Our success is rooted in our understanding of London's villages. It's not just about knowing schools, shops or transport; every agent should know these things. It is about appreciating an area's heritage, seeing the shifting shape of things today and most crucially, it is about having a real grasp of why people love living there.
Our icons represent a key fact about the local area. Do you understand which each of them represent? Take a look at each of them below or download our little local icons guide:
Blackheath Estate Agents
Confusingly, Blackheath Football Club is the world’s oldest open rugby football club. It was founded in 1858 and in 1871 was responsible for organising the first international rugby match. England played Scotland – and lost.
Blackheath has played a part in no fewer than three rebellions. In both the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 and Jack Cade’s rebellion of 1450, the rebels camped on the Heath; taking advantage of the good views over London. The Cornish rebellion of 1497 was crushed in a gory battle on Blackheath. Other rebellious types have fared better on Blackheath.
A newspaper report from October 1735 noted that, “We hear that for about six weeks past, Blackheath has been so infested by two highwaymen that ‘tis dangerous for travellers to pass”.
Bow Village Estate Agents
Although the potteries of the midlands became the best known makers of bone china, it was in Bow in the late 1780s that bone china was first developed. Ever wondered why bone china is so called? It’s because it’s made with the ash of animal bones – a by-product that would otherwise have gone to waste.
Thomas Frye’s Bow porcelain factory was conveniently close to the cattle markets and slaughterhouses of Essex giving him easy access to animal bones that are still used to make bone china today. The word that denotes someone born within the sound of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow may well derive from the 14th century English for a small, misshapen egg.
By 1521 it was used by country people to ‘diss’ effeminate town-dwellers.
Canary Wharf estate agents
Moments down river from Canary Wharf is Millwall. The area takes its name from the windmills that once lined the river wall there in the 19th century. They were used to mill the wheat and corn that fed London.
In the early part of the 19th century the area around Canary Wharf was one of the busiest ports in the world. Fruit from – wait for it – the Canary Islands, gave one of the wharves and today’s development its name.
In the great ‘80s movie The Long Good Friday, gangster kingpin Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) had plans to redevelop the then-desolate Docklands using money invested by his associates in the American mafia. His vision for the area? To stage the Olympic Games there.
Chiswick Estate Agent
Not a lot of people know this but Chiswick was the engine room for West London at the turn of the 20th century, thanks to The Powerhouse. Built in 1901 by William Curtis Green, The Powerhouse provided the electricity for the trams that rattled around the area. Sadly, it was overtaken by Lots Road Power Station in Chelsea and within 20 years of opening was closing its doors for business.
Thankfully, there was a happy ending for the building. The Victorian Society campaigned for its survival and The Powerhouse became the first Victorian building built in the 20th century to become listed.
The name Chiswick is of Old English origin and means ‘Cheese Farm’. It is believed to originate from the riverside meadows and farms that are thought to have supported an annual cheese fair on Dukes Meadows up until the 18th century. Food and drink remain a feature of Chiswick life to this day. Fuller, Smith & Turner, for instance, have been brewing some very fine ales here for the last 350 years.
Clerkenwell estate agents
St John’s Square in Clerkenwell was home to a priory of the Knights Hospitaliers of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The order was formed in Jerusalem in the 12th century to provide hospital care and protection to Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land.
Today, the site at St. John’s Gate Clerkenwell serves as their museum. You can see rare manuscripts, exquisite silver and suits of armour there. Pavements within yards of St. Johns Gate cover one of London’s biggest plague pits. Tens of thousands of bodies were buried there during a virulent outbreak in 1348.
On a lighter note, John, owner of the Three Kings on Clerkenwell Green, gave Madness their first gig at the Hope and Anchor in Islington in May 1979. John ended up paying £30 for the PA hire.
Greenwich estate agents
The Fan Museum at 12 Crooms Hill is the only museum in the world devoted entirely to every aspect of fans and fan making. You can admire more than 3,500 fans there – the oldest is 11th century.
There is even a fan decorated by Walter Sickert the British impressionist painter; it depicts the actress Little Dot Hetherington performing at the Bedford Theatre, up north in Camden.
From stage to screen: Greenwich Park and its buildings are featured in an extraordinary variety of films and TV shows. It was used for many of the London scenes in the 1995 version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, starring Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson.
The 2nd wedding in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) was filmed in the Royal Naval College chapel. This is where the clergyman, played by Rowan Atkinson, makes his “holy goat” gaffe when he tries to marry the happy couple.
