Visit this stretch of open space in Hackney and you find that it has been split in two by a railway line slicing through the common. This was a long time ago when the railways first came to London but the human history of Stoke Newington Common goes back much further.
It was the Victorians who found evidence of a Stone Age settlement here when flint tools were dug up – they had been buried for hundreds of thousands of years. Now they are in the Museum of London, and the common remains as a place for people to meet and to be outdoors.
Animals were grazed here until the mid 19th century and there has been a lot of work done in recent years to preserve this open space and to improve it. The common has been registered as a common or village green by law to keep it safe from development.
The water fountain has been restored; bulbs and hedges as well as a wildlife meadow have been planted. And it's not only people who feel welcome to visit – a bird box attached to the side of a tree invites birds to build a safe home for their chicks and there are bug hotels to encourage insects.
There were already mature London planes and lime trees and now there are many others. The common is well worth a visit for anyone wanting to learn about the names of trees - there are over forty different species and a map showing their names. Some of them are quite unusual and striking – like the Cedar Tree of Lebanon, its branches stretching out wider and wider down the trunk.
And a wooden seat encircles one of the more mature trees – a place to sit and think about the past, the present and the future.
Walk from Clapton Common or Stoke Newington or Rectory Road station