Tufnell Park

Tufnell Park, Islington

A distinctive 19th-century residential scheme, characterised by wide, tree-lined streets and individually styled housing, situated north-east of Kentish Town


Hidden London: The Boston Arms by Julian Osley
The Boston Arms, Dart­mouth Park Hill front

From ear­ly times this was part of the manor of Barns­bury, which in the 15th cen­tu­ry pos­sessed a moat­ed farm­house at what is now the east­ern end of Tufnell Park Road.

William Tufnell inher­it­ed the manor in 1754 and soon after­wards changed his sur­name to Jol­liffe. The estate lat­er passed to his broth­er and down through his fam­i­ly, thus regain­ing the Tufnell con­nec­tion.

The area was known for its dairy farms until the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry but in 1822 the Tufnells sought per­mis­sion to grant build­ing leas­es and cre­at­ed Tufnell Park Road two years lat­er. Oth­er roads were named after branch­es of the extend­ed fam­i­ly.

The manor’s brick and stone gateposts sur­vive on either side of Tufnell Park Road, just east of the junc­tion with Lady Mar­garet Road. They’re very favourably reviewed on Google Maps.

Most of the ter­raced hous­es were built in the 1850s and 1860s, often with sep­a­rate gabled roofs to make them look like semi-detached hous­es. Only two archi­tects were employed through­out the project but they built adven­tur­ous­ly, dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing each street and some­times every vil­la with­in a street. Façades were often plain but imag­i­na­tive­ly orna­ment­ed, espe­cial­ly around the win­dows. Many of the sur­viv­ing hous­es are now local­ly list­ed but only num­bers 9 to 21 Tufnell Park Road have statu­to­ry pro­tec­tion.

The Byzan­tine-style church of St George was includ­ed as part of the devel­op­ment project and was endowed for the Free Church of Eng­land in 1868. Its adja­cent Rhen­ish tow­er was built in 1875.

Shown in the pho­to above, the Boston Arms is a grade II list­ed pub­lic house and music venue, designed by pub spe­cial­ists Thor­pe and Fur­niss, who tend­ed to build in what­ev­er style, or mix of styles, the land­lord desired. Tra­di­tion­al­ly favoured by the local Irish com­mu­ni­ty, the Boston is dat­ed 1899 in a pan­el on its Junc­tion Road front.

23 Car­leton Road

Tufnell Park sta­tion opened in 1907 on the new­ly built Char­ing Cross, Euston & Hamp­stead Rail­way, which ini­tial­ly ter­mi­nat­ed at Arch­way (then called High­gate).

As in much of Vic­to­ri­an north Lon­don, the 20th cen­tu­ry brought the sub­di­vi­sion of many of the hous­es and munic­i­pal replace­ment of oth­ers, so that most of Tufnell Park’s res­i­dents now live in flats, rent­ed pri­vate­ly or from the coun­cil or hous­ing asso­ci­a­tions.

More recent­ly, some hous­es have been reunit­ed as the wealth­i­er mid­dle class­es have recolonised the local­i­ty, espe­cial­ly on the west­ern side.

A new church of St George (now St George and All Saints) was built at the cor­ner of Cray­ford and Car­leton Roads in 1974. The old church served as a Shake­speare­an the­atre in the lat­ter part of the 20th cen­tu­ry and has since become the Rock Tow­er, which dou­bles as a Niger­ian church and an events venue. Jere­my Cor­byn held his final ral­ly at this venue (which is in his con­stituen­cy) before his elec­tion as leader of the Labour par­ty in Sep­tem­ber 2015.

Channel 4’s Spaced (1999–2001, “the most influential comedy of this millennium”, The Guardian) was set at the fictional 23 Meteor Street (actually Carleton Road), Tufnell Park.

Postal districts: N7 and N19
Station: Northern line (zone 2)
* The picture of the Boston Arms on this page is modified from an original photograph, copyright Julian Osley, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.