London’s Pocket Parks: Owens Field, EC1

This pocket park near Angel tube station has existed ever for the reason that space round it was turned from fields into homes, however for many of its life, it wasn’t an area for the general public to make use of – it was a faculty playground.

It owes its origins, and the title, to Alice Wilkes, who was born in 1547, and legend has it that whereas both enjoying or milking a cow (the story varies), somebody close by fired an arrow that solely simply missed her (or hit her hat). As individuals have been inclined to do on the time, fairly than berating the hapless archer, she thanked God and vowed to do charitable acts.

To be charitable, she wanted cash, and one of the simplest ways on the time was to get married. A number of instances. 3 times in actual fact, lastly to guage Thomas Owen.

She endowed two new colleges in Islington together with the land between them for the college playground.

The southern boundary is, and has all the time been Owen’s Row, whereas the northern boundary, initially an unnamed alley was later widened and is now Owen Road.

R Horwood map 1799

The college playground sat between two colleges, to the north was the boys’ college, and to the south was the ladies’ and infants’ college. Over time, evidently the playground turned solely for the boys, and a rebuilt women’ college, renamed Dame Alice Owen’s Ladies’ Faculty had a bigger plot of its personal to the south.

The pupils have been evacuated throughout WWII, and the ladies’ college constructing was used as an air raid shelter. Nevertheless, on the night time of 15 October 1940, the college took a direct hit from a bomb and a lot of the constructing collapsed, trapping about 150 individuals within the basement. The basement additionally began flooding from injury to the close by water mains although, and 109 individuals died within the rubble.

A alternative college was constructed after the conflict, however finally, it was determined to maneuver the college to Potters Bar in Hertfordshire, which is the place it stays. The outdated boys’ college is now fashionable flats and the outdated women’ college is now a part of the Metropolis and Islington Faculty.

When the colleges moved out, it was determined to open the playground as a public park, and it was named Owens Discipline – or generally Owens Fields. It appears the council can’t fairly determine if there have been one or two fields right here. For the document, there was simply the one.

At this time it’s a pocket park hidden from view of the busy important roads by the buildings round it and is a plain however pleasing house to pause for some time. Loads of timber forged shade across the edges and excessive hedges protect it from the housing. It does have perhaps an extra of tarmac via the centre although, which provides it the air extra of a busy thoroughfare than a park to linger in.

There’s a chunk of public artwork within the park, known as Edgerunner by the UK-based Romanian artist Paul Neagu. In accordance with a plaque on the bottom, it was “offered by the Romanian Cultural Institute and Anton Neagu to the individuals of Islington as a part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad with help of the Paul Neagu property and Islington Council.”

As for the legacy left by Dame Alice Owen – it’s nonetheless lively, and administered by the Worshipful Firm of Brewers, they current beer cash annually to pupils on the college. Which is a pleasant perk.

Extra sensible although, the 400 12 months outdated Dame Alice Owen Basis is now wealthy sufficient that it’s in a position to distribute round £1.5 million in grants annually to help schooling on the college and throughout Islington.

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