“ Address: 2 & 4 Homerton High Street / Hackney / London E9 6JQ / England „
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-What is Sutton House?-
Sutton House is a National Trust property located in Hackney, London. Sutton House is one of the oldest houses in East London and has a very diverse and rich history. It was originally called Bryck Place because it was made from brick (something that was quite rare when it was built in 1535). Since 1535 it has been a home, several schools and a church building. It is now open to the public four days a week.
We took the overground to Hackney Central which is easy enough, although the trains don't seem to run as regularly as the tube and we did have to wait for fifteen minutes.
It wasn't easy getting from Hackney Central to Sutton House because there are no sign posts until you get closer and we never would have found it if we hadn't asked for directions. I would definitely recommend using a map.
When we first arrived at the house I bought a guide for 80p because previous experiences at National Trust properties suggested that there might be a lack of information available in the rooms. As it turned out there was a lot of interesting information in each room so I needn't have bothered but the guide was useful for guiding us around the house. The house is much bigger than I expected it to be and it's very easy to miss out a room if you don't have the room guide.
As I said earlier in this review Sutton House has a very diverse history and that's very evident as you look around the house, this was both a strength and a weakness. I like to feel like I've learnt something when I visit a place like this and I did learn a lot about the house and the history of Hackney but I found myself getting quite confused about time periods because you can go into one room that's set up like one century and then walk into the next and it be the next century. However, it also meant that you got a more complete history of the place because it wasn't like they were trying to recreate one particular period in the history of the building.
At some time during the history of Sutton House it was split into two so that one half could be rented out. Due to this I found that some of the information became quite repetitive because they would say the same thing in both halves of the house. However, there is information specific to most rooms as well as general information about the house available as you walk around so this didn't bother me too much.
Although I did enjoy looking around the house and all of the rooms my favourite part of the house was the display in the attic. It's a time line of the history of the house, London and Hackney. As I said before I did get a bit confused about time periods when I was looking around the house and the time line helped me to get it all in order in my head!
In one of the rooms there was a display of artwork from local schools. I think it's a great thing that Sutton House are so involved with the local community and I thought it was a good way to make local children more involved in the history of the area. However, this room held little interest for me and I did feel like the room could have been put to better use. There were some interesting features in the room that you could quite easily miss because of the artwork displayed there.
Overall I really enjoyed looking around the house. The layout of the rooms is interesting and really gives you a feel for the way that people would have lived at various periods throughout history. The information provided is interesting and there is a lot of it.
It took us about two hours to look around the house, but would probably take less time if I hadn't stopped to read every single bit of information!
-Cafe and Shop-
The Cafe was a bit of a disappointment. At about 1pm we decided to have lunch in the cafe but when we got there we discovered that they were only serving soup, sandwiches, cakes and prepackaged snacks. I was surprised to find that there weren't any vegetarian sandwiches, but I assume that they had just sold out. There were actually only three sandwiches when we were there so I'm assuming that it had been a busy morning!
We decided not to eat anything in the cafe in the end because we had been hoping to have tea and scones but the scones weren't served with cream and I don't really like butter with scones.
The woman who worked in the cafe was very friendly and helpful.
It's unfortunate that there wasn't anything that we wanted to eat in the cafe because it was such a nice place. You can either sit inside, in a conservatory area or outside. The outside area seemed so peaceful and I can imagine that it would be easy to sit there and forget that you're in the middle of a city.
The shop is the first thing you see when you enter the house and is the place where you buy your ticket. It sells some really nice little gifts and souvenirs. It is quite a small shop but the choice of souvenirs is quite good and very reasonably priced. They also sell second hand books, again for a very reasonable price.
The man working in the shop was very friendly and helpful. My friend joined the National Trust while we were there and I stayed in the shop talking with the man while she went to fill out the forms. The man was very knowledgeable about Sutton House and the National Trust and I thought having such a friendly member of staff to greet people really added to the positive experience of visiting Sutton House.
I didn't have any children with me when I visited Sutton House but I did notice that there were a lot of activities for children and they do try to make things more interactive in order to make things more appealing to children.
The ground floor is accessible to wheelchair users but the National Trust do advise that if you are a wheelchair user you should book in advance.
I had a really great day at Sutton House. I have a National Trust membership so I didn't pay anything but I was surprised at how cheap it is. It is a really good value morning or afternoon out for people who have an interest in history. I would definitely recommend visiting Sutton House.
For more information please visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/suttonhouse