I went for a walk to take some photos in order to test the new software for my geotagger. That’s a story in itself and I will recount it another time. It was a warm day but a little overcast.
These disembodied angel wings, symbolise the area of Islington where we live, which is known as The Angel. I’m not sure that they have any artistic merit but I have grown rather fond of them. (Much the same could be said of local affection for that rusty lump of iron called “The Angel of the North”, I imagine.)
I don’t know what strings have to be pulled or who has to pull them in order to get a street closed off like this. Or is it to prevent it turning into a so-called rat-run? Such streets always intrigue me and this one with its trees and nice terrace of houses seemed very attractive.
Another quaint feature of street design of which there are many examples in the Islington area, is the raised pavement. As well as the raised pavement there are steps up to each of the houses. Perhaps the ground slopes here and this is one way of dealing with it.
Once you venture into the back streets you don’t know what you will find. Curiosities like this wedge-shaped corner building, a number of whose windows have been blinded. (Surely there were windows too on the blank section of wall.) I once lived in a house like this and used to stand in the window imagining the house was a ship that I was directing along the road!
Here is another corner building, the King of Denmark pub. The king in question is said to be King Canute or Cnut, though I have no idea why he is being celebrated. Then, again, why not? I don’t know the age of the pub but it looks like a sturdy piece Victorian architecture.
This rather handsome entrance belongs to what is now a residential property, but what was it originally? The yard could have belonged to a factory or to a merchant; or it could have been a stables or a coach yard. The present gates are modern and I wonder what happened to the original ones. Perhaps they rusted away or were sold for scrap.
It may be overcast (it is also warm and humid) but these trees have no doubt that it is spring. They could not cram more blossom onto their branches. No so long ago, such whiteness would have been snow.
This secondhand shop intrigues me, though the stuffed and preserved animals make me feel queasy. It opens intermittently and has been up for sale for as long as I have lived in Islington but it keeps on going. The owner is in the picture, if you can guess who that is.
Now it’s off home to see whether the geotagger software works as advertised.
Update April 29th 2010
It is very cheering when readers join in and add information to a post. I am happy to say that I have received not one, but two such contributions to this article.
The King of Denmark
BFG in his comment provides a reference to an article in the Islington Gazette reporting on the plight of local pubs in general and the King of Denmark in particular.
I should perhaps return to the King of Denmark when I can and see what its current status is.
Tigger did some research on this and came up with a very interesting history of the Dove Family.
The Doves had more than one yard in their long career and the one that I photographed, in Cloudesley Place, was opened in 1901. They were a family of builders, responsible for a number of important buildings in the Islington area and elsewhere. The firm started with William Spencer Dove (1793-1869) whose two sons started up in their turn in 1852 as Dove Bros. The Cloudesley Place yard belonged to them and continued in use until 1970 when the last member of the family retired.
More details on the Dove Family and the history of the period will be found on the British History Online site. (This site is worth bookmarking as it is a treasurehouse of historical information on many subjects.) The paragraph on the Dove Family is on this page, but you will have to scroll about half-way down a long page to find it. (Hint: if you are using Firefox, use Find with “dove” as the target.)
Just typing “William Spencer Dove” into Google also produces a surprisingly large number of references. He was a very active building contractor.
My thanks to both informants!
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I was curious about the King of Denmark too (pubs are often named for local features, and I see there’s a Copenhagen Street close by, so maybe that’s the link?) so I did a quick bit o’ Googling and discovered the owners used to be Tony and Rita Edwards – the pub was sold out from under them last year by the brewery.
There’s an article on the pub here (Denmark’s demise is detailed towards the end of the piece):
That’s really sad when a community feature like that is dumped in favour of profiteering. I used to enjoy going to community pubs in and around Oxford – they were more than just places to buy beer; you formed relationships with the landlord and some of the regulars, often you even ate your evening meal there (I know friends and I did – I can almost taste the scampi in the basket and chips with oodles of tartar sauce), and it was more of a social club than a pub – at least, back in the ’80s it was.
A little buzz from the beer, some good company and conversation without too much raucous music, maybe a game of darts or two – it was a nice way to spend an evening (back in the days when beer was not so expensive). Sorely missed 😦
Thanks for the interesting piece of research. Right next door to the pub is a “Community Garden” maintained by local people. I didn’t go into it on this occasion but may investigate further on another visit.
I didn’t think to check whether the pub was still active, though the plants, both floor-standing and hanging, seem to indicate that it might be. I will go back and take another look when I have time. That will not be for a while as we are about to go away. (More news of that shortly.)
I like the angel wings…..and the blossom !
Seems London isn’t all bad.
I am glad you like them and thanks for saying so.
As you say, London isn’t all bad. There are, I suppose, city lovers and country lovers. I used to enjoy walking in the country and have been to some truly wonderful places. I have also holidayed in various cottages, huts and other strange places (e.g. Doyden Castle – highly recommended). Nonetheless, I have to admit that I am a city lover at heart.
The best sort of town to live in is probably a small, pretty and historically interesting one that enjoys the amenities of a town as well as the clean air of the country. London, in contrast is big, noisy, dirty and nerve-racking but it is addictive. As Samuel Johnson said: “Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”