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More from Emma Bryning

The Squatters’ Graffiti at Sutton House, London

Sutton House is the oldest domestic building in Hackney and one of London’s last remaining Tudor houses, having been built in 1535 by Tudor Statesman and Secretary of State to King Henry VIII, Ralph Sadlier. Even though the house is called ‘Sutton House’, it was never the dwelling of Thomas Sutton who actually lived in the house next door. The house was originally called ‘Bryk Place’ and was rested among long open green spaces and near to the town centre of Hackney. The history of the house is complex as, over time, it has been a Tudor manor house, a Victorian school, a Men’s Institute during the First World War, a Trade Unions Office in the 1960s-70s and a punk squat in the 1980s. The house was restored in the early 1990s by the National Trust and opened to the public in 1994. In order to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the squatter’s arrival to Sutton House, the National Trust converted the Squatter’s Room to recreate how it would have looked in 1985 with the help of some of the squatters who had lived there. In the room, visitors can see some of the original graffiti art left by the squatters which includes anti-fascist, anti-Thatcher and feminist political slogans. 

Graffiti of Wellclose Prison Debtors’ Cell at the Museum of London

Wellclose Prison, also known as Neptune Street Prison, was located off Wellclose Square near to the Tower of London. The 18th-century small prison was run on a commercial basis and the majority of inmates were insolvent debtors who were either imprisoned until they could repay their debts or were awaiting transfer to Newgate Prison. The prison was below a public tavern which was connected to a courthouse, where the tavern’s landlord acted as gaoler. By the 1790s, the prison was empty and in a state of disrepair. The prison was finally closed in the 19th century and the building it was housed within was turned into a lodging house. When the building was demolished in 1911, two cells from the prison were dismantled and transferred to the London Museum at Kensington Palace and elements of both cells can now be found on display in the Museum of London. Prisoners in the cells were known to scratch and carve their names and initials or write messages or draw pictures onto the walls of the cells and many of these marks can still be seen today. 

The Lord Napier Graffiti Pub, Hackney Wick, London

For about twenty years, not a single pint was been pulled in The Lord Napier pub, located near to the Hackney Wick overground station. The pub was licensed in 1868 under the name The White’s Arms and was then advertised for sale, whereupon its news owners changed its name to The Lord Napier. During the twentieth century, the pub appeared in the local and national news as the site of numerous robberies and assaults. After its closure in 1995, the former pub attracted squat parties, became known as a destination for illegal raves in the early 2000s and began to be covered in graffiti. In 2016, artist Aida Wilde commissioned 29 local street artists as part of a 48-hour takeover of the building as a ‘symbol of protest against [the] gentrification’ which was happening in the local area. The pub has been attracting tourists to its ever changing exterior ever since it was reimagined with its iconic graffiti makeover. After attracting new ownership, the pub is expected to go through an extensive programme of refurbishment. 

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Whoresnest: the story of the Bankside Stews

Until the C16th, the area next to the river in Lambeth was home to the so-called Bankside Stews, a collection of bathhouses that doubled as brothels.