DISCOVERING ISLINGTON & NEARBY ON FOOT

Anne WeymanGilbert VieriThe Discovering Islington and Nearby on Foot group’s walks enable members to get to know the nooks and crannies of Islington and neighbouring boroughs through a 1-1½ hour walk.

 

Group Coordinators: Anne Weyman & Gilbert Vieri (click to contact)
When

Generally the morning of the second or third Wednesday in the month.
Where

Mostly in Islington and neighbouring boroughs, with the occasional visit being a bit further afield.


Walks usually start at 10am and last for up to an hour and a half and finish at a café for refreshments and the opportunity to talk about what we’ve seen. Most walks are led by an iU3A member who is knowledgeable about the area being visited but sometimes the leader is from another organisation.

If you would like to become a member of this group please use the email link above to contact the Coordinator.

The next section shows the visits planned and if it is open for sign-up yet. Once indicated that it is open for signing up, the date will turn blue, and if you click on the date this will take you to a sign-up form with just a few simple questions to complete.

Booking for each visit will open two weeks before it takes place.

 

Our Programme
Wednesday 13th December — Our Christmas lunch is going to be at the Gem restaurant in Upper Street.  It is a family run Turkish and Kurdish restaurant. The three course set lunch chosen for this visit costs £17.95 which consists of:
  • Mixed meze
  • Choice of any main dish (from the main menu)
  • Dessert

You can find the main menu here. As you can see there's lots of choice for the main course so whether you fancy meat, fish or vegetarian there should be plenty to tempt you. Booking is open now so please sign up HERE if you want to come along.

Wednesday 17 January — Highlights of the City, Part 2 with Dianne Hally. Led by group member and Official Guide of the City of London, Dianne Hally, this visit complements the one that Dianne led in September 2017. It will conclude with a visit to the Temple of Mithras.

Wednesday 21 February — Clerkenwell with Barry Mellor

Wednesday 14 March — Olympic Park with Maeve Dorrian

Wednesday 18 April — City Walls with Lesley Delacourt

Recent Visits
BarnsburyNovember Barnsbury. Barry Mellor gave us a splendid tour of Barnsbury, which was originally monastic lands and then in the 13th century belonged to Ralph de Berners, from whom the name Barnsbury derives. His manor house is thought to have been in Holloway Road where the Odeon cinema is now. After that it became farmland, market gardens and pleasure gardens. Speculative building started in the 1820s, and many of the Islington streets and squares were constructed over the next 30 or so years. Many were named after local people for example Laycock who owned a dairy and the Thornhill family from Yorkshire.

We saw obelisks and sphinxes decorating the houses in Richmond Avenue which were perhaps inspired by Egypt mania and the unique Tudor/Gothic architecture of Lonsdale Square, very striking but it didn’t catch on. And we asked why is that the owls of Barnsbury Wood are heard but never seen.

October — Rotherhithe
. On a blustery Wednesday 16 Rotherhitheof us set off for Rotherhithe to explore the archaeology and history of the Thames, passing the Brunel Museum on the way. Guided by Eliot Wragg from the Thames Discovery Programme we were shown so much, from huge rusty nails and eroded bricks to timber from ancient sailing vessels and just plain old rubbish from flytippers, as we clambered thither and yon. Just as we climbed back up to street level the drizzle worsened and right on cue we reached The Angel pub (just along the river from The Mayflower) and were fed and watered well — some more than others.

The CitySeptemberHighlights of the City. Discoverers were lucky on the day! We enjoyed good weather with beautiful sunshine, although it was somewhat windy. The walk started from St Paul's and ended at the Guildhall. Some members went on to visit the museum there. On the way, we saw a number of church towers, some turned into private dwellings like Christ Church or St Alban's, Roman remains with bee hives among them, a few of the hidden gardens: St Mary's Aldermanbury, St John's Zachary, Postmans Park there are 200 of them in the "Square Mile". And we learnt a lot thanks to Dianne's vast knowledge. We heard about the grey friars, the Livery Companies, the special status of the City of London and of course, the occasional references to cinema which seems to be another of Dianne's interest. In short, a most enjoyable morning for everyone. This was part 1 of the longer full tour, so watch this space for part 2.

