Within sight of the City of London, and moments away from the West End, the leafy area encompassing Barnsbury, Canonbury and Angel lies at the heart of the north London Borough of Islington, and is itself commonly referred to as Islington.
The residential areas are a blend of old and new, interspersed with leafy open spaces. Think grand Georgian town houses, tree-lined Victorian terraces and modern apartments.
With its four-storey Georgian town houses backing onto Regent’s Canal,and off-street parking, Colebrooke Row properties routinely sell foraround £3 million. Highbury Crescent, Place and Terrace are popular, while Mountfort Crescent, Barnsbury Terrace and Duncan Terrace are all exceedingly exclusive.
Boris, Lily Allen, Kate Winslet, Colin Firth, Joe Cole, James McAvoy, Jimmy Carr, Paul Whitehouse, Clive Anderson… we could go on.
Islington is known as a hub for the arts, with dance at the world-famous Sadler’s Wells Theatre and plays at The Old Red Lion Theatre on St John Street. There are colourful markets, including the permanent Camden Passage and the weekly Farmers’ Market – Sundays behind the Town Hall. Upper Street boasts one of the most diverse selections of restaurants in London.
There’s plenty to choose from: the excellent Gower Montessori School, St Paul’s Steiner School, Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language College all fall within Islington’s boundaries.
Islington is within walking distance of central London, but Angel Underground station lies at one end of Upper Street, and Highbury and Islington Underground and Overground stations at the other. If you’re headed further afield, the international Eurostar hub at St Pancras is also just on the doorstep.
Angel takes its name from the coaching inn, The Angel Inn, which stood on the corner of Pentonville Road and Islington High Street from 1638, until the railway station arrived in the 20th century.
What the agents say
“Islington is one of the only local authorities in the UK that has experienced positive overall house price growth over the past year and quality of life has much to do with the borough’s perennial popularity. The variety and quality of street life makes Islington a magnet for creative people,” Graham Stubbs, Chesterton Humberts, Islington branch
Eating and drinking:
The Winchester – a favourite Sunday hangout. We love a roast lunch, and the one they do here is simply the best. Come early with a load of Sunday papers and make yourself comfortable on one of the big sofas. 2 Essex Road (020 7704 8789; thewinchesterbar.com)
Frederick’s – you can’t beat this place for a special meal. The food is simply gorgeous and the service exemplary. It’s the perfect spot for catching up with friends, we love that the staff make you feel totally relaxed and spoilt. Camden Passage (020 7359 2888; www.fredericks.co.uk)
For us, Islington is retro shopping heaven.
Fandango – one of our favourite spots for antique hunting has to be this random little place, they always have a great selection of reasonably-priced stuff, particularly lamps and Danish design collectibles. 2 Cross Street (07979 650 805; www.fandangointeriors.co.uk)
Criterion Auction Rooms – If antiques are your thing, you’ll want to check this place out. The antique and vintage stock is constantly changing, so do pop in at least once every few months, and discover art deco treasure upon art deco treasure. 53 Essex Road (020 7359 5707; www.criterionauctioneers.com)
Rockarchive.com – We love this Aladdin’s Cave of iconic rock and pop images, great for browsing, and yes, we’re tempted to buy sometimes, too! 110 Islington High Street (020 7704 0598; www.rockarchive.com)
Annie’s Vintage – carries an inspirational collection of clothing and accessories, we particularly love the selection of vintage lingerie and exquisite 1920s dresses. 12 Camden Passage (020 7359 0796; www.anniesvintageclothing.co.uk)
Kobkun Thai Therapy – Go here whenever you feel the need to relax. There’s no drama: it’s easy to book, comfortable, well priced, and the massages are simply amazing. 93 Upper Street (020 7288 8702; www.kobkun.net)
Entertainment and culture:
Sadler’s Wells – the best theatre in London for contemporary dance – fascinating to see the work of different choreographers. Rosebery Avenue (0844 412 4300; www.sadlerswells.com)
Screen on the Green – a beautifully old school cinema, they often show art house films here, which aren’t necessarily shown at the multiplexes. It’s a great night out. 83 Upper Street (020 3145 0525; www.everymancinema.com)