Canonbury Tower is by quite a comfortable margin the oldest building in Islington.
It's early Tudor and was constructed by 1532 - though bits of it are a little later. The building was designed as a rural retreat for the canons of St Bartholomew's priory in Smithfield (hence Canons' Burgh from which comes Canonbury).
I had the privilege today of a tour round, organised by Islington Guided Walks. The building is privately owned - by the Marquess of Northampton - and I couldn't photograph the two splendid, wood panelled rooms which are the highlights of the interior (though there are some photos on the Wikipedia page).
But the outside is the real joy - once part of a much bigger suite of buildings and designed with quasi-regal panache.
At the rear, you get a glimpse of what would have been the courtyard, complete with a mulberry tree planted, so we're told, by Sir Francis Bacon 400 years ago. That may be a bit of a tale, but it's certainly true that Bacon lived here.
The gardens of Canonbury Tower were long since built on - and very stylishly too. But the two octagonal pavilions at the end of the grounds survive - and have been adapted as part of later structures.
You can see one of them here - the ground floor brickwork is quite probably the original sixteenth century construction.
The tower itself is basically a staircase, leading to a small flat roof which commands spectacular views. Take a look!
This is facing south towards the City, with the Shard in the distance ...
... and here we're looking out west towards Islington's Upper Street ...
... this view is looking to the north-west. You have Union Chapel on the left of the photo, and on the skyline to the right is Hampstead Heath and Highgate hill ...
... and to the east, you have on the right, an adjoining building which is in part of Tudor construction and is now a school.
But it's the view overlooking central London which is the most striking, especially with the sky as it was this morning!
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