Surrounding the historic Islington artery of Essex Road, the Canonbury ward that is as diverse in population as in architecture. Around 13,000 people call the ward home, with a large proportion living in densely populated flats and apartments. Comparatively few own a home here – Canonbury has significantly higher levels of people living in private and social rented accommodation than the UK average.
Canonbury has a higher percentage of older people than most other Islington Wards, many of whom struggle to make ends meet. Given Canonbury’s centrality, this may come as a surprise. For a number of years, Islington as a borough has maintained a comparatively youthful age profile when compared with the rest of London.
Amidst the urban bustle, there are reminders of Canonbury’s rural and religious past, most prominently in the form of Canonbury Tower. Built during Tudor times, the Tower was once part of the manor of the Prior and Canons of St Bartholomew's, West Smithfield. It has been home to notable people over the centuries, including Thomas Cromwell and Francis Bacon.
Away from Canonbury’s backstreets, and the grand Canonbury Square, the area’s diversity can be seen in the different shops, cafes and pubs that line Essex Road, which has a distinct feel compared with nearby Upper Street. There is a butcher, a baker, a funeral director, a fishmonger, a few traditional British chippies, and myriad independent restaurants and shops specialising in cuisine from around the world.
Following Islington’s lead as the local authority with the least green space in the UK, parks and greens are in comparatively short supply in Canonbury, especially amidst the dense residential streets that lead off Essex Road. A rich vein of nature comes in the form of the walk surrounding the New River, an artificial waterway constructed in the 17th Century to bring decent drinking water to the area. The tranquil walkway which now careers alongside the water divides larger homes and stacked flats.
Our support around Canonbury
The below organisations operate in Canonbury, and have either been funded or otherwise supported by Cripplegate Foundation or Islington Giving, a partnership of local people, businesses and funders that we helped found in 2010.
Tucked between Essex Road and the newly renovated Astey’s Row Playground, Urban Hope offers fun activities and helpful services to people in the community. Cripplegate Foundation provides funding to the charity to support its work to provide new experiences for local young people.
Good Neighbours Scheme
Running parallel to the New River Walk, the New River Green is a densely populated Estate with a high proportion of residents experiencing poverty and deprivation. Cripplegate’s association with the estate stretches back some years – we worked to re-open the Walter Sickert Community Centre, which now acts as a hub for a Good Neighbours Scheme on the estate, run by Help on Your Doorstep. Islington Giving spent a coffee morning with neighbours at New River Green last Autumn – read how it’s changing lives.
At St Stephen’s Church, The Manna gives varied, caring support for homeless people sleeping rough across Islington. The Manna is part of the Catalyst Programme, giving small amounts of money so people can buy essentials, and pay for things they enjoy. The Manna is one of a number of homeless services in the borough, you can see what else is on offer on the London Housing Federation’s Atlas of homelessness services.
No Recourse to Public Funds
Another Catalyst Partner is Islington Council’s No Recourse to Public Funds Team, which is based in the ward. They work tirelessly to improve the lives of migrants and refugees who have moved to the borough, often with very little money and a lack of spoken English. Young Catalyst funding is used to help families and their children have a happier experience in their new homes. Watch the video about the impact that the programme has had on people.