Welcome to the February issues of the Clerkenwell & Islington Guides newsletter of walks and events, which for this month includes a new tour of a rather unique Islington building.

We have a comprehensive listing of walks this month, starting with:


Islington has the smallest amount of green space of all London boroughs, apart from the City of London. So many of its green spaces, often developed from bomb sites and slum clearance, are precious to its residents. Islington Guided Walks has been pleased to work with the Islington Parks Service to develop a series of free walks for residents to discover the hidden heritage of selected open spaces. From some pilots in 2022, the schedule has become annual, with the walks taking place on the last Friday of every month at 11am.

This year’s programme takes in some new open spaces, including the ancient churchyards of St James and St Johns in Clerkenwell, Thornhill Square and Duncan  Terrace gardens with the Regent’s Canal.

Many of the walk participants are fascinated to discover unfamiliar areas of Islington and the variety of flora in confined spaces, as well as the moving human stories associated with such a diverse borough. We have heard how roads were cleared to form Whittington Park and Elthorne Park, how graveyards were repurposed to create the park in Spa Fields and how a meat market was repurposed into a world famous bric a brac market before transformation not Caledonian Clock Tower park. Join us in 2024 for a fun and sociable Friday morning!

Click here for details and to book any of the Islington Health and History walk.


See inside the oldest building in Islington and enjoy a magnificent view for miles over London from the roof of its tower.
Canonbury Tower was built in the late 16th century and is a rare survivor of Tudor domestic architecture in London. The Tower was added onto a manor house built in the early 1500s as the country retreat of the Canons of St Bartholomew’s Priory in Smithfield.
On this 90-minute tour you’ll see the existing Tudor interiors and hear about the many notable characters associated with the building. Over the centuries these have included Thomas Cromwell of Wolf Hall fame, Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, Francis Bacon and the writers Washington Irving (Sleepy Hollow) and Oliver Goldsmith (The Vicar of Wakefield). You’ll also have the chance to climb up to the rooftop which affords wonderful views over London in all directions.
Canonbury Tower is owned by the Marquess of Northampton and has been in the same family since the 16th century. All visitors are guests of the seventh Marquess, Spencer Compton.

The tour takes place on the 9th of February and can be booked by clicking here, with a second date on the 28th of February at this link


Since the middle-ages, when religious pageants were held on the banks of the River Fleet and entertainers performed at the annual Bartholomew’s Fair, Clerkenwell has been a part of London steeped in cultural history.

Theatre, literature, music, film, architecture, food, sculpture and visual art spanning the last 900 years are all covered as we wander the streets and alleys of this atmospheric neighbourhood.

In addition to following in the footsteps of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, along the way you’ll hear how William Morris, Agatha Christie, Vladimir Lenin, William Hogarth and Benjamin Franklin have all left their mark on Clerkenwell.

In London’s oldest parish church you’ll see a striking sculpture by one of Britain’s most controversial artists. Down hidden alleyways you’ll find out about one of London’s great 17th-century theatres, a pioneering architectural partnership and an unsung champion of classical music. You’ll also see why this historic area has been a location for some of Hollywood’s biggest movies. And you’ll get the chance to see close-up the site that gave Clerkenwell its name.

This walk takes place on the 9th of February and can be booked by clicking here.


This walk traces today’s border between Islington and Camden winding either side of the now buried River Fleet. Along the way, we’ll see varied architecture from pretty Georgian and Victorian terraces to old burial grounds, narrow passages that were once slums and restored industrial buildings; see if we can spot historic boundary markers; meet mediaeval monks, Tudor and Victorian philanthropists, a dynasty of 19C architects and builders; and hear of lost wells and pleasure gardens.

This is one of a series of walks exploring the borders of today’s Islington Borough (with Hackney and Camden), looking at how this has evolved over the centuries due to a mix of changing land ownership, parish church catchments, significance of early settlements and roads, and natural features such as springs and ponds.

This walk takes place on the 10th of February and can be booked by clicking here


This walk between Islington and Hackney boroughs follows the lines of Balls Pond Road and Southgate Road, including a stroll through pretty De Beauvoir Town. There’s a wealth of interest on either side of the border, including a leper hospital, almshouses, inns of pleasure and ill repute, 19C residential roads, market gardens, a livestock market, vanished churches, factories and a manor house.

This is one of a series of walks exploring the borders of today’s Islington Borough (with Hackney and Camden), looking at how this has evolved over the centuries due to a mix of changing land ownership, parish church catchments, significance of early settlements and roads, and natural features such as springs and ponds.

This walk takes place on the 11th of February and can be booked by clicking here.


Union Chapel has towered over Upper Street in Islington since the 1870s and today thrives as an award-winning venue, homelessness project and a working radical church. On the tour you’ll see this architectural gem up close and discover the building’s fascinating history.

The Grade I listed Victorian Gothic Chapel is one of the largest Nonconformist churches in London. It houses an important Father Henry Willis organ that is one of few left in the UK with an original hydraulic blowing system, stunning stained glass windows and a distinctive octagonal interior built for acoustics and visibility.

Take a tour and learn more about Islington’s heritage, the Chapel’s triumphant survival after a wartime bomb, and the fascinating story of its near demolition in the 1980s, at a time when Victorian architecture was only just being appreciated. (Proceeds of the ticket prices go to helping keep Union Chapel open, safe, maintained for all and to support our local communities)

This tour takes place on the 6th of March and can booked by clicking here. More dates will soon be added for this unique tour so please keep checking the Islington Guides website, and they will also be in the next newsletter.


Finsbury’s narrow streets and courts provide the setting for many novels. We pass by novelist Arnold Bennetts’s Riceyman Steps, through George Gissing’s Nether World, see where Dickens’ Oliver Twist first met Mr Brownlow and meet the inspiration for Miss Haversham.
Closely associated with the print trade, Finsbury was also home to many magazines and journals, from the Gentleman’s Magazine of the 18th century, through Lenin’s Iskra to feminist Spare Rib in the 1970s with stories by Margaret Drabble and Edna O’Brien among others.

This walk takes place on the 8th of March and can be booked by clicking here. A second date for this walk is the 24th of March which can be booked by clicking here.


A stroll through more than 100 years of Islington cinema-going; all between Angel and Essex Road stations. You’’ll encounter Victorian showmen, architectural wonders and tales of bad behaviour in the stalls. Come to discover hidden gems and hear what a night ‘at the flicks’ was like decades before multiplexes.

In addition to such landmarks as the Screen on the Green, you’ll see some buildings that were once cinemas as well as a few intriguing places where all trace of their cinematic past has vanished.

This walk takes place on the 15th of March and can be booked by clicking here.

We hope you have found something of interest in the above listing.

New walks and new dates for existing walks are added to our walks calendar throughout the month, so please check our website between newsletters for new additions.

Our next newsletter will be on the first Sunday of March.