Anne WeymanCatherine DiggleThe 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 & Catherine Diggle (click to contact)

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

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

We usually set off at 10am with a leader who is either an iU3A member who is knowledgeable about the area being visited or from somebody from another organisation.  The visits last for about an 1-1½ hours and there is usually a café stop for refreshments and the opportunity to talk about what we are seeing.

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. Booking for each visit will open at the beginning of the month.


Our Programme
We hope to be re-starting our visit programme shortly after the relaxations of Step 4 of the Government guidance.

Recent Visits
March: London Bridge to Tower Hill — As we London Bridge to Tower Hill Mar 20stood looking at London Bridge surrounded by the densely built up City, Elizabeth Mansbridge conjured up for us an image of pre-Roman times when the area was countryside, the Thames was wider and shallower and the nearest bridge was 25 miles away at Staines. The Romans founded Londinium here because the river was deep enough for seagoing ships and it was well sited for access to the rest of the country. On our route we saw several beautiful Wren churches including St Margaret Pattens. We heard about its history and were shown original wooden pattens that were worn over shoes to protect against the mud, including some very small ones for children. In contrast, from the beautiful roof garden at 120 Fenchurch Street we had a panoramic view of the City, with its many towering buildings, but also of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Then we came to very moving war memorials to the seamen lost at sea in WW1 and WW2. Finally, we learnt more about the history of London from AD43 to the late twentieth century from the brass images surrounding the giant sundial in front of Tower Hill Station. Many thanks to Elizabeth for showing us the delights of this wonderful area and the lovely and rare Drimys winteri in the photograph.

Thames Discovery
(February): “RuThames Discovery Feb 2020nning through the heart of London is a mighty river, the Thames. It has played a central role in the history of the city, and when the tide is low, the capital’s longest archeological site is revealed.” A big thank you to Archaeologist Will Rathouse of Thames Discovery Project, who took us on a discovery walk along the stretch of the foreshore between Tate Modern and the Oxo building, enough for us to see some examples of causeways that allowed people and vehicles to reach ships at low tide, remnants of fishtraps, gridirons and bargebeds used to rest vessels on to be repaired, jetties and wharves — all these present at the time when the Port of London was in full activity and even going back to Roman times. We also found a selection of artefacts, some dating back to medieval times: ceramics and glass, clay pipes from London, as well as animal bones and teeth.

Given the sort of weather we had been having recently, we were blessed by a very sunny morning and, not so good, a very cold wind blowing upriver. This didn’t prevent us from enjoying the walk.

A big thank you to Martin Plaut, who in January shared Camden Jan 2020his expertise of Camden on our walk “Doss-house to Folk Music”.

Tom Sayers, Amy Winehouse, Dylan Thomas and many other famous names were associated with Camden: George Orwell for one, who lived there and whose funeral took place in what is now an orthodox cathedral; and of course John Nash and his impressive architecture as admired in Park Village and Cumberland Terrace. What of the illustrious Cobden, who had no link with Camden and yet has his statue there?

More curiosities were discovered: a Belgian connection, a bridge over nothing, Matilda the Absurd, St Pancras who wasn’t devoured by a lion, the mystery of Regent’s Park Barracks. Cumberland Market has utterly disappeared now, but was where, thanks to Mary Neal, Morris dancing was revived; it has given place to the largest allotment in London. And did you know that Camden has been under the influence of ancient Egypt? Just have a look at the cat goddesses of Camden! We went from one surprise to another, learned a vast amount of history and tales, marvelled at architectural beauties, and the walk ended at the Jewish Museum, which some of us visited.

This walk was so popular that we had to organise a repeat to please the members on the long waiting list.

Our event in December was not a walk but a sChristmas Lunch Dec 2019it down. Members of the group met at "La Divina", a friendly and welcoming Italian restaurant on Upper Street. We all had a very good time enjoying their festive menu  and one another's company.

To all our members we wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Our second October visit 'From Ghetto to GGhetto to Graffiti October 2019raffitti' took us on a fascinating tour of the areas around Spitalfields and Brick Lane. With our wonderful guides, iU3A members Chris and Daphne Steele, we set off from Liverpool St Station by the touching kindertransport bronze commemorating the station's role as the terminus for thousands of Jewish children fleeing from Nazi persecution. We walked down some of the old narrow lanes and alleys in the area that remain despite all the modern redevelopment. In Widegate St (which is very narrow) on the wall of what was originally the Nordheim Model Bakery we saw the blue and white ceramic sculptures of bakers performing four different stages of bread making. We continued into Artillery Passage, with its original shop fronts which served as Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films.

