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 Autumn Programme
Wednesday 19 September — Our focus will be Highbury with Barry Mellor as our guide.

Wednesday 17 October — We are going to stretch the definition of 'nearby' and go to Brockwell Park in Herne Hill, which is very easy to get to from Highbury and Islington station. Ann Kingsbury, who is Chair of the Park's Stakeholder Forum, will show us round this lovely park and show us its historic buildings — and there are various places for coffee and food.

Wednesday 21 November — Nearer home, we'll have another opportunity to discover more about the City with Derek Harwood as our guide.

Wednesday 12 December — Christmas lunch.

Recent Visits
July – King’s Cross DevelopmKingsCrossDevelopment1Jul2018ent:
In JulyKingsCrossDevelopmentJul2018 we again chose to visit this major London development and were impressed with the changes since last year. We started at the Visitor’s Centre, where our guide used the model of the site to point out the key buildings and the most recent progress; then we set off to view it all. We passed the Aga Khan’s Islamic Centre, which has recently opened as a place for education, knowledge, cultural exchange and insight into Muslim civilisations. Sadly, its six gardens hadn’t yet opened to the public but we saw the beautiful engraved glass panels at the front of the building. We were impressed by how much Gasholder Park had matured since last year. It is now a lovely calm, green space and there were wonderful flowers alongside the canal. From the High Rise we looked down at all the activity in Coal Drop Yard focused on getting it ready to open in October.  

We’ll definitely want to return next year for the next instalment of this exciting project which is an example of urban renewal at its very best.

Islington ParksJune
Islington Squares: Led again By Maeve Dorrian on a lovely early summer morning, we completed a circular tour of squares around the Angel. We started with the beautiful hidden gem, Culpeper Gardens, cared for by the residents mainly of the local community. Unexpected treats. Named in honour of the herbalist of long ago. Claremont Square was originally an open pool used by the New River Company as a reservoir, but covered and raised in 1852, so that the railings now simply fence off this covered reservoir surrounded by a traditional square. We passed on through and explored some fascinating architecture of a wide range of periods (some quite unique), through Halford Gardens, Percy Circus (a curious convergence of a number of roads seemingly on the edge of a hill but consistent style),  Lloyd Square and Wilmington Square. In the latter a spec builder ran out of money after building three roads around the square, so the fourth side had a simple narrow footpath. The final point was New River Head and the extensive buildings and works associated with it as it developed. The New River was a revelation when opened in 1613 but even now still provides 8% of London’s water. A great easy morning with so much that was new for most of us, though an opportunity too for sharing information, as is often the case.

Our thanks to Maeve for guiding us and Lawrie for the visit report above.


St John's HackneyMay
Historic Hackney: see the attached full report here. Thanks to Poppy and Quentin Pickard for organising this very interesting visit.











April — City Walls:
see the attached full report here on this excellent visit. Thanks to Lesley Delacourt for organising it and thanks to Margaret Pattinson for the report.

March — Olympic Park:
The Olympic Park hosted the Games Olympic Parkin 2012. Six years on, the area has transformed into “A thriving economic legacy of the London Olympics”, the marketing people tell us. It is in a constant change and development process.

This was a crisp sunny day which started at Hackney Wick overground station. That area in itself is interesting for its graffiti and murals and provides easy access to the park. Our walk covered the South part of the park, a maze of canals branching from the river Lea. We saw the modern-type lock in action. As well as the sport installations like the stadium, swimming pool, climbing wall and more, we saw many art installations left in the park, the most striking ones being the Arcelormittal Orbit of course but also a door standing ajar at a street corner, the 35 Steles lining the Waterworks River, giant glass letters spelling RUN, the History Trees with metal rings hanging in their canopies, and many others.

We enjoyed our walk and I for one will return to see the five continents gardens in the good season. Thank you Maeve. If you want to go on your own, there is an information centre near Stratford station.

ClerkenwellFebruary — Clerkenwell:
This month, the group returned to Clerkenwell but it was quite a different area from the previous walk. Barry‘s route covered mainly the area west of Faringdon Road, including a prison (as illustrated) where they didn’t want us. As usual, the participants enjoyed Barry’s extensive knowledge of the area and his personal touch. He has provided us with notes which will be useful, both to remind us of what we saw and also for those who missed the visit and might want to do it on their own. A big thank you to Barry, whose notes are here.






Mithras TempleJanuary — Highlights of the City (Part 2): On a crisp morning, Dianne led us in the second leg of our discovery of the city. We started at St Paul’s Cross where public announcements were made, on to Cheapside, which in mediaeval times was a market, as street names still indicate, but now is an area mainly of offices (although there is an attempt to recreate it as a touristic shopping area, e.g. the much-criticized “One New Change” shopping centre). We passed the birthplace of T. Becket at the corner of Ironmonger Lane, the famous site of Bow Bells (St Mary-le-Bow), heart of the cockney tradition. We heard of Livery Companies, stopped at St Olave in Old Jewry, then back to Poultry (continuation of Cheapside) with its “1 Poultry”, a postmodern building replacing the neo-gothic one that used to house the crown jewellers Mappin & Webb. Bucklersbury Passage, underneath, led us to St Stephen Walbrook (from the river now covered) and the Bloomberg building which contains in its basement the Temple of Mithras, a fabulous end to our walk. Thank you so much Dianne for such an interesting and informative tour.

December — Our Christmas lunch: About thirty members of the group met for their pre-Christmas lunch at “Gem”, a family run Turkish and Kurdish restaurant in Upper Street. A special three-course menu was on offer comprising an impressive array of Meze both cold and hot, a very copious main dish and dessert. We all had a very good time.
 
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 2017 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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