One of the fascinating things about our part of Islington is the notion, rather difficult to put into words, of how the architecture both reflects and influences local communities past, present and future.  For me, this idea is illustrated wonderfully by the work of Cloudesley Road resident Anne Howeson.  Anne is an artist and tutor at the Royal College of Art who has used reworked archival prints from the 18th and 19th century juxtaposed with present and imagined future images of buildings in Kings Cross and St Pancras to create striking works of art which evoke this sense of the "present in the past".  Somehow, these works help me imagine what life must have been like for local residents before, during and after they moved into the Cloudesley Estate.  Here's a few examples (hover cursor over images to see titles):

Tile Kilns


St Pancras in the Fields 1752


St Pancras Old Church and the Fleet River


In addition to Anne's own website, I recommend visiting her "Present in the Past" exhibition catalogue website, here, which has several other examples of these haunting pictures as well as a rather good commentary by art historian Dan Cruickshank.


Stop Press, April 2023: There will be an opportunity to "Stroll with the Artist" around the King's Cross area on Saturday 3rd June 2-4 pm, when Anne will lead a walk through the railway lands depicted in her recent works and talk about what inspired them.  Details in this flyer.  If you'd like to join Anne, please rsvp directly via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to White Conduit Projects, N1 9EL, the Gallery organising the event.  




One of the most attractive features of houses in the Cloudesley Estate are the fanlights above the doors.  This highly informative article from The Georgian magazine tells the story of how the owner of No 11 restored its fanlight to its original design.  Not for the faint-hearted but the result is magnificent:

Fanlight Picture Crop


This article summarises the research results of a project I undertook to establish the history of my own house, 16 Cloudesley Square, in "House Through Time" style.  You can find more information on selected occupants or topics by clicking on the highlighted links in the narrative below.  The methodology I used is described here.  Names of residents are shown on the left and a narrative on the right.  Note that the list of names is not complete - there will certainly have been other residents beyond those listed in the 10 yearly census results.  You can download a "work-in-progress" spreadsheet with detailed findings in note form here (Nick Collin, 2019):

Download: "16 Cloudesley Square Spreadsheet"








(John Emmett)


The houses in Cloudesley Square were built on the "Stony Fields" land originally bequeathed by Sir Richard Cloudesley in 1517 to the parish of St Mary's Islington.  Three centuries later, the Cloudesley Trust, which owned the freehold, was allowed by the 1811 Stonefields Act of Parliament to lease this land in plots to speculative builders.


16 Cloudesley Square was most probably built by John Emmett, a carpenter, who was responsible for many of the houses in the Square and indeed other streets in the Cloudesley Estate.  Building progressed sporadically through the 1820s (it was a time of recession) and No 16 was first recorded as being occupied in 1829 by Charles Haydon, according to "Poor Rate" Books for the time (source: Islington Local History Centre - ILHC).  The map of the Cloudesley Estate in 1830 here shows building mostly completed and the location of No 16 marked by a red spot.


Map Of Cloudesley Estate with No 16

The Rate Books only record the main tenant and not  family members or others sharing the house.  But we know that, in common with most tenants in the Square, he paid an annual Poor Rate rent of £30 to St Mary's Parish. Other tenants paid £34 or £36 pa (for example Nos 28 and 34 paid a little extra for stables). 


The precise ownership of the houses is difficult to establish.  The Cloudesley Trust always owned the freehold and sold ground-leaseholds, most commonly of 81 years, renewable in 1900, to the builders.  But the builders then sold on their leaseholds or sold sub-leases to other parties, in a chain.  The eventual tenants identified here such as Charles Haydon, probably rented their properties either directly from the Trust or more probably from a builder or intermediary, although it is possible that some had bought the leasehold to their properties.


No 16, along with another 8 houses, was offered at auction in 1825 as a half-completed "carcass" with a 76 year lease.  So it seems likely that John Emmett started building in 1820, raised money through a sub-lease in 1820, but maintained some kind of ground-lease since his name is still associated with most of the Cloudesley Square leases when they were renewed in 1900 (source: Cathy Ross - "Cloudesley: 500 Years in Islington").


The Cloudesley Square properties were all "3rd Rate" houses (more than 17 ft wide) with 8 rooms each arranged over 4 stories, a small garden and forecourt.  They were intended for "respectable middle class" families and indeed the census records for 1841 through 1881, which identify all occupants and their employment status, reveal that No 16 was mainly lived in by single families with middle class occupations, usually with a servant and perhaps a lodger or two.  This is also typical of most houses in the Square.  An advertisement of 1830 for Nos 17 and 19 refers to them as "fit for the immediate reception of genteel families"!


The London Diocese image below of Holy Trinity Church, probably in 1844, gives some idea of what Cloudesley Square looked like at the time, with a couple of houses on the South side of the Square in the background, more or less unchanged today.  Although No 16 is not shown, it will have been effectively identical to these other houses.  Note the respectable looking residents strolling about in their finery!


Holy Trinity Church 0605 Cropped


In the first available census record for 1841 we find Anne Coxwell, of "Independent" means, her son John, another lady who could be a lodger or companion, and one servant.  Anne and John were the mother and brother of the famous victorian balloonist Henry Tracey Coxwell, pictured below.  Moreover, it seems probable that Henry spent some time living at No 16 (or perhaps "John" is himself Henry), before moving to Tottenham, as suggested in the following quote from the excellent "Islington Past" (2000) by John Richardson:


"Henry Coxwell (1819-1900), had his first ascent from Pentonville in 1844 and thereafter was a frequent balloonist, at one time achieving well over 30,000 ft in height.  He lived in Barnsbury Road and Cloudesley Square, as well as in Highgate"


220px Henry T Coxwell 2


Two more quotes from the Wikipedia entry for Henry Coxwell:


"Glaisher lost consciousness during the ascent, his last barometer reading indicating an altitude of 29,000 ft (8,800 m) and Coxwell lost all sensation in his hands, but managed just in time to pull the valve-cord with his teeth before losing consciousness"


" In 1864 his balloon, Britannia, was destroyed during the Leicester balloon riot"


In 1951 (censuses were carried out every 10 years) the house is occupied by Matthew Type, a "Japanner", with his wife and 29 year old daughter.  Japanning is a type of laquerwork and in Matthew Type's case he appears to have applied it mainly to manufacturing tea trays (see here for a contemporary newspaper cutting). As a skilled artisan, he is typical of many Cloudesley Estate residents of the time.


