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Finsbury Town Hall

A Grade II* Listed Building in Clerkenwell, Islington

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Latitude: 51.527 / 51°31'37"N

Longitude: -0.108 / 0°6'28"W

OS Eastings: 531348

OS Northings: 182600

OS Grid: TQ313826

Mapcode National: GBR M6.XR

Mapcode Global: VHGQT.2WS7

Entry Name: Finsbury Town Hall

Listing Date: 29 December 1950

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1293112

English Heritage Legacy ID: 369254

Location: Islington, London, EC1R

County: Islington

Electoral Ward/Division: Clerkenwell

Built-Up Area: Islington

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Clerkenwell St Mark

Church of England Diocese: London

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Listing Text


635-1/68/732 ROSEBERY AVENUE
29-DEC-50 (South side)
Finsbury Town Hall


Town Hall. 1895 with later alterations. By C. Evans-Vaughan FRIBA (d.1900).
MATERIALS: Hard red bricks (glazed to base) set in Flemish bond with elaborate rubbed red brick; Bath and Portland stone dressings; tiled gabled roofs with prominent brick stacks; cast iron porch, railings, clock, weathervane.
PLAN: Triangular island site with main entrance to Rosebery Avenue elevation, irregular returns to Rosoman Street and Garnault Place. Courtyard in centre. Service gateway along south-eastern side, with secondary entrance towards southern corner. Irregular plan with central entrance leading to staircase, lateral corridor to ground floor, main rooms on first floor; secondary circular staircase towards northern end.
STYLE: eclectic 'Free Renaissance' composition in a Flemish-inspired manner.
EXTERIOR: main entrance elevation faced north-west. Central entrance bay of three storeys with stone frontispiece, projecting cast iron porch with decorative leadwork inscribed FINSBURY TOWN HALL, and triple lanterns. Arched opening at first floor level with Venetian window set-back within, behind balustrade. Four-light window at second floor level with columnar mullions of stone. Elaborate cast iron clock above, set between stone finials at parapet level. To right, six windows at ground floor level with 9-pane sashes over plate glass, with stone lintels. Upper level with four large twelve-light mullion and transom windows with decorative carved panels above. Projecting tall chimneystack between end-most windows. Egg and dart cornice of stone. To left of entrance, lower section with four windows at ground floor level; continuous six-light mullion and transom window with columnar mullions; modillion cornice; balustraded parapet. Chimneystack to left with tall shafts. Northern rounded angle with elaborate four-bay gabled end: four windows to ground floor, first floor divided by engaged Ionic columns with pairs of four-light mullion and transom windows set bewteen, beneath a stone frieze; scrolled gable above divided by stone colonnettes, with stone coping; relief depicting the arms of Finsbury executed in cut brick to centre. Behind, gabled flank to main section of building with tall octagonal ventilation shaft with ogee-capped lantern with weather-vane above. East-facing elevation comprises a curved end section to flank of main building, with pedimented window surrounds at raised ground floor level with two-light windows above, set between pilasters of rubbed brick. Oval windows to parapet above. Doorway with swan's neck pediment below. Rest of east elevation comprises an irregular seven-bay front with double doors to centre bays, inserted entrance to southern bay. Ground floor arched openings with heavy voussoirs; irregular fenestration to upper floors with elaborate nine-light oriel window set within rubbed-brick surround. Very tall chimneystacks rise from parapet. Southern angle of three bays, with heavy voussoirs to ground floor arched windows, stone frontispiece to upper section with carved band at first floor level supporting four Ionic columns, between arched windows in stone surrounds, with balustrades below; putti flank portrait profile of Queen Victoria over central opening; scrolled gable above with broken pediment flanking central urn. Relief carving depicts female allegorical figures of Commerce and Navigation (above), Peace and Plenty (below). South-west facing return along Rosoman Street with two tall chimneystacks towards south end, gabled end to centre with six-light mullioned window at first floor level, curved apsidal end with arched door in front of gabled end to main block.
INTERIOR: entrance corridor with arched ceiling, walls lined with veneer panelling, with bronze panles listing mayors of Finsbury 1895-1965. Spine corridor runs north-south: rooms include the panelled registry office, or 'marriage room', and the part-panelled Mayor's Parlour, with bolection-moulded chimneypiece. Circular staircase at north end with wrought iron scrolled balustrade, tiled to dado level. Main staircase in part boxed in at time of inspection. Brass dedication plaque on landing records unveiling by the Prime Minister Lord Rosebery in 1895. North end of first floor contains former council chamber with broad vaulted plaster ceiling carried on Ionic columns; decorative glazing; triple arched gallery at south end with balustrade; half-height panelling. Public hall to south of main range: exuberant space in Belle Epoque manner with apsidal stage at south end. Barrel-vaulted compartmented ceiling hung from hidden iron roof structure. Four bays each side, divided with pilasters: large plaster angels at upper level support four-headed lily candelabra. Windows on north west side, glazed doors on south-east side, mirrors on north end wall flanking framed double doors. Allegorical figures of Music and Poetry in plaster over proscenium arch, flanking cartouche with emblems of the visual arts. Cartouche at north end with arms of the Borough of Finsbury.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: modern plaque on main front records the election of Dadabhai Naoroji as Member of Parliament for Finsbury in 1892: the first Asian to be returned to Parliament as Liberal Member for Finsbury, he would have been returned from the forerunner of this building. Double-depth basement was remodelled in c.1939 by the architectural practice of Tecton to serve as the control centre for Finsbury: it has lost its fittings but remains an installation of interest.
HISTORY: this town hall was unveiled by the then-Prime Minister Lord Rosebery in June 1895. It is an exceptionally good example of a town hall of this date and size, possessing an interior with rooms of unusual elabrateness. Evans-Vaughan showed drawings for the building at the 1898 Royal Academy; he died in 1900, while still in his 40s: this is his most important work. Finsbury acquired borough status in 1900 and was subsumed within the London Borough of Islington in 1965.

Listing NGR: TQ3134882600

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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