If you’re visiting in the morning and feeling in need of a caffeine hit, go into the shabby looking Pizza Pasta to the left of Highbury and Islington tube and grab yourself one of the best, and cheapest, takeaway coffees you’re likely to find in London. Latte in hand, take a stroll up Highbury Place, enjoying the wonderful townhouses on the right and the views over Highbury Fields on the left. Once you’ve taken in the plaque itself, and perhaps a stroll round Highbury Fields, continue north along the path and if the weather is nice consider a stop at the outdoor Oasis café. In case of rain, continue on up the path, passing the imposing Christ Church Highbury on your right and then joining on to Highbury Park (also known as “the Barn”). You’ll find a warm welcome in the Highness Tea Rooms where young trendies peck on laptops and sip coffee on the mezzanine level, alongside uber cool antique sewing machines. Or continue on for a few hundred yards to the Cinnamon café at the corner of Highbury Park and Legard Street for good value sandwiches or a tasty Turkish spinach pancake. In the afternoon or evening, continue onwards to the famous Woodbine pub where you’ll be sure of a warm welcome, a great selection of English Ales (try something of the Cornish variety) and tasty, well priced bar food.
Joseph Chamberlain was a self-made British businessman, and later a politician and statesman. He entered politics relatively late in life, but was a key figure in local Birmingham politics and then in the House of Commons for around thirty years. As Mayor of Birmingham, he was instrumental in improving the city water supply, frequently the cause of disease as a large portion of it was polluted. He also mobilised both public and private money to fund the building of schools, libraries and municipal swimming pools, earning him the allegiance of the “Birmingham Caucus” for the rest of his life. Entering parliament in 1876, Chamberlain was an influential leader of various Liberal factions, and despite being at odds with parts of the ruling Conservative party, was invited to join the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade in 1880. In 1885, Chamberlain came very close to becoming Prime Minister, but was edged out by an old foe, Lord Salisbury. He continued to be a titanic figure in British politics until he was side lined by ill health in 1906, and died in July 1914 aged 77. His youngest son, Neville Chamberlain, was British Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940.