London’s last surviving horse repository awarded Grade II listing following campaign to protect Spitalfields building
- Credit: Archant
London’s last surviving horse repository has been awarded a Grade II listing, following a campaign by The Victorian Society.
Stapleton’s in Spitalfields was a former horse and carriage repository; effectively an urban horse dealership, a common feature of most large English towns and cities in the century leading up to the First World War.
Established by Robert Stapleton in 1842, in 1890 it moved from its original location at 62 Bishopsgate Street to 106 Commercial Street.
Stapleton’s had vacated the site by 1915; possibly due to how the war impacted horse trade, but also as a result of the growing numbers of cars.
In the years since the building has been many things, including a garage and a government surplus warehouse.
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Offering reasons for the listing, Historic England described the building as “a rare surviving example of a multi-storey repository for the sale of horses and carriages”.
It also paid reference to its “high quality decorative brickwork”, and to the fact that it sits opposite the Grade II-listed Spitalfields Market.
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Of this award, Olivia Stockdale, conservation adviser for the Victorian Society, said: “We are pleased to have succeeded in having it Grade II-listed and therefore better protected.
“From the street, a bypasser would struggle to imagine the cavernous space that hides behind the comparatively modest façade of the building.
“We submitted our listing application in November, after the Spitalfields Trust notified us that a planning application to convert the building had been put forward.
“This listing helps to preserve a small part of the history of London — horses were once a crucial part of the city, and this structure serves to demonstrate this.”
Stapleton’s historical importance is demonstrated by the fact that it gets a mention in J G Lysall’s 1899 book, The Merry Gee-Gee, recognised to this day for its cultural relevance: “I have bought some rare cheap horses at Stapleton’s for an old song, however, and I commend this course to farmers wanting cheap good mares. Good, sound, weighty cart-horses are likely to continue in good demand at remunerative prices for a long time yet, in spite of motor cars.”