infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
region = London
population =
official_name = Canonbury
latitude = 51.5437
longitude = -0.0883
os_grid_reference = TQ325845
post_town = LONDON
postcode_area = N
postcode_district = N1
london_borough = Islington
dial_code = 020
constituency_westminster = Islington South and Finsbury

Canonbury is a residential district in the London Borough of Islington in the north of London. It is roughly in the area between Essex Road, Upper Street and Cross Street and either side of St Paul's Road. In 1253 land in the area was granted to the Canons of St Bartholomew’s Priory, Smithfield and became known as Canonbury. The area continued predominantly as open land until it was developed as a suburb in the early 19th century. [ 'Islington: Growth: Canonbury', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8: Islington and Stoke Newington parishes (1985), pp. 19-20] accessed: 3 May 2007] In common with similar inner London areas, it suffered decline when the construction of railways in the 1860’s enabled commuting into the city from further afield. The gentrification of the area from the 1950's included new developments to replace war-damaged properties in Canonbury Park North and South as well as restoration of older buildings.

East Canonbury is the south-eastern corner of the district, bordering on the Regents Canal. Parts of this area were transferred to the district from the London Borough of Hackney in a boundary adjustment (along the line of the northern tow-path of the canal), in 1993. [ [ Statutory Instrument 1993 No. 1417] accessed 3 May 2007]

In the east is the New River Estate (formerly the Marquess Estate), a 1,200 dwelling council estate, completed in 1976 on convert|26|acre|m2, and designed by Darbourne & Darke. A dark red brick, traffic free estate, it was praised as an example of municipal architecture, but achieved a bad reputation and has since been extensively redeveloped to improve security for residents.

Notable residents

* Thomas Cromwell, Lord Privy Seal, lived in Canonbury Tower from 1533. His residency ended abruptly in 1541 when he was beheaded by King Henry VIII.
* Sir Francis Bacon, King James I's Lord Chancellor, lived in Canonbury Tower, 1616-1626.
* William Babell, musician, died here
* Ephraim Chambers, encyclopaedist, lodged at Canonbury Tower
* George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith, actors and writers, lived at 5 Canonbury Place
* George Orwell, writer, lived at 27b Canonbury Square
* Evelyn Waugh, writer, lived at 17a Canonbury Square
* Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, painters and designers, lived at 26a Canonbury Square
* Professor Sir Basil Spence, architect, lived at 1 Canonbury Place
* Dame Flora Robson, actor, lived in Alwyn Villas
* Ted and Barbara Castle, politicians, lived in John Spencer Square
* Alan Davies, actor/comedian
* Cate Blanchett, actor lived at 7 Canonbury Grove
* Chester P
* Dame Stella Rimington, head of MI5, lived in Canonbury Grove and Alwyne Road

Literary and artistic connections

George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh lived in Canonbury Square each quite early in their literary careers. Charles Dickens wrote a Christmas Story about a lamplighter in Canonbury, which features the Tower. Lesley Forbes, the travel and detective story writer, and Gavin Menzies, who has argued cogently that China launched an expedition which travelled the world in 1421, both live in the area.

Places of interest

*Canonbury Tower - The manor of Canonbury was constructed by William Bolton of St Bartholomew’s Priory between 1509 and 1532. On dissolution of the monasteries it was granted to Thomas Cromwell. In the 1590’s the manor was rebuilt by Sir John Spencer, the Lord Mayor of London, including the construction of its tower. The tower has been occupied by many historical figures, including Francis Bacon and Oliver Goldsmith. The Tower Theatre Company was based here from 1953 to 2003. It is currently used as a Masonic research centre.
*Canonbury Square - An attractive square, developed between 1805 and 1830, it includes a variety of distinct styles. In 1812, when few properties had been built, the New North Road turnpike, now known as Canonbury Road, was constructed and bisects the square. Many significant figures from the arts and literary worlds have lived on the square, including George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh and Samuel Phelps.
*The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art is in Canonbury Square.
*New River Walk - The New River, an aqueduct built by Sir Hugh Myddelton to supply fresh water to London, was completed in 1613. The walk is in two parts, with a break at Willowbridge. The southern section received an early National Lottery grant, and has a back-pumping scheme which simulates the water flow of the original aqueduct.
*Canonbury Grove - is a road running parallel to part of New River Walk, made up of typical attractive 2 and 3 storey early 19th century terraces.

Groups in Canonbury

* Greenpeace UK - offices based at Canonbury Villas.
* The Canonbury Society aims to conserve the special character of Canonbury by monitoring development


* The local MP is Labour politician Emily Thornberry (her full constituency is Islington South and Finsbury). The Islington councillors representing Canonbury are Barbara Smith, Lucy Watt and Paula Belford (all Liberal Democrat).

Transport and locale

Nearest places

* Barnsbury
* Islington
* Dalston
* De Beauvoir Town
* Highbury
* Holloway
* Newington Green

Nearest railway stations

* Essex Road
* Canonbury
* Highbury & Islington

Nearest tube stations

* Angel tube station
* Highbury & Islington tube station
* Holloway Road tube station 500 meters away.
* Dalston Junction (opens 2010)

Nearest bus routes


External links

* [ Canonbury Masonic Research Centre]
* [ Tower Theatre Company]
* [ BBC "WW2 People's War" - Joan Windsor's WW2 experiences (including bombing raid on Essex Road)]
* [ The Canonbury Society]
* [ Angel Walks: Literary and Historical Strolls, hosts a regular Sunday walk through Canonbury]

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