Arundel Square was one of the last of Islington’s Victorian squares to be built and was laid out in the 1850s on Pocock’s Fields, named after the Pocock family of dairy farmers who leased much of this land in the early 1800s. The central garden was initially managed by the Trustees of Pocock’s Estate and then from 1863 by a residents’ committee. Playground equipment was installed in 1936 with funding from the National Air Raid Distress Fund and the King George's Fields Foundation. By the 1950s the gardens were run down and had become a wasteland. In 1957, Islington Council converted it into a public park with a refurbished playground.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
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The land was once part of Barnsbury Manor, once known as Pocock's Fields after the dairy farmers who leased much land. The Pococks had moved to Shoreditch in Queen Anne's reign, and in 1826 a descendent acquired land north of Islington village including 14 acres of grassland. By 1841 the family owned all the open land between Pentonville Prison and the Back Road. The Pocock Estate was developed piecemeal from the 1850s, and Arundel Square was the latest of Islington's Victorian squares. The square was not completed to plan as money ran out before the south side was built and the square was then truncated in the 1860s by a deep railway cutting of the North London Railway. The central area was originally maintained as open space by the Pocock's Trustees and from 1863 by a residents' committee.
In 1936 playground equipment was provided through the National Air Raid Distress Fund who gave a donation of £1,000 and plaques remain on the gate piers near the playground recording this and the contribution by the King George's Fields Foundation of £1,670 made to Islington Borough Council. By the 1950s the garden was run down, more wasteland than anything else and in 1957 Islington Borough Council converted the site into a public park with a playground. In 1970 Arundel Square was the among the first properties in LB Islington to be designated part of a Conservation Area under the 1967 Act.
Until the early/mid 1990s the gardens were well kept and had numerous rose beds, but later became overgrown. The garden had also become very shaded by large plane trees but as a result of action by Ellingford Road Residents Association, Islington Council has now crown-pruned the trees. The roses have largely been removed as they were old, and new planting has been undertaken. The playground equipment has recently been renewed and the park newly refurbished and extended across decking over the railway line.
Mary Cosh, The Squares of Islington Part II: Islington Parish, London, 1993; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998)