The Victorian terraces that surround Arlington Square, in a quiet conservation area of Islington, were completed around 1850. But the large, open rectangle in the middle only became a garden square in the early 1950s, when it was laid out by Islington council. Before that it was an unkempt open space used during WW2 for trench shelters and barrage balloon moorings.
The square today has large mature trees, lawns and interesting shrubs, roses and flowerbeds. A newly revitalised residents' association holds regular gardening sessions. Over the last four years volunteers have transformed the beds by digging in over 20 tonnes of compost and manure and planting more than 35,000 bulbs, plants and shrubs, as well as magnolias, acers, palms, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, 150 rose bushes and a handkerchief tree. Locals have also turned a neglected corner dump into a popular small community garden with raised vegetable, herb, fruit and flowerbeds.
In November 2014 HRH The Prince of Wales visited the Square. Prince Charles declared how impressed he was by the level of community participation, the variety of the planting and the positive impact the volunteers' work is making on the neighbourhood.
His brother Prince Edward, HRH the Earl of Wessex has also toured Arlington Square in 2014 as Patron of the London Gardens Society.
Arlington Square’s large and peaceful space is now much loved and appreciated by Islington residents. The ongoing restoration of the square by residents from the surrounding streets is a stirring example of how communal gardening can bring neighbours together and forge friendships.
Lead Community Gardener: