Category Archives: London Streets

On the corner of Cheapside and Wood Street

For this week’s post, I am in Cheapside in 1986, looking across to the shop of Shirt Makers L&R Wooderson, on the corner of Wood Street:

Wooderson

Thirty five years later and the building is still there, however L&R Wooderson have now been replaced by a card shop, Cards Galore:

Wooderson

A wider view, showing Wood Street leading off Cheapside to the right:

Wooderson

The location is shown in the map below, by the red circle. For reference, part of St. Paul’s Cathedral can be seen to the left  (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors):

Cheapside

There is much to discover in this small, corner plot of land, part of which has a large tree which towers over the top of the shop, and can just be seen in the above photos.

The tree has been a significant landmark on Cheapside for very many years, and it was mentioned frequently in newspapers throughout the 19th century, for example in the following from the London Sun, when on the 1st April 1846 the paper reported:

“A ROOKERY IN CHEAPSIDE AND A CHERRY TREE ON LONDON BRIDGE – It is a singular fact that at the present times there are two crows’ nests on a lofty tree at the corner of Wood street, Cheapside; the birds are mated. One day last week, a furious fight took place between the four of them, which ended in the partial demolition of one of the nests. The damage has been since repaired. On the City end of London bridge a cherry tree, growing from one of the chinks in the granite, is now putting forth leaves. It is almost three years old.”

The tree appears to have been under threat in 1881, when multiple newspapers carried the following report:

THE CHEAPSIDE TREE – A flagrant act of arboricide is about to be perpetuated of malice aforethought and in open day. If there is one tree in London the position of which, apart from all personal charms and apart from the rest due to venerable age, deserves to be saved from the innovating axe, it is ‘the Cheapside tree’. For generations its pretty group of foliage has peeped out as a surprise and contrast to the surrounding masses of stone and brick. It has been a standing emblem to thousands of fagged and dust-stained city clerks of their annual fortnight holiday. It is blessed amongst trees. A tree of the street is infinitely more precious than ‘a tree of the field’. But it is doomed, and bad luck to the ruthless contractor or avaricious land-jobber by whose instigation the Cheapside tree is to be laid low.”

The tree did survive, no doubt helped by the number of references to the possible destruction of the tree in newspapers using such graphical descriptions as in the above report.

The tree was also used in adverts and references to shops and businesses in the immediate vicinity of the tree, adding the tree to their location to help potential customers find their business. L&R Wooderson were also using the tree as a reference in the 1986 photo, as shown by the following extract from the photo of the shop door:

Wooderson

The term “Under the Tree” was used by a number of businesses operating in the terrace of buildings of which L&R Wooderson is part, for example:

  • Illustrated London News: 13th August 1853 – Rowe’s 25,000 Cab-Fares to and from all the Railways, Public Buildings, &c in London. Samuel Row, Under the Tree, Cheapside
  • Kentish Mercury: 31st January 1890 – The Express Dairy Company’s new branch at 130, Wood Street, Under the Tree, Cheapside is now Open for Business
  • The Bystander: 2nd August 1905 – For Gentlemen, the H.W. Velvet Grip Boston Garter. The Acme of Comfort, the Height of Perfection. L&R Wooderson, Under the Tree, 122/4, Cheapside, E.C.

It is difficult to determine the age of the tree. It is a London Plane tree, and the Woodland Trust define the tree as a cross between the Oriental plane and the American sycamore. They also state that the tree was first noticed in London in the mid 17th century, and that planting across London started in the late 18th century, so the tree probably dates from at least the late 1700s and must be around 250 years old.

A view of the tree from Wood Street, looking back towards Cheapside shows the impressive height and spread of the tree:

Wood Street

The tree also featured in the following photo from the book Wonderful London by St John Adcock, from the first decades of the 20th century:

Wooderson

The shop of L&R Wooderson is also in the above photo, looking much the same as it would many years later in 1986. Friday Street, and the plaque on the right of the above photo will be the subject of a future post.

The first written reference I can find to L&R Wooderson is an advert in the Daily Telegraph and Courier on the 27th September 1899 for:

“HOSIERS – Improver WANTED – apply personally or by letter, L.R. Wooderson, 45, Eastcheap, E.C.”

