London’s Stonehenge | Nature’s Throne (aka Hackney Henge)

Did you know that London has its very own version of Stonehenge? Sure, it might not be thousands of years old, but that doesn’t mean that Hackney Henge – sorry – ‘ackney ‘enge is any less historic!

Along the Hackney Cut you can wander into a pleasant nature reserve on the site of the former Middlesex Filter Beds.

Just inside the gates you’ll find East London’s very own Stonehenge.

Hackney Henge - London's Stonehenge | Look Up London

Hackney Henge

In reality it’s an artwork by Paula Haughney, completed in 1990. It’s constructed from huge granite blocks that were once the foundations of the Victoria Engine House.

Hackney Henge - London's Stonehenge | Look Up London

Traces of the industrial past remain.

Paula has enhanced the stones with low relief carvings of local flora and fauna.

Hackney Henge - London's Stonehenge | Look Up London

In the centre is an over-sized throne, seat of a giant. When I was there it was a lovely sight to see little children using it as a climbing frame.

East London Waterworks Company

There have been water-powered mills here since 1760. A water channel was dug to take River water to the wheels. Today almost all of it’s been filled in.

Hackney Henge - London's Stonehenge | Look Up London

In their heyday the waterwheels provide 1,000 local families with water, ground corn for flour and  were used for boring tree trunks to make pipes.

In 1796 a fire broke out and destroyed the mills. They were rebuilt in 1829 and taken over by the East London Waterworks Company.

Hackney Henge - London's Stonehenge | Look Up London

However, only four years later the mills we rebuilt again, replaced by a new pump house which pumped water into a new reservoir in Stamford Hill.

1852 prompted further building, this time it was the threat of cholera. It wasn’t until a few year later that John Snow would prove that contaminated water was to blame, however there was sufficient concern to build the Middlesex Filter Beds.

Get the latest London secrets to your email
See the city from a new angle, discovering little things you miss everyday and get the latest news about upcoming tours.
Once a week. No spam, just inspiration.
Your details will never be shared with any 3rd parties

Middlesex Filter Beds

They filtered water through layers of sand, gravel and finally the concrete base of the bed. Then pumped the clean liquid into a reservoir for the local population.

The beds – which grew to 25 at their height – were closed in 1969. On the map below you can see the site of the Middlesex Filter Beds and the blue arrow mark the Engine House (and current location of Hackney Henge).

Hackney Henge - London's Stonehenge | Look Up London

Image from – Charles Booth Poverty Maps (1886-1903)  Leaflet | © Maptiler and OpenStreetMap contributors

Since 1988 they’ve been looked after by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and are a public wildlife reserve.

As well as Hackney Henge, another industrial survivor is the Middlesex Filter Beds Weir.

Hackney Henge - London's Stonehenge | Look Up London

It marks the start of the Hackney Cut and was dug out in 1770.

Hackney Henge - London's Stonehenge | Look Up London
Related Post Abbey Mills
Related Post Three Mills History, Bromley By Bow

More London Inspiration

  • The History of Temple Bar

    Standing in the shadow of St Paul’s, this stone arch often gets overlooked. However Temple Bar is not only older than the current Cathedral, but it was designed by the same architect! Its history is a strange (and sometimes gruesome) tale… First things first. This......

  • Holborn's New Free Rooftop | Look Up London

    Holborn’s New Free Panoramic Rooftop

    Thanks to the tip off from Londonist for a new free rooftop in Holborn. I popped in to visit yesterday and not only is it spectacular but there’s some fun geeky history to find too! The rooftop can be found on top of the Post......

  • History Above 219 Oxford Street | Look Up London

    History Above Shop Level: 219 Oxford Street

    I’ve written quite a few blogs about the history hiding above shop level on Oxford Street. From grim reminders to a theatrical hotspot, there’s plenty to spot if you cast your eyes up along this famous thoroughfare. But our focus today is 219 Oxford Street.......

  • See a Chunk of the Roman Wall under Vine Street

    If there’s one certainty in the City of London, it’s change. Historic fires and bombs coupled with modern development means the Square Mile is in a constant state of flux. But often this means that older history is revealed anew, like this chunk of Roman......

  • St Leonards Air Raid Shelter | Look Up London

    Mortlake’s Surviving Air Raid Shelter in St Leonard’s Court

    While planning my recommendations for the 2022 Open House Festival, one listing quite literally made me hop on the next train to Mortlake. It’s a surviving Air Raid shelter in St Leonard’s Court. St Leonard’s Court was built 1934-38 by Mr FG Fox, a local......

  • What to See at Open House Festival 2022

    Open House Festival 2022 runs until 21 September this year so there’s even more time to visit London’s unusual and inspiring buildings (some of which are only open to the public for Open House). As ever, there’s so much to choose from and sift through......


  • alan ashby


    Why were you unable to ‘verify my submission’? I have given you both my first name and email address, as requested?

    December 29, 2021 at 1:08 pm

Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.