Monday, 20 August 2012


Islington may have played its own small part in the destruction and conquest by England of north Wales. In December 1277 the last native prince of Wales, Llywelyn the Last, while staying in Islington in preparation of his ritual act of homage to the English king, was so heinously offended by the display put on by the locals that he and his men started fighting 

Aubert Park

Alexander Aubert (1730-1805) was a
businessman and astronomer. He moved his
observatory from near Greenwich to Highbury
House in 1788. This was said to be one of the
finest observatories in Britain containing a
telescope designed by James Short; this was
known as “Short’s Dumpy”. In 1797 Aubert set
up a volunteer corps, the Loyal Islington
Volunteers, to protect Islington in the case of a
Napoleonic invasion
He was born at Austin Friars, London, 
11 May 1730. The appearance of the Great Comet of 1744  gave him, then a schoolboy at Geneva, a permanent bias towards astronomy; he diligently prepared, however, for a mercantile career in counting-houses at Geneva, Leghorn, and Genoa, and visited Rome in the jubilee year (1750). Returning to London in 1751, he was in the following year taken into partnership by his father. In 1753 he became a director, and some years later governor, of the London Assurance Company. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1772, and of the Society of Antiquaries in 1784.
In 1793 he received a diploma of admission to the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He 
File:Venustransit 2004-06-08 07-49.jpgobserved the transit of Venus of 3 June 1769 at Austin Friars, and that of Mercury, 4 May 1786 at an observatory built by him at Loampit Hill, near DeptfordFile:Deptford Market.jpg, and furnished with the best instruments by Short, Bird, Ramsden, and Dollond. Except that of Count Brühl,  it was at that period the only well-equipped private establishment of the kind in England. In 1788 he purchased Highbury House, Islington, for 6,000 guineas, and erected on the grounds, with the assistance of his friend John Smeaton,  File:John Smeaton.jpg
the celebrated engineer, a new observatory on improved plans of his own.
His mechanical knowledge caused him to be appointed chairman of the trustees for the completion of Ramsgate harbour,
File:RamsgateMarina 1.JPG and his energy contributed materially to the ultimate success of Smeaton's designs. In 1792 Aubert headed a society for the suppression of sedition, and in 1797 he organised, and was appointed lieutenant-colonel of, the 'Loyal Islington Volunteers.' While staying in the house of Mr. John Lloyd, of Wygfair, St. Asaph, File:St Asaph, Cathedral.jpg he was struck with apoplexy, and died 19 October 1805, at the age of 75, highly esteemed both in scientific and commercial circles, and widely popular, owing to his genial manners and unstinted hospitality. His valuable astronomical library and instruments were sold and dispersed after his death. Amongst the latter were a Dollond 46-inch achromatic, aperture 3¾ inches, and the one Cassegrain reflector  File:Cassegrain.en.png
constructed by Short, of 24 inches focus and 6 aperture, known among opticians as 'Short's Dumpy.' Both had been originally made for Topham Beauclerk.

In 1276, Edward declared Llywelyn a rebel and in 1277, gathered an enormous army to march against him. Edward's intention was to disinherit Llywelyn completely and take over Gwynedd Is Conwy himself. He was considering two options for Gwynedd Uwch Conwy: either to divide it between Llywelyn's brothers, Dafydd and Owain, or to annex Anglesey and divide only the mainland between the two brothers. Edward was supported by Dafydd ap Gruffydd and Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn. Many of the lesser Welsh princes who had supported Llywelyn now hastened to make peace with Edward. By the summer of 1277, Edward's forces had reached the
River Conwy and encamped at Deganwy, while another force had captured Anglesey and took possession of the harvest there. This deprived Llywelyn and his men of food, forcing them to seek terms.

