick terraces soon forming a working-class railway suburb. By 1890 urbanisation was complete. To the immediate east of Suffolk Lodge, Suffolk Road was built in the 1880s, taking its name from the lodge, and incorporating the 13 cottages on its west side. Two other narrow roads, Minster Road and Priory Road, adjoined Suffolk Road to form a small estate of uniform terraced houses.
However, Suffolk Lodge and its grounds remained intact. At the suggestion of Cardinal Manning, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, a group of Servite Sisters had settled in Suffolk Lodge in 1871. The house, which formed the nucleus of St Mary’s Priory, was re-fronted in 1876 and the neighbouring Priory Villa and Leamington House were acquired in 1878. In 1906 the priory was extended with an eastern wing. A Roman Catholic primary school was built in the grounds. In 1972 there were 42 sisters, some of whom taught at St. Mary’s school and others farther afield; the community also included nurses, retired sisters, and novices. However, by 1988 it was inhabited by only seven nuns. That year the Sultan of Brunei purchased the convent of St Mary’s Priory for the Haqqani Foundation, and it was renamed “St Ann’s Mosque”. It is now a thriving Sunni mosque in association with the adjoining Islamic Education Centre.
Suffolk Lodge (see photo, below) is a large two-storey building constructed of yellow London Brick and slate roof with several gable ends, two of which are surmounted by stone Latin crosses. The eastern gable has a recess containing a statue of the Virgin with the motto below: Sancta Maria Mater Dolorosa Ora Pro Nobis – “Saint Mary, Mother of Sorrows, Pray for Us”. The building has a highly decorated façade with arched windows. It is surrounded by a brick boundary wall with a pedimented entrance now surmounted by an Islamic crescent finial. The building dominates this part of St Ann’s Road and the surrounding area. It became a Local Listed Building in 1997 within a Conservation Area.
The convent is now at 90 Suffolk Road in an austere red-brick late 20th century property set back from the road behind high walls and large metal gates. The Roman Catholic school still continues.
Between 1968 and 1971 the terraced housing of the small adjoining estate was demolished and Priory Road and Minster Road are no more. The whole complex was re-developed with a number of individual white brick terraced houses set along four roads approached from the original Suffolk Road, all of which are now referred to as the Suffolk Road Estate.
This building has no connection with the Duke of Suffolk who lived less than two miles away at Suffolk Place in Southwark (see The Liberty of Suffolk Place above). Whereas the duke ultimately provided his title as a name for several thoroughfares in Southwark, the Rotherhithe “Suffolks” derive their name from the delusions of another family. That family is first recorded in 1771 when a lease was agreed naming Thomas Brandon in regard to land at Rotherhithe. The family appears to have been well off and part of the upper class, indicated by their ownership of land. The family house was in Paradise Row (now Paradise Street) in Rotherhithe.
Samuel Brandon (1800-1865) was born in Rotherhithe. He became a wealthy market gardener owning some 50 acres and employing 30 labourers. In 1843 the gardens consisted of a number of paddocks adjacent to Deptford Lower Road, located just south of the triangle of roads at the end of Rotherhithe New Road. His son, also Samuel Brandon (1836-1892), continued the market gardening business, but the growth of London finally reached this area in the 1860s. The demand for housing for the workers of the dockyards at Rotherhithe was such that the family sold part of its land for development. This became the small triangle of roads comprising Rotherhithe New Road, Baltic Place (later Rotherhithe Old Road) and Hawkstone Road, with Suffolk Street in the middle. On Hawkstone Road was the Duke of Suffolk public house, first recorded in 1864. The family’s insistence on using the name “Suffolk” is a reflection of their belief that they were descended from the famous Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. By 1881 the rest of the property had been sold for development, and Samuel Brandon had moved to Marlow in Buckinghamshire. He called his house there, “Suffolk Lodge”, again with reference to the family legend. This belief of their noble descent cannot be substantiated.
Suffolk Street was later renamed Suffolk Grove and from 1875 was primarily the site of a national (state) school. The original school, officially known as Rotherhithe Junior School but always referred to as “Suffolk Grove School”, stood until the 1970s when it was demolished as part of a total redevelopment of Suffolk Grove. This saw the disappearance of the road and it is now built over by Rotherhithe Primary School, and a block of apartments called Bradley House.
The Duke of Suffolk pub ceased trading in 1993. As part of the general regeneration of the dockland areas of London, it has been converted into a block of prestigious apartments known as Duke of Suffolk House (see photo, above). It advertises itself as offering opportunities to enjoy the local Surrey Quays and Southwark Park, as well as the nearby Surrey Quays Shopping Centre.
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The Suffolk Estate is in the Greater London borough of Hackney, E8. It was built by the local council in the early 1960s and consists of a group of three linked courts, named Debenham Court, Laxfield Court and Orwell Court, each comprising two six-storey blocks around a central landscaped court. The Suffolk Estate is situated between the main shopping centre of Broadway Market in the east and Marlborough Avenue to the west, and Pownall Road to the north and the Regent’s Canal in the south. There are a total of 297 dwellings including bedsits, one-bed flats, and two, three and four bed maisonettes. The estate is owned by Hackney Council, but most aspects of the day to day running of the estate is managed by the Suffolk Estate Tenants Management Organisation, a co-operative run by residents who live there.
The three courts take their names from Suffolk locations, hence the estate’s name. Laxfield and Debenham are villages in the county, and the River Orwell flows from Ipswich to the North Sea at Felixstowe. However, the association with eastern England goes back further, since the courts are built on the site of three original Victorian streets laid out in the 1850s by the surveyor George Pownall on land owned by two related Suffolk families. The Hackney section of the Regent’s Canal opened in 1820 and Acton’s Lock takes its name from the Acton family of Ipswich who owned the land either side of the canal. The land was inherited by Sir William Middleton, a wealthy Suffolk landowner, and he developed the land north of the lock in the 1850s. The surveyor George Pownall named a road after himself which is still there. Between Pownall Road and the Regent’s Canal were two streets called Norwich Road to the east and Ipswich Road to the west, with the two being linked by a Cobbold Road between them. The latter was named after John Cobbold, who came from a notable Ipswich family (see The Cobbold Family section on the Ipswich, England page of ); this was later renamed Suffolk Road. The development was typically Victorian terraced housing with small back gardens, described as “suitable for fairly comfortable lower middle class and working class people on good ordinary earnings” (Charles Booth’s Poverty Map of London 1889).
This Victorian housing estate faced onto the Regent’s Canal which provided work for many of the inhabitants. However, by the 1950s the canal had fallen into disuse and, although mobility for work elsewhere was now easier, the area had become generally run down and the houses lacked modern facilities. The Victorian estate was an early candidate for demolition and renewal. Since its completion, the Suffolk Estate has seen the regeneration of the Regent’s Canal and the adjacent Broadway Market. Acton’s Lock on the canal in front of the courts is now a popular spot for fishing and walking along the canal’s towpath, while Regent’s Row beside the towpath is a survival of the early cobbled road that was built in 1820. It is now one of the longest stretches of cobbled road still surviving in the country, let alone in London.
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Suffolk Place Farm: To the east of Plumstead in southeast London is Abbey Wood, an area that takes its name from the extensive, ancient woodland that surrounded Lesnes Abbey. The first major housing development in Abbey Wood was the Bostall Estate built by the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society (RACS) between 1900 and 1914. This estate was built on fields formerly belonging to Bostall Farm and Suffolk Place Farm, which the RACS acquired in 1886 and 1899 respectively.
In 1525 King Henry VIII seized the lands belonging to Lesnes Abbey in Kent, which included much of Plumstead, Bexley and the adjoining parishes, and bestowed them upon his brother-in-law, Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk (see page Suffolk as a Title). Included in these lands was the Manor of Borstall around the farm of that name (later spelt Bostall Farm). The Duke of Suffolk held this manor until December 1535 when he sold all his lands in this part of Kent, except for the marshland, to Sir Martin Bowes of Woolwich. The marshland was reserved for wild-fowl, and the Duke of Suffolk kept the marshland for hunting. Part of the marsh is still called ‘‘The Duke’s Orchard’’. It was probably Sir Martin Bowes who built the house in the Manor of Borstall that became known as Suffolk Place. It seems that the Duke leased the house as a hunting lodge when he was visiting his marshland property, thus the name “Suffolk Place” became attached to it. Bostall Farm and Suffolk Place Farm remained part of the one estate until 1606 when the two parts were sold separately by the descendants of Sir Martin Bowes. The Suffolk Place Farm, consisting of 122 acres, passed through several hands until February 1656 when the Company for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England purchased it.