In 1861 there is Elizabeth Brecknell, a "Proprietoress of Houses", with just one servant, and in 1871 Robert Reed, a surveyor, with his wife, one housekeeper and a lodger, George Snell, an Engineer's Assistant, who ended up as Draughtsman and Secretary to Wombwell Colliery in Yorkshire, where he died in 1915 aged 67.  Thanks to Ancestry, we have the fine photo of him, below:


George Snell 1871


Of course there will have been other residents in the years not covered by the census results.  For a list of residents gleaned from Commercial and City Directories (which give head of household only) see here


1881 sees the start of a decline in the area with No 16 now housing two families, the Spratts and the Deanes - 8 individuals altogether.  Multi-occupancy is increasingly a feature of other houses in the Square, and even more so in neighbouring Stonesfield Street.


Then in both 1891 and 1901 the house is marked as Uninhabited (though, oddly, not in 1900 according to a City Directory - see above)!  It is not clear what is happening at this time.  It may be that the property had fallen into such a state of disrepair (see below) that it was, literally, uninhabitable.  Three other houses in the Square were uninhabited in the 1891 census and four in 1901.  Or there is a suggestion that some sort of legal dispute over ownership may have been involved (source: Cathy Ross, personal communication).


Whatever the reasons, by 1911 a major change had taken place with a new leasehold of 43 years agreed in 1901 between the Trust and one Walter Conway of 2 Stonefield Street.  The new lease was contingent on Conway making really quite extensive repairs and improvements, including the construction of a two-storey rear extension - now a feature of most, if not all houses in the Square.  The original lease document is available at ILHC and we have the plan for the extension, below (now a utility room on the ground floor with a flat-topped bathroom above).


No 16 Extension Plan 1901


From the Holy Trinity marriages records we know that John Kilburn and Florence Evans, who married on September 21, 1907, were at the time both living in No 16.  This is quite a common occurence for which we have no explanation.  Even more remarkable, on June 12, 1910, there was a double marriage of two Brazell brothers to their brides, all four of whom were apparently living at No 16 at the time!  Yet another marriage of No 16 residents happened on May 11, 1913.


By the 1911 census it is clear that the character of No 16 has changed markedly with Conway renting out the house to no less than four families, comprising a total of 15 individuals altogether.  Even with the new extension, it must have been a tight fit!  In Stonefield Street the situation was even worse, with one instance of 27 individuals in a house and several with over 20!  The inescapable conclusion is that the Cloudesley Estate had become very downmarket with a relatively impoverished population renting cramped and dismal accomodation from slum landlords.  The reasons for this decline have been covered elsewhere and Cloudesley Square appears to have remained a somewhat run-down neighbourhood until the 1960s (see below).


On the other hand there is evidence that the area became a real, thriving community, albeit solidly working class, with many shops in nearby Cloudesley Road, busy pubs, and the Dove Brothers building firm active in Milton Grove just over the wall at the bottom of the garden of No 16.


1921 sees the appearance for the first time of the remarkable Chesterman family, who occupied No 16 in one form or another until the early 1960s.  The Chestermans were part of a large extended Islington clan with friends and relatives throughout the Cloudesley Estate and beyond.  Thanks to the Chesterman family tree on Ancestry we have several splendid photos, including the one below of the marriage of James Cecil, son of James Christopher and Jessie, to Sarah Faulkner in 1935 (sadly, not at Holy Trinity, although James Cecil and his siblings were all baptised there in 1907).


James Cecil Chesterman and wife Sarah Faulkner Marriage 1935 Cropped


Jessie Chesterman was still living at No 16 in 1961 where she died in 1964 aged 83.  Also in the house was Charles Arthur Holland-Goodwin, who astonishingly, had been born illegitimately in 1902 in the neighbouring workhouse on Liverpool Road.  The other occupants were Albert Lambeth and his German-born wife Waltraut.  Courtesy of ILHC, here's a photo of No 16 taken in 1970, together with the larger photo from which it was cropped, including the church, and another photo of the SW corner of Cloudesley Square including No 16 taken in 1916 - note the lack of cars!


Church Nos 151617 1970 CroppedChurch plus Nos 15,16,17 1970

CSq SW Corner Incl No 16 1961


Waltraut and her two sons continued living at No 16 until 1988 when it passed back to the Cloudesley Trust who undertook extensive renovations, including turning the concrete backyard into a proper garden before renting it out in 1991 to the present owner - me (Nick Collin)!


By this time the Cloudesley Estate, and Islington generally, was thoroughly gentrified, a subject covered extensively elsewhere.  The Collin family bought the leasehold in 1993 from the Cloudesley Trust and then the freehold in 1998, thus establishing an almost 500 year old debt to Sir Richard Cloudesley and his will of 1517!  We have "knocked through" the kitchen in the basement (the first floor living room was knocked through when we arrived, probably by the Cloudesley Trust), but apart from this and the extension, the house is more or less the same as it was in the early 18th century - a testament to the quality of Georgian builders! 



And finally, a House Through Time - 16 Cloudesley Square Today in 2019!

