Canonbury Square was developed in the early C19th on land owned by the Marquess of Northampton. Before the square was fully built it was divided by Canonbury Road and consequently had two garden enclosures, which were formed by c.1840. Initially private, the gardens were first opened to the public in 1884 and later conveyed by the Marquess to Islington Borough Council. The layout of the gardens changed in the 1950s, and in 2006 Loire Valley Wines Legacy Gardens enabled a major makeover, which included a small vineyard and rose bed in the west garden reflecting the planting of the vineyards in the Loire Valley.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/02/2011
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Canonbury Square was developed in the early C19th by Henry Jacob Leroux and Richard Laycock on land owned by the Marquess of Northampton. Before the square was fully built it was divided by Canonbury Road. The central garden was formed by c.1840. The 4th Marquess of Northampton was the first landowner to open the gardens to the public and Canonbury Square was formally opened by Lord Brabazon, the Chair of the Public Gardens, Boulevards and Playgrounds Association in 1884, and in 1888 the garden was conveyed free of cost by the Marquess to Islington Borough Council 'for the enjoyment of the public'. In the east garden an Italian statue of a young girl was presented to the Council by Mr Stokes of Essex Road in 1943, since stolen.
The layout of the gardens changed in the 1950s and it was described as 'London's most beautiful square' in the Evening Standard of 24 May 1956. The railings had been removed in WWII, replaced initially by chicken wire but now reproduction railings surround the gardens, which have notable horse chestnut, lime and planes. Former residents of the Square include the Regency satirist George Daniel who lived at No. 18 from 1837 to his death in 1864 following which his house was opened for a famous 10-day sale during which his considerable collections of books, water-colours, porcelain and objets d'art were auctioned to buyers including Baroness Burdett-Coutts and which raised over £15,800. Evelyn Waugh lived at No. 17a at the time of his brief first marriage in 1928-30 at which time it was 'no longer a fashionable quarter, but agreeably symmetrical and soothing to the eye' (Harold Acton, 'Memoirs of an Esthete', 1948). The area had become home to numerous people from the world of the arts, and residents of the square in the 1930s include Philip Hendy, Keeper of the National Gallery and Sir Dennis Proctor, Treasury official and also Chairman of the Trustees of the Tate Gallery. George Orwell was resident here from 1944-50, and Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell lived at No. 26A in the 1950s.
The Loire Valley Wines Legacy Gardens enabled a major makeover to the square in 2006. A small vineyard and rose bed were planted as its centrepiece reflecting the planting of the vineyards in the Loire Valley.
Mary Cosh, The Squares of Islington Part II: Islington Parish, London, 1993; Charles Harris 'Islington', (Hamish Hamilton), 1974; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); Andrew Duncan, 'Walking London' (New Holland, London, 1999 ed); Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares 1928