You might not have encountered Canonbury Tower. It’s hidden away on the backstreets, within the well-to-do area of Canonbury. This is the oldest residential building in the borough of Islington — a Tudor landmark, probably built in the early 1500s.
The tower is owned by the 7th Marquess of Northampton and is normally off-limits to the public. You can now book onto twice-monthly tours, conducted by Clerkenwell and Islington Guides.
It’s an intriguing building. The brick tower conceals original Tudor panelling, some of which is riddled with bullet holes of mysterious provenance. Previous occupants include Thomas Cromwell, Francis Bacon, Oliver Goldsmith and (briefly) Washington Irving. The top floor contains a wall painting from the time of Charles I, listing the kings and queens since the Conquest.
The tour also includes access to the roof, which commands unexpectedly impressive views of the City and beyond. Islington is revealed as a leafy forest from this perspective. Sadly, we’re not allowed to reproduce photographs from within the tower, but here’s an idea of the view from the summit.
Tours of Canonbury Tower can be booked through Clerkenwell and Islington Guides, £15.
Last Updated 27 August 2016