History of the Cloudesley Estate

What we know today as the Cloudesley Estate, the rectangle bounded by Cloudesley Road, Cloudesley Place, Liverpool Road and Richmond Road, was originally 14 acres of land known as the "Stony Fields", owned by an Islington resident called Richard Cloudesley.  In 1517, Richard Cloudesley died, having made out a will leaving the Stony Fields as an endowment, the income of which was to be used for various religious and charitable purposes.  A Trust was set up to manage this endowment, first leasing the land as pasture for grazing cows, then in the early 1800's selling off leases for the building of the houses we live in today.  The streets were laid out and the houses built on a speculative basis from about 1825 to 1835 by local builders such as John Emmett, mainly using a late Georgian design known as the "New River Style". 

The Cloudesley Estate was popular with relatively well-off, respectable citizens keen to flee central London for the clean air and still relatively rural nature of Islington at that time.  Typically, each house would be occupied by a middle class professional or artisan family with a servant or two.  Beginning in about 1880, however, the area started going downhill, for various reasons, with those who could afford it moving north to areas such as Highgate and Hampstead, to be replaced with a more working class population of clerical staff or manual laborours.  By the turn of the century, most of the houses were multi-occupancy, with as many as 20 individuals from three or four families sharing the same premises, often in fairly grim circumstances.  This state of affairs persisted for most of the 20th century and the area became notorious as a London slum.  Nevertheless there is evidence that the estate was thoughout this time a closely knit and thriving community, with many shops, workplaces and pubs, especially down Cloudesley Road.  Then starting in the mid 1960's a miraculous process of "gentrification" began - first artists and middle class bohemians, then professional people started moving in and "doing up" their properties.  Today, the Cloudesley Estate is one of the most sought after areas of London!

Cloudesley Trust LogoThe Charity of Richard Cloudesley, now known simply as "Cloudesley", has been at the centre of this remarkable history for 500 years, carefully managing Richard Cloudesley's legacy and ensuring that the income from the estate was used to fulfil his wishes.  The Trust's excellent website describes this history in detail (in particular, see the Timeline on the home page) and in 2017 they commissioned Dr Cathy Ross to research and publish a report entitled "Cloudesley: 500 Years in Islington" which is free to download and highly recommended.

In the 1930's the Trust sold off about half the properties in the estate and invested the proceeds, but it still owns about 100 freeholds, including that of the Crown pub!  The income from these properties and the Trust's investments enables about £1 million per year in charitable grants to Islington residents, organisations and churches (though sadly not Holy Trinity, since it is currently deconsecrated!).  Richard Cloudesley would be delighted!


The Cloudesley Association Local History Research Project 

Jenny Tatton 4The rest of this section of the website is focused on research into the Cloudesley Estate carried out mainly by members of the Cloudesley Association.

Following a Herculean research effort by Cloudesley Road resident Jenny Tatton, pictured, we have amassed a huge amount of data about past residents of the Cloudesley Estate, mainly those linked in one way or another with Holy Trinity Church in Cloudesley Square.  

The research is a work in progress.  Currently the data covers the 19th and early 20th century, from when building the church started in 1829 to the last available church data in 1932.  Census data is also available every 10 years from 1841 to 1911.  The intention is to extend the data on residents throughout the 20th century to the present day.  We also intend to drill down in much more detail into the histories of particularly interesting residents or families in order to get valuable insights into what it was like in this fascinating part of London in times past.

All members of the Cloudesley Association are encouraged to participate in this research effort by contributing relevant information or stories about the area which will help us improve and enrich our understanding of its history.  This might be information about the houses you live in and the people who lived there before, or information about relations if your family has lived in the area for a long time, any exterior or interior images of the area, insights into the changing social, economic and commercial characteristics of the estate, and of course anything about Holy Trinity Church.  We hope that the data already collected will prompt memories of past times and perhaps encourage you to conduct your own research into your own houses or family histories.

In parallel with the Association's research efforts, the Diocese has been carrying out its own "Our Heritage" research project helped by local volunteers, beginning with a focus on the burials in the crypt of Holy Trinity.  As reported in a recent Newsletter, the Diocese was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to support this work, which started in March 2019 and is ongoing.  The data which Jenny collected, particularly the burial records from 1829 to 1854, provided an excellent base from which to start.

