Inventory Site Record

King Square Gardens (Islington)

Brief Description

King Square was originally laid out in 1822-25 on land belonging to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, with the church of St Barnabas built on the east side. The church was damaged during WWII but was rebuilt and re-opened in 1956, later renamed St Clement’s Church. By the 1950s the area was run-down and a new housing estate was planned. The King Square Estate was built for Finsbury Borough Council between 1959-65 and the garden square was re-landscaped, remaining public open space surrounded by the new estate. The tallest tower overlooks the park on the west side. Part of the garden is paved and the remainder has grass, flowerbeds, shrubs and trees.

Practical Information
Site location:
King Square
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am - dusk
Special conditions:
Children's playground, sand pit, water play feature
Public transport:
Tube: Barbican (Hammersmith & City, Circle, Metropolitan). Old Street, Angel (Northern) then bus. Bus: 4, 43, 56, 205, 214, 394
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

St Barnabas Church was designed by Thomas Hardwick and built in 1824-26 to provide a new parish church for the growing population. The garden, leased by land-owners St Bartholomew's Hospital to Finsbury Borough Council, was open to the public and in 1928 is described as 'attractively laid out as an ornamental garden with lawns and flower beds' with part occupied by a hard tennis court. The church was damaged during WWII and rebuilt by Norman Haines, re-opening in 1956, with an C18th pulpit from St Marylebone Chapel. St Barnabas was later amalgamated with two other churches: St Matthew, built by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and St Clement by William Butterfield, both of which were demolished. Between 1959-65 King Square Estate was built for Finsbury Borough Council, designed by Emberton, C L Franck (formerly assistant to Lubetkin and who built Spa Green Estate) and Tardrew, the church on the east side all that remained of the former housing. The square remained as public open space surrounded by the new estate, which was built of precast concrete units. The tallest tower was completed in 1965 overlooking the park on the west side, with a big arch at ground level. To the north of the park are 6-storey blocks.

King Square Gardens has a central playground and covered passageway; part is paved, the rest is grass with flower beds and shrubs. Trees within the park include lime, horse chestnut and ornamental cherry. In 2011 a new park building was completed and officially opened on 19 September by the Mayor of Islington and the Leader of the Council, Catherine West. Among the new facilities are children's toilets, activity room, park keeper's office, covered shelter and events area. Following this, over £100,000 has now been raised for play improvements in the park.

Sources consulted:

Andrew Saint (introduction), 'London Suburbs', Merrell Holberton Publishers 1999; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Mary Cosh, The Squares of Islington Part I: Finsbury and Clerkenwell, London, 1990; Eric Willats, Streets with a story: The Book of Islington, London,1988; Michael Waite, John Archer, 'Nature Conservation in Islington', Ecology Handbook 19 (London Ecology Unit), 1992

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ319827 (531985,182678)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Islington
Site management:
1822-25; 1960s
Listed structures:
LBII: St Clement with St Barnabas & St Matthew Church
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:

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.