However whilst the name is correct, in 1899 their address was at the eastern end of Eastcheap, towards Great Tower Street. The 1895 Post Office Directory confirms their original Eastcheap address and gives their full names as Llewellyn and Robert Wooderson.

This is where researching these posts always leads me down different routes, as having their full names, I wanted to know a bit more about them.

Searching the census records resulted in a bit of a mystery. The 1881 census records Llewellyn and Robert Wooderson living at 47 Lester Square, St Anne Soho (the parish).

I am not aware that there was a Lester Square, or that Leicester Square was originally called Lester Square, and could not believe there was an error in the census data. Reading through the census entries for 1881 there is also a St John’s Hospital at 45 Lester Square. There was indeed a St John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin at number 45 Leicester Square from 1865 to 1867, which confirmed that the spelling of the square was wrong in the 1881 census.

In 1881, Llewellyn and Robert Wooderson were part of a large family at number 47 Leicester Square, which consisted of:

Cheapside

Llewellyn and Robert were aged 8 and 6 in 1881, and whilst the rest of the children were born in London, Robert is recorded as being born in Canada.

Their father, Henry Wooderson is listed as a Fruit Salesman, as is the eldest of the sons, also a Henry, however although son Henry has the same first name as his listed father, he cannot have been his biological father.

There is a 12 year age difference between Henry (28) and his wife Sarah (40), and if Henry had fathered the younger Henry, he would have been 11 at the time, so possibly Henry, George and Edwin are the sons of a previous marriage of Sarah’s with Llewellyn and Robert possibly being Henry’s biological sons.

The two Henry’s worked in Covent Garden market as a Henry Wooderson & Sons is listed in the 1913 book “Covent Garden, Its Romance and History” by Reginald Jacobs. The younger son George may well have gone into the same business as a George Wooderson is listed as having a shop in the north row of shops at Covent Garden.

By the 1891 census, the father Henry could possibly have died as there is no mention of him in the census. The eldest son Henry was now married to Harriet and they were living in Tavistock Street. Llewellyn who was now 18 and Robert, 16, were living with them. By 1891 they had started in the profession that would result in their shop in Cheapside as their were both listed as Hosiers Assistant, and not long after they would open their first shop in Eastcheap.

By 1901, Llewellyn had joined the commuting class having moved out to Somerset Road in Reigate, to a terrace house which is still there. Married to Alice, and with two sons Llewellyn (2) and Malcolm (0). The business must have been doing reasonably well as also living in the house was a domestic servant

In the 1911 census, Robert Wooderson was married to Nellie Geraldine and had two sons. In the 1881 census, Robert was listed as being born in Canada, however the 1911 census adds the city of Toronto. It would be fascinating to understand why, of all the family members, only Robert was born in Canada, and what his mother was doing in the country at the time.

Also in 1911, Robert was listed as a Gentlemens Hosier, and he was living along with his family in Lessar Avenue, Clapham. His house is still in the street.

By the 1939 Register, Robert had moved to Atkins Road, Wandsworth, and his son Thomas was aged 40, single and listed as a Master Hosier so had probably joined the family business in Cheapside. Robert would die in 1957.

I cannot find any reference to Llewellyn’s later life.

They also seem to have had the two shops, the original on Eastcheap, and the shop featured in the photos at the start of the post on the corner of Cheapside and Wood Street. It would have been fascinating to try and find out more about their life, however I am always constrained by time within the scope of a weekly post.

Behind the old L&R Wooderson shop, and where the tree is located is a small patch of open ground facing Wood Street:

Cheapside

This was the churchyard of the church of St Peter West Cheape. The churchyard can be seen in the following extract from Rocque’s 1746 map, on the left, above the “C” of Cheapside:

Cheapside

In the above map of 1746, a row of buildings is shown between the churchyard and Cheapside, following the line of buildings that we see today, however in the earlier 1682 map by William Morgan, the churchyard (above the E and A of Cheap) is an open space up to the edge of Cheapside:

Cheapside

The appearance of the buildings, of which L&R Wooderson was a part, gives the impression of being of some age, however there is no (that I can find) confirmed dating of the terrace, however they do follow the alignment shown in the 1746 map, so they do follow the property boundaries of the post Great Fire rebuild.