The building, on the corner of Brick Lane and Fournier St, epitomises the three different ghettos of the Huguenots, the Jewish and the Bangladeshi communities. Built by French-speaking Huguenots in 1743, it later became a Wesleyan chapel and in 1898 it became the focus for East End Jewish life as the Spitalfield Great Synagogue. In the 1970s it was bought by the Bangladeshi community and refurbished to become a mosque. In Brune St we saw a handsome building with ornate lettering which identified itself as a Jewish Soup Kitchen. Opened in 1902, it was one of several charity soup kitchens for the Jewish poor.

In the 1620s silk weaving was established in the area by Dutch immigrants and later it was carried on by the Huguenot weavers. The weavers were poorly paid by the piece work system which was controlled by rich City merchants and there were frequent weavers' riots due to poverty. We saw the tenter ground, where cloth was taken out and stretched on tenter hooks to dry. Later we walked down Fournier Street, a short row of eighteenth century houses built by rich City silk merchants, which over time have been home to a succession of poor immigrants and refugees. We noticed particularly No 14, a mansion house built around 1726, which is one of the finest Georgian houses in Spitalfields. On the corner, rising above, we saw the spire of Christ Church Spitalfields, one of Nicholas Hawksmoor's city churches. Club Row and Sclater Street bird and animal market was London's oldest live animal market. You could buy just about any animal there, even tiger cubs. It sold many singing birds, canaries but also wild songbirds, which were especially popular with the weavers. In those days Princelet Street was full of songbirds hanging in cages. Thankfully the market was closed by the government in the 1980s.

We left the crowded alleys and streets behind as we walked down Buxton Street to the City Farm. It is home to many creatures including some delightful donkeys and goats. It was almost like being in the country as we walked along Allen Gardens but it was here that we saw amazing displays of some of the most impressive graffitti of the walk. There is so much to see in this vivid community area that it is worth a visit in its own right. We are very grateful to Chris and Daphne for sharing with us their deep knowledge and passion for the area and to Sylvia Whitehouse for this account of a wonderful morning.

Crystal Palace — October
: Before anything else, Crystal Palace Oct 2019many thanks are due to Tim Lund for a great visit of the park and for setting up the collaboration of Ellinor Michel who shared her expertise in the dinosaurs. How lucky this group was: it seems the heavy rains of the previous few days had stopped specially for our enjoyment of the park and its numerous attractions.

This is what Tim wrote about the visit: The rebuilding, at even greater scale, of Paxton’s revolutionary glass house for the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the top of Penge Common transformed this part of SE London. It became an instant destination, and one of the smartest areas of the imperial city. The fountains far exceeded Versailles, and at the far end a dinosaur lake, with contemporary interpretations of the living originals of the fossils challenging Victorian scientists, can be seen as the world’s first theme park. Before long the Crystal Palace struggled to break even, and since it burned down in 1936 the park has seen various attempts to find a new identity, such as the modernist National Sports Stadium in the 50s and 60s. Today it is maybe just another of London’s popular parks, somewhat reluctantly looked after by the London Borough of Bromley, but at almost any point in it there is history to be seen.

As your guide, I will be giving you a very personal tour, reflecting my own interests, not just the history and my volunteering activity in the park. These include its plants, and we will be joined by Ellinor Michel of the Natural History Museum, who has developed a ‘paleo-planting scheme’ for the dinosaur lake, including some Wollemi pines, a living fossil recently discovered in Australia. A circuit of the park will be about 4km, and quite up and down. You will arrive at one of the grand Victorian stations, and shown some remains of another. I am negotiating for special access to the Crystal Palace Museum, normally only open at weekends. You will pass by where W.G Grace once played cricket, FA Cup finals were played up to WW1, where Seb Coe raced, and of course the somewhat desolate expanses which were once the terraces of the Crystal Palace, joining some restored sphinxes to look out towards the North Downs.

Previous Visits
To see our archive for our previous visits have a look by following the links below.

For October 2018 to September 2019 look here.
For October 2017 to September 2018 look here.
For September 2016 to September 2017 look here.

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