Inventory Site Record

St Mary Magdalene Gardens (Islington)

Brief Description

St Mary Magdalene was built in 1814 as a chapel of ease to Islington Parish Church, the population having grown from the mid C18th onwards, and it became a parish in its own right in 1894. The former burial ground was converted as public gardens and opened in May of that year, part of the expense met by the Islington Vestry and the LCC. A number of chest tombs and headstones remain, predominantly near the church; the gardens are laid out with sinuous paths, shrubberies and formal lawns within which are numerous rose beds. There are a number of fine mature trees in the churchyard.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
St Mary Magdalene with St James Church
Site location:
Holloway Road/Madras Place/Liverpool Road, Lower Holloway
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am - dusk. Church open (creche)
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: Highbury & Islington (Victoria). Rail: Highbury & Islington. Bus: 4, 19, 30, 43, 153, 236, 271, 277, 393
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.islington.gov.uk/parks

Full Site Description

Formerly Holloway Episcopal Chapel, St Mary Magdalene was built in 1814 as a chapel of ease to Islington Parish Church of St Mary (q.v.), the population of the parish having grown from the mid C18th onwards. Suburban development took place from the 1760s onwards around Holloway Road, which was an ancient route, documented in 1307 as the 'hollow way', being the route from Islington to Highgate Hill. The chapel was designed by the Surveyor to the County of Middlesex, W Wickings, and it was set within a former burial ground; it became a parish church in 1894 when additions were made to the building, which included the porch, aisle and gallery, designed by C E Child, although this was later replaced in 1983. St Mary Magdalene incorporates St James Church in Chillingworth Road, built 1837-8, which was bombed in 1944 and was later converted to the church hall for St Mary.

The large former churchyard has railings over brick wall on three sides, and is walled to the south; a commemorative plaque on the north-west pier at the main entry to the gardens records its conversion to a garden. A number of chest tombs and headstones remain in the gardens, predominantly near the church. There are mature trees including plane, at least one huge tree may date from the C18th (?) and also lime, ash and horse chestnut. Improvements to the park completed by 2010 included better access, lighting, seating and litter bins as well as planting of shrubs and installation of nesting boxes.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Michael Waite, John Archer, 'Nature Conservation in Islington', Ecology Handbook 19 (London Ecology Unit, 1992).

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ312849 (531260,184930)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Islington
Site management:
Greenspace; Friends of St Mary Magdalene Church Gardens
Listed structures:
LB: St Mary Magdalene 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:
Conservation Area name:
St Mary Magdalene
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
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.