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THE ANGEL REVISITED N1

Angel crawl map - for more detail click on map or press 1 to be taken to streetmap.co.uk

 

Pub

Time

 

 

Start

End

1

Camden Head

 

 

2

Old Queen's Head

 

 

3

King's Head 

 

 

4

Old Parrs Head

 

 

5

Hope and Anchor

 

 

6

Belcher's Brewery

 

 

7

 

 

8

 

 

Angel:

  1. Divine messenger
  2. Lovely or innocent being
  3. Old English gold coin
  4. Financial backer
  5. Height of aircraft from ground (1000 ft.)
  6. crap song by the Eurythmics, early-80s

Islington' was known by the ale-swilling Anglo-Saxons as 'Gislandune' (meaning 'Gisla's hill') and is recorded in the Domesday book as Iseldone, when it's land in the forest of Middlesex was held by the canons of St. Pauls. It's earliest church is mentioned in 1317.

By the mid-16th century, the hilltop village of 'merry Islington' was noted for it's handsome mansions, gardens, orchards, good dairy farms and pure water from it's springs (rather like it is today). The area was a natural stopping place for royalty travelling to and from the capital. Later (and not so merrily), being outside the city, the area was a refuge during plague outbreaks and after the Great Fire.

From Jacobean times, 'The Angel' was known as the nearest staging post to London. It was a coaching inn 'opposite some large elms' on the busy Great North Road where the traffic included herds of cattle being driven to the market at Smithfield. 'The Angel' was especially useful to night travellers, when the unlit fields, on the outskirts of the city, were dangerous. The inn was rebuilt in 1819 and again in 1899 (when it's dome became a noted landmark), was a Lyons tea house in the 1960s and today.....it is a CO-OP bank.

By the late-eighteenth century, Islington was still little more than a cluster of houses grouped around the village (Islington) green, with the smaller, distant hamlets of Holloway and Canonbury nearby. The lower reaches ran into tea gardens and spas (notably at Sadlers Wells, since 1683) and it rivalled Clerkenwell (I kid you not) as a recreational resort for Londoners. However, Pentonville Road was now patrolled at night, by mounted escorts, to protect homeward-bound revellers from entertainments such as 'a learned pig' (recorded in 1783). The spas, also, were claimed to cure 'dropsy, jaundice, scurvy, greensickness and other distempers not to be mentioned'.

Still, Islington was a good place to be (Arsenal football club had not yet been founded). As a London character in a novel of this time states "....give me fresh air, and Islington!". William Blake mentions "the fields from Islington to Marylebone". Goldsmith records the area as 'a pretty, neat town, mostly built of brick, with a church and bells. It has a small pond in the midst though at present much neglected.'

Even in the 19th century, when Dickens wants to banish a character from the action of one of his novels, he exiles him to distant Islington. However, by the end of the century, improved transport 'decreased' the distance to London and made development inevitable although, still, the people who lived here generally confined their lives to the district .

Midsummer - period of summer solstice, about 21 June ~madness, extreme folly, supposedly due to midsummer moon and heat.

Yes, midsummer madness is upon us and, as usual, there is only one way to combat it. Let us (Ra)ise our glasses to the life-giving, super soaraway Sun.


  1. The Camden Head (Youngers)
    A grand Victorian tavern is the scene for the kick-off. Ornate mirrors and windows provide a suitable setting for quiet contemplation of your Theakstons or Youngers ale. If weíre lucky, we may bask outside and soak up the UVA & B.

    Up the Essex Road, now, to the next watering-hole. The road was once noted for itís fine mansions and ancient inns, one of which was:

  2. The Old Queenís Head
    This trendy spot was the site for a famous inn which was demolished in 1829. Todayís building still contains a 16th-century plaster ceiling and fireplace from the original which are much appreciated by the locals. Boddingtons & Directors ales (served in 20th-century straight pint glasses) and draught Budvar and Hoegaarden help create a lively atmosphere. Table football may be attempted by the energetic and those with Euro-96 fever (not me guv).

    We cross over the road to:

  3. The Kings Head (Whitbread)
    A sun-trap beer garden is the main attraction of this pub for solstice devotees; glasses of Boddingtons, Flowers, Old Speckled Hen and the ubiquitous (for Islington) draught Hoegaarden should be sampled and raised in a toast to the sunís orange rays. A couple of guest beers were also on when I visited (as a guest).

    Left into Cross Street now, past the site of an old asylum (demolished 1845) and to the hip, the happening

  4. The Old Parrs Head
    Another modern-style pub with 6X, Pedigree, Flowers and Hoegaarden on tap. The wine list is also worth checking out. Of more interest to some may be the bottles of ĎDesperadosí tequila beer weighing in at a hefty 5.9% (lightweight to Diamond White drinkers). Go on! Give it a go! Iíll see you later.

    And, as the sun drew down to west, We climbed the toilsome Angel crest, And saw, of landskip sights the best, The inn that beamed nearby.
    Weíre in Upper Street and are wending our merry way to Highbury Corner. On the way, we stop at...

  5. The Hope and Anchor (Greene King)
    Famous in the late-70s, when it played host to gigs by all the emerging punk/new wave bands. The Stranglers, X-Ray Spex and, er... Dire (boredom) Straits all played here along with many others who are commemorated by plaques along the pubís walls. Today, draught IPA and Abbot make you want to spit with excitement.

    Itís almost over, at the top of Upper Street we reach..

  6. Belchers Brewery
    Formerly the Cock Tavern, where football fans used to meet to discuss the latest boring events at nearby Highbury. The pub has undergone extensive revision and looks the better for it. Again, a lively bar with a good, loud jukebox and a young clientele. The beers are brewed on the premises and are the refreshing, fruity Bibis Best, Flaminí Ada and Taylor made (in increasing order of strength).

    Thatís it! We have celebrated Apollo pulling his chariot across the sky and now, as the nights draw in, perhaps we can understand the lines:

    Glowing with answers in the aromatic dark, We walk, so wise,
    Unless you are taking the tube, that is.

    Aidan Laverty. June 1996