We have also been contacted by an organisation called "Layers of London", also supported by an HLF grant, and we are sharing our data with them.  You can check out what they're doing at https://www.layersoflondon.org/ and if you search for the "Cloudesley Estate" Collection, you can see what has already been uploaded.

Our current base data is organised in five main groups below:

Holy Trinity Church Burials, 1829 to 1854

Holy Trinity Church Baptisms and Births, 1829 to 1899

Holy Trinity Church Marriages, 1899 to 1932

Cloudesley Square Census data, for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1991, 1901 and 1911

Stonefield Street Census data, for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1991, 1901 and 1911

      (Or to skip directly to the Stories Behind the Data, click here)


In each case, Jenny has transcribed the handwritten records available through her subscription to the "Ancestry" genealogical site and organised the results in Word files.  This has involved many, many hours of painstaking work on Jenny's part, but don't worry, she enjoys it!  Note that, for the church data, only records relating to individuals living in the Cloudesley Association area has been transcribed, to date.  Quite often the records are difficult to decipher or information is missing or may be misleading.  We have tried to correct any obvious anomalies, but errors are bound to creep in so please take care in interpreting the results and do please let us know if you spot any mistakes.  Once again, this is a work in progress and hopefully we can improve the accuracy and consistency of the data over time.  We have then converted each Word file into an Excel spreadsheet in a form which enables it to be analysed in various ingenious ways in order to identify social trends and other interesting insights (this is primarily the work of your Web Manager, Nick Collin!).  You can download and view both the Word files with the original "raw" records, or the more processed Excel files.  Note that each Excel file consists of one "worksheet" with the base data, then various additional worksheets with analyses of the data in one form or another.  These additional analyses can be accessed by clicking on the appropriately labelled tabs at the bottom of each Excel file.  Finally we have prepared a number of additional Excel files with higher level analyses, usually with trends expressed in the form of graphs.  Those of you who know how to use Excel are welcome to carry out additional analyses - please share your results!



Emmett Records 2

Census Records - Illustration.  By 1861, John T Emmett, Architect aged 37, and son of John Emmett, responsible for building Cloudesley Square as a speculative development, had moved into No 1 , together with his widowed mother, his sister, and two servants.  The transcribed data is shown below.

Cloudesley Square

House No

Name Relation to Head of Family Condition Age Profession, Trade, Employment or Independent Means Where Born


(If any)

1 Mary Emmett Head Wd 65 Proprietress of Houses Middx Islington
John T Emmett Son U 37 Architect Middx Clerkenwell
Mary Ann Emmett Daughter U 34 Proprietress of Houses Middx Clerkenwell
Eliza Ashdown Servant U 40 Housemaid Kent Shoreham
Lucy Ruffold Servant 38 General Servant Surrey Ash



Base Data


Holy Trinity Church Burials, 1829 to 1854

Word Download Icon


Download Word File: Burials


Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Burials

Starting in 1829, some 178 souls have been buried in the crypt of Holy Trinity (only the records of those resident in the Cloudesley Association area have been transcribed to date, although all records are planned to be transcribed as part of the Diocese project).  By 1854 an act of parliament prohibited further burials in built-up areas of London and the crypt was closed.  In subsequent years many of the coffins were vandalised - see "Tales From the Crypt".

In the Excel file the records are colour coded to indicate the records of individuals which have also turned up in the other Baptism and Burials records.  One such is Charles Mason Sharpe.  We have a photograph of Charles' coffin and Jenny took it upon herself to research him and his family, who all lived locally (his father Joseph was also buried in the crypt).  You can read Jenny's fascinating story about the Sharpe family here


Update (March 2021).  The Diocese research project referred to above, also called "Tales from the Crypt", is now complete and a new website - www.cloudesleycentre.org - has been set up to give access to the results.  A group of volunteers, including Jenny and several other members of the Cloudesley Association, transcribed all 178 Holy Trinity burial records and researched the individuals buried in the crypt and their families.  Two large files of burial data can be downloaded at the new website under the heading "Tales".  The first, "Summary of the tales", contains basic data for each of the 178 burials.  The second, "Detailed longer tales", has more extensive information about a selection of the most interesting of the individuals and their families (there is some overlap here with the articles under History > People in this website).  Both files are full of fascinating details of the early residents of the Cloudesley Estate and its surroundings and will no doubt be an invaluable research resource for future historians for years to come.  



