Crown Exterior 1


The Crown Pub, much loved by the Cloudesley Association, stands on the corner of Cloudesley Road and Cloudesley Square.  It is a Fullers pub and serves a mean pint of London Pride!  Following the closure of the Cloudesley Arms, previously on the corner of Cloudesley Street and Cloudesley Place, the Crown is the only remaining pub on the Cloudesley Estate.

The Crown was probably built by David Sage and building probably started in 1821.  We know this from the excellent "Cloudesley: 500 Years in Islington", by Cathy Ross, where Sage, himself a publican, is identified as the original leaseholder of nos. 40-116 Cloudesley Road.  The address was originally 39 Lower Islington Terrace and was later changed in the 1860s to 116 Cloudesley Road.  The freehold has been owned by the Cloudesley Trust throughout, right up to the present day.  There is evidence (see below) that the building was twice as large as the rest of the houses on Cloudesley Road and that it was used as a "pub" or "beer house" from very early on, certainly from as early as 1841.  This raises the possibility that it might have been designed as a purpose-built drinking establishment.  Sadly, Cathy Ross thinks this is unlikely, not least because, as she points out, the Cloudesley Trust, as freeholder, had a strongly Christian ethos and would not have wanted to be seen to be encouraging the consumption of alcohol.  Cathy thinks it more likely that it was originally a terraced house which was adapted by a leaseholder (possibly the licensed victualler John Manning in 1841 - see below).

Following extensive research, we have established a complete list of the residents at the premises up to the mid 20th century, drawing on three main sources:  the PubWiki site; Jenny's Hunting Ghosts article on Cloudesley Road; and most recently, Cloudesley resident Mick Bucknell who, using the Kelly's and Robson's trade directories in the British Library, has compiled an extraordinary set of records giving the names of all residents of all buildings in Cloudesley Road, with dates and, often, occupations!  (This will surely be the subject of a future website article!).

The table below illustrates the changing management of the pub over the years, according to these three sources:




1829-32: William Doncaster


1833-44: John Manning


1845: Mrs Sarah Sargent


1846: John Walpole


1847-49: William Hill


1850: Mrs Mary Ann Hill


1851-52: James Frederick Simes


1853-57: James Heath


1858: Mrs Ann Heath


1859-60: Mrs Ann Taylor


1861-63: Thomas Burt


1864-65: Henry Stebbin


1866-67: Robert Burt



Thomas. Francis Smith


No Trade listed


1869 Thomas Francis Smith
1871 Hannah Smith


1868-71: Thomas Francis Smith




Emile Sohn


No Trade listed





Thomas Francis Smith


Publican Wine Spirits + Bottled Beer Merchants


1871 Joseph Randall


1872: Joseph Randall



James Caddie


Publican Crown


1872 James Caddle


1873-75: James Caddie



James Strawson


Publicans Crown PH


1881 Ernest G Ashing


1876-80: James Strawson


1881: Ernest George Asling



James Hammond




1882 James Hammond


1882-85: James Hammond



Henry Price


Crown PH


1891 Henry Price


1886: John Carter



Mrs Price




1891 Henry Price


1887-91: Henry Price



Arthur John Sykes


The Crown


1895 Arthur John Sykes


1892-97: Arthur John Sykes



Mrs Julia King


The Crown


1899 Mrs Julia King


1898-02: Mrs Julia King



Harold Lewin


The Crown


1906 Harold Lewin


1903-09: Harry Lewin



Charles Feist


The Crown


1910 Charles Feist


1910-14: Charles Fiest


1915: James Lyons


1916-22: William George Hardcastle



Wm. Geo. Henry + Lizzie Emmie Hardcastle


The Crown


1921 William George Henry


1919-22: Mrs Lizzie Hardcastle



Harry Isaac Rolf


The Crown


1934 Harry Isaac Rolf


1923-40: Harry Isaac Rolf



Hemsley White + Jas. Wm. Harvey


The Crown


1944 Jas Wm Harvey


1941-42: Hemsley White


1942-45: Jason William Harvey


Clearly there is a substantial degree of agreement across the three sources, but Mick's list is the only one which shows residents during the first 40 years.  Although these residents have been strangely difficult to track down on Ancestry, we have been able to identify them fairly unambiguously every 10 years using online trade directory and census records and based on this we can be fairly certain that the property was used continuously for the retailing of alcoholic liquors from the outset. 