Treaty of Aberconwy

 The continuation of Essex Road to Newington Green connected it with Green 
 Lanes, also thought to be ancient.  The continuations of the 12th-century routes from London, St. John Street   from west Smithfield and Goswell Street from Aldersgate, joined just before entering Islington near the Angel.  It is therefore likely that the Great North Road, of which Aldersgate was the start, also existed at that time, running along Upper Street into Holloway Road. Before the 14th century it was thought to have left the parish northward along Tallington or Tollington Lane (also called Devil's Lane and later Hornsey Road) to Crouch End, but by 1300 the route had become as important as Ermine Street and was so impassable that a new road was made up Highgate Hill; the bishop was claiming a toll by 1318 and inhabitants of Islington were granted pavage to repair the road up the hill in 1380. (fn. 13) The name Holwey was used for the district around the road by 1307. (fn. 14) A road known as the Back Road, later Liverpool Road, ran from High Street to Ring Cross bypassing Upper Street by the late 16th century, (fn. 15) and connecting with lanes across the western part of the parish. It was particularly useful for large herds of cattle bound for Smithfield market, which were penned overnight in layers along its length
From: 'Islington: Communications', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8: Islington and Stoke Newington parishes (1985),
.The 18th-century village of Islington was once a hub of dairy farming, supplying much of London's milk. It was a place of healthy recreation for city-dwellers, with its clean air and the fresh water spas which developed around the New River, built in 1609 to 1613 to bring fresh water from Hertfordshire to London. In the early 19th century, as more houses were needed, country estates were broken up and the second wave of London's great network of residential garden squares took shape
Compton Terrace was designed by Henry Leroux in 1805 as a row of villas either side of a Union Chapel, and completed in 1830. In 1823, a management committee was set up, and the 'paddock or grass plot' in front of the villas dressed as a 'pleasure ground'. The Union Chapel Congregational Church was built in 1876-77 by James Cubitt, replacing the earlier chapel of 1806. The terrace and gardens were part of the Marquess of Northampton's estate until the 1920s, when ownership passed to Islington Borough Council.Laid out in 1800, Canonbury Square was the earliest of the Islington squares, and was also developed by Henry Leroux, together with Richard Laycock, on land owned by the Marquess of Northampton.
The 4th Marquess of Northampton opened the square gardens to the public in 1884, and in 1888 it was conveyed to IslingtonSt Pancras Church Borough Council. The layout of the gardens changed in the 1950s, when it was described as 'London's most beautiful square' by the Evening Standard. Image of Upper Street in 2001The square is surrounded by reproduction railings, the originals having been lost during World War II. The planting was improved by Loire Valley Wines in 2006, with roses, lavender and a small vineyard at its centre. Famous former residents include writers Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell, and artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa BellBattishill Street Gardens.The gardens were opened by poet laureate Sir John Betjeman in 1975. In the far corner is a paved area with seating, which features a stone frieze by Musgrove Watson, who also designed the bronze reliefs at the base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square. The frieze was originally made for the Hall of Commerce in Threadneedle Street in 1842. To the north of the gardens is Waterloo Terrace, built on land which was once part of the botanic garden of Dr William Pitcairn, President of the Royal College of Physicians from 1775 to 1785.Barnsbury was a medieval manor, and a moated farm once stood on the site of the current square. The name is derived from that of Ralph de Berners, whose family owned the manor until the early 16th century. In the early 19th century, the lord of the manor, William Tufnell began to lease land for development to various speculative builders. The square was central to the Bishop Estate, developed from 1834 mainly by Thomas Whowell, who built and lived in Mountfort Crescent from 1841. The square gardens were laid out as 'ornamental pleasure grounds' for the private use of residents. In 1889 the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association (MPGA) purchased the lease and opened the gardens to the public, but ownership disputes after the lease expired in 1909 led to decline and damage over the next decade. The gardens were finally conveyed to Islington Council by deed poll in 1933, restored with funds from the MPGA and reopened to the public in 1934. It was redesigned in the 1960s and 70s with raised beds, a small pavilion and new railings

his lords resolved never to return and thenceforth to fight England to the death.
[Still earlier, Islington is thought to be the site of Boudica's last battle with the Romans, the Battle of Watling Street in AD 60 or 61. File:Boudiccastatue.jpg  Although Lewis Spence's book on the subject  has been dismissed for lack of evidence, it is of note that no more convincing alternative exists.   Accepting Spence's book and taking the lay of the land described in Tacitus,Barnard Park (at the corner of Copenhagen St and Barnsbury Road in Islington) is likely to be the site of Boudica's defeat.s believed that a Roman road from Cripplegate to St. Albans ran through Islington along the line of Prebend Street and Highbury Grove to Stroud Green, (possibly following an earlier track, but no firm evidence has been found. Two roads linking Islington with London were known as 'streets' c. 1170 (and the northern part of Essex Road was called Seveney Street in the 16th century, perhaps indicating a Roman origin. 

