This remarkable Grade II*-listed early Georgian home is set within Islington’s Upper Street North Conservation Area, located just off the bustling Upper Street in a peaceful York stone-paved residential enclave. The house, built in 1720 with further modifications in 1750, unfolds over four storeys. It contains four bedrooms and measures over 2,700 sq ft in total. Additionally, there is a charming and private 55 ft walled garden to the rear, along with a separate garden studio. Countless historic architectural features adorn the house, including original joinery and panelling. The restoration of this house was carried out by master craftsmen and builders in collaboration with a noted historic architect. It stands as an exquisite set piece in Islington’s history, showcasing an exceptional example of preserved early Georgian domestic architecture.
Setting the Scene
Terretts Place is a secluded York stone paved courtyard and ‘blind alley’, discreetly sequestered behind the lively gauntlet of purveyors and restaurants on Upper Street. Lit by a once-gas double lantern, it is an enchanting enclave of just five dwellings. Originally, it was a standalone house, but in the 19th century, houses were added on both sides, creating a terrace.
The construction of Terretts Place dates back to the mid-1720s, and there are indications that an earlier half-timbered house may have been incorporated into the fabric, particularly noticeable in the kitchen area of the northern range in the kitchen. The rear of the house, built in the 1750s, has a grander appearance compared to the simpler elevation facing the main street. In recent years, the current owners have undertaken extensive restoration work, entrusting the renowned historic buildings specialist contractors, Fullers Builders, and collaborating with the late Patricia Brick, a celebrated historic architect. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
From the alleyway, the home lies directly ahead, rising four storeys high and one bay wide. It is constructed from brown brick laid in Flemish bond and adorned by red brick dressings. A recent addition to the structure is the mansard roof and uppermost storey, defined by tiled slopes front and back, along with an inset dormer window. The roof has lead flashings and follows a code six cathedral design. The flat-arched entrance has a wooden doorcase decorated with intricate mouldings. The original six-panelled door is topped by an overlight; a bracketed canopy with a modillion cornice extends between the brackets and continues over the window. The window itself is a six-six sash with thick, flush rails, likely original to the house, enhancing the historical charm.
The grand rear façade of the house is best appreciated from the end of the garden. It is from this vantage point a two-storey canted weatherboarded oriel is best admired. This wonderful architectural feature has dentil and modillion cornices on both the first and second floors. Box sash windows feature at all three main storeys, enhancing the elegance. Additionally, the mansard roof has a dormer with a trio of casement windows at the uppermost level of the house.
The front door opens to reveal the entrance hall decorated with wainscotting with a dado rail along one wall, complemented by plank and muntin panelling on the opposite side. The side passage behind the kitchen has a panelled dado, while wooden floorboards run throughout. The ground-floor plan is broadly one room at the front, constructed in 1720, and one at the back, built in 1750. The staircase is set in the middle of the plan.
The kitchen is positioned at the front of the house at ground level, finished in a simplistic architectural vernacular typical of the period. The space features additional plank and muntin panelling, painted in an ochre hue, as well as a brick subfloor. Two original closets can be found, one of which is an original pantry. At the rear of the room, the panelling forms a partition to the staircase passage, and an internal window is set at eye level. The open hearth includes an over mantel and a range cooker. Next to the clerestory window is a double butler sink and English delft tiles on the wall behind.
The rear of the house is set one step higher, with the rear hallway accessible through an arched architrave. Directly ahead lies the spacious utility room, from where there is access to the garden. Just off the hallway is the dining room, an excellent space painted arsenic green. The room has unmoulded panelling, moulded plaster cornice and a working fireplace with a decorative surround. The fireplace has a beaded ornament, Calacatta marble slips, a hob grate and a separate mantle shelf. The original box cornice is a notable feature in all but one of the principal spaces. A pair of sash windows, divided by a broad mullion, overlooks the rear garden. The window has broad glazing bars and shutters and seating seamlessly set into the box.
Off the side passage is a shower room and a generous storage cupboard. The passage leads to the box staircase, skillfully constructed around a conduit. The staircase has moulded risers, an 18th-century newel and turned balusters, showcasing the craftsmanship of its time.
On the first floor, towards the rear of the plan, is the elegant and spacious drawing room. This room has wonderful dimensions, measuring approximately 20 sq ft, extending into the canted bay. It is decorated with a moulded dado rail, elaborate wooden dentil and modillion cornice. The walls are painted in a captivating rich yellow, adding warmth to the space. A pair of sash windows, set within the bay, overlook the garden and have rise-and-fall shutters. The room’s focal point is the exquisite carved pine chimney piece, displaying a Rococo design dating back to c.1750. Elaborate foliage consoles and scrolling foliage surround a Ho Ho bird perched on the lintel while an eared and shouldered overmantel frame rests above. Carrara marble slips and beautifully illustrated glazed blue faience tiles complete the fireplace.
Mahogany wedding doors open from the drawing room to the principal front room, creating a wonderfully sociable combined space for parties when open. This room, set at the front of the plan, has moulded panelling, plaster cornice and an 18th-century fireplace adorned with a grooved ornament and a keystone of ogee profile. Both chimney stacks in these rooms are fully functional, allowing for fires during colder days. The room’s walls are painted in a rich Pompeian red, adding a touch of drama to the space. A window with shutters overlooks the front courtyard, offering a view of the bustling activity on Upper Street. This room opens to a study through an interior door set with float glass. The study has handsome fitted bookcases and a north-facing side window.