Although we can find no trace of the first resident, William Doncaster, apart from his listing in Robson's, we have John Manning clearly identified as a "Licensed Victualler" as early as 1841, aged 45. 

Next door, the present day 114 Cloudesley Road is also identified as a commercial premises, initially a grocers shop and later as a chandlers, and it remained as such up to the 1980s, when Jenny took the photo below - this may give some clue as to what the Crown originally looked like, although remember it was probably twice as wide as its neighbour. 


The 1951 census shows James Turner as a licensed victualler living at 39 Lower Islington Terrace, so in this case Mick's records may be incomplete.  Interestingly, there is a Mary Hill living at 4 Islington Terrace, but she is a dairyman's wife! 

Then in 1861 we can confirm that Thomas Burt was indeed the proprietor and the premises is identified for the first time as "The Crown".  Moreover, the household includes, in addition to wife Jane and various children, a Barmaid, Catherine Brazier, and a Potman, Alfred Evans.  In other words, by this time at least, we can assume that the building was a fully fledged public house.

In the 1870s all sources are agreed that Thomas Francis Smith (1828 -1869) took over at no. 116, identified as a "Victualler" or as "Publican, Wine Spirits + Bottled Beer Merchants".  In fact we were been contacted via this website by his great great grandson, Malcolm, and it was this that prompted our research!  Malcolm has established that Thomas Francis Smith had French Huguenot antecedants and had previously worked as a victualler at two other pubs or "beer houses" in the Spitalfields area.  In 1869 Thomas sadly died and the establishment was run by his second wife Hannah Smith until 1871.  Malcolm has kindly provided us with this rather splendid family photo taken in 1925.  The matriarchal figure on the right is Ann Brown (nee Smith), Thomas' daughter and Malcolm's great grandmother, who left The Crown when she was about 14.

Malcolm Browns Family Photo


As to the character of the establishment, we need to point out that by the 1870s the area had a distinctly seedy reputation.  For example in George Gissing's "The Nether World", set in the 1870s, (see here) the heroine Clara takes up somewhat dubious employment in a bar off Upper Street run by the scheming Mrs Tubbs:

"She passed on and entered the place of refreshment that was kept by Mrs. Tubbs. Till recently it had been an ordinary eating-house or coffee-shop; but having succeeded in obtaining a license to sell strong liquors, Mrs. Tubbs had converted the establishment into one of a more pretentious kind. She called it ‘Imperial Restaurant and Luncheon Bar.’ "

A similar impression is given by the Booth Poverty Maps published around the turn of the century.  The following are extracts from notes taken by a Booth Investigator during a walk around the Cloudesley area in the company of a police sergeant, where he would have passed by the Crown:

"... through Warren St to Barnsbury Rd [just South of the Crown].  Some brothels in the side streets off the main road. ...   Then North up Cloudesley Rd where there are some shops of a third rate kind.  Better houses on the East than on the West side".

Milton's Yard (later Dove's yard), the area behind the Crown occupied mainly by cabmen, was described in a report to Cloudesley Trust  as

"small tenements and some workshops and stables which were very old and quite worn out and in fact scarcely fit for human habitation" !

 Crown Sign


The Crown as we know it today was built or rebuilt around the end of the 19th century, with work probably starting in the 1890s.  At that time, the 80 year Cloudesley Trust leaseholds were coming up for renewal and that on no. 116 Cloudesley Road was granted to the brewer Taylor Walker and Co until 1979, on condition that £2,000 was spent on rebuilding the property, according to Cathy Ross (cited above).   Dove Bros owned the leaseholds on many neighbouring properties then, including no 114 next door, and its leases were renewed subject to similar improvement clauses.  This led to the construction of Stonefield Mansions next door to the Crown in Cloudesley Square, designed by Horace Porter, surveyor to the Cloudesley Trust.  

