Inventory Site Record

Gibson Square (Islington)

Brief Description

Gibson Square is the corresponding square to Milner Square to the north, and was the first of the two squares to be built as part of the Milner-Gibson Estate. In 1823 Thomas Milner Gibson of Theberton Hall in Suffolk had obtained a licence to build on the land, which was part of the Manor of Barnsbury. The central garden was provided for the use of residents of the new houses until the 1930s when upkeep passed to Islington Council and the garden was open to the public. In 1970 a ventilator shaft for the new Victoria Line was built in the gardens, its design resembling a classical temple with a domed roof in order to better harmonise with the garden, which has ornamental beds with roses, lawns, and a variety of trees.

Practical Information
Site location:
Gibson Square
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Garden Square;, Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am - dusk
Special conditions:
no dogs
Public transport:
Tube: Angel (Northern). Bus: 4, 19, 30, 43
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.islington.gov.uk/services/parks-environment/parks/your_parks/greenspace_az

Full Site Description

The land was within the Manor of Barnsbury owned by William Tufnell as Lord of the Manor. In 1823 Thomas Milner Gibson of Theberton Hall in Suffolk obtained a licence to build here from Tufnell's executors. He had inherited a fortune from plantations in Trinidad and became President of the Board of Trade. Trinidad Place was named after the family plantations. The Milner-Gibson Estate was laid out from 1823 by Francis Edwards, a pupil of Sir John Soane. On Edwards' plans 'Milner Square' and 'Gibson Square' were at that point reversed. Gibson Square was built between 1832-39 and the houses had distinctive facades. On Edwards' plan the central garden was shown surrounded by railings with gates and it was provided for the use of residents only. In 1928 it was described as having a lawn with a 'low sparse hedge and trees and around the border'. Owned by Trustees of the Thomas Milner-Gibson it was maintained by a Committee of inhabitants out of rates levied by Islington Borough Council on the occupiers.

By the 1930s Gibson Square garden had become rundown and it was surrendered by residents to Islington Council for upkeep. During WWII it was dug up for air raid shelters and replanted after the war. In 1963 builders of the new Victoria Line identified Gibson Square as a site of a ventilation shaft but the design of a 50 ft concrete-clad tower was vociferously challenged by residents. As a result the height of the shaft was lowered and a low rise structure proposed. The final structure took the form of a simulated classical temple with a domed roof and was built in 1970, designed by Quinlan Terry of Raymond Erith Associates to harmonise with its surroundings. London Transport restored the garden including replacement railings by c.1975. The garden has a number of mature elm trees, some of the only ones left in the borough. The site is important for its geological interest having Islington Terrace Gravels in flower beds.

Sources consulted:

Mary Cosh, The Squares of Islington Part II: Islington Parish, London, 1993; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ315838 (531476,183836)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Islington
Site management:
Greenspace; Friends of Gibson Square
1831; 1836-39
Francis Edwards
Listed structures:
LBII: Nos. 14-70 Gibson Square.
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Local/strategic view corridor. Shopping Policy Area

Gibson Square

Gibson Square - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 23/03/10 11:15

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.