Holy Trinity Church Baptisms and Births, 1829 to 1917

Word Download IconDownload Word File: Baptisms & Births

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Baptisms & Births


In this case, Jenny has transcribed a massive 1081 records!  Each baptism records the name, address, baptism date and birth date (frequently missing), as well as the names and occupations of the parents.  The Excel file shows the records sorted by date, name and street.  Records are also counted by year, street and occupation of parents.  Finally there is an analysis of changes in "social class" over the years.  This is a bit subjective - I have grouped parents' occupations into a variety of arbitrary categories - but the picture which emerges is of a distinct "degentrification" over the period.  The same pattern is seen in other data sets, below.  The street names are interesting.  Today's names make up the majority of entries but some names, such as Upper Islington Terrace, or Cloudesley Terrace, have changed.  You can see where the old streets were on old maps of the area here.



Holy Trinity Church Marriages, 1899 to 1932

Word Download IconDownload Word File: Marriages

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Marriages

Some 586 marriages of residents of the Cloudesley Estate took place over the period.  We don't know why there are no records for years before 1899.  Perhaps the Diocese will be able to find out.  Each record shows the names of the bride and the groom, their addresses, occupations, date of the marriage, names and occupations of fathers, and names of witnesses.  The Excel file shows analyses in terms of marriages per year, counts of residence, age at marriage by sex (quite young, with the grooms slightly older than the brides, but not as they get older!), job counts by sex, and fathers' job counts.  There is a wealth of interesting insights to be gleaned from this data.  For example almost all of the "Bachelors" had jobs at the time of marriage, but very few of the "Spinsters"!  Also, they appear to be a remarkably parochial lot.  In the vast majority of cases the happy couple lived prior to marriage in the same small Cloudesley area, often in the same street, and in many cases in the same house!  Is this a case of lodgers falling in love with the landlord's daughter?  Or is it some sort of artefact of the data?  

On June 12, 1910, there was a double marriage between Albert Brazell and Ellen Stockton, and George Brazell (brothers presumably) and Rose Clemens, all giving their address as 16 Cloudesley Square (my address - Nick!).  Oddly, none of these people feature in the 1911 census records for 16 Cloudesley Square (when there were no less than 15 residents across 4 families!) and in the 1901 census it is "uninhabited". 

Multiple occupancy is the norm during this period as we will see below.  Both the job count of bachelors and the job count of fathers reveal a fairly lowly level of occupation at this time - a preponderence of clerks, artisans, labourers and the like, with increasing numbers of soldiers from 1914.  Note the spike in the number of marriages in 1915 as our brave lads married their sweethearts before going off to war!  There's an even bigger spike in 1923 - who knows why?



Cloudesley Square Census Data, 1841 to 1911

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Census Data

This is the largest and arguably the most interesting data set, especially if you happen to live in Cloudesley Square!  UK census data is available starting in 1841 and every ten years after this up to 1911 after which it is restricted by a "100 year rule", presumably for data privacy purposes.  For the time being only the Excel combined worksheets file for each ten year period starting in 1841 and ending in 1911 is downloadable above.  We also have separate Word and Excel files for each census year which will be added to the website later.  Note however, that even on the combined spreadsheet we have used Excel routines to calculate a number of key statistics at the bottom of each worksheet, such as occupants per house, families per house and individuals per family.

The census data collected changes slightly over the years but always includes the house number, names of residents, their ages and occupations.  One of the most interesting things to do is to take a particular house (ideally your own!) and see how the occupants change over the years.  Once again, the most striking picture to emerge is a steady "degentrification" over the period.  In 1829, when the houses were first built they tended to be occupied by single families, typically middle class with professional type occupations and in almost all cases one or more servants.  Starting in the 1880s and even more so in 1891, 1901 and 1911, multiple occupancy is the norm, with 2, 3, 4, or 5 families per house, and some instances of 15 or more indiviuduals sharing the same dwelling, presumably with just just two rooms on each of four floors.  How this actually worked in practice would be fascinating to find out.  Where did they sleep?  Where did they eat?  What about washing, bathing, going to the toilet?  Does anyone know?


