Once known as the ‘new town in the wood’ Stoke Newington or ‘Stokie’ as it’s fondly known, was part of the Neolithic working area for axe making, now it is more commonly known for Church Street and the abundance of independent shops and bars that run along it.
Don’t be disheartened though, you can still learn how to carve a spoon or chisel stone at the Victorian Abney Park Cemetery . Originally set up as an arboretum, it’s now a woodland memorial park and nature reserve. If gravestones are your thing, then see if you can find William and Catherine Booth, founders of the Salvation Army, or unearth the modest engineer and inventor, John Swan. Up the stakes by taking a night time stroll and you might actually hear voices or was that a roar? Careful one of Frank Bostock’s African lions maybe prowling ….one for Halloween, I think.
Stokie wouldn’t be ’Stokie’ without Clissold Park. Parents flock there to entertain their newborns with swings, the outdoor lido, ice-cream, careful though; the resident goat and deer will be wistfully eyeing up your creamy delight from within their enclosures. The menagerie full of chattering birds, mirrors bikini clad girls nattering about their recent date. Whilst older kids, dads, can be found lurking in oversized baggy clothes, attempting to blend in with the hipsters or their mortified sons, in the bike park, keeping it real, with their 180 degree turns.
Grade II listed, Clissold Mansion is the perfect focal point for catch ups, meetings, joggers to recuperate or writers to muse over a frothy coffee. Built in the 1790s for Jonathan Hoare, brother of Samuel Hoare, a local Quaker, the house has undergone substantial renovations and can now be fully appreciated both inside and out.
Climbing the walls at work or home? Stop, head to the Castle Climbing Centre previously the Water Board pumping station and gain some perspective. If the canal isn’t enough for you, join the Royal Yachting Association at the West Reservoir and learn how to sail, canoe or do acrobatics on a water ski…whatever rocks your boat! Groan.
Local butcher ‘MEAT N16’ is used to receiving calls from wives and girlfriends who have lost their other halves; the normally decisive men lose their faculties over Ribeye, Cumberland and ribs. However the same could be said for husbands and boyfriends who know a quick pop into Hub means a trip to Beyond Retro and heaven forbid they cross the threshold of the Waterlily Beauty Clinic 2hours later they have given up and can be found enjoying a pint in Auld Shillelagh with an attentive cocker spaniel looking hopeful at a bag of pork scratching’s. All is not lost though, a meal at either: The Londesborough, The Prince or The Shakespeare, of a weekend can more than make amends.
Stoke Newington is the ultimate village, with Grade II listed properties on Church Street and residential roads: Albion and Clissold. It not only looks beautiful but provides great accommodation for anyone looking for a family home or just starting on the property ladder. With Dalston and Islington next door; you can escape City life whilst still having immediate access to it. That bar you want in Sussex, that shop you want in the Cotswolds, that green space, water, it’s all there for you and you don’t even have to get on an overpriced, commuter train to get there.