Hopton Street History
Turn off the busy Southwark Street towards the River and you’ll find Hopton Street. Today it’s nestled amongst new developments around the South side of Blackfriars Station, but there’s history to be found!
Hopton Street itself has had a few earlier identities. It was originally called Green Walk and appears on William Morgan’s Map (1682)
In the top left hand corner you can see ‘Holland’s Leaguer’ which was one of the most famous and celebrated brothels of the early 1600s. But that’s another story!
Walking along Hopton Street today, it would be easy to assume it’s all be new buildings, but there are two historic survivors worth looking out for…
Built in the 1740s by Thomas Ellis and William Cooley. They were designed by Mr Batterson who was a trustee of Charles Hopton’s will.
Charles Hopton, born around 1654, was a member of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers and lived in Golden Square – today’s Soho – in 1697.
His connections to Southwark are a little convoluted (you can read more in the Survey of London) but he left the land in Bankside to his cousin and sister. After his sister’s death it passed to trustees under order to build an almshouse. he owned this land in Southwark was a wealthy merchant and left money to his sister. When she died, the money went into Almshouses.
Donations like these can be seen across London, most notably with The Charterhouse, Geffrye Museum (now Museum of the Home) and along Whitechapel Road.
The almshouses were intended for ’26 poor persons’ who were allowed to marry but any children couldn’t claim from the local parish. They were also entitled to a certain amount of coal.
Two more almshouses were built in 1825 but otherwise the almshouses stood happily here until the Second World War.
From the Bomb Damage maps from 1945 you can see the damage on the Almshouses.
Only a few properties are marked as black (total destruction) or purple (damaged beyond repair). The rest appear to be light red which mean seriously damaged and repairable, but at cost. Thankfully it seemed worth the cost!
It was rebuilt reopened – with all interiors modernised – in 1988.
Today they’re completely dwarfed by Neo Bankside. Somewhat ironically, the residents of four flats in the development filed a complaint against the Tate Modern’s new extension because they overlooked their flats.
Further along Hopton Street is another historic gem…
67 Hopton Street
Formerly No.61 Hopton Street (and even earlier than that, 9 Green Walk) is the tiny survivor, dating from 1702 and built by James Price.
Over the centuries it’s been home to Edward Knight, a trustee of a charity school nearby c.1720, Henry Batterson a bricklayer c.1744 and Eliza Reynolds, a vellum binder (fine animal skin used for binding books) in 1895.
The house and attached railings are Grade II listed.
It’s the oldest surviving house in this area, second only to 49 Bankside, dating from the late 17th or early 18th century according to Historic England.
Today 49 stands alongside Cardinal Cap Alley, another reference to a historic brothel. The plaque claiming “Here lived Sir Christopher Wren during the building of St Paul’s Cathedral…” is – unfortunately – bogus.
Apart from these two physical reminders of history, Hopton Street is otherwise pretty new.
And there’s further development underway with Bankside Yards.
At least, given its historic listing, we can rest easy knowing these buildings are protected for future generations to admire.
More London Inspiration
If you’ve ever visited the Sky Garden, you probably queued alongside Philpot Lane. Just off this street is a tempting little dead end called Brabant Court and if you walk through you’ll find a surprising 18th Century building! History of Brabant Court Brabant Court can......
As a tour guide, you tend to try and focus on what you can actually see around London. So this week’s blog is a little odd in that it’s all about something that no longer exists. Happily though, there are clues which aid our imagination.......
I might have reached peak geek with this blog post but I’m very happy about it. Along Idol Lane – right by the gorgeous St Dunstan-in-the-East Garden – you can find an extravagant bollard. Not only is it decorated with the City of London crest......
To enter Lincoln’s Inn is to walk into another world. It’s hard to believe this quiet little enclave is right in the middle of London and best of all, during the week anyone is welcome to walk through. The Honorable Society of Lincoln’s Inn is......
Close to St Paul’s tube station you can find the wonderful garden of Christchurch Greyfriars, set within the former church that was gutted during The Blitz. The church has its own fascinating history, but on the left hand side there’s a curious blue sculpture which......
Orange Street doesn’t look very historic at first glance. The narrow Westminster street lies between the National Gallery and Leicester Square but there’s a lot more to see than you might guess. Firstly, it was only known as Orange Street from 1905, a reference to......
Incredible. London never fails does it. Those buildings are so tiny and so old yet standing strong and “tall”! I looked on Google street view today and 67 Hopton Street even has the wisteria in flower in the photo. So lovely.
By the way how do you know if plaques are bogus or not? (Bankside)
I know! They’re great aren’t they, and sure they’ll outlive everything else too. I suppose there’s no hard or fast rule. Gillian Tindall in her book The House by the Thames unearthed it was only built in 1710 and the plaque was probably put there more recently to help it not to be knocked down!
Thanks Katie. I worked in Hopton St in the late 1980’s early 90’s at the old LLoyds Bank datacentre, which at the time was a cutting edge building and now has just been demolished as well. Hundreds of people worked in that building as it was not only an IT hub, but did the printing, the post, cheque clearing sorting etc. for the whole Bank. A great community and fond memories of my time there.
Yes, Judith Barnett raised an interesting point, and a point I am also curious about, that is, history behind the bogus plaque, who, what, why, where, when ? And how many more plaques are bogus ?……So, please could you look into this a little more Katie, and satisfy curiosity about this plaque (and possibly any others you may come across)
Unfortunately there’s no one way to tell if a plaque is correct or not – quite a few have errors (https://lookup.london/londons-worst-typos/!)
In general the blue plaques for English Heritage and the others will all be accurate (you hope) but it’s not always the case!
The lovely Memoirs of a Metro Girl has written about the Bankside Plaque in more detail which you can read here; https://memoirsofametrogirl.com/2013/12/18/cardinals-wharf-bankside-history-survivor-of-early-18th-century-the-globe-tate-modern/
Margot E Williams
Hi Katie, does anyone live in these old houses now, and if so, what kind of people?
Hi Marj, yes they do! With no. 67 it’s a private residence and the Almshouses are today managed by St Saviour’s Charity. You can apply if you’re over 65, have lived in Southwark for 3 years or more, have low income and no dependants.
It would be very good if what you say was true:
“At least, given its historic listing, we can rest easy knowing these buildings are protected for future generations to admire.”
Hopton’s Almshouses are now sometimes overshadowed by the 20-storey tower 240 Blackfriars Road;
Hopton’s Almshouses will be sometimes overshadowed – over about 5 months from October to March – by Southwark Charities proposed 22-storey tower on Blackfriars Road;
Hopton’s Almshouses would be overshadowed over 2 hours over 6 months of the year – from September to March – by Riverside and Mount Anvil’s proposed 21-storey tower on Bear Lane;
Hopton’s Almshouses will be overshadowed by the proposed 53-storey office tower at 18 Blackfriars Road.
Following the bomb damage by the Luftwaffe, Hopton’s Almshouses was rebuilt.
But the Southwark Council-sanctioned harm of overshadowing this Grade II* Listed Building will last decades longer.
Very true, at the time of writing this Liam, I wasn’t aware of the extant of the development for Bankside Yards, it’s something I talk about on my Bankside walking tour. Unfortunately there will be a lot more overshadowing going on when the high rises are finished, however the statement of the buildings being protected by Historic England is still correct, it’s just that they will be overshadowed.