Sunday, 19 August 2012


He was called to the bar in 1859, but, although contributing to a Liberal review, edited by Challemel-LacourFile:Challemel.jpg, did not make much of an impression until, on 17 November 1868, he was selected to defend the journalist Delescluze,File:Louis Charles Delescluze.jpg
 prosecuted for having promoted a monument to the representative Baudin, who was killed while resisting the coup d'état of 1851. Gambetta seized his opportunity and attacked both the coup d'état and the government with a vigour which made him immediately famous.

This advice was rejected because of fear of another revolution in Paris, and a delegation to organize resistance in the provinces was despatched to Tours, File:Loire Indre Tours1 tango7174.jpg

but when this was seen to be ineffective, Gambetta himself (7 October) left Paris in a hot air balloon – the "Armand-Barbès" – and upon arriving at Tours took control as minister of the interior and of war. Aided by Freycinet,File:Freycinet2.jpg a young officer of engineers, as his assistant secretary of war, he displayed prodigious energy and intelligence. He quickly organized an army, which might have relieved Paris if Metz had held out, but Bazaine's surrender brought the army of the Prussian crown prince into the field, and success was impossible. After the French defeat near Orléans early in December the seat of government was transferred to Bordeaux.In May 1869, he was elected to the Assembly, both by a district in Paris and another inMarseille, defeating Hippolyte CarnotFile:Lazare Hippolyte Carnot.gif for the former constituency and Adolphe ThiersFile:Adolphe Thiers by Disdéri, Paris-crop.jpg andFerdinand de LessepsFile:Ferdinand de Lesseps.jpg for the latter. He chose to sit for Marseille, and lost no opportunity of attacking the Empire in the Assembly. At first opposed to the war with Germany, he did not, like some of his colleagues, refuse to vote for funds for the army, but took a patriotic line and accepted that the war had been forced on France. When the news of the disaster at SedanFile:Karte zur Schlacht bei Sedan (01.09.1870).jpgreached Paris, Gambetta called for strong measures. He proclaimed the deposition of the emperor at the corps législatif, and the establishment of a republic at the Hôtel de Ville. He was one of the first members of the new Government of National Defense, becomingMinister of the Interior. He advised his colleagues to leave Paris and run the government from some provincial city.
Gambetta proclaiming the Republic of France, from the painting by Howard Pyle.File:Howard Pyle.png
Early in his political career, Gambetta was influenced by Le Programme de Belleville, the seventeen statutes that defined the radical program in French politics throughout the Third Republic. This made him the leading defender of the lower classes in the Corps LégislatifFile:Corps législatif.jpg. On (17 January) (1870), he spoke out against naming a new Imperial Lord Privy Seal, putting him into direct conflict with the regime's de facto prime minister, Emile Ollivier. File:Ministerpräsident Ollivier.JPG(see Reinach, J., Discours et Playdories de Léon Gambetta, I.102 – 113) His powerful oratory caused a complete breakdown of order in the Corps. The Monarchist Right continually tried to interrupt his speech, only to have Gambetta's supporters on the Left attack them. The disagreement reached a high point when M. le Président Schneider asked him to bring his supporters back into order. Gambetta responded, thundering "l'indignation exclut le calme!"(Reinach, Discours et Playdories, I.112)Self-Exile to San Sebastián