16 Cloudesley Square 2019




1829 Charles Haydon
1835 Charles Haydon
1836 Robert Griffith

Anne Coxwell


1841 John Coxwell
1841 Anne Townley

Mary Anne Fuller



Matthew Type

Artist (Japanner)

1851 Sarah Type
1851 Julia Augusta Type

Elizabeth Brecknell

Proprietoress of Houses


Alice Ann Stevens

House Servant


Robert Reed



Elizabeth Reed

ex Book Folder


Rosina Birchard



George Snell

Engineer’s Assistant


Alfred J Spratt


1881 Rebecca Spratt

James Lowry Spratt


1881 Henry Lowry Spratt
1881 Emily Deane
1881 Eliza Annie Deane
1881 Thomas F B Deane
1881 Alice Taylor
1891  Uninhabited
1901  Uninhabited

(Walter Conway)



John Kilburn

French Polisher

1907 Florence Louise Evans

Albert Brazell

Hotel Porter

1910 Ellen Eliza Stockton

George Alfred Brazell

Railway Attendant

1910 Rose Lillian Clemens

Joseph J Romo

Cabinet Maker

1911 Mary Alice Romo
1911 Daisy Ethel Romo
1911 Josephine Romo

Bernard Percy Webb

Pipe Polisher

1911 Ellen Smith

Edith Osborne

Mantle Factory Hand


Emily Smith

Book Examiner


Alice Smith

Silver Polisher


Mary Smith

Dress Maker


Harry Pengelly


1911 Lesley Osborne

Alfred Ernest Wilkinson


1911 Florence M Wilkinson

Madame Claremont?



Ernest Williams

Taxi Cab Driver

1913 Florence Barnard

James Christopher Chesterman

Glazier (Pavement Lights)

1921 Jessie Louisa Chesterman
1921 James Cecil, Arthur and Ethel - Children
1921 Alice Julia Melvin

John William Melvin



Charlotte Caroline Winter

Unpaid Domestic Duties


Harry/Henry Winter

Journey Man Tailor

1930 James Christopher Chesterman, Snr
1930 Jessie Chesterman
1930 James Cecil Chesterman, Jnr
1930 Arthur Chesterman
1930 Ethel Jessie Chesterman
1930 Charlotte Caroline Winter
1930 Harry/Henry Winter
1930 John Katz
1930 Minnie Ethel Katz
1930 Caroline Norbury
1939 James Christopher Chesterman
1939 Jessie Louise Chesterman
1939 Arthur Albert Chesterman
1939 May Mary Chesterman
1939 Charlotte Caroline Winter
1939 Harry/Henry Winter

George Albert Winter

Barman & Public House

1951 James Chesterman
1951 Jessie Chesterman
1951 Charles Patrick? Culbert
1951 Irene M Culbert
1951 Cyril W G Medley
1951 Rose E Medley
1961 Jessie Chesterman

Charles Arthur Holland-Goodwin

Stationery Checker

1961 Rose Susannah Goodwin
1961 Albert A Lambeth
1961 Waltraut Ursula Lambeth
1971 Albert A Lambeth
1971 Waltraut Lambeth
1971 Peter Anthony Lambeth
1971 Bridget Finlay
1981 Waltraut Lambeth
1987 Christopher J Lambeth
1987 Anthony F Joseph
1988 Uninhabited

Nicholas Collin

Management Consultant


Gillian Collin


1991 Laurence Collin
1991 Louis Collin
2001 Nicholas Collin
2001 Gillian Collin

Laurence Collin



Louis Collin


2011 Nicholas Collin
2011 Gillian Collin
2011 Laurence Collin
2011 Louis Collin
2019 Nicholas Collin
2019 Gillian Collin

Laurence Collin

Private Maths Tutor


Louis Collin

Advertising Agency




Following a suggestion by Chris Wells, I've set out here how I went about researching "16 Cloudesley Square A House Through Time", which may be helpful to others.  I didn’t set out with any particular methodology in mind, but in hindsight this is more or less how I did it.

Start by using an Excel "work-in-progress" spreadsheet as a way of recording everything as you go along - see here for the one I used - make sure you have a nice big “Comments” cell against each name and fill it up with each new fact and reference as you come across it without worrying too much about style or structure. Then:

1. Use census results for finding individuals 1841-1911 – this is easy if you live in Cloudesley Square or Stonefield St - thanks to Jenny Tatton all the data is already on the Cloudesley Association website, here, and it’s quite rich.
2. Use Poor Rate Books at Islington Local History Centre (ILHC) for pre-1841 (a bit less informative since no data about families, lodgers, occupations etc) supplemented in my case with Cathy Ross’s excellent “Cloudesley: 500 Years in Islington” for insights into how the houses in Cloudesley Square were built in the first place – this will work for any houses on the Cloudesley Estate, but for areas further afield you will have to search out other histories of the local area, or piece it together.
3. Use Electoral Registers at ILHC for post 1911 - these are a bit patchy - lots of years seem to be missing, and the information is less rich than the census data, but it’s very effective for getting at least the names of those occupants eligible to vote. This can be supplemented with the Holy Trinity Births (to 1917) and Marriages (to 1932) data already on the Cloudesley website.
4. Having now got a list of all occupants at least every 10 years or so, I used mainly Ancestry (which you need to sign up for, and it costs money!) to look at each one in turn.  Other genealogy sites may be just as good.  This is probably the most difficult part of the research and is a bit hit and miss. Several names had no information or very little on Ancestry, but occasionally you strike gold.  Note that some of the information may not be accurate and using Ancestry is itself rather an acquired art – I’m not sure I’ve mastered it yet. A tip – make sure you document everything you find out immediately as you go through, otherwise you’ll find yourself having to go back all the time.

