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)

Hopton Street History - William Morgan Map

Image from layersoflondon.org © OpenStreetMap contributors

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…

Hopton Almshouses

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.

Hopton Street History - Hopton Almshouses

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.

Hopton Street History - Hopton 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.

Hopton Street History - Hopton Almshouses

From the Bomb Damage maps from 1945 you can see the damage on the Almshouses.

Hopton Street History - Bomb Damage from 1945

Image from layersoflondon.org © OpenStreetMap contributors

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.

Hopton Street History - Hopton Almshouse

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.

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Further along Hopton Street is another historic gem…

Hopton Street History - 67 Hopton Street

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.

Hopton Street History - 67 Hopton Street

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.

Hopton Street History - 67 Hopton Street

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.

49 Bankside - Cardinal Cap Alley

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.

49 Bankside Plaque

Apart from these two physical reminders of history, Hopton Street is otherwise pretty new.

Hopton Street Development

And there’s further development underway with Bankside Yards.

Hopton Street Development

At least, given its historic listing, we can rest easy knowing these buildings are protected for future generations to admire.

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