The London Borough of Hackney is a London borough in north east London.
Hackney is bounded by Islington to the west, Haringey to the north, Waltham Forest to the north-east, Newham to the east, Tower Hamlets to the south-east and the City of London to the south-west. Much of Hackney maintains its inner-city character and in places like Dalston large housing estates now sit side-by-side with gated communities. In South Hackney, near Victoria Park, there is terraced Victorian and Edwardian housing.
The historical and administrative heart of Hackney is the area roughly extending north from Mare Street and surrounding the Church of St John-at-Hackney; known as Hackney Central. To the north of the borough are Upper Clapton and Lower Clapton, Stamford Hill and Stoke Newington. To the east is the large open space of Hackney Marshes and the districts of Hackney Wick and Homerton. Light industries in the area around the River Lea employ over 3,000 people and some were also used for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
There are 1,300 listed buildings in Hackney, including the iconic Grade II* Hackney Empire, Tudor Sutton House, and the Grade I medieval St Augustines Tower. The Borough contains 25 conservation areas including Clapton Square, and urban open-spaces including Clapton Common and Clissold Park. Conservation areas also protect large areas of Georgian and Victorian housing, and areas of industrial heritage.
The borough was formed in 1965 from the area of the earlier metropolitan boroughs of Hackney, Shoreditch and Stoke Newington. The new council included representative symbols of the predecessor boroughs in its new combined coat of arms: Shoreditch by three bells from Shoreditch Church; Stoke Newington by two trees bearing fruit; and Hackney by the Maltese Cross of the principal landowners of the parish in the Middle Ages. The shield is surmounted by a representation of St. Augustines Tower.
The council displays, in Hackney Town Hall, a portrait of the Queen wearing the robes of the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem, of which she is Patron.
The borough has a rich history; the Roman road, Ermine Street, forms the western edge of the borough. Most of the rest of the land was covered with open oak and hazel woodlands, with marshland around the rivers and streams that crossed the area. Hackney lay within the Catuvellauni tribal territory. The eastern boundary of the borough is marked by the River Lea. This was an ancient boundary between pre-Roman tribes, and in the Roman era, was tidal up to Hackney Wick and continued to be the boundary between the historic counties of Middlesex and Essex.
In the Tudor period the lands of religious orders were seized by the Crown and put up for sale. Thus Hackney became a retreat for the nobility around Hackney Central and Homerton, including Henry VIIIs Palace by Lea Bridge roundabout, where BSix Sixth Form College stands today. Sutton House, on Homerton High Street, is the oldest surviving dwelling in Hackney, originally built as Bryck Place for Sir Ralph Sadleir, a diplomat, in 1535. The village of Hackney flourished from the Tudor to late Georgian periods as a rural retreat. The first documented "hackney coach"—the forerunner of the more generic "hackney carriage"—operated in London in 1621. Current opinion is that the name "hackney," to refer to a London taxi, is derived from the village name. (Hackney, through its historical fame for its horses and horse-drawn carriages, is also the root of the Spanish word jaca, a term used for a small breed of horse, and the Sardinian achetta horse.) Hackneys rural reputation brought to an end by the construction of the railway in the 1850s.
Londons first Tudor theatres were built at Shoreditch and the Gunpowder Plot was first exposed nearby in Hoxton too.
Notable residents from the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries included Robert Aske, William Cecil, Samuel Courtauld, Samuel Hoare, Joseph Priestley and Thomas Sutton.
Many grand houses stood in Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill, with the latter providing a haven for Hackneys many Orthodox Jewish residents from the 1930s. Alfred Hitchcock made many of his first films in Hoxton at the Gainsborough Studios in Poole Street.
After industrialisation, extensive post-war development and immigration, the areas many Georgian and Victorian terraces are being gentrified, warehouses are being converted and new apartments are being built. It was inner Londons greenest borough and London Transports best bike borough 2006, with 62 parks and open spaces, covering 815 acres (3.3 km2). Seven Hackney parks have now achieved Green Flag status. One, Abney Park, became scheduled in 2009 as one of Britains historic park and garden at risk from neglect and decay. Hackney Marshes play host to the largest collection of football pitches in Europe; and was the site of part of the 2012 Summer Olympics.