Léon Gambetta, wood-engraving by Richard Brend'amour (c. 1865).Gambetta had hoped for a republican majority in the general elections on 8 February 1871. These hopes vanished when the conservatives and Monarchists won nearly 2/3 of the six hundred Assembly seats. He had won elections in eight different départements, but the ultimate victor was the Orléanist Adolphe Thiers, winner of twenty-three elections. Thiers's conservative and bourgeois intentions clashed with the growing expectations of political power by the lower classes. Hoping to continue his policy of "guerre à outrance" against the Prussian invaders, he tried in vain to rally the Assembly to the war cause. However, Thiers' peace treaty on 1 March 1871 ended the conflict. Gambetta, disgusted with the Assembly's unwillingness to fight resigned and quit France for San Sebastián in SpainFile:San Sebastian at night from Monte Urgull.jpg. Gambetta's stance has been explained by reference to his status as a republican lawyer, who fought from the bar instead of the barricade and also to his father having been a grocer in Marseille. As a small-scale producer during the decades of the Second Industrial Revolution in France, Joseph Gambetta had chain groceries taking business away from his establishment. This added a measure of resentment to the "petit bourgeois" identity. This resentment was not only directed at bourgeois industrial capitalism, but also at the worker, who was now proclaimed as the backbone of the French economy, stripping the title from the small, independent shopkeeper. This resentment may have been passed down from father to son, and manifested itself in an unwillingness to support the lower-class Communards usurpation of what rightfully belonged to the "petit bourgeoisie."On 24 June 1871, a letter was sent by Gambetta to his Parisian confidant, Dr. Édouard Fieuzal:While in San Sebastián, Gambetta walked the beaches daily, the warm sea winds of early spring doing little to refresh his mind. Meanwhile the Paris Commune had taken control of the city. Despite his earlier career, Gambetta voiced his opposition to the Commune in a letter to Antonin Proust, his former secretary while Minister of the Interior, in which he referred to the Commune as "les horribles aventures dans lesquelles s’engage ce qui reste de cette malheureuse France".
Je veux déjouer l’intrigue de parti de ceux qui vont répétant que je refuse toute candidature à Paris. Non. J’accepte au contraire avec fierté et reconnaissance les suffrages de la démocratie Parisienne si elle veut m’honorer de son choix. Je suis prêt.
I want to thwart the party intrigues of those spreading the rumor that I am refusing to stand for election in Paris. No. I accept, to the contrary, with pride and gratitude the Parisians' votes, if they would do me the honor of choosing me. I am prepared. (Lettres de Gambetta, no. 122)
Gambetta returned to the political stage and won on three separate ballots. On 5 November 1871 he established a journal, La Republique française, which soon became the most influential in France. His orations at public meetings were more effective than those delivered in the Assembly, especially the one at Bordeaux. His turn towards moderate republicanism first became apparent in FirminyFile:Firminy.jpg, a small coal-mining town along the Loire River. There, he boldly proclaimed the radical republic he once supported to be "avoided as a plague" (se tenir éloignés comme de la peste) (Discours, III.5). From there, he went to Grenoble. On 26 September 1872, he proclaimed the future of the Republic to be in the hands of "a new social level" (une couche sociale nouvelle) (Discours, III.101), ostensibly the petite bourgeoisie to whom his father belonged.