In 1886 the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society purchased Bostall Farm for market gardening to provide vegetables for their Co-operative stores. The soil was not particularly good, and at the end of the 19th century the RACS took a bold step and decided to move from market gardening to property development. In April 1899 they bought Suffolk Place Farm from the New England Company, thus re-uniting the original estate. The plan was to build an estate of about 3,500 houses, “suitable for the industrial classes”. Suffolk Place Farm was demolished and building actually started in 1900; it was halted in 1909, restarted in 1912 but stopped again in 1914, by which time 1,052 houses had been completed. The housing development is known as the Bostall Estate. The name Suffolk Place still exists, as the name has been given to a block of apartments in Commonwealth Way on the Estate.
Suffolk Place Mine: The RACS moved the whole of their works department from their headquarters at Woolwich to the new housing development at Abbey Wood. In order to utilise local resources, a mine was excavated to provide chalk for the road foundations and lime for the internal plasterwork. It was known as Suffolk Place Mine after the land on which it was situated. However, in 1902 it was renamed Bostall Estate Mine.
An 8ft diameter shaft was sunk in January 1900 to a depth of 60ft and headings were driven out to develop the mine. The floor was at the water table but this had been planned on purpose so that mortar could be mixed at the surface with water pumped from the mine. The 16hp surface engine which operated the pumps also drove the winding hoist in the shaft, and provided electric power for lighting the underground tunnels. This was an unusual feature as most mines were illuminated by candles or oil lamps at this period. The galleries average 10ft wide by 18ft high. At its maximum activity in 1902 there were 6 men underground and 4 on the surface. The mine only had a short life and ceased operations in 1906.
During the First World War, the mine was adapted as an air raid shelter and an inclined tunnel was driven down from the surface. This subsequently suffered roof falls and, despite local protests, the mine was not reused for the same purpose in the Second World War, ostensibly because of a lack of a second emergency exit. The mine was accessible until 1960 when the local authority infilled the entrance to prevent children exploring the caves. It was next re-entered in 1967 by members of Kent Underground Research Group when an updated survey was carried out. The mine was found to be in excellent condition with no roof falls or signs of stress. The shaft was then resealed and access restricted by a reinforced concrete slab at the entrance. It was again re-entered in 2004 when most of the mine was found to be flooded to a depth of half a metre, but otherwise no significant changes had taken place. The only thing remaining of the site today is the old works canteen which is now used by the council social services department.
This Suffolk Street is given a separate entry because of the historic significance of the area and, as Battle Bridge Road, it was the centre of a long controversy concerning the lengths to which the present generation should go in preserving its recent heritage.
The area of King’s Cross was previously known as Battle Bridge. This name is linked to a tradition that this was the site of the final battle in 61 AD between the Romans and the Iceni tribe led by their warrior queen Boudica. However, there is no historical evidence for such a battle here, and the suggestion that Boudica is buried beneath platform 9 or 10 at King’s Cross Station seems to have arisen as a recent urban myth. The name seems to be a corruption of Bradford Bridge, which derives from the original name of the ancient crossing of the River Fleet at this point - the Broad Ford.
Battle Bridge remained an isolated village surrounded by open fields until 1756, when the New Road (now Euston Road) was constructed from Paddington to Islington. This acted as a stimulus for urban development by becoming London’s northern boundary with residential housing being built up to the south of the road, particularly by the Duke of Grafton who owned much of the land both sides of the road (see Suffolk Families and their Streets in London). The first development north of the road at Battle Bridge was the Small Pox Hospital, built in 1767 where King’s Cross Station is now situated, and then a Fever Hospital next to it in 1802.
The fields north of the New Road were used for brick making and as dust yards where refuse was dumped. The general pollution and dampness from the valley of the River Fleet discouraged residential building until demand increased the pressure to do so. The opportunity arose when the Regent’s Canal was opened in 1820, just north of the hospitals. This signaled the area’s potential for industrial growth and the need for housing to provide for the anticipated demand for labour. The River Fleet was covered over between 1810 and 1815, and from 1820 William Forrester Bray with other builders constructed terraced housing south of the Regent’s Canal. The buildings were of a poorer quality than those found south of the New Road, suitable for clerical type workers and artisans.
Although the Duke of Grafton did not own this land, the original streets built between Old St Pancras Road (now Pancras Road) and Maiden Lane (now York Way), all bore a relationship to places associated with the ducal house. The 3rd Duke of Grafton had recently died in 1811 and he had been a particularly important and influential personage, having been prime minister between 1768 and 1770. It seems that the developers purposely named the streets to ingratiate themselves with the major landowner in the area. The main thoroughfare north-south was Edmund Street which was probably named after Bury St Edmunds, the family’s parliamentary borough that the 3rd Duke represented before his elevation to the peerage; the main road to the north running west-east was Suffolk Street, divided into East Suffolk Street and West Suffolk Street; running parallel in the south was Norfolk Street; these represented the two counties in which the family’s Euston estate lies. The smaller streets running between Suffolk and Norfolk Street were Cheney, Ashby, Northampton and Essex Streets. The first three seem to refer to the Honour of Grafton in Northamptonshire (Middleton Cheney, Castle Ashby and Northamptonshire itself) from where the ducal title was taken. Although Essex Street could reflect the subsidiary title of Baron Sudbury (parts of that town then lay in both Suffolk and Essex), it probably represents the fact that the 3rd Duke was the most prominent member of the Essex Street Chapel, the first Unitarian meeting house in Britain.
In 1824 the Imperial Gas Company opened its site in Battle Bridge (see 1827 map, above). The original site covered 11 acres south of Regent’s Canal (from where it could be supplied with coal by canal boat), and north of Suffolk Street. There was an entrance off Suffolk Street with a gatehouse, office buildings and cottages. Between 1860 and 1867 the company built the three conjoined gasholders, famously known as “The Siamese Triplets” (see photo, left). Their closeness and the ‘triplet’ effect is merely a device to save space on a very limited site. Eventually there were nine gasholders in all on what, at the time, became the largest gasworks in the world. Gas making stopped in 1902, and the works were demolished during the 20th century. However, the ‘triplets’ and one other gasholder had preservation orders placed upon them and these remained in situ until the 21st century.
There were many complaints concerning the effect that the gasworks had on the value of the properties to the south of the site, and the area became less salubrious as time went on. The early character of solid working and middle class occupants gave way, according to a survey of 1848, to overcrowded, squalid, multi-tenanted buildings occupied by the poorest segment of society.
In 1830 building began on a memorial to King George IV at the crossroads junction of four highways: today’s Euston, Pentonville, Gray’s Inn Roads and York Way. William Forrester Bray is said to have given the name ‘King’s Cross’ to the district then. The memorial, completed in 1836, constituted a statue of the king on top of a large edifice. The statue proved to be so unpopular that it was pulled down six years later, and the edifice was converted into a beer-shop. This too was demolished in 1845. However, the name ‘King’s Cross’ stuck, and it still remains the name of the district today.
The next event to affect Suffolk Street was the coming of the railway. Parliament had decided that no large surface railways should be allowed south of the New Road, thus the main railway stations were built on the north side of this thoroughfare, renamed Euston Road in 1852. In 1846 the two hospitals and the eastern part of the housing development to the north were demolished to make way for King’s Cross Station, the London terminus for the Great Northern Railway. The whole of Essex Street, the eastern portion of Norfolk Street and most of Suffolk Street East disappeared. The station, which opened in 1852, and the associated Great Northern Hotel were designed by Lewis Cubitt of the celebrated Norfolk family of builders. The arrival of the railway stations, Euston (1837), King’s Cross (1852), and St Pancras (1868), together with their extensive goods yards and sidings, provided massive employment, but also encouraged further industrialisation of the area with chemical and heavy engineering works emerging. Most of the terraced houses were converted into lodging-houses and cheap hotels which rapidly acquired a dubious reputation. As the 20th century approached the area became known as a seedy and unpleasant place.
In 1875 King’s Cross Station expanded westward when a station was also built for the suburban rail service. This resulted in the demolition of most of the terraced housing and the disappearance of the original roads south of Suffolk Street. The latter was extended eastward across a viaduct over the railway lines to connect with York Road (now York Way), and Cheney Road was realigned and absorbed the lower end of Edmund Street to become the only road running north-south. However, the original name Suffolk Street West was retained until 1889 when the General Post Office changed the name to Battle Bridge Road in order to avoid confusion with other Suffolk Streets in London.
The demolition of the notorious slums around Suffolk Street to the west of King’s Cross station allowed the Victorians to indulge in an experiment of social housing, championed by Prince Albert. In 1864 five blocks of flats, each five storeys high, were built on the site to the south of Suffolk Street for local railway workers. These were named the Stanley Buildings after the Conservative Prime Minister Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby, who chaired the company that built them. Later in 1892, on the southern side of Suffolk Street itself (now named Battle Bridge Road), the Culross Buildings, named after Lord Colville of Culross, chairman of the Great Northern Railway, were constructed. This multi-storey Victorian industrial dwelling (see photo, right), was built by the GNR for its workers, and also for people made homeless by the demolition of houses for the railway expansion. There were 40 flats reached from an open communal staircase. Heating was by galvanised iron ducts circulating warm air. There was an unusual flat roof, with railings round the edges, providing amenity areas for the residents and a place for drying washing.
