London’s oldest terrace houses

Newington Green Nos 52-55

As I was in Newington Green this morning, I thought I’d stop to enjoy the Square. Of particular interest are Nos 52-55, four red brick terraces that are in fact London’s oldest surviving terrace houses. Here they are in all their spring sunlit glory.

According to Pevsner’s Architectural Guide, there are few 17th century houses left anywhere in London. This little terrace is dated to 1658! To give you some context, the Great Plague of London was 1665-1666. England was governed by a Commonwealth (our brief dalliance with republicanism), though Cromwell died the year these houses were built.

Admittedly, the houses are only fragmentary, but apparently their facades are of a design that was newly fashionable at the time, and if I remember correctly the red brick would have been particularly ‘a la mode’, as the cheaper London stock bricks were yellow. As we can see the ground floors have recently been restored – they used to all have the shop front visible on the right-hand house, which dates to around 1880-2.

Originally the  side houses probably had the same side-entrance that is visible in-between the middle two houses – apparently this reached an entrance lobby. Pevsner’s Guide also suggests that some of the original wood panelling survives in the upper rooms – so I imagine the receiving rooms were all rather warmly paneled originally.

Reference:

Pevsner, N.,  and Cherry, B., 2002. London 4, North. The Buildings of England. Yale University Press, London. Page 695.

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