Holloway, Islington

A linear residential locality bordering the road of the same name, stretching north-westwards away from Islington

Hidden London: St Mary Magdelene

From the 14th cen­tu­ry, ‘Le Holew­eye in Isel­don’ [the road in a hol­low in Isling­ton] began to lend its name to the scat­tered col­lec­tion of dwellings along its length, dis­lodg­ing the old­er mano­r­i­al iden­ti­ty of Tolling­ton.

By the 16th cen­tu­ry, three dis­tinct ham­lets com­prised the dis­trict: Upper Hol­loway, Low­er Hol­loway and Ring Cross. The lat­ter had grown up around the junc­tion with what is now Hornsey Road and was lat­er absorbed by Low­er Hol­loway.

Dairy farms occu­pied most of the sur­round­ing fields. Hol­loway was not­ed in the 18th cen­tu­ry for the cheese­cakes pro­duced on the farms and sold at local tav­erns.

By 1800 a few vil­las were appear­ing, togeth­er with some ter­raced hous­ing in the south, but true sub­ur­ban devel­op­ment did not begin until the 1840s. Free­hold land soci­eties inten­si­fied the house­build­ing process from the 1850s.

Built in 1814 as a chapel of ease, St Mary Magde­lene became Hol­loway Road­’s parish church in 1894. It’s shown in the pho­to­graph above.

Hol­loway Prison opened in 1852 on a site that had pre­vi­ous­ly been set aside for the bur­ial of cholera vic­tims; the prison became exclu­sive­ly a women’s jail around 1903. By this time the dis­trict was whol­ly built up, most­ly with ter­raced hous­es – some of which were of sub­stan­dard con­struc­tion – but with a few streets of detached and semi-detached hous­es set well back from the com­mer­cial hub­bub of Hol­loway Road itself in the Nag’s Head local­i­ty.

From the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry the bor­ough and coun­ty coun­cils knocked down hous­es and put up blocks of flats with increas­ing zeal until they were per­suad­ed to desist in the 1970s. Almost half the homes in Hol­loway are rent­ed from the coun­cil – one of the high­est pro­por­tions in Lon­don.

Holloway provided a home for the fictional Charles Pooter in George and Weedon Grossmith’s Diary of a Nobody, which satirises the pretensions of a lowly Victorian clerk; 1 Pemberton Gardens is said to represent the precise location of ‘The Laurels, Brickfield Terrace’.

In Nick Hornby’s novel High Fidelity, the hard-to-find record shop is situated in an unidentified Holloway side street.

Postal districts: N7 and N19
Population: 14,983 (2011 census)


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