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Ten Interesting Facts about Islington

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Forming along the path of the Great North Road, the Borough of Islington began as a village named “Giseldone” from the Saxons, otherwise known as “Gisla’s Hill”.  The village quickly became more important as a source for the city’s water, and this also made it a good place for growing vegetables that supplied London with food.  Eventually, the village was absorbed into Greater London as the city grew into the surrounding communities.  Today it is a major home to restaurants, pubs, shops, and other important aspects of the city.  If you want to know more interesting facts about the Borough of Islington, read on and see if you can discover some information you never knew.

A Different One Each Night

Islington is allegedly home to more restaurants than days of the year, meaning you could eat in a different one every day and still not have experienced them all.

Angels in the Borough

The area of Angel is Islington originated with the Angel Inn, which opened in 17th Century and by 1903 came to mean the Angel Hotel.  Angel became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Islington in 1900, which joined with the Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury in 1965 to become the London Borough of Islington.  The Angel tube station is named for the area and is featured in the London edition of Monopoly.  In Neil Gaiman’s story “Neverwhere” the fallen angel Islington is named for both the area and the borough.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Islington

Douglas Adams actually based some of the characters in his Hitchhiker’s Guide series on people that he knew in the borough.  Adams had lived in the area on Arlington Avenue and the character Hotblack Desiato was named after a well-known real estate agent.  Islington is also the location of the flat where Arthur Dent meets Trillian at a party before she’s whisked off by Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Famous Residents

Besides Mr. Adams, a great number of other well-known individuals have called Islington home over the years.  These persons include Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, actress Minnie Driver, Thomas Cromwell, Gillian Anderson, Daniel DeFoe, Naomi Harris, George Orwell, and more.

Mr. Blair

Before he moved to 10 Downing Street, Tony Blair lived in Islington, causing the press to dub him the “Islington Man.”

Centennial Football

London Arsenal FC has called Islington home for over one-hundred years.  The club moved to Arsenal Stadium in Highbury in 1913, appropriately dropping the “Woolwich” part of the team name to become, simply, “The Arsenal.”  Even though Arsenal has now moved out of Arsenal Stadium, you can still find them in Islington at Emirates Stadium in Holloway.

Escalators Can Never Break

The Angel Tube Station is home to the third-longest escalator in Europe at 60 metres with an incline of 27.5 metres.  It can present quite the stair exercise if it breaks down.

Drinks and a Show

The King’s Head Theatre Pub is the first of its kind since the days of Shakespeare, having opened in 1970.  The theatre in the back of the location hosts everything from plays to comedy to musical performances.  The front of the building is where the Victorian pub is located services any number of wines, ales, and classic British pub food.


Islington is home to two major ethnic neighborhoods in London.  The southwestern section of Clerkenwell became home to a sizable population of Italian immigrants in the 1850s and is now known as London’s “Little Italy”.  By the 1960s, much of the Italian population had moved out, but the neighborhood still bears many important locations to the city’s Italians, such as St. Peter’s Italian Church, which is home to the Italian Procession of Our Lady of Saint Carmel and Sagra. Similarly, many Irish immigrants made their home in Islington, and it boasts the second-highest Irish population behind the Borough of Brent.

A Good Start

Director Alfred Hitchcock began his career at Islington Studios.

John Rabon
Author: John Rabon

John is a regular writer for Anglotopia and its sister websites. He is currently engaged in finding a way to move books slightly to the left without the embarrassment of being walked in on by Eddie Izzard. For any comments, questions, or complaints, please contact the Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson's haircut.

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  1. In 1965 the Metropolitan Borough of Islington amalgamated with the Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury, not Findlay. Incidentally, approximately half of the western side of Islington High Street is in Clerkenwell. In 1900, the Civil Parish of Clerkenwell was absorbed into the newly-created Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury, which itself (as said above) amalgamated with the Metropolitan Borough of Islington in 1965, to form the London Borough of Islington. Islington Studios (otherwise known as Gainsborough Studios were in Hoxton (a part of the former Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch – and a part of the former Civil Parish of Shoreditch Saint Leonard before that) rather than in Islington. In 1965, the Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch, the Metropolitan of Hackney and the Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington amalgamated, to form the newly-created London Borough of Hackney.

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