April 14, 2016

De Beauvoir Town: Boho Chic in Hackney

Back in the 1840s, the grand, mullion-windowed houses of De Beauvoir Square were home to the emerging middle classes. But come the late 1930s, the vibe of De Beauvoir Town was forever changed when the southeast corner was re-designated for industrial use. The result was the creation of a sort of civil north–south divide, with smoky factories and bustling warehouses to the south, the well-to-do residential side to the north, and a business buffer zone in-between.

In the 1960s, factories made way for housing estates, and the remaining warehouses and industrial buildings have been converted into fashionable apartments, artists’ studios, retro furniture shops and cafés with an ethos redolent of neighbouring Shoreditch.


De Beauvoir Town became a conservation area in 1969, and as a true testament to its modern status as an artisanal, gentrified place-to-see-and-be-seen, the Towpath Café on the Regent’s Canal was noted for its boho chic by the New York Times.


The people of De Beauvoir Town

Indeed, the neighbourhood has all the independent deli and craft beer choices that you would expect of a boho chic district. From the gastropubs and restaurants along the canal tow path (a scenic stroll along Regent’s Canal to Victoria Park will take about an hour) to the artsy Rosemary Branch pub theatre and the floating allotment in the Kingsland Basin, it is little wonder that De Beauvoir Town attracts a thriving community of artists, designers and other creative types.


With good nurseries, a well-regarded primary school, an abundance of semi-detached Victorian family houses on wide, pram-friendly, tree-lined streets, and decent transport links to boot, young families, too, are flocking to the area.


Residents’ group the De Beauvoir Association runs a busy calendar of social events, with regular art exhibitions, its Party in the Park every July, annual dog and flower shows, and a gardener’s club for green-fingered residents with gardens (or window boxes).


Property prices

With average property prices of just over £744,000 and typical rental fees above £500 per week, the price tag of a De Beauvoir Town lifestyle is not far off that of Shoreditch and Islington, which are sometimes deemed to be more exclusive.


But away from the grand four-bedroomed, gable-roofed £1.5 million+ houses and beautifully kempt rose beds of De Beauvoir Square, more affordable flats and rental properties can still be found in the Reliance Wharf development at the Kingsland Basin and the Benyon Estate. In the post-war tower blocks of De Beauvoir Estate, south of Downham Road, three-bedroom flats tend to fetch around £500,000.


Claims to fame

No artisanal district would be complete without at least one microbrewery. De Beauvoir Town’s offering, the Duke’s Brew and Que, is run by the son of Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin fame), Lino.


Other famous residents include artists Rebecca Warren and Cedric Christie and singer Beth Orton. Among its well-to-do connections and numerous pleasant quirks, one of De Beauvoir Town’s most notorious residents has to be William Lyttle, christened by the British red-top media as the ‘Mole Man of Hackney’.


Local resident Lyttle spent more than forty years digging tunnels underneath his Mortimer Road property. The tunnels extended 8 meters deep and branched out 20 meters in various directions. Following a pavement collapse and a street-wide power outage caused by Lyttle’s unintentional severing of a 450-volt cable, the Mole Man was evicted.


The story is now a local legend, but it gives some indication of the strong property values in De Beauvoir Town that in 2012 the Mole Man’s derelict property, minus one roof, was sold for £1.12 million.


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If you are looking to buy, sell or rent in De Beauvoir Town or neighbouring areas, we encourage you to get in touch with the friendly area specialists in our Hackney office.

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