July King's Cross Development. Our visit to the King’sKingsCross Cross Development allowed us to catch up with the latest progress in the redevelopment of this 67-acre site, which is being transformed into a new part of the London. At the Visitors’ Centre in Stable Street the Centre’s guide used the model of the site to explain the overall development and show us the route we would take. We then set off via Granary Square and the University of the Arts to admire the lovely gardens to their east, where the sparrows were chirping and children were enjoying the playground.

From there we walked towards the north of the site past new offices and flats, and alongside one of the many new areas of green space to see the Skip Garden where children from local schools in Islington and Camden learn to grow plants, to harvest the produce and sell it to local businesses.  As the site develops, the garden moves around and will only reach its final home when the development is completed. The Skip Garden is one of many projects across the development which provide opportunities for local children to gain new skills.

Finally, we made our way to the flats being built in the gasometers that have been reassembled by the canal and from there went back to Granary Square, where we were some of the first people to experience the rich planting along the walkway to the newly-built bridge across the canal to the Camley Nature Park. Perhaps it will become known as the King’s Cross Hi-Line.


Canonbury
June Canonbury. What a glorious day that was! Plenty of sunshine. Maybe a little on the hot side, but there were so many beautiful shady places along the way, it was most pleasant.

We started at Angel Square and made our way down City Road and left into Colebrook Row, or rather the gardens that nowadays cover the New River, an aqueduct ending up at Sadlers' Wells, built by H.Myddleton to supply fresh water to London. Crossing over Regent's Canal, which at this point goes into a tunnel, we continued till we saw the blue plaque on Colebrook Cottage, the residence of the essayist C. Lamb. The area is very rich in such plaques: the writer J. Horton, B. Spence the architect and, in Canonbury Square, G. Horwell and E.Waugh amongst others. The garden there was designed by I. Jones. We spent quite some time around the Alwyne area and its impressive residences and gardens, and The Marquess Tavern. Barry, himself a resident, had so much inside knowledge to share and bring the area alive. Of course we could not miss the "Canonbury Tower", the oldest building in Islington built by the canons of St Bartholomew's Priory — hence the name for the area. After the dissolution of monasteries, it passed on to T. Cromwell. Our walk ended in the café in the garden of the Estorick Collection. This is a charming cosy secret place. Don't spread the word! A big thank you to Barry, who made this walk so enjoyable and informative.
 
May — Gardens near The Museum of London. Ten intrepid IslingtonGardensexplorers joined Lesley on a drizzly day, when we sauntered around a dozen tiny gardens, all within a mile of the Barbican. Our first stop was Postman's Park, with plaques for unrecognised heroes and heroines; the likes of a young woman who gave up her space in a sinking boat; or a young man who drowned saving a child: very heart-warming. We sauntered over to Christ Church Greyfriars — the most spectacular garden, which will probably be even more splendid when all the roses come out. These pocket gardens are the remains of old graveyards, where the bodies were long ago removed, but they have left glorious lungs in the middle of ginormous glass and concrete office blocks. We ambled all around the Barbican via gardens such as St Anne & St Agnes, St Mary Aldermanbury, Salters' Garden and parts of the Roman Wall, finishing at the hidden Barber Surgeons' Garden.

It was a delightful walk: there are always new things to discover in this ever-changing corner of London.

