Hackney: beloved by hipsters now, but back in Tudor times it was a delightful village favoured by the well-connected for their country retreats. Sir Ralph Sadleir was one of those men. Fans of WOLF HALL will know him better as Rafe Sadler, secretary to Thomas Cromwell. Ralph, Rafe, call him what you will, built a large house known as Bryk Place. Now the house is known as Sutton House and is under the stewardship of the National Trust.
Linenfold paneling oozes expense. Wood is carved to resemble the folds of linen. Sutton House has a room lined with stuff. Only two other buildings in the London area have linenfold paneling dating back to the sixteenth century, the others are Westminster Abbey and Hampton Court. Rafe was obviously doing alright for himself. It is easy to imagine Rafe and Cromwell chatting to each other in this room.
Elsewhere in the house, the story of its many uses over the years is told. It has been a boarding school for young ladies, a church institute and a squat. Up in the attic, a mattress on the floor and exuberant wall paintings are testament to the tenure of the squatters. Although the National Trust has owned the building since 1938, it was initially leased out to a variety of charities and public services. Restoration and public access only started in the 1990’s. It is well worth hopping on either a 38 bus or the Overground to visit Hackney and Sutton House.
On my way from the train to Sutton House, I called into Dreyfus at 19 Lower Clapton Road for a cup of coffee and rather fine cake. From the café you get a great view of St John at Hackney church and can then stroll through the churchyard to Sutton House.
2-4 Homerton High Street, London E9 6JQ
Admission: Adult £5.00, Children £2.50
Open: Wednesday-Sunday 12-5pm