We can trace the development and rebuilding of the property on the following historical maps showing the corner of Cloudesley Square and Cloudesley Road:Powerpoint_Maps_Summary_JPEG.jpg


116 Cloudesley Road (or Upper Islington Terrace as it was known then) was one of the first properties to be built on the Cloudesley Estate and was complete along with the rest of the Cloudesley Road terraced houses by 1830, as our first map shows.  Note that in this map, as well as in the 1853 map, no. 116 appears to be substantially wider than the next door no. 114 and to extend further at the rear.  By 1868 a separate square building appears at the rear, probably a workshop within Milton's/Dove's Yard, which is still there in the 1893-96 OS map.  Then by the 1940s-60s this has been incorporated into or replaced by the Stonefield Mansions development on Cloudesley Square.  More importantly the Crown has been rebuilt as a much bigger building, now extending back along Cloudesley Square right to the end of the gardens of the neighbouring houses on Cloudesley Road.  Between the last two maps the Crown is "filled in" until it becomes the building we know today, whilst Stonesfield Mansions is extended forward on to Cloudesley Square.

It is tempting to ascribe the rebuilding of the present day Crown to Dove Bros and Horace Porter but this is probably false.  Although Doves were the leaseholders for most of the Cloudesley Road properties to the South of 116, including the neighbouring 114, they do not appear to have had any rights over the Crown itself, which was probably leased by the publicans at the time, which, referring to the table earlier, may have been Henry and Mrs Price, Arthur Sykes or Julia King.  Cathy Ross notes that Taylor Walker rebuilt their Limehouse brewery in 1899 using specialist architects Inskipp and McKenzie, so perhaps they also designed the new Crown.

In any case, the architecture of the new Crown building is far more elaborate and arguably superior to either the other original terraced houses in Cloudesley Road or to Stonefield Mansions.  Indeed it is a Grade II listed building and the Historic England listing describes it in extravagant terms as:

"Public house. Late C19. Yellow brick set in Flemish bond with dressings of red brick, stone and terracotta; .... In the 'Queen Anne' style. Ground-floor pub frontage framed by Corinthian pilasters of grey and pink polished granite. .... chamfered corner entrance with scrolled pediment and double panelled doors .... frieze of gauged red brick with festoons in terracotta panels .... panels of red herringbone brick .... The interior has features which could be of late C19 or early C20 date, notably panelled dado, panels and frieze of moulded and glazed tile, relief-moulded ceiling, island bar front and glazed screens; but they may be replacement designs in whole or part." !

Here's a few photos to show what they mean - note the splendid Victorian interior with inticate wood carving and original etched glass panels:

Crown Panel 1Crown Exterior 2
















Crown Interior 1


And here's a really nice painting of the Crown by local artist Francisco Guiterrez (see also the Gallery, here).

3 The Crown Cloudesley Sq Islington 1024x763



We currently know very little about the development of the Crown throughout the 20th Century, except that it certainly had its ups and downs, including in living memory!  Perhaps someone can tell us more?  Please comment below or send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  Meanwhile, we leave the last (edited) words to Jenny, who has been a regular since the early 1980s:

"I expect that Malcom may not know that there was a scene from the film “A Fish Called Wanda” filmed in The Crown, 1988 I think – blink and you miss it but it should show the red plush stall seating and the red plush curtains that I remember about 40 yrs. ago!

There was in the past a different pub sign – a simple Crown on a pale background, if I remember correctly hanging at the front of The Crown in Cloudesley Road. I never understood why it was taken down and the Fullers sign put up at the side. I think the sign hung behind the bar for a bit  – wonder if it is still in the basement?

The Crown went from being an old fashioned Victorian pub with small table lights with, I think, red shades with gold braid in a circle above the bar to having (in my mind) the heart taken out of it and stripped of the atmosphere. It became noisy due to the lack of curtaining and a bit “spit and sawdust”

It has improved since!

I remember being told that The Crown had magnificent engraved glass in the windows until someone threw some metal furniture through them – perhaps only a story! It had uneven York stone slabs in the area at the front.

As landlords came and went the outside furniture changed from metal to wood several times, sometimes dragged in each night and sometimes chained down (no throwing or nicking). The noise of the furniture being dragged in at night and the noise of “bottling out” as the empties crashed into bins each night brought complaints from neighbours.