The church that once occupied the space, along with its churchyard, was one of the churches lost in the 1666 Great Fire, and not rebuilt.

In the book “London Churches Before The Great Fire” by Wilberforce Jenkins (1917), the old church was described:

“The ‘Church of St Peter, West Chepe, stood on the corner of Wood Street, Cheapside, and was not rebuilt after the Fire. The well-known tree in Cheapside marks the spot, and a small piece of the churchyard remains. It was sometimes called St Peter-at-Cross, being opposite the famous Cross which stood in the middle of the street, and was at one time an object of pride and veneration, and at a later period the object of execration and many riots, until pulled down and burnt by the mob. The date of the ancient church is uncertain, but there would appear to be a reference to it in 1231. In the ‘Liber Albus’, one Geoffrey Russel is mentioned as having been present when a certain Ralph Wryvefuntaines was stabbed in the churchyard of St Paul’s and being afraid of being accused, fled for sanctuary to the Church of St Peter.

Thomas Wood, goldsmith and sheriff, is credited with having, in 1491, restored or rebuilt the roof of the middle aisle, the structure being supported by figures of woodmen. Hence, so tradition says, came the name of the street, Wood Street.”

The “famous Cross” mentioned in the above extract was one the crosses erected by Edward I in 1290 on the corner of Wood Street, to mark the resting places of Queen Eleanor’s coffin on its way from Lincoln to Westminster Abbey.

The cross was a large structure and was decorated with religious iconography including images of the Pope and the Virgin. From the mid 16th century onwards, the cross was the subject of attack by puritans who objected to the religious symbols on the cross.

On the 2nd of May, 1643, the cross was demolished, which was illustrated in the following print produced by Wenceslaus Hollar in the same year (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Cheapside

The illustration at the bottom of the print shows the “Booke of Sportes upon the Lords Day” being burnt on the site of the cross.

The Book of Sports was a book first published in 1617 during the reign of James I to define what sports were allowed on a Sunday. Initially only covering Lancashire to try and resolve a dispute between Puritans and mainly Catholic gentry, the guidance within the book was applied across the whole country in the following year.

Republished by Charles I, the book was a constant problem for Puritans who considered any playing of sport on a Sunday against their religious principles. As the influence of Puritanism grew in the lead up to the English Civil War, Parliament ordered that the book be publically burnt, one of the burnings was on the site of the cross, on the 10th May 1643.

The old churchyard of St Peter, West Chepe is now a small open space with a small number of gravestones. In the following photo, the brick rear of the building on Cheapside, including the old shop of L&R Wooderson is shown on the left:

Cheapside

Some of the graves are from the early 19th century showing that while the church was not rebuilt after the Great Fire, the churchyard continued in use.

Side gate between the buildings facing Cheapside and the graveyard:

Cheapside

On the railings facing onto Wood Street is an image of St Peter, along with the cross keys frequently shown with St Peter as the “keys to heaven”.

Cheapside

And on the rear of the image of St Peter, is the date 1712 and the names of the churchwardens, which appears to date the railing to 1712:

Cheapside

I would have liked to have had the time to find out more about the Wooderson family. For how long the family was involved with the shop and when it finally closed. Cards Galore who currently occupy the shop seem to have been expanding during the 1990s, however I cannot find their Cheapside shop listed during this decade, so perhaps it was in the 2000’s that L&R Wooderson finally closed.

This has been an incredibly interesting corner of Cheapside, tracing the family of the shop, a church destroyed during the Great Fire and the Cheapside Cross destroyed in the years leading up to the English Civil war, however as usual, I am just scratching the surface.

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Bagnigge Wells, House and Gardens

Although today there is very little of it to see, water has shaped much of London. The alignment of streets, property boundaries, rise and fall of the land have all been shaped by water. Whilst these are all subtle indicators of the historic presence of water there are still a number of more visible signs that hint at an areas history, and one of these is on a building on the western side of King’s Cross Road.

Bagnigge Wells

The sign reads “This is Bagnigge House Neare the Pinder A Wakefeilde 1680”.

