Hidden London

Stamford Hill

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Hackney/Haringey

Located north of Stoke Newington, Stamford Hill is one of London’s most distinctive quarters, with its highly independent community of perhaps 15,000 Hasidic Jews. In the thirteenth century this was Sandford Hill, where a sandy ford crossed a tributary of the river Lea. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries its elevated situation attracted wealthy merchants, notably Moses Vita Montefiore, an Italian Jew who died here in 1789. The arrival of trams and trains in 1872 set off a twenty year building programme that established the present layout of Stamford Hill, including shops on Dunsmure Road by 1884. From this time onwards and particularly after the 1920s upwardly mobile Jews came here from the East End, as they did to Dalston and Stoke Newington. Several synagogues were relocated or founded here. Some larger old houses were converted for use as Jewish schools or other institutions, while their grounds were split into lots and sold off for further housebuilding. The London County Council and the Guinness Trust built estates in the 1930s. The LCC added more blocks after the war, as did the Samuel Lewis Trust. This was a period of Hasidic Jewish immigration from eastern Europe, creating a ‘square mile of piety’ at Stamford Hill. The Hasidim have their own schools, conventicles and kosher food shops. They wear eighteenth century frock coats and black hats and are the sole British Jewish group still to speak Yiddish. Only New York has a larger community of Hasidic Jews outside Israel. Stamford Hill also has residents of black African, black Caribbean, Turkish and Kurdish heritage.

click for area map (opens in a new window)
Old and new: A member of the Hasidim uses his mobile phone on Dunsmure Road

Postal district: N16
Station: National Express East Anglia (formerly ‘one’ Railway) (zone 3)

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

 
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