Thereafter Battle Bridge Road remained in a sort of time capsule throughout the 20th century with very little change. The viaduct across the railway was removed in 1921, isolating the area even further. The major changes in transport saw both the canal and the railway goods yards cease to carry freight, and the late 20th century was a period of depression and economic hardship for the residents. However, because of its actual setting of a rundown Victorian cobbled backstreet, dominated by industrial buildings and the unique group of linked gasometers, Battle Bridge Road became a favourite cinematic backdrop in period films. It was first used in The Ladykillers in 1955, and again in 1992 as the Lambeth neighbourhood of Charlie Chaplin’s youth in Richard Attenborough’s film Chaplin. Other films using the gasometers as a backdrop include Nuns on the Run and Shirley Valentine.
The passing of the Channel Tunnel Link Act in 1996 decided that the St Pancras and King’s Cross stations should be combined to become the international terminus for trains to Europe. This would entail the redevelopment and regeneration of the area, preserving structures of special architectural or historic interest. Some of these already had preservation orders on them, such as the gasometers and King’s Cross Station itself, which is a Grade I Listed Building. However, a large number of people did not see the structures as worth preserving since they were unduly industrial, functional and not attractive. Particularly controversial was whether the gasometers overlooking Battle Bridge Road and the Victorian social housing (the Stanley and Culross Buildings) should be retained. However, it was decided to make King’s Cross a “Conservation & Development Area” whereby the essential Victorian era industrial character should be saved as a major international heritage site.
From 2007 work began on ‘King’s Cross Central’, the name for the new infrastructure. This is a multi-billion pound mixed-use property development consisting of approximately 67 acres (27 hectares) of former railway lands. There will be a mix of high-rise office blocks, around 2,000 residential houses, and 10 new open spaces with restaurants and cafes. The four gasometers were saved; these have been dismantled and will be re-erected north of Regent’s Canal, and used as embellishments around leisure and recreational structures built within them. The Stanley Buildings and nearby German Gymnasium (both Grade II Listed) have been saved. The latter is a unique, purpose-built gymnasium of great historic and aesthetic importance, built in 1864 round the corner from Suffolk Street by the German Gymnastic Society to enable German businessmen living in London to exercise. It became part of the movement towards the establishment of the Olympic Games, and is therefore recognised as of historic importance in the development of public sport and fitness.
As for Battle Bridge Road (the former Suffolk Street) itself, the strong case made for saving the Culross Buildings failed, and it was demolished. The only part of this thoroughfare that now exists is the traditional granite setts and kerbs. (The “setts” are what is loosely referred to as “cobblestones”; in other words “a cobbled pavement”). These have been preserved as an historic floorscape and have been uplifted in order to re-instate them elsewhere in the Conservation Area. In September 2011 part of the new road layout, known as ‘King’s Boulevard’, was opened at King’s Cross Central. The historic name has been preserved (now as one word) in Battlebridge Place, an open area on King’s Boulevard in front of King’s Cross Station and on the Regent’s Canal, where Battlebridge Basin provides mooring places for canal boats. Overlooking the Basin is King’s Place, an award-winning building providing music and visual art venues, office space and the Battlebridge Room, a theatre-style conference centre with views of the canal and its own covered terrace area.
Marble Hill Park is located within the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames. In 1902 the property was purchased for public use to prevent it becoming another housing estate. It is an English Heritage site that surrounds Marble Hill House, a Palladian villa set in 66 acres of outstanding parkland beside the River Thames.
Marble Hill Park started life as the country residence of Henrietta Howard, the wife of the youngest son of the Earl of Suffolk. Henrietta Howard was also the mistress of King George II. In 1731 her husband became the Earl of Suffolk so she became the Countess of Suffolk (Lady Suffolk).
The house was built between 1724 and 1729, paid for partly from Henrietta Howard’s position as Mistress of the Robes to Queen Caroline, but mostly by a contribution from King George II. The gardens were laid out by Charles Bridgeman, aided by Alexander Pope, the poet, who encouraged the Countess to construct two grottoes in the gardens later in the 1740s.
Over time the grottoes were infilled and basically forgotten. Their whereabouts continued to be uncertain until 1941 when a fallen tree on the eastern side of the South Lawn created an opening in the earth, which led to the discovery of one of the two grottoes. However, it was not until 1983 that subsidence prompted excavations and the grotto was reinstated. The excavations revealed traces of marble and flint patterns on the floor, and traces of the original incrustations of flints, clinker, corals and minerals on the walls; the ceiling was also likely to have been similarly encrusted. The grotto today is surrounded by hedges and accessible by a short steep path. Access into the grotto itself is prohibited, but it can be seen through the protective bars. The second grotto has not been discovered to date.
On the Roads Named Suffolk page we show those buildings and roads named “Suffolk” that exist today in Greater London. There were a great many more in the past. The thoroughfares that were formerly named Suffolk are listed below in three categories: (i) those that still exist but have a different name today; (ii) those that still exist today but are now part of another road whose name has been extended to include the former “Suffolk” road; (iii) those that no longer exist and the configuration at that location today is entirely different.
i) Same road, name change only:
Old name New Name
Suffolk Place, Stoke Newington Elton Place N16
Suffolk Street, Clerkenwell Hayward’s Place EC1
Suffolk Street, Whitechapel Walden Street E1
New Suffolk Street, Whitechapel (part near New Road) Suffolk Street, Whitechapel
Old Suffolk Street, Whitechapel (part near Turner Street) Suffolk Street, Whitechapel
Little Suffolk Street, Southwark Sudrey Street SE1
Great Suffolk Street East, Southwark Trinity Street SE1
Suffolk Place, Southwark Hardwidge Street SE1
Suffolk Street, Fitzrovia Nassau Street W1
ii) Still exists, but incorporated into another road:
Old name Now part of
Suffolk Villas, Wood Green Pellatt Grove N22. A group of terraced houses absorbed
into this road by 1891.
Suffolk Cottages, Edmonton Fore Street N9, Lower Edmonton. A group of cottages that
were incorporated into the development of Lower Fore
Street, Edmonton, in the 1890s.
Suffolk Place, Hackney Haggerston Road E8. Suffolk Place was at the northern end
of Haggerston Road along the top part of a small triangular
grass open space by Mayfield Rd. It was later renamed
Stonebridge Common; now closed to traffic.
Suffolk Place, Islington Essex Road N1. Terraced housing on the east side of Lower
Road (now Essex Rd), between today’s New North Road and
Rotherfield Street, since redeveloped.
Suffolk Street, Islington Ecclesbourne Road N1. Suffolk Street was the northern part
of today’s Ecclesbourne Road.
Suffolk Street, Pentonville Baron Street N1. It was the northern part of today’s
Baron Street between Chapel Street (now Mkt) & White
Suffolk Villas, Leytonstone Cobden Road E11. One of a group of terraced houses
absorbed into Cobden Road by 1891.
Suffolk Street, Bethnal Green Coventry Road E1 &E2. Suffolk Street was that part south
of the railway line.
Lower Suffolk Street, Bethnal G’n renamed Suffolk Street by 1871 Census.
Upper Suffolk Street, Bethnal G’n renamed Suffolk Street by 1871 Census.
Suffolk Place, Bethnal Green Hackney Road E2. Suffolk Place was the extreme eastern
part between Felix Street and Cambridge Heath Road.
Suffolk Grove, Southwark Pocock Street SE1. Suffolk Grove was the part between
Great Suffolk Street and Sawyer Street.
Suffolk Cottages, Walworth Grosvenor Terrace SE5. Four houses that were between
Richmond Terrace & Grosvenor Park Terrace on the north
side of the road; merged with Grosvenor Street West which
later became Grosvenor Terrace & built over with modern
Suffolk Cottages, Peckham Commercial Road (now Way) SE15. Three cottages formed
a separate group before becoming part of this road by 1881.
Suffolk Terrace, Lewisham Lee High Road SE12 & SE13. Six houses formed a
separate group before becoming part of this road by 1881.
Suffolk Terrace, South Norwood South Norwood Hill SE25. Until 1913 the name of the
southern part between Suffolk Road and the High Street.
Suffolk Villas, South Norwood Holmesdale Road SE25. Near junction with Suffolk Terrace;
now part of Holmesdale Road.
Suffolk Cottages, South Croydon Junction Road. A group of houses built in the central portion of this road before the rest of the road was built.