When the downfall of the Dufaure cabinet brought about MacMahon's resignation, Gambetta declined to become a candidate for the presidency, but supported Jules Grévy
File:Bonnat Portrait of Jules Grevy.jpg; nor did he attempt to form a ministry, but accepted the office of president of the chamber of deputies in January 1879. This position did not prevent his occasionally descending from the presidential chair to make speeches, one of which, advocating an amnesty to the communards, was especially memorable. Although he directed the policy of the various ministries from behind the scenes, he evidently thought that the time was not ripe for asserting openly his direction of the policy of the Republic, and seemed inclined to observe a neutral attitude as far as possible. However, events hurried him on, and early in 1881 he headed off a movement for restoring scrutin de liste, or the system by which deputies are returned by the entire department which they represent, so that each elector votes for several representatives at once, in place of scrutin d'arrondissement, the system of small constituencies, giving one member to each district and one vote to each elector. A bill to re-establish scrutin de liste was passed by the Assembly on 19 May 1881, but rejected by the Senate on 19 June.When Adolphe Thiers resigned in May 1873, and a Royalist, Marshal MacMahonFile:Patrice de Mac Mahon.jpg, was placed at the head of the government, Gambetta urged his friends to a moderate course. By his tact, parliamentary dexterity and eloquence, he was instrumental in voting in the French Constitutional Laws of 1875 in February 1875. He gave this policy the appropriate name of "opportunism," and became one of the leader of the "Opportunist Republicans". On 4 May 1877, he denounced "clericalism" as the enemy. During the 16 May 1877 crisis, Gambetta, in a speech at Lille on 15 August called on President MacMahon se soumettre ou se démettre, to submit to parliament's majority or to resign. Gambetta then campaigned to rouse the republican party throughout France, which culminated in a speech at Romans (18 September 1878) formulating its programme. MacMahon, unwilling to resign or to provoke civil war, had no choice but to dismiss his advisers and form a moderate republican ministry under the premiership of DufaureFile:Dufaure.jpg.Léonie Léon in 1875The romance of his life was his connection with Léonie Leon, the full details of which were not known to the public till her death in 1906. She was the daughter of a creole French artillery officer. Gambetta fell in love with her in 1871. She became his mistress, and the liaison lasted until he died. Gambetta constantly urged her to marry him during this period, but she always refused, fearing to compromise his career; she remained, however, his confidante and intimate adviser in all his political plans. It seems she had just consented to become his wife, and the date of the marriage had been fixed, when the accident which caused his death occurred in her presence. Contradictory accounts of this fatal episode exist, but it was certainly accidental, and not suicide. Her influence on Gambetta was absorbing, both as lover and as politician, and the correspondence which has been published shows how much he depended upon her.However, some of her later recollections are untrustworthy. For example, she claimed that an actual interview took place in 1878 between Gambetta and Bismarck. That Gambetta after 1875 felt strongly that the relations between France and Germany might be improved, and that he made it his object, by travelling incognito, to become better acquainted with Germany and the adjoining states, may be accepted, but M. Laur appears to have exaggerated the extent to which any actual negotiations took place. On the other hand, the increased knowledge of Gambetta's attitude towards European politics which later information has supplied confirms the view that in him France lost prematurely a master mind, whom she could ill spare. In April 1905 a monument by Dalou to his memory at Bordeaux was unveiled byPresident Loubet.
This personal rebuff could not alter the fact that his name was on the lips of voters at the election. His supporters won a large majority, and Jules Ferry's cabinet quickly resigned. Gambetta was unwillingly asked by Grévy on 24 November 1881 to form a ministry, known as Le Grand Ministère. Many suspected him of desiring a dictatorship; unjust attacks were directed against him from all sides, and his cabinet fell on 26 January 1882, after only sixty-six days. Had he remained in office, he would have cultivated the British alliance and cooperated with Britain in Egypt; and when the succeeding Freycinet government shrank from that enterprise only to see it undertaken with signal success by Britain alone, Gambetta's foresight was quickly justified.
On 31 December 1882, at his house in Ville d'Avray, near Sèvres, he died from intestine or stomach cancer. Even though he was wounded a month earlier from an accidental revolver discharge, the injury had not been life threatening. Five artists, Jules Bastien-Lepage, a realist painter, Antonin Proust, defensor of the vanguard who Gambetta had named Minister of Beaux-Arts, Léon Bonnat, an academic painter, Alexandre FalguièreFile:Falguiere sculpteur.jpg, who did his mortuary mask, and his personal photographer Étienne CarjatFile:Étienne Carjat by Georges Lafosse.jpg all sat at his death-bed, making five widely different representations of him which were each published by the press the following day. His public funeral on 6 January 1883 evoked one of the most overwhelming displays of national sentiment ever witnessed.
Gambetta rendered France three inestimable services: by preserving her self-respect through the gallantry of the resistance he organized during the Franco-Prussian War, by his tact in persuading extreme partisans to accept a moderate Republic, and by his energy in overcoming the usurpation attempted by the advisers of Marshal MacMahon. His death at forty-four cut short a career which had given promise of still greater things, for he had real statesmanship in his conceptions of the future of his country, and he had an eloquence which would have been potent in the education of his supporters.Maison de Jardis, the place where Gambetta died in Sèvres.