Church Street and Cross Street, Islington

Church Street and 41 Cross Street, Islington, Islington (a boarding house), 1821-23


Elizabeth Hays Lanfear moved into a house in Church Street after the suicide death of her husband, Ambrose Lanfear, in 1809. She appeared in the Rate Books from that address for 1810 and every year thereafter until her death in 1825. Church Street was situated just to the south of St. Mary's Church, Islington. The first two pictures on this page are of present day Church Street. At one point in Church Street a lane opens that leads into the churchyard (see below).

Mary Hays returned to Islington in 1821, living once again only a short walk from her two sisters -- Sarah (most likely now living with her son, William Hills, in Canonbury Lane) and Elizabeth in Church Street. The pictures to the right and immediately below are of Church Street, though whether any of the buildings are from the early 1800s is doubtful. Church Street ran for about two to three blocks on the south side of St. Mary's Church. Along the back of the church was the cemetery and garden, the latter of which still remains.


At the opposite end of the garden from Church Street was the entrance to St. Mary's Path, which still remains (see pictures to the right and below). The Path ended at Cross Street, nearly adjacent to Hays's boarding house at what was then 41 Cross Street (most likely it is the three story building with moss growing over the front as seen in the next to last picture below). The remaining buildings along that side of the street can be seen in the last photo. Another three blocks to the north and Hays would have been at the entrance of Canonbury Square, where her niece, Emma Dunkin Hills, lived.

Hays moved to 41 Cross Street just prior to 12 March 1821; she tells Crabb Robinson on 23 February 1823 that she is thinking of leaving the boarding house, but she stays through June 1823. John Hays and family had come on bad times and had moved from their spacious mansion at the Paragon, Blackheath, to a home in Doughty Street. Thomas Hays had also fallen upon some hard times and had given up his coach and carriage (see Eliza Fenwick letter to Hays, 10 December 1821). This is probably why Hays is now living in Cross Street in a large boarding house (according to the Upper Islington Rate Book, the building had six tenants in 1821, operated by a Mrs. Frances Bradley). A few doors to the right was a large building situated on the corner of Upper Street and Cross Street; for many years the building housed a prominent school for boys first operated by John Shield (d. 1786). Among his pupils were the eminent surgeon and founder of the Humane Society, Dr. William Hawes; the father of Hays's friend William Tooke, William Tooke, Sr (1744-1820); and the printer and author John Nichols (1745-1826), all three known to Mary Hays. Later, Edward Flower, someone known to Crabb Robinson, operated a boarding school for boys in the same building, enlarging the building in 1810 and in 1828.