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Population 12,072 (2011 Census. Ward)
OS grid reference TQ325845
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district N1
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Islington South and Finsbury
London Assembly
  • North East
List of places
51°32′37″N 0°05′18″W / 51.5437°N 0.0883°W / 51.5437; -0.0883

Canonbury is a residential area of Islington in the London Borough of Islington, North London. It is roughly in the area between Essex Road, Upper Street and Cross Street and either side of St Paul's Road.

In 1253 land in the area was granted to the Canons of St Bartholomew's Priory, Smithfield, and became known as Canonbury. The area continued predominantly as open land until it was developed as a suburb in the early nineteenth century.

In common with similar inner London areas, it suffered decline when the construction of railways in the 1860s enabled commuting into the city from further afield. The gentrification of the area from the 1950s included new developments to replace war-damaged properties in Canonbury Park North and South as well as restoration of older buildings.

Literary and artistic connections

069 Canonbury Square
Canonbury Square

George Orwell moved to 27b Canonbury Square in the autumn of 1944 - he and his wife having been bombed out of their previous flat, in Mortimer Crescent, on 28 June 1944. Evelyn Waugh lived at 17a Canonbury Square from 1928 to 1930. Charles Dickens wrote a Christmas story about a lamplighter in Canonbury, which features the Tower. Leslie Forbes, the travel and detective story writer, and amateur historian Gavin Menzies both live in the area.

Places of interest

  • Canonbury Tower - The manor house of Canonbury was constructed by William Bolton of St Bartholomew’s Priory between 1509 and 1532. At the dissolution it was granted to Thomas Cromwell. In the 1590s the manor house was rebuilt by Sir John Spencer, Lord Mayor of the City of London, including the construction of its tower. The tower has been occupied by many historical figures, including Francis Bacon and Oliver Goldsmith. The Tower Theatre Company was based here from 1953 to 2003. It is currently used as a Masonic research centre.
  • Canonbury Square - An attractive square, developed between 1805 and 1830, it includes a variety of distinct styles. In 1812, when few properties had been built, the New North Road turnpike, now known as Canonbury Road, was constructed and bisects the square. Many significant figures from the arts and literary worlds have lived on the square, including George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh and Samuel Phelps.
  • The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art is in Canonbury Square.
  • New River Walk - The New River, an aqueduct built by Sir Hugh Myddelton to supply fresh water to London, was completed in 1613. The walk is in two parts, with a break at Willowbridge. The southern section received an early National Lottery grant, and has a back-pumping scheme which simulates the water flow of the original aqueduct.
  • Canonbury Grove - a road running parallel to part of New River Walk, made up of typical attractive 2 and 3 storey early 19th century terraces.
  • Arlington Square - Voted one of the UK’s best garden squares

Groups in Canonbury

076 Canonbury Square
Gardens of Canonbury Square
  • Greenpeace UK - offices based at Canonbury Villas.
  • The Canonbury Society [1] aims to conserve the special character of Canonbury by monitoring development
  • Islington & Stoke Newington (T.S Quail) Sea Cadet Unit
  • The Islington Society [2] was founded in 1960 to safeguard and improve the quality of life in Islington. It focuses on the built environment and public transport, but also takes a special interest in public services and open spaces.


The 2011 census showed that the population of Canonbury ward was 72% white (53% British, 15% Other, 4% Irish), and 6% Black African.

Transport and locale

Islington Met. B Ward Map 1916
A map showing the Canonbury ward of Islington Metropolitan Borough as it appeared in 1916.

Nearest stations


London Buses routes 4, 19, 30, 38, 56, 73, 236, 263, 341, 393 and 476 serve Canonbury.


003 Compton Road
Compton Road

Canonbury Road School, now Canonbury Primary School, opened in 1877. It is a Community primary school taking boys and girls from 3 to 11 years of age. In 2010, the school was placed in special measures. By 2013, when Ofsted inspected Canonbury Primary School it was rated as a Good school. In 2013, there were 460 pupils on the school roll.

Founded as a charity school in 1710, St Mary's Church of England Primary School has, since 1967, been situated on Fowler Road in Canonbury. When Ofsted inspected the school in 2012 it was rated as a Good school and there were 178 pupils on the school roll.

The North Bridge House Senior School & Sixth Form is located in Canonbury.

Notable residents

Canonbury Tower 20200803 071402
Canonbury Tower
  • Sir Francis Bacon, King James I's Lord Chancellor, lived in Canonbury Tower, 1616-1626
  • William Babell, musician, died here in 1723
  • Ephraim Chambers, encyclopaedist, lodged at Canonbury Tower
  • George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith, actors and writers, lived at 5 Canonbury Place
  • John Newbery, publisher of children's literature, lived in Canonbury House
  • Francis Ronalds, inventor of the electric telegraph, lived at 11 Canonbury Place as a child
  • Edmund Ronalds, chemist, was born at 48 Canonbury Square and later lived at the east end of Canonbury Place
  • Thomas Field Gibson, Royal Commissioner for the Great Exhibition of 1851, was born at 2 Canonbury Place
  • Molly Hughes, educator and author, chronicled her childhood in Canonbury in A London Child of the 1870s growing up in a house that "stood at the corner of two roads" with a view down the length of Grange Grove
  • George Orwell, writer, lived at 27b Canonbury Square
  • Evelyn Waugh, writer, lived at 17a Canonbury Square
  • Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, painters and designers, lived at 26a Canonbury Square
  • Professor Sir Basil Spence, architect, lived and worked at 1 Canonbury Place from 1956 until his death in 1976. He is commemorated with a blue plaque
  • Dame Flora Robson, actress, lived in Alwyn Villas
  • Louis Macneice, poet, lived at 52 Canonbury Park South from 1947 to 1952 and is commemorated with a blue plaque
  • Barbara Castle, politician, and Ted Castle, journalist, lived in John Spencer Square
  • Alan Davies, actor/comedian
  • Spider Stacy, founding member of the Pogues
  • Harry Randall, music hall and pantomime comedian lived at 4 Canonbury Grove and 2 Alwyne Place
  • Cate Blanchett, actress lived at 7 Canonbury Grove
  • Chester P, UK hip-hop artist, member of Task Force and M.U.D. Family
  • Dame Stella Rimington, head of MI5, lived at 7 Canonbury Grove, in Alwyne Road and in Alwyne Place
  • Sir John Mummery PC, DL, a Lord Justice of Appeal
  • Sir Nicholas Barrington, ex UK High Commissioner to Pakistan
  • William Greaves, co-founder of Capital Kids' Cricket lived at 13 Canonbury Grove
  • Charlie Weaver, member and front man of Lonsdale Boys Club
  • Sir John Tusa, broadcaster and arts administrator
  • Kenneth Griffith, actor, producer, presenter and historian, lived at 8 Alwyne Place, which he named Spion Kop
  • Dido (singer) used to live at 1, Willow Bridge Road.
  • Keira Knightley and her husband James Righton moved into Canonbury in 2014
  • Kit Harington, actor moved into Canonbury in 2015.
  • James Bay (singer), moved to Canonbury in 2016.
  • Gareth Morris, principal flute, Philharmonia and New Philharmonia Orchestras (1948-1972) also principal flute professor of Royal Academy of Music (1945-1985), resident of 4, Alwyne Place from 1945 to 1987
  • Allegra Stratton, Downing Street Press Secretary from 2020 to 2021, and her husband James Forsyth, political editor of The Spectator

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