The oldest house in Hackney. Sutton House was built in 1535 by Ralph Sadleir a courtier of Henry VIII. At the age of fourteen Ralph had been placed in the household of Thomas Cromwell. Here he learnt Latin and developed other skills he would later put to good use in his political career. Sadleir carried out missions in connection to the Dissolution of the Monastries. He was later sent on embassies to Scotland and France. At Cromwell's house Sadleir met his wife Helen Barre. By 1535 Ralph had built his family a three-storey house in Hackney, 'the bryk place' this being a rare example of a Tudor red-brick building. Sutton House became home to a succession of merchants, sea captains, Huguenot silk-weavers, Victorian schoolmistresses and Edwardian clergy. The frontage was modified in the Georgian period, but the core remains an essentially Tudor building. Oak panelled rooms, including a rare 'linen fold' room, Tudor windows and carved fireplaces survive intact, and an exhibition tells the history of the house and its former occupants. In 1751 John Cox divided the house into two self-contained residences; Ivy House and Milford House. The Hackney Parish rate books provide a complete record of the occupants of the two houses from the 1750s.
At the turn of the 18th century, Hackney was renowned for its many schools, and Sutton House contained a boys' school, with headmaster Dr Burnet, which was attended in 1818 by the novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The building next became Milford House girls' school. The name is a mis-attribution to Thomas Sutton, founder of Charterhouse School, who was another notable Hackney resident, in the adjacent Tan House. This was demolished in 1806 to allow for the extension of Sutton Place, a terrace of 16 Georgian Houses (Grade II listed). Sutton House was bought by the National Trust in the 1930s with the proceeds of a bequest. During World War II it was used as a centre for Fire Wardens, who kept watch from the roof. From the 1960s it was rented by the ASTMS Union, led by its charismatic general secretary Clive Jenkins. When the union left in the early 1980s, the house fell into disrepair. In the mid-1980s the building was squatted and used as a music venue and social centre, known as the Blue House (a decorated wall from this time is preserved within the current museum). After the squatters were evicted the building's condition continued to decline. The Sutton House Society, originally known as the Save Sutton House Campaign, which was formed in March 1987, then began a campaign to rescue the building and open it to the public.
What was once derelict scrubland at Sutton House has been transformed into a late 20th century-themed urban oasis with an edible garden, and art installations including The Grange - a 1970s caravan fitted out as a historic stately home. This is called the Breakers Yard. There is a drop-off point, an adapted toilet near the entrance and full wheelchair accessibility to the building. The museum is closed in January. The interior of the house often appears as a backdrop to 'historical documentaries'.
Location : 2 and 4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, London, E9 6JQ
Transport: Hackney Central (Tfl Overground - North London Line). London Buses routes 425 and 488 stops near the house.
Opening Times: Wednesday to Sunday 12:00 to 17:00.
Saturday / Sunday 12:00 to 17:30.
Tickets : Adults £5.00. Children £2.50
Under 5's are Free.
Tel: 020 8986 2264