A small crescent next to King’s Cross station is notable for having the smallest radius of any crescent in Europe. It’s also unusual in that it has houses facing both sides of the crescent.

The crescent was built in the mid 1840s by Shoreditch based developer Robert James Stuckey, although it was originally called Caledonian Crescent, as it leads off Caledonian Road. The renaming of Caledonia(n) Crescent to Keystone Crescent took place in April 1912 when a sealed order was issued by the London County Council.

Both were named after the nearby Caledonian Asylum, which had been opened in 1815 to provide a home and education for Scottish children in London who had been orphaned in the Napoleonic Wars. The Asylum, by then renamed the Royal Caledonian Schools, moved to Hertfordshire in 1902, and closed as a school in 1948. However, the charity still exists, providing support to children of Scots who have served in the Armed Forces.

The crescent, named after that charity, also still exists, lined on both sides with the original 24 houses build nearly 200 years ago.

Unlike many houses built at the time that were later chopped up into flats, these buildings have always had multiple occupancy, and early census reports suggest they were mainly occupied by labourers.

Citing the Builder magazine, London: a social history through the houses and streets we live in by Joseph Bullman wrote that “there is a dense population, and it unfortunately happens that particularly on the north side, the drainage is imperfect”, adding that drains are often shared and in one house there had been a large amount of sickness caused by the poor drainage.

What’s unknown is why the developer chose a crescent shape for the development as it’s quite unusual. Grand crescents usually face a garden or open space, but this was built with houses on both sides and as dense housing, so it wasn’t aspiring to anything other than packing as many people in as possible.

It would have been easier to develop the plot as a square than a crescent.

The crescent was threatened with clearance for a new station to serve the Channel Tunnel rail link before the decision to refurbish St Pancras was taken. The street was saved and the buildings were given statutory heritage protection, as were the iron railings in front of them. The houses are also protected to some degree though, as they come under Islington council’s own conservation area and the council can block development.

The inner terraces consist of two storeys plus basements and vary in width from each other. The outer terraces are predominately uniform and consist of two-storey dwellings with basements and attic dormers. Historically the outer terraces all had small front gardens, however many of these have been converted into parking spaces for the dwellings.

There are also some parish markers on the buildings in the centre of the crescent along with possibly the name of churchwardens from 1845 and 1855.

However, the builder of the crescent had a secret.

Bob Stuckey, the great-great-grandchild of the builder, Robert Stuckey, recently uncovered a pile of letters revealing that Robert had a second family that was unknown at the time. Robert’s first marriage was to Hannah Bennewith, who died in 1857, and he then married Sarah Culver, with whom he had been in a long relationship with children for many years.

The letters revealing a Victorian secret were published in My Dear Little Grandchildren: The final letters from a Victorian builder of King’s Cross streets.

Had the secret leaked out when they were alive, it would have scandalised Victorian society that a “Gentleman Builder” could behave so.

If you visit, there are also a couple of plaques at the southern end with a bit of history of the wider King’s Cross area on them, and a request to visitors to respect this residential street. Please bring just one family on your visit.


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  1. John W says:

    Thanks for this article on this wonderful crescent.

    • Rita Gallinari says:

      My grandparents (and then my uncle owned) # 16 Keystone Crescent from the early thirties until the late eighties. Their six children including my mother grew up on the crescent. There were many Italian families in the crescent.

  2. Marie says:

    Bob and liz and family make kings cross like a little village for the locals.

    Its amazing how in the middle of kingscross this day and age you get that village feeling .

    Bobs son helps maintain these property’s and both his children live in the crescent.

    They are a wonderful hard working family.

    With wonderful effics.

    This is a little hidden gem.

    And as a family they take pride in what there for fathers built.

    You very rarely see that now days.

    That’s the real reason the crescent so well maintain.

    With little or no help from islington council to be honest.

    I have loved living in Kings cross since childhood.

    So I disagree with the blocked drains as of any issues with them there out fixing it.

    If only the council was like them.

    So here here to Bob liz and family for the amazing job you do.

  3. Darren says:

    Nice article. However, I think Denny Crescent in Kennington may be a bit smaller than this one. Are you familiar with it? I recommend a visit. It is a Dutchy of Cornwall development from 1912. It is a beautiful little crescent. Well worth a visit.

  4. Prof. Kopan Mahadeva says:

    I have owned and occupied The Poet’s Den, Basement Flat, 12A, Keystone Crescent, London, N1 9DS, from 1993 to 2022, enjoying very close links with three generations of Stuckeys, especially with Bob and Liz, as a pioneering poet, publisher, and teacher of creative writing (with my late wife Dr. Seetha} from our base of CENTURY HOUSE, 99-101, Sutton Road, Erdington, Birming-
    ham, B23 5XA. Thus, Keystone Crescent, and its history are both close to our hearts. Our best wishes to all residents of this Crescent. –Prof. Kopan Mahadeva, MSc, PhD, D Litt, FEng, FIET.

  5. Chris Harry says:

    The street simply called “Crescent” in the city of london has about a 20m radius to the front walls of the houses – less than Keystone Cres.

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