The second floor comprises three bedrooms and a bathroom. The two back rooms are partitioned by panelling, with the southern room featuring a moulded plaster cornice, while the northern room has an original fireplace surround, mantle shelf, Carrara marble slips and hob grate.
The uppermost floor, cleverly concealed behind what appears to be a cupboard door on the second-storey landing, is a more recent addition. It was sensitively added in the 1990s to create a well-lit attic storey, remaining faithful to the home’s original design. This floor is given over entirely to the principal bedroom suite, which includes a dressing room or occasional overflow bedroom to the front of the plan. The dressing room opens to a contemporary limestone en suite bathroom.
The generous bedroom on this floor overlooks the garden through an expansive run of three casement windows separated by two mullions. Fitted wardrobes with reclaimed doors run along one wall, with a glass-paned bookcase at one end. Wainscotting decorates the walls, echoing the spaces below. The ceiling in this room is wonderfully curved, resembling a shapely boat hull.
The Great Outdoors
The private walled garden, facing west, spans approximately 55 feet in length. It benefits from a beautiful quality of light during the afternoon and evenings. Adjacent to the rear of the house is a weatherboard workshop, carefully designed to mirror the utility room addition on the opposite side. This workshop features a clay tile-pitched roof and wooden casement windows. Together, these additions form a courtyard around a York stone terrace which connects the house to the main garden. The terrace is paved with flags, with a circular stone flag inset midway, marking the location where an earlier cistern was discovered in the 1990s.
In the garden, there is lovely mature planting, which includes climbing roses and jasmine. An archway festooned with more roses leads to the rear part of the garden, where an additional seating terrace and separate garden studio can be found. The garden studio has been constructed in a sympathetic manner with a timber frame and a clay tile-pitched roof. It has been equipped with electricity and has a fully boarded interior. It has lovely views of the back of the house through pretty leaded windows. This versatile space would make an excellent home office or studio.
Out and About
Terretts Place is seconds away from the boutiques, cafes, and eateries of Upper Street, home to an abundance of amenities, from Ottolenghi to Gails, the Almeida Theatre to The Old Red Lion Theatre & Pub. The charming Compton Arms and the fantastic Union Chapel are a few minutes’ walk from the house.
Islington High Street and the excellent Camden Passage are also close by. The area has very good gastropubs, including The Drapers Arms and The Albion. Corbin and King’s Bellanger is nearby on Islington Green.
The much-admired shops and restaurants of Highbury Barn are just to the north, through the green open space of Highbury Fields – which has tennis courts, a playground, and a swimming pool. King’s Cross and Coal Drops Yard are also within easy reach.
Several quality schools are within easy reach of Terretts Place, including the OFSTED-rated ‘Outstanding’ William Tyndale Primary School, the independent Dallington School, St Paul’s Cathedral School and North Bridge House School. London’s best independent secondary schools are a short bus or tube ride away and include City of London School and the City of London School for Girls.
The area enjoys excellent access to public transport, including several main bus routes to the City and central London. The Victoria Line at Highbury & Islington is ten minutes’ walk from the house to the north, and the Northern Line is five minutes’ walk away at Angel to the south. The Eurostar at King’s Cross St Pancras is also easily accessible, as are London’s airports.
Council Tax Band: G
The village of Islington was originally comprised of Upper Street and Lower Street, now known as Essex Road. Upper Street served as a route for cattle drovers heading to Smithfield Market in the City of London. These two streets met at Islington Green and have been in existence since at least the 12th century.
The fields surrounding Upper Street were once farmland, as they were conveniently close to the expanding City of London. However, in the 18th century, Upper Street began its transformation from an agricultural area to a residential one. Initially, it saw the construction of a sprinkling of gentlemen’s houses and tradesmen’s cottages. By 1735, Upper Street was almost entirely developed.
Terretts Place has a rich history spanning over 300 years. It is named after Mr Terrett, 18th century churchwarden of nearby St Mary’s church. The current house was built around the mid-1720s, although there are indications that an earlier half-timbered house may have been incorporated into the fabric. The back of the house seems to have undergone remodeling in the 1750s. The earliest known owner (c1800) was a Dr Gaskin, rector of Stoke Newington and a correspondent of Nelson’s. He also founded the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge.
The dating of the house is confirimed by the discovery of a 1724 halfpenny beneath the kitchen floor during restoration work in the late 1980s. Fragments of plaster busts and associated molds were also found, indicating that the house was used as a workshop in the early 19th century. Another notable find during the restoration was a well with Tudor brickwork located in the center of the ground floor passage. Careful repairs were made using lime mortar, and the well was preserved. At the same time, the mains drainage system was overhauled.
During the 19th century, the garden at Terretts Place was filled with workshops, which have since been demolished. In the 1990s, an additional well or cistern was discovered in the garden, now marked by a circular stone flag embedded in the rear terrace’s flagstones.
The house appears in several publications, including Andrew Byrne’s “London’s Georgian Houses” (1986). The current owner’s research research was published in ASCHB proceedings in 1990, and the house is depicted on Rocque’s map from 1746. Furthermore, there is a possibility that the house served as inspiration for Tom Pinch’s residence in Charles Dickens’ novel Martin Chuzzlewit.
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