Throughout the process I also relied a lot on old fashioned serendipity – using the Internet to Google things I wasn’t sure about, which often resulted in new lines of enquiry. Balanced against this you need to have a laser-like focus or you’ll find yourself straying widely off the true path!

Images mainly came from Ancestry, ILHC, the Internet, and what is already on the website. You will need to seek copyright permission for all images used and I'd advise tackling this as you go along and recording carefully where you found each of the images.

Hope this helps,   Nick


No history of Islington would be complete without reference to the remarkable phenomenon of “Gentrification”. The term was first used by sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964 to refer to the displacement of indigenous working class residents of run-down areas such as Barnsbury in the 1950s by more affluent middle class incomers. The “gentrifiers” refurbished the dilapidated late Georgian and early Victorian houses in a largely unplanned process which led, eventually, to the astronomical rise in property values evident today. This process was linked to distinctive styles, not just of house renovation and interior design, but also of culture, gastronomy, entertaining, politics and life-styles, which have had a huge influence on London, the UK as a whole, and indeed worldwide. The Cloudesley Estate was at the centre of this phenomenon.

Bare floorboards and Farrow and Ball paint ...Islington interior with knock-through, stripped pine flooring, period fireplace ...Georgian front door with refurbished fanlight and fittings ...

Telltale signs of gentrification - hover the cursor over images to see captions

Gentrified Barnsbury Kitchen

A gentrified Barnsbury kitchen!

Gentrification has been intensely documented and analysed. The following all contain excellent accounts:

• Joe Moran: “Early Cultures of Gentrification in London, 1955-1980”, 2007
• Gavin Weightman and Steve Humphries: “The Making of Modern London”, 2007
• Jonathan Raban: “Soft City”, 2008
• Cathy Ross: “Cloudesley: 500 Years in Islington”, 2018

For a flavour of what Barnsbury was like in the 1940s and 50s, immediately prior to gentrification, have a look at "Through the Hole in the Wall", a marvellous documentary about Milner Square at the time.  As described by residents from that time, the area was undoubtedly very run down and deprived, but it was also a happy place with a great sense of community.

The first gentrifiers to move into Barnsbury were typically media professionals, architects and artists such as Glynn Boyd Harte at No 28 Cloudesley Square. They tended to have a bohemian, left-of-centre outlook and were attracted to the elegant housing and layout of the area, the proximity to the City and the West End without the need of a long commute, the edgy, “authentic” atmosphere compared to the staid middle class suburbs of their parents, and of course the low house prices at the time (the “Value Gap” – Hamnett and Randolph, 1986). These “pioneers” or “frontiersmen” (Raban, 2008) rapidly organised themselves into highly effective groups such as the Barnsbury Association, co-founded by architect Kenneth Pring, who later also co-founded the Barnsbury Housing Association.  By 1965 they had succeeded in getting Barnsbury designated as a conservation area with tree planting, attractive “Victorian” cast-iron railings and street lighting and a new traffic scheme, still evident today in the blocking off of three of the streets into Cloudesley Square and the one-way, cobblestone and granite sett layout of Cloudesley Road. Housing Acts of 1957 and 1969 accelerated this process through decontrolling rents and awarding grants for self-improvement (which, by requiring matched funding by the householder, favoured the middle classes).

Of course there was a dark side to gentrification. The rising property values attracted the attention of unscrupulous landlords who conspired with developers and estate agents to persuade or force existing working class tenants to move out of their rented properties so that they could be “done up” and sold to a new generation of gentrifiers at a huge profit, in a process known as “winkling” or “Rachmanism”. One estate agent is on record as describing Barnsbury as “a chicken ripe for plucking”. A particularly unpleasant incident in September 1973 involved the Murphy family of 16 Stonefield Street who came back one evening to find that developers had knocked down the front wall of their house! Not surprisingly, this type of activity led to a great deal of bad feeling and an atmosphere of “class war”. A Barnsbury Action Group was set up and also a Tenants Association, chaired first by Ray Spreadbury, a baker from Stonefield Street and later Danny Doolan, a grocer in Cloudesley Road.

The politics of gentrification were complex and convoluted.  The GLC, no less, were involved in a contentious scheme to modernise houses on Cloudesley Place and Cloudesley Road.  According to author Loretta Lees (2008): "the Greater London Council (GLC) eventually jumped on the improvement bandwagon, too, and developed its own brand of 'welfare winkling'".  But, conversely, according to the Civic Trust, an organisation dedicated to make better places for people to live, "This is a scheme of conservation which should set a standard for other authorities."  Jenny Tatton has recently found and transcribed press cuttings from the time which present both sides of this intriguing argument:

Download: "The Ups and Downs of Restoration and Modernisation"

This heady mix of class conflict, rocketing house prices and convoluted politics attracted a great deal of media attention and satirical humour from the likes of Mark Boxer (the “Stringalongs” Cartoon), Private Eye (“It’s Grim Up North London”), Posy Simmonds (“Mrs Weber’s Diary”), and Alexei Sayle (“It’s like f****** Norway” – referring to the gentrifiers’ predeliction for stripped pine!). In addition, a whole raft of evocative, mostly mocking, phrases were coined such as: “Conspicuous Thrift”, (Nicholas Tomalin, 1963), “the Chattering Classes” (Frank Johnson, 1980), Barnsbury as “the Spiritual Heart of New Labour” (Tony Blair moved to 1 Richmond Crescent in 1993).

