Visiting Sutton House – Hackney’s Oldest Home

Come with me to discover Hackney’s oldest home, Sutton House. We’ll meet Tudor grandees, Victorian school teachers, Union leaders and squatters. Afterwards we’ll take tea in a Breakers Yard.

Who Built Sutton House?

Hackney: beloved by urban 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. 

Sutton House Tudor brick chimney, Hackney's oldest house

Who else lived here?

The story of Sutton House mirrors the history of Hackney. After Ralph came a succession of captains, merchants and Hugenots. Then around the turn of the 18th century Hackney became a popular place for the smaller type of boarding school, which is what Sutton House became. At one point a church institute took up residence and then the National Trust bought the house in 1938. Transformation into a restored and polished house took time. First of all it was let out , most notably to the ASTMS Union under the leadership of Clive Jenkins. After the Union left, squatters moved in until the National Trust decided to restore the house to its former glory.

What will I find at Sutton House?

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.

Linenfold panelling fireplace at Sutton House Hackney, London

Elsewhere you will find a genteel Georgian sitting room, a Tudor Kitchen, a tiny church in the cellar and, of course, a Tudor Kitchen. So far, so National Trust. What I have never seen in any other National Trust property is a squatters bedroom. Dating from the same era as when I was a student it looks very much like several student bedrooms of my acquaintance, with a bed on the floor and LP’s scattered over the place.

Tell me about the Breakers Yard!

Outside in the garden where you would usually find well manicured flower beds at National Trust property, here you find a triple decker caravan. At some point the garden became home to a car breaking yard. This heritage is remembers with tyre sandpits, a bus greenhouse and the afore mentioned caravan. It is a fantastic place to let children play and free to enter.

Tudor Metal door knocker at Sutton House, Hackney London

Visiting Sutton House

  • 2 -4 Homerton High Street, E9 6JQ
  • Open: Friday and Saturday 11am – 4pm
  • Tours: Wednesday – Friday: 3pm Pre-booking essential.
  • Admission: £5 or £8.50 for a tour.
  • National Trust members go free (but must pay £2 for a tour)
  • Getting there: Hackney Overground is a short walk, lots of buses head to Hackney, my favourite is the 38

In the countryside the National Trust is synonymous with grand houses, in London it has some quirkiest places to visit. Take a look at 575 Wandsworth Road, fully festooned with fine fretwork and a National Trust property.

Sutton House London is Hackney's oldest home, site of an unusual breakers yard playground and a hidden gem

London has a wealth of historic houses that you can visit, check out my Guide to Historic Houses to Visit in London for inspiration.



  1. March 30, 2016 / 2:03 pm

    When I eventually visit England, this is the kind of thing I
    want to see.

  2. Wander Mum
    May 31, 2016 / 12:03 pm

    I love all the wooden paneling! It’s really interesting to hear what Hackney was like all those years ago! I’ve never ventured over to Sutton house but should perhaps pay it a visor.

  3. May 31, 2016 / 2:47 pm

    I loved Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies so I’d be really interested to see Sutton House. Thanks so much for sharing your visit at #citytripping

    • May 31, 2016 / 9:30 pm

      ooh me too. Those books are so atmospheric and I liked the screen adaptation too. Would love to see some of the real life locations in person.

  4. May 31, 2016 / 10:27 pm

    I have always read about linenfold panelling and never quite known what it was so thank you for the explanation – and great to see the photo as well. I loved Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, so I’m very tempted one day to hop on a train across London and check it out for myself. It’s somewhere I’ve seen on National Trust maps of properties but never knew much about it. #citytripping

  5. laurasidestreet
    June 1, 2016 / 10:55 pm

    Oh wow this place sounds really interesting and had actually never heard of it before despite being a big fan of National Trust properties. I must visit this when I can – thanks for sharing

    Laura x

  6. June 5, 2016 / 6:06 pm

    The panelling is fun, but I think I’d be just as fascinated by the squat remnants. How fun they have kept it as a reminder than not every house in their stables has been passed down until the upkeep of a giant house required more money than mere landowning could support.

  7. September 24, 2019 / 3:13 am

    I love touring homes. There’s something about stepping into the past that the history buff in me gets much pleasure in. Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

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