Surrounded by council block flats and next to a wide open green space called Bingfield Park near King’s Cross sits Crumbles Castle, a modest sized stone fortress of the sort that any Medieval knight would probably recognise.

It is however, not medieval, nor a Victorian romantic folly. It was actually built in 1974.

Crumbles Castle

The “castle” is actually a children’s adventure playground and was built with some funding from the local council and private donations by a group of architecture students

According to a short story in Design Journal, “old telegraph poles, concrete and granite sets from dismantled Kings Cross roadways were the chief raw materials for this toughest of all adventure playgrounds”.

In language that I am more used to reading in Victorian news reports, the castle is described as “well suited to the robust natures of the kids in the Bingfield St neighbourhood.” Which is a bit of linguistic license to suggest the local rough lads would ruin a more delicate building.

It would seem that the Castle was built initially, and then the rest of the playground grew up around it. This looks a pity to my adult eyes, as while I am sure the rest of the playground is very much appreciated, I feel it detracts from the Castle itself.

Oh well, functionality before aesthetics – and it is just a “fake” castle, so I shouldn’t begrudge it being put to a more practical use. I am sure it delights the local kids.

Map link

Crumbles Castle


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  1. Keith Stagg says:

    This is great.
    Love the ” Which is a bit of linguistic license to suggest the local rough lads would ruin a more delicate building”.
    Loving this site also, giving me my London Fix, thanks.

  2. Henry says:

    I wouldn’t want to go home if I had a playground like this at school!

  3. Crumbles is a vital part of the local infrastructure for young people. It’s a community run site that has been upgraded over the years, sometimes with community money, sometimes council money, sometimes with S106 funds. The castle itself has had to meet modern H&S standards and a modern playground has been built around it. It’s still a challenging neighbourhood Bingfield Park in which the castle is set has changed enormously for the better over the years.

  4. Crumbles was built from the remains of the Beaconsfield Buildings known as the Crumbles due to their propensity to, well, crumble. Improvers at the time of their demolition called them ‘the worst slum in North London’

    See the remarkable web discussion that has been going on for years in the comments on the post at the link below between people who used to live there in the 40s, 50s and 60s few of whom thought it was a slum (just has a new post today)

    • Annie says:

      If you have any information, photos you would like to share, pkease come along to our open day on Sat 21st March (1-4pm), Annie

  5. Jordan James says:

    I am currently running a two year heritage project, exploring and recording the amazing history of the adventure playground movement in Islington. I would be grateful for any details anyone could share with regards to names of people who helped to build Crumbles Castle!

    • Sarah says:

      My dear cousin Robert Hamment was part o the design team, I remember being very impressed in the seventies! Still am! Sarah

    • James Ware says:

      Hi Jordan
      Before the architects moved in my dad was involved in the thinking and the early development 1971.

  6. Ian brown says:

    Myself & a group of now 50-60 somethings helped in the building of the crumbles castle in the early 1970s along with what I say is best described as a few hippie squatters , designers ,social misfits.if you search Naish court reunion in messenger you will see a few of the people & some pictures of the period.

    • Annie says:

      Hi Ian, I currently manage crumbles castle as part of Islington Play Association and have a lot of love for the castle – many happy play moments with the crumbles children! We are working with students from Central St. Martins to collect/archive information and memories about the castle; it would be great if you could come along on Saturday 21st March 2020 (1-4pm) with any pictures, documents and stories you have. You can contact me at [email protected]. hope to see you there, Annie

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