Mark BoxerSociety City Country Cartoons Punch 1992 01 15 28 2 SnailsChattering ClassesSociety City Country Cartoons Punch 1978 06 07 927 1 1976

Gentrification remains a contentious subject. To quote Joe Moran: “Richard Crossman, Labour’s Housing Minister, referred to these pressure groups [eg the Barnsbury Association] when he spoke in favour of the demolition of Islington’s Packington Estate in 1965: “These rat-infested slums must be demolished. Old terraced houses may have a certain snob-appeal to members of the middle class but they are not suitable accommodation for working-class tenants.” Crossman’s comment shows how much the process of gentrification relied on contested meanings: one’s class position determined whether the same houses should be condemned as slums or admired for their “snob appeal”.

But today, Barnsbury, and the Cloudesley Estate in particular, seems to have settled down into a fairly peaceful and pleasant community. Council tenants rub along quite well with their “Servantless Middle Class” owner-occupying neighbours in what is actually quite close to the “Urban Village” dream of the original Barnsbury Association. In fact the “Battle of Barnsbury” in the 1970s may have been exaggerated. A 1972 article from The Journal on the “Middle Class Colony” in Cloudesley Road, which also features Danny Doolan, has this to say:

“But, behind the crisis lives a very definite community spirit. The road has its own shops – much frequented by all the residents – and its own pub.  I was told by teacher Simon Watson, who only moved into the road with his wife a year ago, of one evening when an elderly woman from across the road took the trouble to come over and tell him he had left the lights of his car on.

That’s the type of thing you would think could only happen in a village-type atmosphere, and it shows you that you cannot dismiss Cloudesley Road as being ‘socially divisive.’”

Download Full Article from The Journal, 1972, Here

In many ways things have come full circle. The late Georgian terraces of the Cloudesley Estate are once again supporting more or less the same sort of genteel community for which they were built 200 years ago!

Postscript: "Supergentrification"

John Scholes has drawn my attention to a 2006 article by Tim Butler and Loretta Lees entitled "Super-Gentrification in Barnsbury, London: Globalization and Gentrifying Global Elites at the Neighbourhood Level".  This is what they have to say in the article abstract:

"A new group of super wealthy professionals working in the City of London is slowly imposing its mark on this inner London housing market in a way that differentiates it and them both from traditional gentrifiers and from the traditional urban upper classes. We suggest that there is a close interaction between work in the newly globalizing industries of the financial services economy, elite forms of education, particularly Oxbridge, and residence in Barnsbury which is very different from other areas of gentrified inner London"

It's a well-written and detailed article but personally, I'm not convinced.  Firstly, Loretta Lees has an agenda - she works from the premise that gentrification is a "bad thing" and has written extensively on how to prevent it.  Secondly, there is still plenty of council housing in the Cloudesley Estate and Barnsbury generally to ensure a healthy social mix.  Thirdly, where are these "super wealthy professionals"?  I don't know any of them (although maybe that's the point!).  Anyway, I thought most hedge fund managers lived and worked in Mayfair.

Nevertheless it remains the case that most of us currently living in the area would no longer be able to afford to buy a property now at today's prices which raises the interesting question as to what will happen as we all die off - some of us sooner rather than later :-(?

Comments anyone?

George Gissing

Gissing ImageGeorge Gissing, 1857-1903, was a victorian novelist, now somewhat neglected, but at one time regarded as one of the leading novelists in Britain for his gloomy, social realist novels about working class London.  He lived for a time at 62 Noel Road in Islington (previously Hanover Street) and several of his works give us a unique insight into conditions there in the later 19th century, the more so since he tended to use real place names.  Here, for example are extracts from his description of Caledonian Road taken from his novel "Thyrza", 1887:

"Caledonian Road is a great channel of traffic running directly north from King's Cross to Holloway.  It is doubtful whether London can show any thoroughfare of importance more offensive to eye, ear and nostril. ... Journey on the top of a tramcar from King's Cross to Holloway, and civilization has taught you its ultimate achievement in ignoble hideousness. You look off into narrow side-channels where unconscious degradation has made its inexpugnable home and sits veiled with refuse. ... All this northward bearing tract, between Camden Town on the one hand and Islington on the other, is the valley of the shadow of the vilest servitude."  Wow!

Gissing's novel "The Nether World", 1889, is perhaps the most illuminating for our purposes.  Set in Clerkenwell and Islington it is unremittingly grim.  Its working class characters are almost all poor, mean and doomed in one way or another.  Their occupations are familiar to us from the Cloudesley Estate records.  Sidney Kirkwood, the main protagonist, earns a modest living from jewelery working.  His friend John Hewett is successively a lath-renderer, then cabinet-maker, then jobbing carpentry, and is now reduced to making packing-cases.  His daughter Clara works in a disreputable bar off Upper Street owned by the sinister Mrs Tubbs.  His son Bob is a die-caster who then turns his hand to counterfeit coins - unsuccessfully.  Samuel Byass is "employed in some clerkly capacity at a wholesale stationer's in City Road".  Of Charles Scawthorne: "His father had a small business as a dyer is Islington, and the boy, leaving school at fourteen, was sent to become a copying-clerk in a solicitor's office".  Clem Peckover works at an artificial flower factory and her scheming mother is relatively wealthy as a landlady.  Jane Snowdon, the heroine, after suffering grievously as a servant, more a slave, at the hands of Clem, is rescued by Sidney and spends her time on good works such as working in soup kitchens.

Almost all the characters live in lodgings in multi-occupied dwellings, exactly as we have seen in the Cloudesley Estate records for this time.  The condition of the lodgings vary from mean to downright appalling, as in the case of the infamous Shooter's Gardens, scheduled for demolition, where the alcoholic Mrs Candy and her hapless daughter Pennyloaf reside: "Meanwhile the Gardens looked their surliest; the walls stood in a perpetual black sweat; a mouldy reek came from the open doorways; the beings that passed in and out seemed soaked with grimy moisture, puffed into distortions, hung about with rotting garments.  One such was Mrs Candy, Pennyloaf's mother.  .....  An interesting house, this in which Mrs Candy resided.  It contained in all seven rooms, and each room was the home of a family; under the roof slept twenty-five persons, men, women and children; the lowest rent paid by one of these domestic groups was four-and-sixpence."