Suffolk Terrace, Mortlake Queen’s Road SW14. Two houses at north end of this road
on the east side near corner with South Worple Way.
Absorbed into Queen’s Road by 1891.
Suffolk Villas, Twickenham Arragon Road. One of group of houses along this road.
Suffolk Villas, Kingston Avenue Road. On west side at north end, near to junction
with Fairfield South.
Suffolk Cottages, Norbiton Church Road, Kingston-upon-Thames. At east end of
Church Road between that road and Victoria Road, adjacent
to Cambridge Road.
Suffolk Villas, Hanworth Hounslow Road. The southern end of this road near to the
junction with Twickenham Road (today Country Way).
Suffolk Villas, Hampton Station Road. A group of terraced houses along New
Road, Hampton; absorbed in 1900 by the extension of Station
Suffolk Villas, East Molesley Arnison Road. At west end of this road on north side.
Wolsey Road is the next road. His former palace, Hampton
Court is just across the river.
iii) No longer exists
Suffolk Cottages, Freezy Water - now part of Putney Road, Enfield. A group of cottages absorbed into this road by 1891, and now built over by terraced houses.
Suffolk Place, West Green - three houses in the hamlet known as “Sprat Row” just to the north of the Stonebridge Brook. Located today on the east side of Cornwall Road opposite the Clarence Road entrance; now built over by modern houses.
Suffolk Villas, Wood Green - originally on Commerce Road N22 and absorbed into terraced housing. Since demolished and covered by a light industrial estate.
Suffolk Place, Hackney - a courtyard on the east side of Southgate Road N1. Now built over by modern buildings.
Suffolk Place, Hackney - on west side of Holly Street E8 just below the junction with Grange Road (no longer exists – used to run into Lenthall Road). Now built over by modern housing.
Suffolk Road, Hackney – demolished along with Ipswich Road and Norwich Road, and now built on by Suffolk Estate, Pownall Road E8 (see Suffolk Estate, Hackney above).
Suffolk Place, Marylebone - originally off east side of Penfold Street; became Boyton Place NW1. Demolished in 1960 and covered by Rutherford School (now Westminster Academy).
Suffolk Street East, King’s Cross - demolished to make way for King’s Cross Station in 1852.
Suffolk Street West, King’s Cross - became Battle Bridge Road NW1 (see Suffolk Street (later Battle Bridge Road), King’s Cross above).
Suffolk Place, Pentonville - a courtyard on the east side of Suffolk Street (today Baron Street N1), near to Chapel Street corner. Now built over by high rise office blocks.
Suffolk Place, Shoreditch - a courtyard located on the north side of Bateman’s Row EC2, now built over by high rise offices.
Suffolk Place, Poplar -3 terraced houses built in 1824 abutting east on James (later Vesey) Street were divided into 6 and became part of East India Dock Road in 1837. Today the site is covered by Vesey Path E2 between Crisp Street & Kersey Street.
Suffolk Street, Poplar - became Ellerman Street E14. Now demolished and covered by Bartlett Park, Poplar.
Suffolk Place, Barking - a courtyard off the north side of Axe Street. Demolished and now built over by modern development of the town centre.
Suffolk Mews, Fitzrovia - a courtyard off the east side of Suffolk Street and along the west side of Middlesex Hospital. This was demolished in 1848 when the hospital was extended. The hospital itself was demolished in 2006 and the site redeveloped.
Little Suffolk Street, Westminster - came off Suffolk Street. Now built over and replaced by Suffolk Place further down Suffolk Street SW1.
Suffolk Street, Fulham - this was a cul-de-sac between Field Road W6 and the Queen’s Club ground. It became Shotley Street, and was later demolished when the area was redeveloped. It lay just north of the present Mary Macarthur House.
Suffolk Place, Stepney - to the north side of Commercial Road East E14 just after the junction with White Horse Road. Now built over by houses and part of car park.
Suffolk Court, Southwark - a courtyard off west side of Harrow Street; the latter ran between Mint Street and Lant Street. Demolished in clearances of the early 20th century, and now covered by Marshalsea Road SE1.
Suffolk Cottages, Southwark - two cottages on the east side of Cobourg Road SE5 near the corner with the Old Kent Road. A Methodist Chapel was built over the site by 1882.
Suffolk Street, Rotherhithe - became Suffolk Grove SE16. It was behind Hawkstone Road and the Duke of Suffolk pub. Now built over by Rotherhithe Primary School and Bradley House block of apartments.
Suffolk Place, Rotherhithe - a courtyard off Rotherhithe Old Road SE16. Demolished and now built over by Bradley House block of apartments.
Suffolk Place, New Wandsworth - a courtyard off St John’s Hill SW11 in the 19th century; now built over by modern buildings.
Suffolk Terrace, Putney - now demolished; it was located in Gardener’s Lane, now Felsham Road SW15; now built over by modern houses.
Suffolk Courtyard, Streatham - in the 19th century attached to a Suffolk House on Streatham High Road SW16, now demolished and built over.
Suffolk Cottages, Merton - in 19th century a group of cottages on High Path. Demolished to make way for housing, and in 1960s further redeveloped. High Path SW19 still exists as a main road with light industrial buildings along it.
We have only included in the above list groups of two or more residences which collectively bore the name “Suffolk”, e.g. Suffolk Cottages and Suffolk Villas. We have omitted individual buildings. This is because the name “Suffolk House” or “Suffolk Lodge” was very common in 19th century London. Unlike today such buildings were not divided into separate apartments, but were then large family residences in their own grounds (see Suffolk Lodge, Haringey, above).
The reason why there were so many smaller groups of houses forming Suffolk “cottages”, “terraces” “places”, etc. in the 19th century was to facilitate identification. Although house numbering existed, the numbers kept changing to keep pace with changing conditions, e.g. the demolition of a large estate house would be replaced by several smaller houses along a road, and the roads themselves kept being expanded as property became available. A builder would acquire a small plot along a road in between existing fields that were still being farmed. Since the future number of houses to be built along that road was unknown, the houses or cottages would be given a name rather than numbers. In 1889, as a consequence of the formation of the London County Council, the new corporation inherited a situation in which many of the names of roads in its area were duplicated. Over the next few years the General Post Office and London County Council, therefore, conducted a renaming and renumbering scheme to eliminate duplicate names, and to re-number houses consistently with the lowest number being closest to the local post office. This is when many of the earlier “Suffolks” ceased to be postal addresses.
We have attempted to find the reasons why thoroughfares in London were named “Suffolk”. Many of the roads were built on land owned by families associated with Suffolk. In other cases it seems to have been at the whim of the developer, and there is no obvious reason for the name being given. The next two sections deal with these in more detail.
Streets were often given names associated with the owner of the land, either after the names of members of the family or places where they lived or had estates. Information on the more notable landowners in London associated with Suffolk is provided below in approximate chronological order of the development of their land in London.
Duke of Suffolk and the Brandon family: The Brandon family came from Wangford in Suffolk. Charles Brandon was created the Duke of Suffolk and built his mansion in Southwark. The direct line died out in 1551, but the title survived in a district and street name in Southwark (see Liberty of Suffolk Place, above). Great Suffolk Street became the name of a major thoroughfare, and the name “Suffolk” was also given to Great Suffolk Street East, Little Suffolk Street, Suffolk Grove, Suffolk Place, Suffolk Court, and Suffolk Cottages in Southwark.
The Duke of Suffolk also provided a name for a road on the Mildmay Estate in Newington Green, north London (see below).
However, Suffolk Street (later Suffolk Grove) and the “Duke of Suffolk” pub in nearby Rotherhithe have a different origin, in that a family with the same surname claimed descent from the ducal family. The first record of this family is in 1771 when a lease was agreed naming Thomas Brandon in regard to land at Rotherhithe. There is no documentary evidence linking this family with the Dukes of Suffolk. (See also Duke of Suffolk House, Rotherhithe, above.)
In 1771 Thomas Brandon, in partnership with Henry Penton, obtained a lease on property in Walworth. In 1789 he associated his brother, Samuel Brandon, with the purchase of further property in what became known as the Brandon Estates in Walworth. By 1860 there were over 4,000 houses built on these roads in south London. Another “Duke of Suffolk” public house, situated on Brandon Street, and Suffolk Cottages (now absorbed into Grosvenor Terrace), both in Walworth, recall this family’s aspirations to ducal fame.
The Brandon family was also associated with Henry Penton with the development of the latter’s estate in north London from 1773. The district was named Pentonville. A Suffolk Street and Suffolk Place were laid out to the north of Baron Street. Both names have long gone and Baron Street has been extended over them. The Brandon family had its own small estate in Barnsbury, the adjacent borough to Pentonville, and it was there that they built Brandon Road.
