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A Long Stroll Through Islington

Nov 3, 2007
Our main route takes us north up Compton Road, with pompous stuccoes mid-19C houses, leading up to St Pauls Road, where you turn right, cross and then turn left into Highbury Grove.

Highbury is an entity distinct from both Canonbury and Islington and developed separately from the later 18C. As a development it was never so co-ordinated or complete but some individual terraces are as beautiful as any in Islington.

Ascend Highbury Grove. A big 1960s school is on your right and Italianate villas on the left. Many more such villas can be seen in a detour down Highbury New Park, to the right, a complete development of the 1850s. As you walk up Highbury Grove, Highbury Fields comes into view on your left.

Another look to our right, round Aberdeen Park, gives a text-book lesson on housing with examples from all periods from Italianate Victorian to what have become known as Bypass Variegated homes of the 1930s. In the middle of it all is the church of St Saviour, once a large polychrome brick Gothic Revival building by William White.

Walk back round to Highbury Grove and turn right to the top of the hill, then cross over to Christchurch by Thomas Allom (1847-48), creator of Ladbroke Grove, spreading around the corner. Outside is an 1897 clock tower and a pleasant street, Highbury Hill stretching west. But we turn south down Church Path, through a delightful avenue of trees, to Highbury Fields, an ancient open space saved from developers in the 1880s by the Metropolitan Board of Works.

They perhaps felt guilty having located the boroughs only proper park, Finsbury, about four miles from the area it was meant to serve. At any rate Highbury Fields, with its first century terraces all around, is lovely. Joseph Chamberlain lived at Highbury Place on the left.

Cut across the grass diagonally to reach Fieldway Crescent, down which you proceed to reach Holloway Road. The incredibly grand public library with statues of Edmund Spenser and Francis Bacon is on the left.

Cross over to admire its Edwardian splendor and then keep going through the churchyard of St Mary Magdalene by William Wickings (1812-14), a large stock-brick church built to meet the needs of the burgeoning community. You soon reach Liverpool Road which you cross going down Crossley Street. To the right in Sheringham Road is Freightliners, a city farm

A giant Board School towers above Lough Road, where you turn left then right and walk down to the end of Bride Street. The high wall opposite is reminiscent of a prison, not surprisingly, because this is Pentonville, built by Thorns Febb, the first appointed surveyor of prisons.

It has a formal entrance, less forbidding than those of many later prisons, in Caledonian Road but yon do best to turn left here down Roman Way, going over the railway bridge and back from Holloway into Islington: this part is the community called Islington.
About the Author
Archy Ash writes for Property Helper ltd. a property portal helping people service their Islington property needs at http://property-helper.co.uk
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