I moved to Canonbury in March. Quite by chance I discovered the house before the area. My husband knew the area well and had long fallen for it, so the wonderful squares and Georgian buildings were of no surprise to him.
For those, like me, who aren’t so familiar, it’s a place that feels as though it has fallen though time. It remains un-spoilt, with a friendly village atmosphere and houses that have not yet been subjected to basement activity. Canonbury square has been home to Evelyn Waugh & George Orwell. The area also counts Keira Knightly and Emma Watson amongst its residents.
From my bedroom I can see Canonbury tower; an extraordinary building and a fine example of Tudor architecture commissioned during the reign of Henry the 8th.
At this time Canonbury was countryside, mostly used for its dairy pasture supplying milk to the city. William Bolton, the Architect responsible for the Henry the 8th Chapel in Westminster Abbey, was charged with the towers design. For this he took full advantage of the views. It was not designed for any form of defense.
The tower that remains was part of a larger priory with still more evidence obvious in some smaller towers on Alywne Villas and Alywne road.
In 1535 the tower, along with the priory, were given to Oliver Cromwell and it was from here that he planned the dissolution of the monasteries. He lived here for just one year, before his execution.
The priory was then sold to pay for Henry’s divorce to Anne Of Cleeves (how very modern!) before going on to home John Dudley and later John Spencer in the Elizabethan era. It is with this family that the tower remains today.
Sir Francis Bacon
As a great friend of the family, Sir Francis Bacon took a lease on the building during the reign of King James. Francis Bacon is regarded as one of the original founders of Freemasonry and a member of the Rosicrucian Order. The paneling in some parts of the tower contains references this.
The view from the top is stunning!