This exceptional mid-terrace, Grade II-listed cottage with a south-facing walled courtyard garden lies within Stepney Green’s York Square conservation area, in the shadow and parish of the important medieval St Dunstan’s Church. Beautifully designed and renovated to an exacting standard, the house has a classic stock brick façade with a coped parapet and is set over three light-filled levels, which contain two bedrooms and measure over 850 sq ft. Restoration throughout was carried out by noted master craftsmen responsible for many of the most revered Spitalfields houses; the kitchen addition was designed by the celebrated Chris Dyson Architects. The house is an exquisite set piece in East End history and represents an exemplary fusion of historical preservation and modern design.
Setting the Scene
Durham Row is a discreet mews lined with handsome early 19th century cottages, positioned in a quiet and coveted corner of Stepney Green. The terrace has artisan shop windows at ground level with reinstated external shutters, and what would once have been modest family accommodation above. The original fabric of this house has been treated with exceptional care; Georgian detailing, hardwood floors and the box staircase were restored by hand, with additional long-lost features meticulously reimagined and reinstated. Brass electric plates throughout are by Jim Lawrence and there are cast-iron column radiators in all rooms. The exquisite chimneypieces are either antique or custom-built by renowned historic specialists Jamb. For more information on the history of Stepney Green itself, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
Entrance is through a solid hardwood front door at street level, which has been painted in the aubergine tones of ‘Cordoba’ by Little Greene and is topped by a roundhead leaded cobweb fanlight. The door features Banham security locks in satin brass. The hallway has views along the entire length of the house, through to the kitchen and garden beyond, giving a wonderful sense of space and light. The flooring throughout is reclaimed Victorian pitch-pine; carefully chosen, hand sanded and left untreated to match the original box staircase.
To the right is the living room, a large, versatile space that occupies the entire plan of the original building. The statuary marble chimneypiece to the front is decorated with complex mouldings in the prevailing manner of George II’s reign; it surrounds a warming wood burner by Chesney’s. The rear of the room features a black marble Bolection moulded chimneypiece, based on an example in King William III’s private dressing room at Hampton Court Palace. The entire room is panelled by the noted specialist Matt Whittle, who completed all joinery in the house to an exemplary standard, and painted in lucent ‘China Clay’ by Little Greene.
Glass wedding doors lead to Chris Dyson’s sensitive extension, which almost doubled the footprint of the ground floor to create a large kitchen and dining room, where full-height triplicate sliding glass and hardwood doors open to the charming courtyard garden. The space is flooded with light from the south-facing aspect and the large mechanised roof light above. Forest green cabinetry with an oak worktop and Rangemaster run along one wall, while terrazzo flooring by Fired Earth extends underfoot. Underfloor heating warms the space in the cooler months.
The incredible box staircase ascends from the hallway to the first floor, leading to the dressing room at the rear of the plan. This has plentiful wardrobing and leads to the main bathroom, which has a cast-iron rolltop bath, an over-shower and restored brass and sanitary ware. A beautiful late-Georgian reclaimed stone chimneypiece lends additional character to the room. The main bedroom lies at front of the plan, entirely panelled and painted in ‘Bone China Blue’. There are fine wooden mouldings to the fireplace, with Carrara marble slips and a handsome Georgian cast-iron grate.
The apex of the house is home to a second bedroom-cum-study, bathed in soothing ‘Tuscany Pink’ and home to a beautiful Arts and Craft antique stone chimneypiece and warming wood burner, again by Chesney’s. An en suite wet room is neatly positioned to the rear of the room, with walls clad in Carrara marble tiles.
The Great Outdoors
The south-facing courtyard garden is incredibly private and acts as an additional outdoor room during warmer months – perfect for entertaining or alfresco suppers. An intimate connection is formed between indoor and outdoor spaces care of the full-height tripartite sliding glass doors that open to a York stone terrace and raised beds with maturing planting. A beautifully designed glazed shed, also created by Matt Whittle, extends across the width of the garden at the rear, and an additional outdoor ‘privy’ with washbasin is positioned to one side.
Out and About
Durham Row is a short walk from St Dunstan’s Church, which opens onto Whitehorse Road Park. The green open spaces of Mile End Park, Limehouse Basin, Victoria Park (which provides access to the Regent’s Canal), Stepney Green Park and Stepney City Farm and Cafe are also all a short walk away.
The famed Punjabi restaurant Tayyabs is nearby, as is the much-loved bakery Rinkoffs and several excellent coffee shops including Aldgate Coffee House. The eclectic George Tavern on Jubilee Street is recommended for drinks and occasional music events, while the Whitechapel Gallery and independent Genesis Cinema provide cultural distractions. Spitalfields and Shoreditch offer further opportunities for dining, entertainment and shopping, with restaurants including Ottolenghi, Cecconi’s and St. John Bread & Wine. Spitalfields Market and the surrounding streets now offer shopping opportunities comparable to the West End.
Transport links are excellent; Stepney Green Underground station (Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines) and Mile End Underground station (Central, District and Hammersmith & City lines) are both within short walking distance. Nearby Limehouse runs national rail and DLR services. The Elizabeth line, due to open in 2022, will provide access from Whitechapel (also on the East London Line) to Bond Street in 10 minutes and Heathrow Airport in 38 minutes.
Stepney Green is the oldest area of East London and was largely rural until the 1820s. It is the only district to be recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, when the principal landowner was the Bishop of London and the original Saxon church of St Dunstan’s stood where its successor remains today. This particular corner was known as Rogues Well in Rocque’s definitive map of 1746, suggesting it was the location of one of the many springs and small streams soon to disappear under the dense streets when London was developed in the late 18th century.
The urbanisation of the area was driven by maritime trade along the River Thames and the development of the London docks. In fact, the parish of Stepney was responsible for the registration of all maritime births, deaths and marriages until the 19th century. This maritime association is remembered in the old rhyme: “He who sails on the wide sea, is a parishioner of Stepney”.
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