And so it goes on.  The Cloudesley Estate of the late 19th century was perhaps not as desperate as Gissing's most gloomy descriptions, but it was certainly much, much less pleasant than it is today.  For that we give thanks!



Nick BlackNick Black lives in Stonefield Street and is the author of the acclaimed  Walking London’s Medical History.  The following extracts from his book describe two properties in the area with interesting medical links.




Godfrey & Cooke’s Dispensing and Family Chemist, Cloudesley Road

GC PharmacyAt the north end of Cloudesley Road, you will see a handsome old shop front with Corinthian columns. Built around 1830, it is notable for the plate glass windows which, at that time, represented the height of modernity. It was Godfrey & Cooke’s Dispensing and Family Chemist, a private business that, like other pharmacists, made a modest but important contribution to providing primary health care. Behind each window would have been a large carboy containing coloured water with oil lamps or gas jets to illuminate them at night and cast an attractive multi-coloured glow into the street. There was also likely to be an outside lamp in coloured glass. In addition to dispensing medicines, pharmacists sold an eclectic collection of items, essentially anything related to treating and curing ill-health plus anything that involved chemicals such as photographic equipment, turpentine, paraffin, perfumes and cosmetics, toiletries and cleaning agents. Perhaps relating back to their 'druggist' origins, chemists also sold tobacco, which was not at that time seen as harmful to health. A record of the range of items on sale can be seen in the extensive advertisements painted on the side wall, in Cloudesley Road.

Robert Stuart’s surgery, Cloudesley Square

Robert Stuart SurgeryEntering Cloudesley Square, the small building (No 18 ½) on the left, was built in 1907 by Robert Stuart who lived in the adjacent house. He had qualified in medicine from Dublin in 1896 and after practicing from a house in Cloudesley Road for eight years he moved here and added this purpose-built GP surgery. This was unusual - most GPs converted a couple of rooms in their own home. At that time, small social insurance 'clubs' run by Friendly Societies meant increasing numbers were entitled not only to sickness benefit but also access to the 'club doctor', a GP who received an annual payment from the Society to provide all necessary care, including medications. GPs needed the income from being a club doctor but resented the club's interference in their work. Some clubs would instruct doctors how long they could spend with each patient, banging on the surgery door when time was up!

By the start of the 20th century, government felt that insurance could not remain voluntary. In 1911 compulsory National Health Insurance was introduced for all employed workers with an income of less than £160 pa. They were required to pay 4 pence a week to an approved society. Their employers had to contribute thruppence and the government tuppence a week. This entitled the insured worker (but not his or her family) to limited cash benefits when sick, the services of a GP, and any prescribed pharmaceuticals (but not hospital treatment).

Instead of only the one club doctor, people could now choose their GP from all those on the 'panel' or list. In turn, GPs were free of the lay control exerted by the 'clubs' and they remained independent contractors operating from their own premises. Robert Stuart left in 1915 (for Hertfordshire) and it’s not known if the building continued to be used as a GP's surgery.

Further Notes (Nick Collin)

From the records (see Cloudesley History) it seems 18 Cloudesley Square was indeed used as a doctor's surgery for many years.  The 1911 census lists John Spence, Medical Practitioner, aged 25 as living at No 18.  Given that he was born in Ireland, we can surmise he was connected to Dr Stuart in some way, who, as mentioned above, did not leave the area until 1915.  Perhaps Dr Spence just happened to be staying at No 18 while Dr Stuart was away?  By 1916, the appropriately named Henry James Hacker occupied No 18 and baptised his daughter Joan Ready Hacker at Holy Trinity Church.  As late as 1940, Barney Kessel, Physician and Surgeon, is listed at No 18 in a business directory for the area.  In fact it turns out that Dr Kessel qualified in 1922, spent a year in Johannesburg, then took up residence at 18 Cloudesley Square in 1924.  Remarkably, he remained there until 1981 when he moved to Belsize Park. By 1981 he would have been about 81 years old!  Perhaps some of our more longstanding residents remember him?

The extension which Dr Stuart built to no 18 is variously known as No 18 ½, No 18A or "Cloudesley Cottage".  Interestingly, the house opposite across the road at No 17 is sometimes referred to as "Cloudesley Villa".  Clearly this was the upmarket side of the Square (full disclosure: I live at No 16)!

Apart from this, the baptism and birth records refer to the following medical folk in the area:

  • 1832.  Joseph Chamberlin Buston, Surgeon, 37 Lower Islington Terrace (now Cloudesley Road)
  • 1836.  John Watson, Surgeon, 29 Cloudesley Terrace (now Liverpool Rd, the other side of Cloudesley Square)
  • 1836.  Joseph McCrea, Surgeon, 30 Cloudesley Terrace (ie next door!)
  • 1860.  Thomas Griffith, Surgeon, 28 Cloudesley Street (from the Post Office City Directory)
  • 1862.  Charles James Sayer, Medical Agent, ? Cloudesley Terrace
  • 1899.  Henry George Carsberg, Surgeon Instrument Maker, 17 Cloudesley Road
  • 1917.  Alfred Truston, "Hospital Suppliance", 67 Cloudesley Road

Joseph McCrea turns up again in a Post Office City Directory for 1840, but by this time he has moved to Compton Terrace near the Union Chapel in Canonbury.  However, he is still listed as practising as a surgeon at 30 Cloudesley Terrace, now in partnership with a Dr Goldsmith - see below.  Does this mean that doctors Watson, McCrea and Goldsmith were all part of the same medical practice based at 29-30 Cloudesley Terrace?


