Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Islington (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 31940 84530



TQ3184NE CANONBURY PLACE 635-1/46/171 (South side) 20/09/54 Canonbury Tower


House, now offices. Premises of the Canonbury Tower Trust and the Tavistock Repertory Company; originally part of a manor of the Prior and Canons of St Bartholomew's, West Smithfield, rebuilt in the early C16, and then again in the late C16 by Sir John Spencer; the staircase tower is of c.1580 with the top storey added later in the C16, three-storey wing east of the tower added early C17, and the three-storey wing south of the tower c.1580; various additions in the C17 and C18, and extensive restoration in 1907-8 under the care of Major Dance, the builders being Thurman and White. Brick, that of the staircase tower set in English bond, the other wings covered with plaster, tiled roofs. The staircase tower has one exposed front to the north with wings to the other sides, three storeys to the west, four storeys to the south and three storeys to the east. The tower has four stages, with buttresses on the north front rising to the third stage with two offsets. Three-light window to ground floor, the stepped windows to the staircase are casements in thick frames set flush with the wall, presumably restored in 1907. Brick string courses between stages and corbelled string above fourth stage and below heightened parapet. The windows to the wings are generally small-paned sashes set flush or slightly proud of the wall. Gabled wing to the west is brick to ground floor, plastered above; north wall has two windows to ground floor, canted wooden bay to first floor and two windows to upper floors; on the west front, the ground floor projects in a curve, of late C18 or later, with two windows of 1907 and parapet. A five-sided bay with flat roof projects at the south-west corner of this wing with two windows to the first and second floors. There is one window in the gable of the west wing, and a chimneystack rising from it by the south-west corner of the tower. The cross-gabled south wing has windows to first and second floor facing west with a central mullion and one window in the gable; first- and second-floor windows facing south, set to the left, and one window in the gable; the east face has steps up to ground-floor flat-arched entrance with moulded doorcase and overlight, windows to first and second floors with central mullion and one window in the gable. The east wing has a flat-arched entrance in Canonbury Place with late C18 or early C19 moulded doorcase and ground floor tripartite window under cambered arch; first floor has wooden canted bay with brick band above and a window to second floor. External stack to east with offsets and parapeted gable. A single-storey wing linking Canonbury Tower to King Edward's Hall abuts the east front; the south front has a garden door under cambered arch, casement window to ground floor and sashes to first and second floor. INTERIOR: : The staircase consists of a timber-framed core, square in plan, with handrail attached and cupboards with moulded timber architraves formed in the void. At the fourth floor the tower becomes open in plan with a balustrade and side staircase, the balustrade formed in 1907 from earlier timbers. The Spencer Room on the first floor, south wing: panelled from floor to ceiling in oak, the east and west sides being of two bays with a broad window bay, the south side having an arrangement of bays corresponding to the north which includes the entrance and fireplace. The bays are divided by Ionic pilasters with cabled fluting, and a frieze of meandering foliage; moulded cornice. The fireplace has a flat-arched opening with a frieze of palmettes and a further frieze of guilloche ornament over it and two bays above that divided by pilasters with faceted ornament, framing panels within panels under shell-moulds. Neo-Classical cast-iron grates in rooms on the first floor to east and north-west. The Compton Room on the second floor, south wing: the panelling apparently reset so as to make an extra room of the eastern bay. Panelling from floor to ceiling, pilasters generally on plinths with grotesque ornaments, the body of the columns decorated with strapwork, Corinthian capitals, many mutilated, and a frieze of palmette forms with some heraldic shields. Fireplace in north wall, with flat-arched opening and C20 simple stone surround, flanked by pilasters without plinths, above it bands of strapwork and fluting, a mantelshelf decorated with trailing roses, and an overmantel consisting of two panels with strapwork frames enclosing figures of Faith and Hope. Neo-Classical cast-iron grate in second-floor room in north-west wing. Inscription room on fifth floor, with painted inscription relating to kings and queens of England until Charles I; the door of plank construction with wrought-iron hinges on the inner side, and of frame-and-panel construction with moulded frames on the outer side, the outer side re-used. (Canonbury Tower. A brief guide: London; Greater London Sites and Monuments Record; The Builder 29 February 1908: PP.253-4.; Victoria County History: Middlesex, vol.8: London: 1985-: P.75.).

Listing NGR: TQ3201284521


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Cockburn, J S, King, H P F, McDonnell, K G T, The Victoria History of the County of Middlesex, (1985), 75
'The Builder' in 29 Feburary, (1908), 253-4
Canonbury Tower A brief guide,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 16 Jun 2000
Reference: IOE01/02560/21
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr G.N.G. Tingey. Source Historic England Archive
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