Well Street Common


Well Street Common
Well Street Common

Walk across this common and you can imagine people from the past travelling along the same paths, in the days when this part of Hackney was just a small hamlet.


This open green area evokes images of farm labourers from the eighteenth century who may well have walked this way and parlour maids in the nineteenth century who worked in the grand houses that were built around here for wealthy folk who wanted to live away from the city.


Over to the side of Well Street Common stands the Church of St John of Jerusalem, built in the mid nineteenth century with a stone spire. This was later clad in copper, which over time turned to light green and can be seen from far away.


St John of Jerusalem Church
St John of Jerusalem Church

One hundred years ago the Town Clerk of Hackney wrote, “practically all of the available land has now been developed, the existence of these bright and open spaces… will always secure the reputation for being one of the healthiest in the Metropolis.”


It is a beautiful simple site with open grassland crossed by numerous paths.


London plane trees and chestnut trees provide shade and shelter; in spring the wildlife meadows are carpeted with speedwell and bluebells. Local residents have created a fruit tree orchard and they can enjoy this rural landscape, this natural space.


But commons are not exactly as nature intended – they were managed by people for centuries in order to provide food and fuel. Over the years there have been many battles and much campaigning to conserve open spaces across East London and in the 1860s, local people successfully petitioned for this area to be preserved as a public open space.


And their actions helped to ensure that many generations to come could enjoy the benefits of having a rural escape right here in the middle of Hackney.


Walk across Victoria Park or from Homerton Station