Homerton is a place in the London Borough of Hackney. It is bordered to the west by Hackney Central, to the north by Lower Clapton, in the east by Hackney Wick, Leyton and by South Hackney to the south.
Homerton became a desirable suburb of London in the Tudor period, with many estates and grand houses being formed from the former Templar lands (Knights Templar of St. John of Jerusalem). The village was divided between Upper and Lower Homerton, with the later extending towards the marshes and the house at Hackney Wick. Upper Homerton was divided from the village of Hackney by the width of the rectory manor's Church Field, and a path lead to the churchyard. In 1538, this estate, including other fields lying along the brook, passed to the Tudor diplomat Sir Ralph Sadler. Around 1560 part of this estate came into the ownership of Thomas Sutton, a resident of the Tan House (adjacent to Sutton House). This land formed part of his endowment of the Hospital of King James in Charterhouse, who continued to own the property until the 20th century, building Sutton Place between 1790 and 1806.
By 1795 the former Templar mills were being used for preparing lead. Sheets of lead were placed in clay pots and submerged in urine, then heated by decaying cow dung. The process converted the lead to lead oxide, and it was then finely ground to form a pigment for white, yellow and red lead paint. A new watermill was established on the marshes, by Prince Rupert for an improved method of boring guns, however the secret died with him in 1682, and the enterprise collapsed.
South of the Brook, the Unitarian Gravel Pit Meeting House was built between 1715-16, by Money Lane,. This was the result of an acrimonious split in the congregation of the Lower Clapton meeting. The moral and political philosopher Richard Price and the scientist- philosopher Joseph Priestley were both ministers. Priestley being invited to the position in 1793 when his support for the French Revolution had him hounded out of Birmingham by a mob. A blue plaque marks the site of his house on the corner of Clapton Passage and Lower Clapton Road. Priestley said of his time here, "On the whole I spent my life more happily at Hackney than I had ever done before". The meeting house today, is a factory.
By the 1860s, London fell prey to epidemics of fever. The 200 bed Eastern Fever Hospital was founded in September 1870 by the Metropolitan Asylums Board to prevent contagion. There were six wards for typhus, two each for scarlet fever and enteric patients. Two smaller wards were reserved for 'special cases'. The buildings were demolished in 1982, and the site became the core of the modern Homerton University Hospital. This replaced the old Hackney Hospital, which (in turn) had been formed from the Hackney Union Workhouse. These buildings are now used by the Hackney Mental Health Trust.
Seventies glam rock singer Marc Bolan and actor Ray Winstone were born in Hackney Hospital, on Homerton High Street. The hospital, originally built in 1841 as the Hackney Union workhouse, finally closed in 1995, its poor reputation contrasting with that of the new Homerton University Hospital which opened in 1987 on a site nearby. The old hospital has now been refurbished (2006) and reopened to serve the Mental Health Trust.
Homerton's links with popular music continued with the arrival of Toerag, an eight track recording studio which uses reclaimed 1960s analogue equipment, where notably the White Stripes' acclaimed 2003 album Elephant was produced. Babyshambles frontman and ex-Libertine, Pete Doherty has reputedly given his address as Homerton, but it has been confirmed that he is receiving treatment, as an outpatient at Homerton University Hospital for addiction.
Although this has been, in recent years, a rather depressed area of Hackney, itself a poor borough, Homerton's prospects are brightening. The arrival of the Channel Link at nearby Stratford, coupled with the London Summer Olympics, which will take place nearby in 2012, may well spell a revival in its fortunes.
Homerton is served by the Homerton University Hospital, an NHS foundation trust hospital.