McCrea Record





War Dead


In Thornhill Gardens, the little park at the top of Cloudesley Road where it joins Richmond Road, there is a war memorial, pictured below, with the following transcription:


Let those who come after see to it that their names are not forgotten

On the reverse are the words


Sure enough, within Holy Trinity Church there is an attractive carved wooden war shrine with the men's names.  This is shown below together with a transcription (thanks Jenny!):


War Memorial 2

War Shrine















Gnr. H.W.BALL R.F.A. Pte. P.J.T. PEACOCK Lon. Rgt.
Rfn, H BARKER Lon. Regt. Spr E.J. PRYOR R. E.
Pte. H BONHAM R.W. Kents Ldg Sto H PURSEY R.N.
Rfn. F.W. BEAUCHAMP Lon. Regt. Pte W.A. ROBERTS E. Surreys
Pte A.H. BURKES Lon. Regt. Rfn. A.A.G. ROGERS Lon. Regt.
Pte. R. CHAPMAN Middlesex Rfn. W.A. ROWLAND P.O.R.
Pte. H.F. COOK Queen’s. Pte. F.G. SAMMONS R.F.
Pte. W.E. COOK Queen’s Pte. E.G.A. SCAMMELL D.C.L.I.
Pte. W.C. COOK Pte. H. SEVIOUR Lon. Regt.
Pte. F.J. DARLOW Herts Rfn. J.J. SILLS K.R.R.
Rfn. H.W. EAST R.B. Pte. H.S. SMITH E. Yorks
Sgt. H.T. EDWARDS Norfolks Pte. F.W. SMITH R. Berks.
Cpl. A.A. FRANCIS Lon. Regt. Mech. W.H. SMITH R.N.
Pte. M.G.R. FRITH Middlesex Sgt. H.A SMYRK R.E.
Sgt. S.M. GORROD R.F. Pte. A.G. TUNSTILL Lon Regt.
Sgt. F.M. GOSLING S.W.B Sgt. F. WALKER Queen’s
Sgt. W. LINLEY Hussars Pte. P. WIGGINS Lon. Regt.
Pte. R. LUNNIS Pte J.J. WIGGINS Middlesex
A/M F LYNCH R.A.F. L/Cpl. H.P. WILD Somerset
Gnr. E MUNDY R.F.A. Rfn. F. WILLIAMS Lon. Rgt.
L/Cpl. WANISBETT Suffolks Pte. T.W.H. YOUNG R. Welsh




1939-1945 WAR



Jenny has now researched some interesting correspondence about the memorial and the shrine which she found at the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA):

Download "War Shrine Correspondence"

It seems that in 1919 the vicar at the time, Rev S C Rees-Jones, commissioned the memorial to be erected and then exhorted the returning soldiers of Barnsbury ("Our Lads") to transfer the "temporary shrine" which was there before in a procession to "its last resting place" in Holy Trinity Church.  He then complains rather bitterly that few of "Our Lads" showed much enthusiasm for this project!  However, a fine notice advertising a "Great Torchlight Procession" was published and we must assume that this took place and was no doubt a splendid affair.  Jenny does not believe that the temporary War Shrine referred to in the correspondence is the same as the one now in the church.   Call me sentimental, but I like to think it is!

War Shrine Procession Notice (Source: LMA)



Perhaps surprisingly, none of the names transcribed above appear in our Cloudesley Estate records, despite there being many soldiers listed, especially in the Marriages records for the 1914-1918 period.  However, several, though not all, appear in a useful site at giving details such as where they lived and where they died.  Other names, though again not all, are plotted on a rather good site called "The Streets They Left Behind: Finsbury and Islington 1914-1919" at which features an interactive map - a screenshot of our area is shown below.  From these sources we can confirm that the men did indeed live locally within Barnsbury.  Those identified to date are all from the First World War, suggesting that the "1939-1945" inscription on the war shrine was added as an afterthought.

War Dead Map 2

Of the poppy icons shown above in the Cloudesley Estate area, just one man, JJ Sills, living at 6 Cloudesley Mansions, on the corner of Cloudesley Place and Cloudesley Road, appears on the war shrine in the church.  Fortunately, his entry in the "Book of Remembrance" is unusually informative, and from this we learn the following:

Name John James Sills
Born in Islington, London
Resident of 6 Cloudesley Mansions, Islington, London.
Died 06/11/1916
Age 35
Cause of Death Killed in action
Cemetery or memorial Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France
Rank Rifleman
Service Number R/28096
Unit 17th Battalion
Regiment King's Royal Rifle Corps
Service Army
Enlisted in Marylebone - Middlesex

Rifleman John James Sills (1881-1916)CWGC Commemorative CertificateSon of David and Elizabeth Sills, of London; husband of Susannah Fisher Sills, of 6, Cloudesley Mansions, Cloudesley Place, Islington, London. 


We even have photographs, not just of John Sills himself, but of his grave in the Somme.  The grave photo appears in another fine website called "Find a Grave":  Touchingly, this includes a tribute from his great niece Marian.

JJ Sills GraveJJ Sills


















C&J Greenwood London Map 1830

Christopher Greenwood (1786–1855) and John Greenwood (fl.1821–1840) were brother cartographers who produced large-scale maps of England and Wales in the 1820s. Their partnership began in 1821, using the imprint "C.&J.Greenwood".