In my early years The Crown customers used to take up the street outside, with drinkers sitting on front door steps in the summer, and the “party” continued outside after hours. There were more benches in the streets then, and more complaints from neighbours.

A group of us got together and chose our representatives who went to the Town Hall and had the licence changed and now on most days at 10.30pm customers move inside, and I think leave by the side door.

Years ago the Council parked a skip outside The Crown once a month at the weekend for residents to fill with unwanted furniture (free use). One had to get up early as it filled up very fast with people throwing stuff out – I indulged in the odd Skip Dive and retrieved some nice old pub chairs – they were patched up and are still in the family!

At one time an enterprising Landlord had a Spit Roast smoking away within the railings in the corner under the front window.

I suggest that that there are some “regulars” still around that know The Crown better than me."


Later Addition:  some more highly informative details from long-term regular Spug - we now know there were two bars, an off-licence, iron pillars, and the identity of the window-breaker (but redacted below)!

"I first visited the Crown in 1978. At that time it had a front bar and a back bar. One was the Saloon and one the Public Bar, though I don’t recall which was which.  On the “internal” side of the island was a screen with a door connecting the two bars. On the “external” side of the island there were two substantial screens with doors and this created a separate space devoted to off-sales. This space had its own door in the external wall, which is just about visible today. There was also a screen separating this space from the bar, with a small window for conducting transactions. I think this arrangement survived into the early Eighties (but not sure).

I see the details of the rebuilding in the late Nineteenth century are murky.  It must have been a substantial rebuild because the upper floors are supported by iron pillars, allowing big windows on the ground floor. These pillars would not have been present in a residential house and you couldn’t introduce them without dismantling the upper floors. So, a big rebuild. 

You might already know who broke the windows, but as it’s hearsay it can’t really be published. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. [Redacted, Ed!].  He was a bit of a wildcat." .....

.....  Malcolm  was “pot-man” at the Crown in the Eighties, meaning he collected glasses and in return got the occasional free beer.  ..... A few times he turned up at the pub to find it empty – everybody was downstairs drinking in the beer-cellar. There are enough gaps in the floorboards that the staff could look upwards and keep an eye out for any customers wandering in. If they knew the customer they’d get an invite down to the cellar.


Later Addition, April 2023:  Using FindMyPast, Jenny has compiled a collection of newspaper articles referring to the Crown over a 100 year period from 1857 to 1957.  You can view the full compilation here.  What emerges is that the Crown was very much a community hub, as, indeed, it remains to a large extent today.  

The pub was a venue for meetings of all sorts, including the local Ratepayers Association, the Cloudesley Harmonic Club, Professor Carcass's Punch and Judy Show, and the delightfully named Lucky Beans Society.  Interestingly, the pub was used for several inquests, especially by a coroner called Dr Lankester.  But my favourite story is of the "frightful explosion" which occured on 7th August 1860:

Carlisle Journal 07 August 1860


On Friday night a frightful explosion, arising out of a robbery, took place at the Crown Tavern, Islington. It appears that about a quarter to nine a man went into the tap-room, unscrewed the gas-fittings, and took them away. The consequence of this was that gas escaped through the crevices of the door, and the bar being lighted up there was an explosion – the whole of the front of the house was blown out. Twelve persons, including the landlord, were at the bar drinking, and all of them were severely burned, having been blown about in all directions. They were removed to the Great Northern Hospital in Maiden Lane.

Finally, the last article, entitled "An Island Honeymoon", refers to the marriage at Holy Trinity Church on 13th September 1957, of Miss Joyce Jackaman to Mr Patrick Bucknell of Cloudesley Road .  Following a reception at the Crown - where else? - the couple set off for a honeymoon in the Isle of White.  Who was this Patrick Bucknell?  None other than Mick Bucknell's elder brother!  You can see a photo of him, aged 14, at the far right of the crowd in front of the bus outside Doolan's Grocery, in the Gallery, here.


#2 Dirk 2022-10-13 10:01
One of the only pubs retaining 'snob screens' and the cut glass is stunning.
#1 Kate Price 2022-10-12 02:11
Fascinating. Thank you Nick and Jenny