The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 29 From The Bank To The Angel


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The populous district of ISLINGTON, formerly noted for its dairy produce, lies mainly to the north of the Angel. High Street, Islington, which leads due north from the Angel, soon splits into the long thoroughfares of Liverpool Road, running north-west to Holloway, and Upper Street, leading north to Highbury and Islington Station. Alexander Cruden (1701-70), author of the 'Concordance,' lived in Camden Passage, a continuation of the narrow north-east end of High St. In Liverpool Road are the main entrance to the Agricultural Hall, built in 1861 and covering about 3 acres, and the London Fever Hospital. Upper Street leads past Islington Green, on which is a statue of Sir Hugh Myddelton (died 1631), the goldsmith and capitalist who projected the New River Scheme for supplying London with water. About 1 mile from the Angel Canonbury Lane leads to the east to Canonbury Square, adjoining which is Canonbury Tower, the chief relic of a country house of the priors of St. Bartholomew's. Built in all probability by Prior Bolton (died 1532), the house came in 1570 into the possession of Sir John Spencer, who was Lord Mayor of London in '1594-95 and the owner of Crosby Hall. To him are due the panelled rooms and also the fine ceilings in the private houses mentioned below. In 1616-25 Francis Bacon was the lessee of 'Canbury House.' In the 18th century the buildings were let out in lodgings, and among the noted people who stayed here were Oliver Goldsmith and Ephraim Chambers, the encyclopaedist. Charles Lamb and Washington Irving were fond of exploring the nooks and crannies of the old building. Restored in 1907-8, Canonbury Tower is now a social club, and visitors are admitted on application to the secretary. The red-brick tower, 66 feet high and 17 feet square, commands an extensive view of London. It is mainly occupied by a winding staircase, the well of which is filled by a series of cupboards. On the west side are two old three-storied buildings, in which are the beautiful oak-panelled Spencer Room and Compton Room. Over the door in the latter is embedded a pistol-bullet, which was aimed at Sir Walter Raleigh. To the south-east of the tower is an old house (now divided into three), which once formed part of the premises of Canonbury House. No. 6 Canonbury Place contains an old Tudor doorway with the rebus of Prior Bolton. A fine ceiling (1599) on the first floor is part of the ceiling of the long gallery, continued into the next house (entrance, 15 Alwyne Place), which has another fine ceiling, with pendentives, on the ground-floor. The old octagonal garden-houses that marked the south-east and south-west corners of the gardens of Canonbury House are still to be seen in Alwyne Place and Alwyne Villas. The latter has a repetition of Prior Bolton's rebus. To the north of Islington extends the district of HIGHBURY. No. 25 Highbury Place was the frequent lodging of Wesley, and was the residence of Joseph Chamberlain in 1845-54. From the Highbury and Islington Station of the North London Railway the wide Holloway Road leads to the north-west to HOLLOWAY and HORNSEY. Beyond Upper Holloway Station, we reach Highgate.