In 1535, when Sir Ralph Sadleir built Sutton House, Hackney (in East London) was a countryside retreat.
Reason to visit: view early linenfold panelling (which deserves separate mention and so it’ll have its own entry next week).
The house is a H-shaped Elizabethan mansion (unusually for the time of brick rather than wood and plaster construction), originally consisting of a great hall and elaborate gardens to the rear (now a school playground). Later a small cottage was added to the rear corner and, as you can imagine, Hackney has grown up around it. It now sits opposite Hackney Academy and next to some lovely Georgian rows. It has done very well to survive in this part of London.
Over the years, all manner of structural changes have taken place, so that the hall has been divided up (though the Great Chamber above remains intact), the original windows have been replaced (hence the Georgian sashes) and from the mid-1700s until the 1890s the building was divided into two residences.
Over the years the property has been occupied by a boarding school, trade unions, a church institute, squatters, silk merchants, Huguenot families and nowadays various rooms have been given over to community spaces.
The house is therefore a composite of Elizabethan, Victorian, Georgian and modern interiors with Edwardian restoration. The rooms are largely sets as a result but some interesting conservation work has been done, such as revealing an early Tudor fireplace mantle behind a later Georgian addition.
There is a book shop and conservatory housing a cafe, so if you happen to find yourself in this part of town I suggest you pop into Sutton House and take a break.
When visited: 2011
House * out of 5: **
Website: click here