Earl of Suffolk and the Howard family: The Howard family is an English aristocratic family founded when John Howard was created Duke of Norfolk in 1483. A junior line was created in 1603 when Thomas Howard became the first Earl of Suffolk. Suffolk Street, Little Suffolk Street and Suffolk Place in Westminster were built on their property in London (see Suffolk Street & Suffolk Place, above).
A subsidiary title of Thomas Howard was that of Baron Howard de Walden, but this title eventually passed out of the male line of the Howard family with the death of the 3rd Earl of Suffolk in 1688. The title was eventually passed down through one of the female descendants of the Earl of Suffolk, and in 1879 the then Baron Howard de Walden inherited the Portland Estate in London. The Portland Estate then became known as the Howard de Walden Estate. The property in London comprises much of Marylebone and some of the most prestigious streets in the capital. Through their substantial London property portfolio, the Howard de Walden family is today one of the wealthiest families in Britain. Although the family did not name any of their thoroughfares after the ancestral title of “Suffolk”, it is of note that Suffolk Street in Whitechapel changed its name to “Walden Street” in 1889.
Berners family: Josias Berners from Hertfordshire was a Parliamentarian in the English Civil War, who bought 25 acres of land, known as Marylebone Fields, around what is now Oxford Street in 1654. His great-grandson William Berners married Mary Bendysch from Great Yarmouth, the heiress to estates in Norfolk and Suffolk. In 1746 William Berners began developing the property and named the streets after his family and home counties: Berners Street, Charles Street after his son (this is now Goodge Street), Norfolk Street and Suffolk Street. In 1754 he sold the land north of Charles Street between Norfolk Street (to the east) and New Suffolk Street (to the west) so that a new Middlesex Hospital could be built there. This was opened in 1757.
By the end of 1763 William Berners had finished the development of his London property and was now a very wealthy man. In 1773 he bought the manor of Woolverstone, 4½ miles southeast of Ipswich in Suffolk. He tore down the old manor house and built a fashionable gentleman’s country residence in 1776, known as Woolverstone Hall and Park.
Suffolk Street was built in 1764 and by 1773 it had 23 houses. It was known as New Suffolk Street, Cavendish Square, in the 18th century to distinguish it from Suffolk Street, Pall Mall (SW1) which was only ¾ mile away. A small courtyard named Suffolk Mews was built off the east side of Suffolk Street and along the west side of Middlesex Hospital. Norfolk Street was on the eastern side of Middlesex Hospital. In 1814 Suffolk Street was renamed Nassau Street. It was so named as a compliment to the royal house of the Netherlands, an ally of Britain during the Napoleonic Wars, and also the dynasty from which King William III came that ultimately ensured that the Stuarts did not regain the throne.
William Berners’ son, Charles Berners, later sold the London properties. In 1848 Middlesex Hospital was extended to the west and Suffolk Mews was demolished. Norfolk Street also disappeared as a name, being absorbed by the extension of Cleveland Street. The hospital itself was demolished in 2006. After a number of years of controversy over various redevelopment schemes, planning consent was granted in February 2012 to the building of 300 homes on the three acre site to be named Fitzroy Place. This was completed in April 2016. Fitzroy Place is a landscaped square surrounded by 235 luxury private apartments, stores, a restaurant and high quality office space.
Duke of Grafton and the Fitzroy family: The Duke of Grafton is a title created in 1675 by Charles II of England for Henry FitzRoy, his son by his mistress Barbara Villiers, the Duchess of Cleveland. The title refers to the Honour of Grafton in Northamptonshire. However, the Duke of Grafton holds three subsidiary titles: Earl of Euston, Viscount Ipswich, and Baron Sudbury, all places in the county of Suffolk. The family seat is Euston Hall in Suffolk, near Thetford and Bury St Edmunds, and it sits on an 11,000-acre estate straddling the Norfolk-Suffolk border. Other titles held by the family at various times were those of Earl of Arlington, Duke of Cleveland and Duke of Southampton.
The Fitzroy family inherited the Manor of Tottenham Court and came to hold extensive property between Tottenham Court Road and Marylebone. From 1770 these properties were developed and the streets were named after various family members of the house of Grafton or the titles they held, thus giving the name Fitzrovia to this part of central London. However, only Euston in Suffolk was commemorated from the various properties held by the family. Euston Square and the adjacent thoroughfares of Euston Street and Euston Grove were built from 1813 to 1820. Today Euston Road and Euston Station are better known, but these were latecomers. Euston Road was originally the New Road from Paddington to Islington, opened in 1756 through the fields to the north of London as the city’s first bypass. It was constructed so that cattle from west of London could reach Smithfield Market without blocking Oxford Street and Holborn. In July 1837 Euston Station opened on the north side as the terminus of the London and Birmingham Railway. In 1852 the central section of the New Road was renamed Euston Road. Expansion of Euston Station has since seen the loss of Euston Grove.
Although none of the roads on their land bear the name “Suffolk”, it seems that the 3rd Duke of Grafton may have indirectly provided the names of the streets lying north of Euston Road behind King’s Cross station, constructed soon after 1820. All of the streets originally located there bore a relationship to places associated with the ducal house. (See Suffolk Street (later Battle Bridge Road), King’s Cross, above).
However, a Suffolk House existed later at 1 to 8 Whitfield Place. This is off the northern part of Whitfield Street, just south of Euston Road and east of Fitzroy Square, in between Grafton Way and Grafton Mews so, as the names imply, was well within the Fitzroy estate. In the mid-19th century, a row of eight houses was built on the south side of an open space that also served as Fitzroy Market, hence what has now become Whitfield Place was then called Market Street. In 1881 these eight houses were merged and became a light industrial workplace and warehouse known as Newton Works. This remained the situation until the 1950s when the warehouse was converted into commercial offices and was named Suffolk House to commemorate the home county of the Fitzroys. The building became a centre for studios, graphic designers and offices for the television and radio production services up until 2006.
It was then left vacant and fell into disrepair. In 2009 a real estate investment trust acquired the lease of the site. In 2015 permission was given to convert the building into 13 residential apartments and maisonettes with the ground level providing office accommodation. The frontage and roofing were completely refurbished and the building extended round the corner into Whitfield Street. This has provided 100% affordable housing (by London standards, not the rest of the UK), and the name “Suffolk House” has been retained. The restoration won the 2016 Housing Innovation Award.
The Calthorpe Estate, Clerkenwell: Although the name “Suffolk” was not given to any of the streets on the estate lying to the east of Gray’s Inn Road just south of King’s Cross, from 1585 to 1706, and again from 1788, this property was held by families associated with the county. In 1585 John Robinson, a merchant taylor of London, bought the estate. His son of the same name acquired the manor of Denardiston or Denston, near Haverhill, in Suffolk in 1602, and thereafter the family resided at Denston Hall. In 1706 the London property was sold to Sir Richard Gough, a merchant of London. His son, Sir Henry Gough of Edgbaston, married Barbara Calthorpe, heiress to estates in Norfolk and Suffolk, around the villages of Calthorpe and Ampton respectively. In 1788, on gaining this inheritance, their son took the name Calthorpe and was created Baron Calthorpe in 1796. In 1821 Lord Calthorpe commissioned the Norfolk builder Thomas Cubitt, who had already established his building works in Gray’s Inn Road, to develop the Calthorpe estate. This work took place over two periods: 1821-27 and 1845-47. The largest thoroughfare was named Calthorpe Street, and two of the other roads were named after Suffolk villages (Ampton and Pakenham Streets).
Milner-Gibson family: Major Thomas Gibson from Suffolk, after making his fortune from plantations in Trinidad, acquired Theberton Hall near Saxmundham in Suffolk, and also bought land in Islington, London. His son, also Thomas, took the additional surname Milner, and as Thomas Milner-Gibson became a prominent politician and MP for Ipswich. He developed the property on his Islington fields from 1832 to 1839 around two squares: Gibson Square and Milner Square. With Theberton Street they are known as the Milner-Gibson Estate.
Thomas Seckford: Born near Woodbridge, Suffolk, Thomas Seckford (1515-87) served Elizabeth I in a number of important judicial roles at court. He was active in Suffolk affairs, and was returned as MP for Ipswich through his own local standing, having first been made a freeman, and then took a turn as the county MP in 1571. In 1564 Elizabeth I sold him the manor of Woodbridge, and he established the family seat at Seckford Hall, just outside the town. He amassed a personal fortune and also built up a small estate in Clerkenwell. When Thomas Seckford died in 1587 he left his estate in Clerkenwell to endow an almshouse for 13 poor men in Woodbridge. London expanded and finally engulfed Clerkenwell, and his estate became even more valuable as rental property. Between 1835 and 1840 the estate was built over, comprising Sekforde Street named after him, Woodbridge Street and Suffolk Street. The General Post Office renamed Suffolk Street in 1889, and it is now Hayward’s Place. The revenue from these properties continues today as the Seckford Foundation which provides for the education and care of the young and elderly in the area around Woodbridge in Suffolk. (See also the section on Woodbridge on the Suffolk, England page).
