After the barber’s, I went for a walk, more or less at random. I passed behind the building whose photo appears at the top of this post, Finsbury Town Hall. Built in 1895, it was rendered redundant as a town hall in 1965 when Finsbury was amalgamated with the London Borough of Islington. It is a strangely shaped building with a certain charm and historic associations that I hope to learn more about. It could do with a good clean and this would bring out the beauty of details such as this figure.
I also chanced upon Wilmington Square. These “squares” abound in London and there are some beautiful examples right here in Islington. The usual pattern is a rectangular area delimited on three or four sides by handsome terrace houses with a garden in the middle.
When these were first built, the owners of the property, well-to-do folk, would have had private access to the gardens, where they could walk among the vegetation, sit in the sun and perhaps, in some cases play tennis. There might also be a gazebo or summer house to give shelter from the sun and perhaps from the rain.
On the north side of the Square, instead of the more usual road, there is this walkway. I am told this is because John Wilson, who built the Square in the 1820s, ran out of money. Personally, I think it makes for a pleasant atmosphere, the houses looking straight onto the gardens, though I agree it might make access for deliveries a little difficult.
While the gardens of some of London’s squares still remain private, in many cases they have been taken over by the local borough council. In the case of Wilmington Square, the gardens were given into the care of Finsbury Vestry (then the local authority for the area) in 1895 and today are maintained by Islington Borough Council. It remains a very charming spot in tranquil surroundings.
The garden is unusual in having not one but two drinking fountains. What looks like the older of the two has lost most of its lettering and is now rather inscrutable as far as its age and provenance are concerned.
The second was put in place by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, the charitable organization responsible for most of the cattle and horse troughs that still decorate the streets of London and must have been such a boon to cattle driven into the capital to be sold at market. I am delighted that the Association still exists, as you will see by clicking on the link.
And yes, I did press the bronze button marked “PRESS” on the top left (well, you knew I would, didn’t you?) but nothing came out. Note the bowl at bottom right for small animals. This is a typical feature of fountains and troughs installed by the Association.