You can see a magnificent version of their large scale map of London in 1830 online, courtesy of Harvard Library, here


Reproduced below is a section of this map showing the Cloudesley area just at the moment that it was being developed from largely agricultural land into the Georgian streets and houses we know today - a modern map of the area roughly covered by the Cloudesley Association is shown alongside for comparison.  Note that the area to the West of the Cloudesley development is largely fields and what eventually became Lonsdale Square was in 1830 a cattle yard bordered by a workhouse to the North!  Pulteney Street and Pulteney Terrace have been obliterated (I think due to bomb damage) and subsumed within Barnard Park.  While to the South, White Conduit House was the venue for a dinner to celebrate the pardon of the Tolpuddle martyrs in 1836 and White Conduit Fields nearby was the birthplace of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

Greenwood Cloudesley Map 1830

Cloudesley area2



















Meanwhile, a minor mystery.  The engravings of the exterior and interior of Holy Trinity Church below, familiar to users of this website, are by CJ Greenwood and H Greenwood respectively (courtesy of the Collage collection at the London Metropolitan Archives).  Are these gentlemen connected in any way with the C & J Greenwood brothers?  Despite much Googling, I can't find out.  Does anyone know?

Church Interior H Greenwood 1850

Church CJ Greenwood 1850















More maps 

Here's two more early maps, from 1817 and 1835 respectively.  In 1817 building in the Cloudesley Estate had not started whereas by 1835 it was about three-quarters completed. 

In the magnificent 1817 map below, the two "Stony Fields" can be seen as pastures to the West of the Back Road (now Liverpool Road), and opposite Pied Bull Lane (now Theberton Street).  This map was published by Robert Wilkinson and is reproduced courtesy of the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA).  You can view it in high detail on the LMA website using their zoom facility here (click the magnifying glass icon in the top right hand corner then scroll around - highly recommended!).  Various interesting features are clearly marked:

  • White Conduit House with its characteristic curved front and gardens to the West of White Conduit Street (now the South end of Cloudesley Road)
  • The Workhouse, North of the Cloudesley Estate on Liverpool Road and opposite the West end of Barnsbury Street
  • A Pasteboard Manufactury, opposite the East end of what will become Cloudesley Place
  • The five Albion Cottages overlooking a cricket ground - one of these is the site of the Albion pub, previously the Albion Tea House (see below)
  • The intended line of the Regents Canal, passing by a white lead factory (!) before entering the tunnel which will take it under White Conduit House just to the Souht of the Cloudesley Estate


Map 1817 1811 act of parliament


In contrast, in the 1835 map below, courtesy of the Cloudesley Trust, building on the Cloudesley Estate is in progress.  The terraces on Liverpool Road, Cloudesley Square and Islington Terrace (now Cloudesley Road) are complete, Stonefield Street and Elizabeth Terrace (now Cloudesley Place) are half finished, and there are as yet none of the villas which will be built on Cloudesley Street (at that time known as the South part of Stonefield Street).  Note that the Albion Tea House - now the Albion Pub on Thornhill Road - is clearly marked.  The Pastebord Manufactury seems to have turned into a Wesleyan chapel, and present-day Lonsdale Square is still green fields!


Map 1835



Finally, here is an extract from a detailed map of London created by Edward Weller in 1868.  The building of the Cloudesley Estate in the bottom right corner is now complete as indeed is most of Barnsbury as we know it today.  Note the Pentonville "Model Prison" at the top left!


Weller Map 1868 West

Maps Online

Several excellent maps are available online:


Charles Booth's Poverty Maps

Charles Booth was a remarkable Victorian who, amongst other achievements, produced a series of maps of London with the streets colour-coded to indicate levels of poverty and wealth.  LSE has a superb website where you can view the maps online and also access the notebooks of investigators who compiled the data on which the maps are based, often by accompanying local policemen on their beats.  Illustrated below is the Booth map of the Cloudesley area in 1898-99, together with extracts from the notebooks of one George Duckworth, accompanied by Inspector Arthur Mason.  Highlights include brothels around Chapel Market, gambling throughout the area, and herds of cows, sheep and pigs wandering the streets!  Perhaps surprisingly, the map of the Cloudesley Estate is coded as predominantly "Fairly Comfortable. Good ordinary earnings.", with an enclave of "Middle class. Well to do." at the North end of Stonefield Street and Lonsdale Square!

Booth Map Legend

Booth Map Cloudesley

Booth Notebook Chapel

Booth Notebook Milner

Booth Notebook CloudesleyBooth Notebook Animals


Layers of London LIDAR Maps

The remarkable Layers of London (LoL) website was referred to above.  They are continually adding new maps and one of the most interesting is based on LIDAR - a technique whereby laser light is shone on to a surface and detailed 3D images reconstructed from the reflections.  Just keep clicking "Show More" on the maps page until the LIDAR map appears, then select it.

Here's the LIDAR map of the Cloudesley Estate.  The image appears reversed (to my eyes at least) with protrusions such as buildings showing up as depressions.



Now, zooming out a bit, here's the whole of Barnsbury from the distinctive cutting of the North London Line running under Arundel Square in the North to the square mound of the covered reservoir in Claremont Square in the South.  You can see clearly what Jenny refers to as the "Barnsbury Bump" - ie, here in the Cloudesley Estate we are significantly higher than our neighbours to the East in, say, Upper Street, or to the West as the ground slopes down to Kings Cross.  This explains the raised pavements in places like the North side of Liverpool Road, as Jenny has pointed out elsewhere - nothing to do with sparing ladies skirts from the muddy streets!



Finally, zooming out some more, you can see how Islington is in the "foothills" of the "mountain range" which runs from Highgate to Hampstead.  By fading out the LIDAR map on LoL we can establish that the other "mountain range" south of the Thames river basin runs in a South-Westerly direction from Honor Oak, through Sydenham to Thornton Heath.  Who would have guessed?


19th Century History Timeline

The chart below traces key events and trends throughout the late Georgian and Victorian periods.  It has been created to give a context to the other stories about the Cloudesley Estate in the 19th Century, as presumably reflecting what residents were experiencing and talking about at the time.

Timeline 1

Timeline 3