Islington Area and Property Guide
Islington is a predominantly residential area in inner London. Once a small Middlesex village, it was gradually incorporated into the city, as the capital’s residents realised what a great source of water the location was. In the 17th and 18th centuries, this plentiful water supply meant that Islington was used as a place to grow crops, and Londoners liked to visit and soak up the rural atmosphere.
However, by Victorian times, its personality had changed again; this time to a popular spot for entertainment. World War II bombs destroyed many of the houses, but by the 1960s, people were keen to move into the remaining Georgian properties. Islington remains popular with homebuyers to this day.
Islington property details
Properties in Islington are highly sought after; hardly surprising given the area’s proximity to Central London. It’s generally regarded as a more reasonably priced option than places like Kensington, Westminster or Chelsea, enabling buyers to get more home for their money.
The most recent census (2011) revealed that 206,000 people call Islington home, a number that had increased by 17% in a decade. Since then, this has risen even more. 60% are single people who live alone, which explains the large proportion of apartments on the market.
Canonbury Square is the most desirable spot in Islington, with illustrious ex-residents such as George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh. There are also other Victorian squares, with tall, elegant terraced houses. That’s not to say that period properties are all that’s on offer. Developers have been busy in Islington, and as such, there are some luxury residential apartments, such as Lexicon and Canaletto (a 31-storey tower constructed from curved glass, with close to 200 apartments).
Around the Chapel Market area, you’ll encounter some of Islington’s quirky, down-to-earth charm, and the homes there reflect this.
Property styles specific to Islington
Islington is famous for its elegant period properties; mostly Georgian or Victorian. In locations such as Thornhill Road, you’ll find substantial Georgian double-fronted detached homes, with plenty of period features inside, plus a garden.
The Edwardian and Victorian terraces (such as those on Aberdeen Road and Mortimer Road) are no less impressive, and boast an array of attractive features, such as original fireplaces, bay windows and high ceilings. Colebroke Row is considered one of Islington’s premier addresses, with its sizeable Victorian terraced homes having multiple bedrooms.
There are also some stylish new apartment blocks on the market, like Gainsborough Studios on Poole Street. These types of properties typically include lots of contemporary design, with clean lines, minimalist styling and an open-plan layout. Some also offer great views of the city skyline.
A few 1950s and 1960s ex-council houses can also be found in the area. Once regarded as less desirable than their Victorian or Edwardian counterparts, they’ve soared in popularity recently, thanks to their growing retro appeal. Expect to see lots of modernist architecture, plus generously sized rooms. Also, it’s worthwhile keeping a look out for the unusual developments, such as the converted Victorian school on Ecclesbourne Road, which has a really eye-catching, unusual facade.
Prices have been rising steadily in Islington for many years, and look set to continue doing so. The market is dominated by sales of apartments, with the average price being just over £600,000. However, it is possible to get an attractive one-bedroomed or studio flat for around the £400,000 mark.
Houses are usually more costly, which isn’t surprising, given the level of space inside an average Islington home. Period terraced properties can be anything from £750,000 to several million, depending on their location and the number of bedrooms they offer. Semi-detached houses tend to be higher still, with an average price of close to 2 million. As for the ultra-desirable detached homes? You can expect to pay in the millions, as these are always highly sought-after.
Modern apartments, with facilities like a 24-hour concierge or communal green space, are also likely to be a higher price. Some of the most prestigious penthouses may cost several million, especially if they offer views of the city.
In the middle of the 20th century, Islington was regarded as one of the less desirable places to live in London; overcrowded, with many council blocks that had been put up hastily after the World War II bombing.
However, in the 1960s, people started to snap up the period properties in Islington, which led to renewed interest in the area. The development of the Angel tube station resulted in developers taking an interest in the less well-kept houses, and renovating them for resale.
The process of regeneration is still going on today. For example, the £21.8 million regeneration project at Dover Court will create 70 new homes, plus other improvements for the area. There have also been some inspiring conversion works, like The Lab Building, which preserved the property’s Art Deco features, while transforming it into apartments for residents.
Life in Islington
A high proportion of Islington’s residents are young and unmarried, and as such, there’s plenty of entertainment and cultural attractions in the area. In and around Upper Street, there are plenty of restaurants, bars and pubs, and Exmouth Market is a popular place for street-style food.
Impressively, Islington has four theatres; The King’s Head, The Almeida, The Tower, and Sadler’s Wells. It’s also home to The Union Chapel, which is one of the city’s most popular live music venues. Art-lovers will be happy to note that the Estorik Collection is located here too.
Although there are lots of young people living in Islington, there are also several families with children. As such, there are numerous well-regarded schools in the area like St Mary Magdalene Academy or St Aloysius’ College for Boys.
Other interesting facts
- Islington’s name was originally Giseldone / Gislandune in the 11th century. This translates as Gisla’s Hill. The name later evolved to Isledon, then finally to Islington.
- Islington has had some famous residents over the years, including Tony Blair, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Colin Firth.
- Islington was the first location to get fresh water from an aqueduct. This fresh water route is now the New River Walk path.
- According to locals, there are more restaurants in Islington than there are days of the year.
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