Hackney estate agents
Gunpowder plotter Francis Tresham was a resident of Hoxton. He wrote a letter to his brother-in-law Lord Monteagle warning him not to attend Parliament on the 5th November – for obvious reasons. Anyway, the letter was intercepted and Tresham arrested and banged up in the Tower.
Equally notorious and a resident of Hoxton was bareknuckle fighter, bouncer, criminal and prisoner, author, businessman, bodyguard, enforcer, weightlifter, television presenter and actor, Leonard John “Lenny” McLean. McLean was said to be the ‘hardest man in England’ – though how you set about proving this is hard to say.
Today, Hoxton attracts an altogether more civilised celebrity. Damien Hirst and Anthony Gormley both exhibit at Jay Joplin’s White Cube gallery on Hoxton Square, and there are even rumours that Rihanna is looking for a place there.
Islington estate agents
The antiques market along Islington’s Camden Passage was set up in the 1960s. At its height more than 350 antiques dealers sold everything from teapots to tiaras there.
If you visit the market via Angel tube station, you have plenty to ponder over what you might buy – the escalators there are the longest in Western Europe. A lot of Islingtonians use the escalators because the borough has the lowest ratio of car ownership in London – just 0.5 cars per household.
Islington has a proud and important link with the property world: the licensees for the Monopoly board game used to meet for tea in the Lyon’s Corner House in Islington, built on the site of the original Angel Inn. That’s why ‘The Angel, Islington’ is included in the British version of the game.
Shad Thames estate agents
The brick warehouses of Shad Thames housed huge quantities of imported tea and spices; Star Anise among them. So great were the amounts – and so fragrant the spices – that even when they were converted in the 1980s, buildings like Coriander Court and the Cardamom building smelt of their respective goods.
The warehouses and wharves of Shad Thames weren’t always so fragrant though. Charles Dickens described St. Saviour’s as one the filthiest and strangest localities hidden in London – given the squalor of Dickensian London that’s going some.
In Oliver Twist, the brute Bill Sykes falls to his death in the tidal mud that snakes up St. Saviour’s Dock.
In A Fish Called Wanda, Kevin Kline dangles John Cleese from the window of a warehouse apartment in Mill Street.
Stoke Newington estate agents
Daniel Foe was born in Stoke Newington in 1660. He’s better known by the name he assumed later: Defoe. He added the ‘De’ for a little aristocratic pizzazz.
He’s best known for writing Robinson Crusoe which was published in 1719. He based the novel on the story of a Scot called Alexander Selkirk who was stranded for four years on a deserted island. Selkirk spent his time hunting on the shoreline until driven inland by a band of aggressive sea lions. Nasty.
Fresh water was certainly an issue for Selkirk and for the fictional Crusoe – what they would have given for access to a fresh water supply on the scale of Stoke Newington’s east and west reservoirs.
Both our castaways would be surprised to find the terrapins that have colonised another body of water in Stoke Newington – an ornamental lake in Clissold Park.
Surrey Quays estate agents
In the unlikely event that whilst walking through Surrey Quays you experienced an urge to own an American postage stamp, then you could have headed straight to the Mayflower Inn – it was the only UK pub licensed to sell American stamps.
The clue as to why is in its name – The Mayflower;the boat that carried the Pilgrim Fathers to America, set sail from nearby Rotherhithe. The Mayflower set sail on September 6th 1620 with 102 passengers. A single baby was born on the trip and named Oceanus Hopkins. There were two dogs on board: a mastiff and springer spaniel - their names are not recorded.
The voyage to Plymouth on the east coast of America took a month and three days. Five of the Mayflower’s passengers perished at sea, but more than fifty succumbed to their first, brutal Massachusett’s winter.
Wapping estate agents
Well into the 20th Century there was a salty tang to Wapping; sailors, mastmakers, boat-builders, blockmakers and instrument-makers worked and lived there for as long as the Thames was a thriving commercial waterway.
During Wapping’s pre-Victorian heyday, the scene at the Prospect of Whitby pub on a Friday night must have been quite something: back then the pub was known colloquially as The Devil’s Tavern and was frequented by sailors, thieves, pirates, smugglers and other archaic bad boys. Some more sensitive souls have visited the site of the pub too; both Turner and Whistler sketched views from the site. Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens ate there – though not together.
For more than 400 years, execution dock on the river at Wapping was the place to watch smugglers, mutineers and other maritime miscreants swing gently from gallows and scaffolds of various designs. Captain Kidd’s hanging may be the most celebrated. The rope broke on the first attempt, his neck on the second.