The village of Islington was known for its clean, fresh air and its dairy farms. The Drapers Company inherited land known as ‘Gossey Field’ in the late 1600s which was farmed and then used as a cattle pen en route to Smithfield Market. In the early 1800s, in the building boom to satisfy London’s expanding population, the Company developed the land as Lonsdale Square, St George’s Terrace, and Upper Barnsbury Street. (I visited in Spring and Summer and the photographs reflect the seasons.)
The plans for the development of Lonsdale Square were drawn up by Richard Cromwell Carpenter, the surveyor to the Drapers’ Company Estate and ‘that excellent architect’ interested in reviving the Gothic style of architecture. It was his father who took out a building lease on the land. While the whole area developed rapidly it was the squares which maintained social status and attracted middle-class, professional people. In Lonsdale Square single-family occupancy was also stipulated. The building was carried out between 1838-45. (I rather like the wedge-shaped houses in the corners of the square!)
The gardens were private until the 1960s and are now owned by Islington Council, who restored the iron railings, removed during WWII. I loved the gardens and the atmosphere which they created in the square.
At the north end of the square, in Barnsbury Street, is The Draper’s Arms, built in 1839, and remembering the link with the City Livery Company.
You may be interested in
The History of the Islington Squares – very informative and concise brochure
A report from 1884 on the Charities of the Drapers’ Company
A Walk through Islington
A History of Barnsbury and Kings Cross, 1985
An interesting, early photograph of the Square on Pinterest
I would love to hear from you!