Wentworth Family and Stepney: In 1550 Nicholas Ridley surrendered the manors of Stepney and Hackney to the King, who immediately granted them to the Lord Chamberlain, Sir Thomas Wentworth, the 1st Baron Wentworth of Nettlestead in Suffolk. The Wentworths were originally from Yorkshire but had settled in Nettlestead, Suffolk, in the mid-15th century, where Thomas Wentworth was born. Included in the demesne lands of the manor of Stepney was a broad area of waste stretching from Mile End to Bethnal Green through which the later Cambridge Heath Road ran from north to south. From 1582 the lords of the manor began selling off this land. By 1649 there was a small hamlet around the junction of Cambridge Heath Road and Mile End Road known as Dog Row after the nearby Royal kennels. In 1626 the 4th Baron Wentworth was created the Earl of Cleveland, but leaving no male heirs that title was lost on his death. However, the baronetcy was allowed to descend through the female line. In 1673 Baroness Wentworth, the Lady of the Manor, was licensed to build on the waste land around the southern part of Dog Row, and within a few years she had sold off the remaining demesne land with this privilege attached. The Wentworth family also sold off Nettlestead in Suffolk in 1643 and moved elsewhere.
It would, therefore, appear that any reference to Suffolk and the Wentworth family in this part of Stepney would have long been forgotten. However, when building finally began around this southern part of Dog Row (now part of Bethnal Green) in the early 19th century, a lane to the east of a patch of land known as Fulmore Close was named Cleveland Street. Fulmore Close was sold for building in 1818 and by 1836 the longest road running north to south was Suffolk Street. This may, of course, be coincidental because the builders also seem to have followed a “county theme” by naming the other roads Northampton, Norfolk, Essex and Oxford Streets. However, it may be that a folk-memory survived of the land having once belonged to the Earl of Cleveland who came from Suffolk. Suffolk Street has subsequently been absorbed as part of Coventry Road, Bethnal Green.
Lee, Acton & Middleton families: Lands in Shoreditch, Hackney and Stepney, in total 147 acres, belonged to Thomas Burgoyn, a merchant and under-sheriff of London in 1472. This estate, known as “Burgoyn’s landes” or “Burganes”, was bought by the priory of St Mary-without-Bishopsgate, which joined it with land that the priory already owned in Bethnal Green. After the dissolution of the priory (1531) the “Burganes” estate fell to the Crown and, with other lands in the same parishes, was granted to Sir Ralph Warren, lord mayor of London in 1544. The estate followed through his family until 1598 when it was sold to an English merchant, Sir Robert Lee, later also lord mayor of London.
Sir Robert Lee bought land in Suffolk, becoming lord of the manor of Lawshall, near Bury St Edmunds. The Lee family retained the London lands until 1768 when Baptist Lee of Livermere Park, Suffolk, left his property to his late niece’s husband Nathaniel Acton of Ipswich and Bramfield Hall in Suffolk. The property then remained with the Acton family until 1836 when it was inherited by Nathaniel Acton’s daughter, Harriet, the widow of Sir William Fowle Middleton of Shrubland Park, near Needham Market in Suffolk. Sir William Fowle Middleton was a wealthy Suffolk landowner in his own right and a former MP for Ipswich. It was their son, Sir William Fowle Fowle Middleton (the name was used twice), who began developing the property in London.
Middleton’s development in Shoreditch and Hackney began in 1840 on the family land immediately east of Stonebridge Common, and was supervised by the surveyor George Pownall. The main thoroughfare was Queen’s Road running north-south (today Queensbridge Road), and Albert Square was laid out in 1844. These were obviously named after Queen Victoria and her consort Albert. However, many of the roads built on the estate were named by association with the Suffolk families: the two main roads running west to east were Middleton Road and Shrublands Grove (today Mapledene Road); the family residence was recalled in another Shrublands Road; the Middleton Arms public house stood in Queen’s Road, and there were Acton Mews and Acton Street, Lee Street and Livermere Road. In addition, there were two courtyards named Suffolk Place. A further development that gave rise to Ipswich Road, Norwich Road and Suffolk Road by the Regent’s Canal is now covered by six blocks of apartments known as the Suffolk Estate (see Suffolk Estate, Hackney, above).
The Middleton lands held in Bethnal Green remained mainly nursery land until 1858 when they were sold for building. One of the streets was named Middleton Street, and the terraced housing at the extreme eastern end of Hackney Road was built as Suffolk Place.
Mildmay Estate, Newington Green: Newington Green was a medieval settlement north of London. In the 16th century the area was connected to the court of Henry VIII. The king himself used a house on the south side of the Green as a base for hunting wild bulls, stags and boars that roamed the surrounding forest. In 1523 Henry Percy, who resided on the north side of the Green, became engaged to Anne Boleyn. At the time Percy was page to Cardinal Wolsey, and the cardinal advised against the marriage, knowing of the king’s interest in Anne. In the later Tudor period, Sir Walter Mildmay (1523-89), from Chelmsford, was Chancellor of the Exchequer under Queen Elizabeth I and one of her closest advisers. His grandson, Sir Henry Mildmay, married Anne Halliday, the heiress to the land south of Newington Green. Hence this became the “Mildmay Estate”.
It was not until the 1850s that the estate was built upon. Many of the thoroughfares were named after the estate owner: Mildmay Place, Mildmay Street, Mildmay Park, Mildmay Grove, but the other roads took their names from the early Tudor period of English history, such as King Henry’s Walk, Boleyn Road (formerly Ann Boleyn’s Walk), Wolsey Road, Woodville Road and Bolingbroke Terrace. Amongst them was Norfolk Place and Suffolk Place taking their names from the Duke of Norfolk (of the Howard family) and Duke of Suffolk (of the Brandon family). About 1900 the General Post Office renamed Suffolk Place and it is now called Elton Place.
T.C.T.Warner & Suffolk Park Road, Walthamstow: In 1849 Edward Warner (d.1875), whose family came from Theydon, Essex, bought the extensive manor of Higham Bensted (132 hectares/326 acres) in Walthamstowe, making the family one of the largest landowners in that area. The manor descended to his son Thomas Courtenay Theydon Warner (d.1934), who began to develop the estate in the 1880s. The opening of Blackhorse Road railway station in 1894 made transport available to the working classes, and the aim of The Warner Estate Co. Ltd. (registered 1891) was to make housing affordable to that class. Courtenay Warner (as he was generally called) gave his name to the popular type of housing in Walthamstow, which he was responsible for developing, known as the “Warner Flats”. These are characterised by a row of terraced houses being divided into units, each unit containing a ground floor and a first floor flat, both having separate doors that opened directly onto the outside of the building rather than onto a common staircase. Each flat contained 1 or 2 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom. Similar types of housing go under different names in other parts of the country and overseas.
One of these ‘Warner estates’ near Blackhorse Station in Walthamstowe comprises four roads built in 1894: Suffolk Park Road, Hervey Park Road, Ickworth Park Road and Bristol Park Road. They were given these names by Courtenay Warner because of his association with that county, and close friendship with the Hervey family. The “park” suffix was added for effect. The Hervey family held the title of Marquis of Bristol, and had the family seat at Ickworth House in Suffolk. In 1902 Courtenay Warner moved his family seat from Walthamstowe to Brettenham Park in Suffolk. He was made a baronet in 1910 and was Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk from 1910 to 1934. There is a Brettenham Road on another of his estates in Walthamstowe.
Lowther family and Suffolk Road, Barnes SW13: It is sometimes difficult to see why a “Suffolk Road” should appear among seemingly unrelated thoroughfares. This Suffolk Road in the Barnes district of Richmond upon Thames is found on the “Lowther Estate”, an area of large semi-detached houses with 5 or 6 bedrooms and extensive gardens, built in the 1920s and 1930s. The Lowther family is headed by the Earl of Lonsdale, and since the 13th century they have dominated the counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland, managing them in a feudal manner, and they are still the largest landowners in the Lake District. The other roads on the “Lowther Estate” have obvious links with the Lake District: Westmoreland Rd, Cumberland Rd, Coniston Close, Ullswater Rd or with the family, such as Lowther Rd and Lonsdale Rd. With the Lake District, it is difficult to get much further from Suffolk in England. However, another road is even further away - Galata Road. Galata is a suburb of Istanbul in Turkey.
