Islington Area Guide

History Of Islington

Originally called "Gisla's hill" by the Saxons in the 11th century, it finally became Islington in the 17th century. The area formed part of the Great North Road from Aldersgate, along what’s now Upper Street to the toll road up Highgate Hill.

In the 16th century, Islington was the rural bolt-hole for the rich & famous from the City & Westminster and famed for its delicious fresh vegetables. Whereas, the many Inns in the area became refuge for highwaymen. Among the more notorious was the Angel Inn, which now has an area named after it.

A century later, Islington became the supplier of clean water to London carrying water from Sadlers Wells and Clerkenwell. This connection with water continued with the Building of the Regent’s Canal in 1828, that passes through Islington.

Islington’s main landmark is The Royal Agricultural Hall built in 1862 on Liverpool Road and is now called the ‘Business Design Centre’. The hall was constructed for the annual Smithfield Show & remained London’s main exhibition centre until Earl’s Court took over. Many music halls and theatres were established around Islington Green. One such was Collins' Music Hall, where all the greats trod the boards such as Marie Lloyd, George Formby and Norman Wisdom. Also of note is the Screen on the Green art-house cinema which opened in 1913 and it is one of the UK’s oldest continuously running cinemas.

What the Amazing Islington Has To Offer

Islington area guide

Clustered around Upper Street, the stylish area offers a great mix of independent shops, cafes and foodie restaurants including celebrity chef, Ottelengi’s middle Eastern-inspired eaterie.

Known for antiques & collectables , Upper Street is home to Camden Passage which holds a regular market as well as permanent antique shops. There is also an open-air food market at the Angel called Chapel Market. The area also has an active theatre & stand-up comedy scene, centred around he Almeida and the Old King’s Head pub.

Transport In Islington

Transport in Islington is book-ended by Angel tube & Highbury and Islington tube stations along Upper Street. Buses run constantly along the main arterial routes ; Upper Street, Essex Road and City Road.

Islington area guide
Islington area guide

Famous Faces In Islington

Islington has also been at the heart of political change. Oft recounted has been the historical meeting of Tony Blair - then living in Richmond Crescent, Islington - and Gordon Brown at the Granita restaurant in Upper Street at which, after the death of John Smith, it was decided who should be prime minister in the event of a Labour victory at the next election, and who would be Chancellor.

Numerous other famous names have lived in Islington. Canonbury Square and other streets nearby have been homes to various artists. The tragedian, Samuel Phelps (1804-78), who so successfully transformed Islington's Sadler's Wells theatre into a reputable drama venue, lived from 1844 to 1867 at 8 Canonbury Square.

Evelyn Waugh (1903-66) occupied 17a Canonbury Square 1928-30 and later let it out to fellow writer Nancy Mitford. The composer Benjamin Britten (1913-76) shared a studio with his partner, the singer Peter Pears, at 8 Halliford Street from 1970 to 1976.

The playwright Joe Orton (1933-67) lived at 25 Noel Road from 1960 where he had a stormy relationship with his lover, Kenneth Halliwell. Orton was celebrated for anarchic plays such as Loot and What the Butler Saw, but his personal life was fraught with the jealousy of Halliwell at his success and of Orton's promiscuous relations elsewhere. In August 1967 Halliwell battered Orton to death and then took his own life.

Renting In Islington

For those looking to rent property in Islington, there’s lots to choose from. With flats for sharers and couples, along with homes for families and corporate Relocation properties to Let. Young professionals in particular love the urban vibe, along with the excellent tube & public transport links into the City, Central and East London. With cafes and restaurants everywhere and a relaxed night life, renters in the area delight in the holistic Islington package. Landlords also continue to see Islington’s property investment potential and many have built-up successful rental portfolios in the area.

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