08 June 2008

Give my regards to Stoke Newington

Today I reluctantly returned the keys to Craig and Claire's apartment in Stoke Newington, north London, after nearly five weeks of house-sitting duty. Fair enough - it's not unreasonable for people to want their apartment back after a long flight from the other side of the world. Only I'd grown quite attached to the place...

Stoke Newington is a funky mix of busy city life with a village-like feel. Strangely, it benefits from not being on the London Underground, because this relative inaccessibility has meant that the area has yet to be over-run with wealthy City types. It still has a down-at-heel, studenty feel, and it's also a haven for north London's Turkish community, with Turkish bakeries, cafes and barbershops along the High Street.

For many centuries Stoke Newington was an outlying village of London, but by the time a local clergyman was jailed in 1562 for repeating gossip about Queen Elizabeth, the city was growing outwards to encompass more and more of the intervening fields. When Charles II passed through Stoke Newington in 1675 there was an attempted regicide when a shot was fired at him. Things quietened down after the arrival of the railway from Liverpool Street in 1872, which linked the area with the city and brought about a new influx of residents eager for cheap accommodation.

As for me, I can certainly vouch for the convenience of the location - with the station only five minutes walk from Craig and Claire's apartment, the train takes just 15 minutes to reach Liverpool Street, and for trips to other parts of town there's the 24-hour bus every few minutes to Angel and King's Cross, and regular buses to Hackney and London Bridge. And best of all, the Rose and Crown at the end of Stoke Newington Church Street has its pub quiz night every Tuesday...
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