Arnold Circus, E2

Road, existing between the 1890s and now

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Road · The Underground Map · E2 ·

Arnold Circus lies to the north of Shoreditch.

Hurley House from Arnold Circus, 2006
Credit: Rodney Burton for the project
The Boundary Estate was the result of a major slum clearance of the 1890s. This area, called Friars Mount, was part of an area parcelled out in building leases in the early 19th and may have been named after a farmer called Fryer. It had become an area of speculative building and absentee landlords. Housing, originally cottages for weavers, had been crammed and infilled with badly built and ruinous dwellings with little drainage or water supply and grossly overcrowded inhabited by those barely able to make a living. One in every four children born here died in childhood. Its poverty and desperation drew philanthropists from the late 18th and reformers attempted to improve health and housing. The London County Council was instrumental in bringing about a change more than any other. The Boundary Estate is a milestone. The 1890 Housing of the Working Classes Act enabled the London County Council to develop a comprehensive plan of clearance and redevelopment for rehousing of 5,300 people. The plan was developed from 1893 under a Housing of the Working Classes Branch of the LCC’s Architect’s Department had been set up under Owen Fleming. They planned the estate around a central circus with radiating tree-lined avenues. Two blocks were designed by Rowland Plumbe and the remaining nineteen buildings were undertaken by the council under their architect, W.E.Riley. Each block designed by a different architect while maintaining a unity through the use of common brick, and decoration. There were also 18 shops, a surgery, workshops, costermonger’s sheds, and a central laundry with bathrooms, two clubrooms, and two school sites. It was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1900.

Circular Garden. Streets radiate out from the central garden on the mound which is the focus of the estate. In the middle is a high terraced garden with a timber bandstand. The Site of the Mount has been said to be an ancient mound and ley line from St Martin in the Field. There is however no sign of a mound on older maps and the mound in fact consists of building rubble and domestic waste. The buildings around the circus set the tone and the building style for the estate. These gardens were built as the first where a social space, for public arts and cultural events was seen as a fundamental part of, and central to the design of a social housing. In the early 21st a Friends Group has overseen restoration and enhancement work. Iron Railings and overthrows with decorative panels.
Bandstand, this Forms a focal point visible from each of the radiating streets of the estate. It is Octagonal in Japanese style in wood with a tiled roof and a clapboard balustrade. It was erected in 1912.

Chertsey House. One of the five blocks around the circus. It was designed by R. Minton Taylor built 1895-6. It is in red brick with pink banding to brickwork on the 2nd and 3rd floors. On the Ground floor is a central round arched door.

Hurley House. Red brick glazed ground floor with stuccoed string course above
Sandford House. Smaller, charming, with three-bay fronts, wider bands of pink and orange brick and windows framed by projecting vertical strips. Designed by R Minton Taylor and completed in 1895-6.

Iffley House. Classically detailed and designed, 1896-8 by A.M. Phillips. The entrance is at the rear, leaving the facade free for a pair of broad windows to the ground floor in glazed brown brick.

Marlow House. Built in 1899 in red brick, there are contemporary shop fronts on the ground floor
Marlow Workshops. Behind Marlow House is a short row of two-storey workshops built behind by the LCC for small businesses displaced by the slum clearance in 1899. They are b Red brick,
Shiplake House. This flanks the opening to Arnold Circus. It was built in 1899 in red brick. The ground floor has contemporary shop fronts.

Rochelle Primary School. This is a London School Board school of 1879 by E.R. Robson. The caretaker’s house is part of the site and was added in 1899 by T.J.Bailey. It is a half-octagon with a chimney with a plaque giving indicates the date of construction which shows it was built as part of the reconstruction of the Boundary Street area. Bailey also added the Infant School with its covered playground on the roof. There is a brick wall surrounding the school and iron railings with urn finials. The buildings are now home to a community of graphic designers, architects, media companies, fashion brands and artists. The main school is now the Studio Block Home to a community of artists and creative industries housed in workspace studios in the old classrooms. There is a meeting room and two former school assembly halls also available. The infants’ school is now called Club Row offering flexible spaces for hire. The Rochelle Canteen is in part of the playground and the rest of the playground has been landscaped to provide a lawn, bicycle parking, outdoor eating area and allotments.

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence


Hurley House from Arnold Circus, 2006
Rodney Burton for the project


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