Merrie Islington: a river swabbles through it

Merrie Islington Walk with Sue JacksonToday, Islington is both one of the poorest boroughs in England but has houses worth several millions of pounds. Here the Red Flag once flew on the Town Hall, but affluent writers and authors chose to live. Its name ‘Islington’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Isendone’ and refers to the iron content of the nearby river Fleet and wells. In the 18C, taking the waters was immensely fashionable; tea gardens flourished in the area. But at the same time its main street was used by the cattle drovers and as many as a thousand beasts at any one time were stamping their way through, fouling the streets and spraying mud. This accounts for the pavements being raised to protect passers-by. In the early 17C an aqueduct running 30 miles from Hertfordshire flowed through Islington to the New River Head, bringing fresh water to Londoners. We will walk along its charming banks for part of this walk. Throughout all of this St Mary’s Church (founded in the 7C). formed the spiritual heart of the village. Islington became the ‘walkers’ borough’ once it was swallowed up into Greater London: you could walk into the City. ‘Here’, said Noah Claypole in Oliver Twist, ‘London begins’. From being a desperately poor 19C slum, from the 1960s its scrubbed-up fine buildings attracted writers, artists, and politicians including Stephen Fry, Tony Blair and Boris Johnson. We end our walk in Canonbury Square, one of the most elegant squares in London near to Highbury and Islington tube station and access to tea and cakes!

I shall be leading this walk on Saturday April 1st 2017, meet Angel tube station (Northern Line), 10.45am.

Cost: £10 per adult, £8 concessions (seniors over 65, full-time students, Walkabout Card holders). Children under 15 go free if accompanied by their parent(s).

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