The common factor is William Lowther (1821-1912), a British diplomat and Conservative MP. He was the younger brother of the 3rd Earl of Lonsdale and the nephew of the 2nd Earl, also William Lowther. William Lowther, the diplomat, became an extremely wealthy man, a multi-millionaire in current terms. In 1883 he and his wife moved to Suffolk where they bought the High House estate, a mid17th century park of 164 acres (66.5 hectares). This park lies to the east of the village of Campsey Ashe on the edge of the Suffolk Sandlings, about 5 miles (8km) north-east of Woodbridge. The construction of High House was begun in 1558 by John Glover. The Glovers sold the estate to the Sheppeard Family in 1648, in whose hands it remained until 1883 when it was bought by William Lowther. His son, James Lowther, became the Speaker of the House of Commons, and on his retirement in 1921 became the Viscount Ullswater of Campsea Ashe in the County of Suffolk. After his death in 1949 the family sold High House to a developer, who demolished it in 1953 and built the present Campsea Ashe House on the site.
It was William Lowther (1787-1872) 2nd Earl of Lonsdale who purchased the St Anns Estate in Barnes in 1846. Throughout the 19th century the estate remained an area of orchards and reservation, with the St Ann’s cricket ground hosting first class matches. This estate passed to William Lowther, the diplomat, and by 1900 the family could not resist the call for residential development. The land was sold for residential use from 1900 onward with the family determining the names to be given to the roads. The two main thoroughfares north-south are Lonsdale and Lowther Roads with Suffolk Road (built in the early 1920s) the main road west to east. Other roads not associated with the Lake District are Charlotte Road and Parke Road, after the first name and maiden name of William Lowther’s wife. Gerard Road, Belgrave Road and Galata Road derive from William Lowther’s second son, Sir Gerard Lowther, 1st Baronet Lowther of Belgrave Square, who served as ambassador in Constantinople, today Istanbul, and hence Galata where the British embassy is located.
Thematic names where all the roads in a development are named after a “theme”, such as English counties, became common in the 19th century, although it is not usually apparent why particular counties were chosen.
Suffolk & Norfolk together: Where a family held estates in both Norfolk and Suffolk, the choice of these names is obviously not surprising, and we have covered these in the section above (see Berners family). The two counties frequently form a couplet that arises with some other counties in England, e.g. Lancashire & Yorkshire, Devon & Cornwall, and this probably gave rise to their use as road names in such instances. The following are the more notable of these.
Suffolk Place, Shoreditch: The Augustinian priory of Holywell occupied the site south of Bateman’s Row until the Dissolution of the monastic houses in 1537. The land to the north was open pasture, known as Fairfield. In 1704 this land was sold to William Urry and it still remained in his family in 1834. The land was built on between 1755 and 1800 with the narrow alleyways that were common to this era. Those north of Bateman’s Row were named Suffolk Place, Norfolk Place and New Norfolk Street. There was later a Norfolk Buildings on The Curtain Road, the main thoroughfare adjacent to these alleyways. Most have now gone, although Norfolk Place has been renamed Dereham Place, a village in that county. Although there appears to be an emphasis on Norfolk in the names chosen for these alleyways, there is no record of the developer of this land, nor did the landowner, the Urry family, have any known connections with the eastern counties, so it is not known why the names were chosen.
Suffolk Place & Suffolk Street, Islington: Although the name “Suffolk” no longer appears among the streets to the east of Essex Road in Islington, in the 19th century both Norfolk and Suffolk were prominent among the names to be found. The builder, Thomas Scott, was a member of a notable brickmaking and building family of Fulham and Shepherd’s Bush that benefitted from the expansion of London in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1808 the leading member of the family, James Scott, purchased the country estate of Rotherfield Park in Hampshire, and was later an MP for that county.
Although the family’s origins are obscure, they do not appear to have had any connections with Norfolk or Suffolk. In 1791 Thomas Scott bought a large tract of land in Islington. The Islington property amounted to a notable urban estate, and the family retained an important interest there until 1973. By 1806 Thomas Scott had begun to build terraced housing along the east side of Lower Road (today Essex Road) which was the main thoroughfare through this part of Islington, and by 1819 he had established roads off that thoroughfare up to one called Rotherfield Street (obviously named after the family’s prestigious estate in Hampshire). By 1827 the terraces along Lower Road were called Scotts Place, Suffolk Place and Norfolk Place. In addition, there was a Norfolk Street connecting Lower Road to another road running parallel to it which he named Norfolk Terrace. Later Scott continued Norfolk Terrace north of Rotherfield Street, and named this section Suffolk Street. Norfolk Terrace was renamed New Norfolk Street at the same time. There does seem a real desire to maintain streets with the names of the two eastern counties. In c.1859 Lower Road was renamed Essex Road; it is possible that this name was deliberately chosen because of the proximity of streets named Norfolk and Suffolk; it was certainly not named as part of the original development. In 1889 as part of the policy to remove duplicate street names in London, there was a wholesale renaming of these thoroughfares: Suffolk Street and New Norfolk Street above New North Road became Ecclesbourne Road; the lower part of New Norfolk Street became Popham Road, and (Old) Norfolk Street became Melville Street. Although Suffolk and Norfolk Places along Essex Road remained, the urban regeneration of this road in the late 20th century saw the disappearance of these terraces and their names as well.
Other more modern occasions where Suffolk and Norfolk appear together are:
Suffolk Street (by 1916 renamed Shotley Street) in Fulham was paired with a Norfolk Terrace. They were built in 1881 and were to be found adjacent to the Queens Club.
Suffolk Road and Suffolk Court, Ilford, are to be found with Norfolk Road. This estate just off eastern Avenue was built in the 1930s.
Suffolk Court is an apartment block off Hevingham Drive in Chadwell Heath, Romford. All the other roads and apartment blocks on this housing estate, completed in 2006, are named after places in Norfolk or Suffolk, e.g. Norfolk Court, Woodbridge Terrace, Norwich Crescent, Dunwich Court.
Suffolk, Norfolk & Essex together: It is noticeable that roads with the names of the three eastern counties of “Suffolk”,“Norfolk” and “Essex” are also frequently found together on the same housing estate. The most notable example was Suffolk Street, Whitechapel, below.
Suffolk Street, Whitechapel: The development of the land between Whitechapel Road and Commercial Road began in 1798 and by 1827 there were a number of streets to the south of the The London Hospital on Whitechapel Road. Although all of them have had their original names changed, the ‘county theme’ adopted by the developers is most apparent; going from west to east were: Gloucester Street (now Settles Street), Northumberland Place (now Parfett Street), York Street (now Myrdle Street), and Essex Street (now Romford Street); going from north to south were: Oxford Street (now Stepney Way), Rutland Street (now Ashfield Street), Suffolk Street (now Walden Street) and Norfolk Street (now Varden Street). Suffolk Street was divided by Turner Street into Suffolk Street West and Suffolk Street East until 1871; in 1889 the policy of the General Post Office to eliminate duplicate street names resulted in Suffolk Street becoming Walden Street. Baron Howard de Walden was a subsidiary title of the Earls of Suffolk.
In the 19th and 20th centuries Suffolk Street/Walden Street and its Victorian terraced housing epitomised the overcrowding and poverty associated with the East End. However, the character of the area was saved by the redevelopment of The London Hospital. This moved to Whitechapel in 1748 and became one of the world’s leading teaching hospitals. In 1948 it became part of the NHS, and it was decided early on to demolish the terraced houses to the south of the hospital and expand into this area. Part of Walden Street was saved and it is now a gated cul-de-sac. The north side of Walden Street is occupied by the Royal London Hospital (the Royal was added in 1990). The Blizard Building built there in 2005 won the 2006 Civic Trust award for its design. It now houses the Barts and London School of Medicine and Dentistry. The three storey terraced houses on the south side of the Walden Street are now Grade II listed as a prime example of traditional Victorian terraced housing. They are used as student accommodation.
Roads with the three county names also appear together in the following districts:
Suffolk, Norfolk & Essex Streets, King’s Cross, built in the 1820s (became Battle bridge Road, see separate page above).
Suffolk, Norfolk & Essex Streets, Stepney, built in c.1836 (see Wentworth Family and Stepney above).
Suffolk, Norfolk & Essex Streets, Forest Gate, built in 1869.
Suffolk, Norfolk & Essex Roads, Willesden, built between 1874 and 1892.
Suffolk, Norfolk & Essex Roads, Barking/East Ham, built between 1898 and 1919.
Suffolk, Norfolk & Essex Roads, Dagenham, built between 1930 and 1938).
Suffolk & Essex together: Suffolk Way, Hornchurch/Romford, is found with Essex Gardens.
Suffolk alone: There are a few of these, but often they are on estates where there does not seem to be a theme in the other names used. The more interesting ones are noted below.
