Inventory Site Record

Holford Gardens (Islington)

Brief Description

Holford Gardens is on the site of the last square to be built in Clerkenwell. Holford Square was part of the New River Estate, laid out as an ornamental garden square. Among its residents was Vladimir Lenin, who lived at No. 30 in 1902/3. In 1934 the railed garden had a public bowling green and in WWII it was used as a balloon site, but much of the square was destroyed by a landmine in 1941. The site was levelled and Bevin Court was built by 1954, a Y-shaped block of flats set in landscaped areas. Now called Holford Gardens, the public gardens overlooked by the housing consists of lawn with rose beds, perimeter path and trees.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Holford Square
Site location:
off Percy Circus
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am - dusk
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: Angel (Northern), King's Cross (Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria, Hammersmith & City, Circle, Metropolitan). Rail: King's Cross. Bus: 30, 73, 205, 214, 476.
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

Holford Square was named after the Holford family, members of whom were governors of the New River Company in the C18th and C19th. One-time residents of Holford Square in the C19th included the philosopher Herbert Spencer, the painter and engraver Myles Birket Foster and the engraver Edmund Evans. Foster and Evans had both began as apprentices in the studio of engraver Ebenezer Landells, later one of the founders of 'Punch'. Evans became the engraver of Kate Greenaway's works, and Birket Foster became well known for his watercolours and engravings, among whose admirers was the painter Walter Sickert. Between 1902 and 1903 Vladimir Lenin lodged at No. 30 Holford Square. In 1934 a public bowling green was laid out in the railed central gardens, for the use of which adults were charged 6d an hour. The garden was used as a balloon site in WWII, but in 1941 much of the square was destroyed by a landmine and the buildings were demolished the following year.

The site of Holford Square was levelled in c.1951 and Bevin Court was erected in 1951-54, a Y-shaped block of 130 flats and maisonettes designed by Skinner, Bailey and Lubetkin, set within landscaped areas. This was their third scheme for Finsbury Metropolitan Borough Council. In 1942 Lubetkin, who was an admirer of Lenin, had designed a bust to commemorate his stay at Holford Square. This once stood in the park but was frequently subject to vandalism and as a result Lubetkin reputedly had the memorial buried in the foundations of the new building to prevent its further damage.

Sources consulted:

Charles Harris ' Islington', (Hamish Hamilton) 1974; Report of the Royal Commission for London Squares, 1928; Mary Cosh, 'The Squares of Islington Part I: Finsbury and Clerkenwell', Islington Archaeology and History Society, 1990; John Allan, 'Berthold Lubetkin Architecture and the Tradition of Progress' (London, 1992)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ309829 (530930,182950)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Islington
Site management:
1844-77; 1930s; 1950s
Bevin Court: Skinner, Bailey and Lubetkin
Listed structures:
LBII*: Bevin Court
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:
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Local Importance
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Community Services Site

Holford Gardens

Holford Gardens - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 14/10/21 11:46

Click a photo to enlarge.

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