Inventory Site Record

Wilmington Square Gardens (Islington)

Brief Description

Wilmington Square was built in the 1820s on 16 acres of the Spa Fields Estate owned by the Spencer Compton family, Earls and later Marquesses of Northampton, who had long held land in the area. In 1886 Lord Compton, later 5th Marquess of Northampton, presented the central garden enclosure to the Finsbury Vestry for public use, which the MPGA offered to maintain for the benefit of the poor. It was laid out as an ornamental garden, with flower beds, trees, seats and a shelter, which remains in place today. A drinking fountain was erected by Charles Clements Walker JP in memory of his mother Agnes Walker who had lived in the parish.

Practical Information
Site location:
Wilmington Square
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Garden Square;, Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am - dusk
Special conditions:
no dogs
Public transport:
Rail: Farringdon. Tube: Angel (Northern), Farringdon (Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Circle). Bus: 19, 38, 341
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

This garden was the focus of one of London's first post-Waterloo developments, Wilmington Square, which was laid out in the 1820s by builder John Wilson. It was created on 16 acres of the Spa Fields Estate, owned by the Spencer Compton family, who were Earls and later Marquesses of Northampton. The family owned Canonbury Manor as well their land in Clerkenwell, and until the late C17th their town house was Northampton Manor House, eventually demolished in 1869, its site near Northampton Square (q.v.). There was a pedestrian walkway on the north side of Wilmington Square as Wilson ran out of money to build a road. In 1886 Lord Compton, who later succeeded as 5th Marquess of Northampton, presented the square's central garden enclosure, as well as that of Northampton Square (q.v.) to the Finsbury Vestry for public use. The Metropolitan Public Gardens Association offered to run both gardens for the benefit of the poor. At Wilmington Square flowers were planted and seating installed, together with the late C19th pavilion or shelter that can still be seen today. In the gardens is a drinking fountain with the remains of a dedication inscription for the public garden. It was erected by Charles Clements Walker JP in memory of his mother Agnes Walker who had long resided in the parish. There are some notable trees including numerous small ornamental trees and conifers. Many of the surrounding houses date from the 1820s, although some were much rebuilt c.1969. The boundary railings to the garden date from 1819-41.

Sources consulted:

Mary Cosh, 'The Squares of Islington Part I: Finsbury and Clerkenwell', London, 1990; Michael Waite, John Archer, 'Nature Conservation in Islington', Ecology Handbook 19 (London Ecology Unit), 1992; Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ311825 (531172,182564)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Islington
Site management:
Greenspace; Friends of Wilmington Square
Listed structures:
LBII: Nos. 1 - 8; 12 - 21; 25 - 47 Wilmington Square and railings to garden
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:
New River
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Local Importance
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Local/strategic view corridor

Wilmington Square Gardens

Photo: Sarah Jackson

Click a photo to enlarge.

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