Suffolk Cottages, Merton: In 1801 Admiral Horatio Nelson purchased Merton Place, the first house that he owned where he actually stayed. Prior to this Nelson had owned Roundwood House at Ipswich in Suffolk, but had never stayed a night there, and in 1800 Nelson had been appointed High Steward of the Borough of Ipswich. To ensure his privacy Nelson expanded the Merton Place estate by purchasing an additional 47 hectares (115 acres) south of his house. Between trips to sea, Nelson lived at Merton Place with his mistress Emma Hamilton and her husband Sir William Hamilton. The latter died in 1803 and Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805. Emma was too extravagant to keep the house on and had to abandon it in 1808 and went abroad. She died in poverty in 1815. The house was never sold and in 1823 it was demolished. Parcels of the land were sold off. Much of the Merton part was soon covered with small cheap houses and narrow roads, known as Nelson’s Fields. Among them was Suffolk Cottages, almost certainly named from Nelson’s connections with that county, located along the thoroughfare known as High Path. As would be expected many of the roads built on the land of the Merton Place estate have been named after places and people associated with Nelson, e.g. Hamilton, Hardy, Victory and Trafalgar Roads. The site of his house was in Nelson’s Grove Road. The area north of High Path was known as Nelson’s Fields well into the 20th century. In the 1960s the area was subject to redevelopment and the original housing was demolished to be replaced by light industrial buildings.
Suffolk Street, Poplar: Suffolk Street in Poplar also had a Duke of Suffolk pub located there, but there is no known connection with any of the Brandon families. The land was owned from 1780 by the Goodlad family from Hampshire. It was not until 1850 that development began, when the land to the east of Upper North Street was sold to the splendidly named Onesiphorus Randall. Although Mr Randall was a native of Norfolk, the fact that he did not name any of the roads on his patch after places in his native county makes it unlikely that he would have been the originator of Suffolk Street. The land to the west of Upper North Street was sold in 1854 to William Wicks, a builder of Forest Gate in London, who took that part of it which lay in Sussex Street, Suffolk Street and the south side of Northumberland Street. It appears that these three adjacent roads were just randomly named after English counties. The area became a typical densely populated East End dockside estate of back to back terraced houses with only rudimentary amenities. It was not until the 1930s that the General Post Office, following its policy of eliminating duplicate names, renamed Suffolk Street as Ellerman Street, named after the shipping line.
This area was very badly damaged during the Second World War, and it was decided before the war ended that much of the Stepney-Poplar district should be reconstructed as an experiment in an “ideal social environment” of public housing. The neighbourhood was to contain all that a community required, including markets, churches, schools and open spaces. This was known as the Lansbury Estate, comprising some 1,300 acres. Work in demolition and clearance started in 1949. Ellerman (Suffolk) Street had disappeared by 1959 to be covered by the open space of Bartlett Park. The estate was due to be finished by 1970 but, because of adverse financial conditions, it was not until 1983 that the final major housing scheme at Lansbury was completed, almost 35 years after the estate was begun.
The other ‘single Suffolks’ are:
Suffolk Road, Plaistow, built in 1881 on a large estate with many varied names, but an absence of county ones.
Suffolk Road, Footscray, built between 1898 and 1909; a cul-de-sac all by itself off a busy thoroughfare.
Suffolk Road, Harrow, built in 1935 on an estate with varied names, some county ones.
Name changes: After the General Post Office adopted the policy of eliminating duplicate street names in 1889, very few of the “Suffolks” retained a name connected with the county. The list, with an explanation of the new name, is given below.
Only three were given a name that maintained their link with the county:
- Suffolk Street, Rotherhithe, became Suffolk Grove in 1929 (hardly a change!)
The other two were renamed after villages in Suffolk:
- Suffolk Street, Fulham, became Shotley Street about 1900.
- Suffolk Place, Marylebone, was renamed Boyton Place in 1929.
The others are:
- Great Suffolk Street East, Southwark, became Trinity Street in 1826 after the completion of Holy Trinity Church which took its name from the Corporation of Trinity House, on whose land it was built.
- Little Suffolk Street, Southwark, was the original Suffolk Street. Some sources indicate that it became Norfolk Street in 1881 and then Sudry Street in 1889. The spelling was later changed to Sudrey. However, there is no record of why it was given this unusual name. It is rare as a surname and its meaning is unknown. It is only found as an Old Norse name for the southern Hebrides, hardly attributable to a street in Southwark. It could just possibly be derived from the Old English form of Surrey (sudrig), the county in which Southwark was previously located.
- Suffolk Street, Whitechapel, became Walden Street in 1889, possibly named after the Howard de Walden family, a cadet line of the Earls of Suffolk.
- Suffolk Street, King’s Cross, became Battle Bridge Road, the former name for King’s Cross, in 1889.
- Suffolk Street, Clerkenwell, became Hayward’s Place in 1889, named after James Hayward an ironmonger in the adjacent Aylesbury Street in the 1840s.
- Suffolk Street and New Norfolk Street, Islington, became Ecclesbourne Road in 1889; Ecclesbourne is a river in Derbyshire.
- Suffolk Place, Stoke Newington, was renamed Elton Place in about 1900. The new name came from Sir Richard Sapcote of Elton in Huntingdon, whose daughter married the son of his colleague, Sir Walter Mildmay, in the 16th century.
- Suffolk Place, Southwark, in about 1910 was renamed Hardwidge Street after James Hardwidge, churchwarden in 1808 to the parish of St Mary Magdalen in which parish the street was located.
- Suffolk Street, Poplar, became Ellerman Street in the 1930s, named after the shipping line, reflecting the proximity of the London Docks.
Suffolk Wharf is a relatively new name given in 2002 to an area south of the Regents Canal adjacent to Camden Lock as part of the urban regeneration of abandoned industrial warehouses. It was the name chosen by the joint venture and has no connection with Suffolk. Like many other developments the name was chosen because Suffolk seems to evoke images of tranquility and recreation.
Starting around 1791 Earl Camden and others began to develop land on both sides of an old coaching route from the City of London to Hampstead and the north. Before this time there were only a few isolated buildings in this area of open countryside. The development was given the name of Camden Town. Later, the Regent’s Canal was built between 1812 and 1820 to link the Grand Junction Canal at Paddington Basin to the River Thames and docks at Limehouse. This enabled goods to be moved by barge more easily from the industrial Midlands to the London docks. The area around Camden Lock was still agricultural land, but in 1816 it became the temporary terminus of the Regent’s Canal until its completion eastwards in 1820. Here wharfs and warehouses were constructed along the canal banks where boats could tie up for loading and unloading their cargoes. Camden Lock thus became an interchange centre for transfer between canal and road.
Around the beginning of the 1950s, when road transport had led to the decline of most of the waterway traffic, the canal fell into decline and the industrial buildings and land were left derelict. In 1971 some of these unwanted industrial buildings were leased from the British Waterways Board by young men with new ideas. They sub-let some of the old buildings on short leases as craft workshops, and soon afterwards a weekend market was started on cobbled open yards nearby. This market soon began to attract large numbers of Londoners and tourists because of the character and quality of the goods on sale, and because of the uniqueness of the location. Sunday trading was permitted on this private site when it was not allowed in many places elsewhere at the time, and this also contributed to its success. Camden Market became one of London’s most vibrant shopping and entertainment areas, and it revived the neglected urban districts north of the Regent’s Canal as restaurants and bars soon followed to cater for the tourists and shoppers.
In 2002 it was decide to regenerate the run-down industrial area south of Regent’s Canal. The Suffolk Wharf development fronts both the popular Camden High Street and the Canal. The scheme links the busy shopping street and markets to a canal-side walkway, whilst combining a number of retail units mainly catering for the leisure and recreational industries that have an attractive view of the famed Camden Lock, such as a Holiday Inn and a notable Weatherspoon restaurant and public house.
This Wetherspoon pub is named the Ice Wharf, taking its name from the adjacent wharf which was built in 1837 for ice imported from Norway. In the 19th century ice had to be collected from frozen lakes and canals and stored throughout the rest of the year. Two ice wells were dug at the wharf on Jamestown Road. The ice was carried by ship to the Limehouse basin on the River Thames in east London. There it was transferred to barges to be drawn by horses along the Regent’s Canal. The larger of the two ice wells was built in 1839 and deepened in c.1846 to 100 feet. It was capable of holding about 2400 tons of ice. From this depot on the wharf ice was delivered to customers, large and small, throughout London. It is located in the entrance to 34-36 Jamestown Road (now renamed the Ice Works) and is a major tourist attraction. The invention of artificial ice in 1890 brought about the demise of the ice trade and the traffic ceased in 1902.
The Ice Wharf pub opened in 2002. What differentiates the Ice Wharf is its size (it’s big), its many unusual guest ales and stouts, and its location - right on the canal. It is the only pub in Camden where you can have a pint and dip your toes in the water at the same time, and it’s on Suffolk Wharf.
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