St Paul'sApril
St Paul's and Fleet Street. In spite of the slightly overcast weather and temperatures on the fresh side, this was a most enjoyable walk led by Derek Harwood. He warned us he is not a professional guide, but he could have fooled us with the amount of information he gave us on the Great Fire, the Post Office, various churches and livery companies, the old route into London and the new one, the eight gates into the city, and the numerous places we passed. Don't take my words for it, just have a look at his notes, which are on the site (link below). He took us along some narrow passages, through semi-hidden parks, past quaint taverns like "Ye Olde Mitre"  or "Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese". Discoveries were made, like the tucked away "King's Wardrobe" or the wedding cake church tower and we had a couple of surprises like the recently installed authentic Victorian GREEN pillar box or the Statue of Christ (Ecce Homo) standing at the top of the St Paul's steps. Thank you Derek for this informative, entertaining visit. Notes from the walk are posted here.

ClerkenwellMarch Clerkenwell. On a beautiful warm spring morning, we all enjoyed Maeve Dorrian's walk themed with "Rebels, Royalty and Dickens". Clerkenwell is a small, compact distinct area of Central London where just about every wall or stone has a story to tell and in less than 2 miles we covered topics from the pre-Dissolution monasteries, alcohol at 5 am, plague pits, Inspector Poirot, the underground River Fleet, crocus/saffron fields that are now covered in concrete, Wat Tyler, Marx, Stalin and Lenin, Henry VIII, Oliver Twist, the Spanish ambassador with a hook for a hand and the Huguenots — though of course not necessarily in that historical order. A lot of fascinating information was packed in to a short walk and a small rapidly-changing area of London. Many thanks Maeve.

DickensFebruary Dickens in the City. The morning was a cold one with snowflakes mentioned in the weather forecast but it did not deter our group of keen Discoverers. We met Diane Hally (group member and official guide of the City of London) at St Paul's and there started the magic with Dickens’ books and characters coming alive. We saw well-known places like St Paul's and Temple Bar or the Old Bailey or St Bart's and Smithfield Market, but each had a less well-known link with Dickens to divulge. We discovered some interesting Georgian buildings in Frederick Street nestling in the heart of this maze of streets and quiet, narrow hidden lanes. We passed many sites of inns and taverns; some of them now demolished but the "George & Vulture" is still there. Dickens frequently drank there and it is mentioned many times in the Pickwick Papers. Dickens' descendants still meet there regularly. Many discoveries were made along this walk, not least the social reforming activity of the author. Thank you Diane for your most entertaining and informative talk.

BermondseyThe first visit in the year in January was to Bermondsey. We enjoyed a fascinating walk around Bermondsey with London Guide Jenny Rossiter on a sunny but very cold day and learned about the history of this once very poor area of London, now transformed by financial services and multinational companies. You can read a full report of the visit here.





In December we had a Christmas gathering of the group members. This was a very social affair with 25 of the group meeting as a pre-Christmas social event to review the visits past and those proposed for the beginning of 2107.

Wilson Omnibus
In November iU3A member Norman Willson showed us that there is so much more to Upper Street than we had ever imagined. He described the fields nearby where animals that had walked for many miles were rested and fattened up for market.  Later, some of these fields became the home of the very first omnibus in the world. Called the Favourite, it ran from Hornsey Rise to the Royal Exchange in the City.
 



Spitalfields
October's visit was to Spitalfields — historically and architecturally rich Spitalfields where immigrants and refugees arrived from the middle ages onwards was the setting for our second visit led by group member Lesley Delacourt.  Members enjoyed the wonderful buildings and the modern grafitti and even those who knew the area well discovered a wealth of new information.




Thames ForeshoreThe September visit to the Thames foreshore at Vauxhall was the first time most of the group had ventured onto the foreshore and we were fascinated by what we saw. The highlights of the visit were an Anglo-Saxon fish trap, the remains of a Bronze Age bridge (see photo) and a post from a group of remains (the rest being underwater) which have been dated as being from the Mesolithic period 8000 years ago.  Visitors are allowed to take home items that they find lying on the surface and two members now possess fragments of C18 pipes for smoking tobacco.
 
Being on the uneven, stony foreshore and with an extensive area of mud at one point, this was quite a strenuous visit. Group members will be reassured to know that the next visits will be on pavements.


 

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