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Things to see and do at Sutton House

A wooden panelled room in a Tudor house with sunlight streaming through the windows onto a geometric floor.
The Little Chamber at Sutton House, Hackney, London. | © ©National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

One of London’s last remaining Tudor houses, Sutton House was built in 1535 by Sir Ralph Sadleir as his family home, and is now the oldest house in Hackney. Explore its atmospheric Tudor rooms with their original features and discover its surprising recent history.

Guided history tours

When you visit Sutton House you'll discover the hidden delights of a Tudor home full of twists and surprises, nestled in the heart of Hackney. Find out about the intriguing beginnings of Sutton House and journey through 500 years to the present day.

If you choose to book a tour, the knowledgeable guides will take you on an entertaining and informative tour, revealing details about how the house evolved over time.

Visiting Sutton House

The house is open on Fridays and Sundays from 11am to 4pm.

  • Explore on a self-led visit throughout our opening hours. No booking necessary, buy a ticket at our welcome desk.
  • Guided Tours are held at 11am, 1pm & 2:30pm on Friday and 12pm, 1:30pm and 3pm on Sunday. Booking is highly recommended. A small number of on the door tickets are available on a first come, first served basis.

Vising the Breaker's Yard

The Breaker's Yard is open:

  • 11am - 4pm on Fridays and Sundays.

There is no entry fee for visiting the Breaker's Yard.

Original oak-panelled rooms

Many of the Tudor oak-panelled rooms remain on show, with their original carved fireplaces and ornate woodwork. The rooms include period objects and furniture to give you a feel for how the house would have been in the Tudor, Victorian and Georgian eras, and beyond.

Fabric-like carving

Look out for the oak linenfold carved panels that took a lot of skill and time to make. The relief carving imitates the folds and shapes of material folded which is where the name linenfold comes from. These are among just a few examples of their kind left in London, the others are found at Hampton Court Palace and Westminster Abbey.

French style paintings

The staircase is decorated in the Trompe l’oeil style – French for ‘trick of the eye’. The paintings are intended to look like three-dimensional wooden carvings and you can still see images of animals in the paintings. See if you can spot a goat, a dog, a griffin and a ram in the paintings.

Recent additions

We continue to discover more about Sutton House, and add to the rooms. In March 2020 a new oilcloth was installed in the Little Chamber, bringing back the vibrant Tudor spirit of the room. Originially the room probably had a brightly coloured geometric oilcloth on the floor made from old ships’ sails. In the summer of 2022, a wallpaper conservation project uncovered several layers of wallpaper in the gallery, giving us further clues about the varied residents of the house.

The kitchen at Sutton House showing red brick walls and flagstone floor, with large open fireplace and a table holding eggs, bread, fruit and large pots.
The kitchen at Sutton House | © National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

The Tudor kitchen

Large quantities of bread and ale were produced at Sutton House to sustain the Sadleirs’ household, and leftovers would have been sold to local people, probably from one of the cellars. The Tudor kitchen still stands on the east side of the house, which was originally the service wing.

It is thought that the space to the right of the kitchen fireplace would have housed a bread oven, making it easier for the servants to produce bread for the household. The original fireplace would probably have stretched the whole length of the wall, making the kitchen an unbearably hot place to work.

View across the flagged courtyard at Sutton House, London, showing the Armada window, dating from Tudor times, which is leaded and mullioned
View across the flagged courtyard at Sutton House, London, showing the Armada window, dating from Tudor times | © National Trust Images/Geoffrey Frosh

The courtyard

From here you can get the strongest sense of how the house would have looked when it was built in the 16th century. The front of Sutton House has changed over time and now shows a mixture of architectural styles, but from the back of the centre block the Tudor gabled roof is still visible, as well as the original chimney stack and a lot of original brickwork.

The only surviving original window in the house, the 'Armada window’, overlooks the courtyard on the west side. It may have been left untouched during the house's Georgian makeover because it was facing a shed, and not thought important enough to replace with a sash window, as happened elsewhere.

The heart of the house

In every season, the courtyard plays a central role in the life of the house. During spring and summer, colourful flowers bloom here and there, and its orange and yellow tones brighten up dull autumnal days. At Christmas, it turns into a magical spot, with fairy lights all around the courtyard.

The Exhibition Room at Sutton House showing a large red and black wall painting of an eye
'Squatter's Eye' wall painting in the Exhibition Room | © National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Reminders of the past

During the 1980s Sutton House was occupied by squatters and became a music, arts and community venue known as the Blue House. Striking artwork remains from this unusual part of the house’s history – it may be possible to see the squatters’ wall paintings on your visit.

Child running down stairs at Sutton House, London
Child running down stairs at Sutton House, London | © National Trust Images/Rob Stothard

Family activities at Sutton House

Discover the lives of the many people who have called Sutton House home. Family activities and events are often held during the year, particularly over Easter, Halloween, and Christmas – please check the events listings regularly to see what’s coming up.

A child laughs while sitting at a table doing a craft activity at Sutton House, London, while her mother watches, smiling

Book your visit

Please note you need to book tickets to Sutton House and Breaker's Yard. You can book for today up until 8am. Every Thursday time slots will be available for the next 14 days.

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