Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Awaiting Discovery; Exotic: Sphinxes outside a House in Richmond Square Cafe Society: There Is a Wide Range of Places in Which to Find Something to Eat and Drink in Nearby Upper Street, Islington

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Awaiting Discovery; Exotic: Sphinxes outside a House in Richmond Square Cafe Society: There Is a Wide Range of Places in Which to Find Something to Eat and Drink in Nearby Upper Street, Islington

Article excerpt

Byline: Anthea Masey

WHO will ever forget a tousle-haired Cherie Blair opening the door ofher home in Barnsbury, north London, on the morning after Labour's landslidevictory in May 1997? The Blairs have reportedly been kicking themselves eversince for selling that house in Richmond Crescent for [pounds sterling]615,000 soon aftermoving to Downing Street, only to watch prices in the area rocket.

The same house would now cost at least [pounds sterling]2.25 million, but, interestingly,instead of returning to the New Labour heartland of Islington from Number 10they chose instead to pay [pounds sterling]3.65 million for a house in Connaught Square in trueblue Westminster, opting for an area with none of the charm and colour of theirold stamping ground.

Barnsbury, most of which was designated a conservation area as long ago as1964, is the part of Islington west of Upper Street and east of CaldedonianRoad.

'Gentrifiers discovered they could buy here for fraction of the price ofsomething similar in Chelsea'

Between these two busy thoroughfares, there are green and leafy roads ofarchitecturally distinguished early Victorian terrace houses and villasinterspersed with fine garden squares.

Developed between 1820 and 1850, the houses were originally occupied by wealthyprofessionals, but pollution from factories around King's Cross soon led to anexodus of the well-to-do, and the houses declined into tawdry lodging housesand overcrowded flats. The decline was only halted in the 1960s when ageneration of young gentrifiers discovered they could buy a fourstorey familyhouse in Barnsbury for a fraction of a the price of something similar inChelsea.

THE squares have their own character. Cloudseley and Thornhill Squares aredominated by their churches; Barnsbury Square has two little cul-de-sacs ofstucco villas at its far corners; Lonsdale Square is distinguished by TudorGothic architecture; while the rundown Arundel Square is about to get a facelift. There is even the hidden Barnsbury Woods, which can be found betweenThornhill Crescent, Hemingford Road and Huntingdon Street, which is now anature reserve.

Open to the public for only two hours a week, between 2pm and 4pm on Tuesdays,it is claimed to be the largest wood in central London. …

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