Here are a couple of interesting analyses of this census data.

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: "Household Trends by Census Year"

 This clearly shows how the number of individuals and families per house increased markedly over the period.

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: "Employment Trends by Census Year"

And this confirms what we saw earlier.  Using the somewhat arbitrary and subjective categories referred to earlier, residents tend to be professional or have other middle class jobs or independent means earlier on, but by the end of the period they are mostly workers or fairly lowly tradespeople.  Servants are by far the most numerous category initially but are almost unknown by 1911.

It will be extremely interesting to find out what happens to Cloudesley Square as we progress throughout the 20th century.  We know that rapid gentrification took place starting around the 1970s, but what happened between 1911 and then?

Watch this space!



New: Stonefield Street Census Data, 1841 to 1911

Jenny has now also transcribed the census records for all the houses in Stonefield Street.  Once again, you can download the combined Excel spreadsheet showing details for each 10 year period from 1841 to 1911 here below.

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Census Data, Stonefield St

The data tell a similar story to the Cloudesley Square records, but more so!  The decline in the fortunes of Stonefield Street were really spectacular, especially after the turn of the century.  This can be seen clearly in the downloadable analyses below.

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Household Trends, Stonefield St

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Employment Trends, Stonefield St

Stonefields Occupants

Metrics such as Total Individuals and Families in the street climb steadily through the 18th century then jump dramatically from 1901 to 1911.  This is even more the case with average Occupants and Families per House.  By 1911 every house in the street is multi-occupancy, most with four families per house, presumably one family per floor.  The number of people living in a single house in 1911 is astounding - there are two instances of 27 occupants, and several with over 20!  And the Employment trends show a steady deterioration from professional middle class occupants with their servants in 1841 to much more lowly occupations (plus many schoolchildren!) in 1911.

Reasons for the gradual deterioration of the area, as mentioned elsewhere, include the presence nearby of Kings Cross, from the 1840s onwards, as well as noxious industries in areas such as Belle Isle, and the opportunity for the better off to move to new housing developments further out of London, from where they could commute into the city on the new railways.  But the dramatic deterioration from 1901 to 1911 may well have been exacerbated by another factor.  It seems that the Richard Cloudesley Trust, which still owned most or all of the freehold in the Cloudesley Estate, originally granted leaseholds to speculative builders in or around 1829, typically with 81 year leases.  These would have been renewed at or around the turn of the century and they may then have been taken up by what were, effectively "slum landlords" who converted the majority of the house in Stonefield Street to multi-occupancy, usually with a family per floor (this certainly seems to be what happened at 16 Cloudesley Square, at the hands of one Stanley Conway - see here).

Whatever the reasons, by 1911 Stonefield Street appears to have been, by any reasonable criteria, a slum - and seems to have remained as such throughout most of the twentieth century, until gentrification started in the 1960s.  What this meant in practice was levels of deprivation which are difficult to imagine by modern standards.  The final analysis below takes advantage of the fact that the 1911 census show for each mother living in Stonefield Street, the numbers of years married, and the number of children born, broken down by numbers still living and numbers who have died.  This reveals an average child mortality rate of some 25%!  Individual cases are even more heartbreaking.  Consider, for example, Jane Mary Ann Snelling, of No. 24, a boarder, now widowed with occupation "Washing Casual - (Own A/C)", who had been married for 33 years, giving birth to 13 children, 7 of whom had died by 1911!  Poor woman!

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Child Births and Deaths, Stonefield St


Even Newer!  Stonefield Street Poor Rate data, 1826-1845

Jenny has now extended our knowledge of both occupiers and owners of houses in Stonefield Street back to when they were first built - mostly by David Freeman.  His widow and children continued renting them out for many years to come - see this article on Martha Freeman, here.  The full story has  been written up by Jenny in "From Stony Fields to Bricks and Mortar", here.


Stories Behind the Data

The rest of this History section of the website presents stories about the history of the Cloudesley Estate organised into the following categories (see the drop down menu at the top of the page for sub-menus):