The Pinder of Wakefield was a pub that dated back to the early 16th century in Gray’s Inn Road. A pub with the same name was on the same site until 1986, when the building was purchased by the “The Grand Order of Water Rats” charity, renamed the Water Rats, and is now a performance venue.

Bagnigge House and the Wells that were found in the gardens of the house are the subject of today’s post.

The house in King’s Cross Road with the Bagnigge House sign:

Bagnigge Wells

The location of the Bagnigge House stone, along King’s Cross Road is shown by the red circle in the following map  (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors):

Bagnigge Wells

The red rectangle highlights the area covered in the post.

If you look to the left side of the red box, you will see Cubitt Street, a street which unlike the rest of the streets in the area, does not follow a straight line and is curved around an area of land between Cubitt Street and King’s Cross Road.

To the left of Cubitt Street, the map shows the light blue line of the old River Fleet. I have double checked with my go to reference for London’s old rivers; “The Lost Rivers of London” by Nicholas Barton and Stephen Myers, and the routing of the Fleet shown in the above map is roughly right.

Before the streets and buildings of London had extended this far north, this was an area of fields and agriculture. The River Fleet ran through the fields, the area was low lying and rather wet, especially after heavy rains when the Fleet would have flooded.

Rocque’s map of 1746 provides a view of the area in the middle of the 18th century. Fields cover the majority of the area, but in the upper centre of the map there are buildings and formal gardens bounded by the River Fleet and a street named Black Mary’s Hole.

Bagnigge Wells

The street to the left labelled “Road to Hampstead and Highgate” is today, Grays Inn Road.

Black Mary’s Hole is now King’s Cross Road. There are various interpretations of the name, but the majority of sources refer to a black woman called Mary, who sold water in the vicinity from a well or fountain.

As well as the Fleet, the Rocque map extract also shows the irregular shape of a number of ponds, confirming that this was an area where there was plenty of water.

By 1816, streets and buildings had started to reach the area, and the following extract from the 1816 edition of Smith’s New Plan of London shows the area between the Fleet and King’s Cross Road (in the centre of the map) now labelled Bagnigge Wells.

Bagnigge Wells

To the right of the map is New River Head and on the edge of the map, Sadler’s Wells, further illustrating how water has shaped the area.

Turning off King’s Cross Road into the side streets, and we can get a view of the drop in height down to King’s Cross Road and the rise in height on the opposite side. An indication of the river valley of the Fleet.

The following view is looking down Great Percy Street from Percy Circus, with the rise of Acton Street across the junction. The River Fleet would have run from right to left along the lowest part of the view.

River Fleet

The area of land shown in the Roque map between the Fleet and Black Mary’s Hole appears to have been enclosed at some point in the second half of the 17th century. The land was to the east of a field called Action Field that occupied the area west to what is now Gray’s Inn Road. The name of the field is preserved in the present day Acton Street.

When a Thomas Hughes purchased the land in 1757, he had the waters from a well that was already in use, tested by a Doctor John Bevis, who reported that the water from the well had chalybeate properties (in the context of water, the name chalybeate means that the water contains iron, see also my post on the Chalybeate Well in Hampstead).

To capitalise on these findings, Thomas Hughes opened the gardens and the well to the public in 1759. This was the period when there were many pleasure gardens opening up around the City. Outside the jurisdiction of the City of London, in places such as along the south bank of the Thames, in Islington, and in Bagnigge Wells.

They provided a pleasant place to visit, away from the smoke, dirt and noise of the City. St. Chad’s Well was another well a short distance away from Bagnigge Wells that had gardens and a pump house where customers could drink the water. I have written about St. Chad’s Well here.

The gardens around the well were attractively laid out, entertainment, food and drink was also provided to customers, both to attract customers to the gardens as well as for profit.

Bagnigge Wells seems to have been a success as some of the land on the opposite side of the River Fleet was purchased to expand the gardens.

A print from 1843 appears to show the stone that is now in King’s Cross Road above the garden entrance (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Bagnigge Wells

The inscription on the stone in my photo at the top of the post has the date 1680. In the print above it could be 1689, so either an error, or a later updating of the inscription over the years has changed the original date on the stone.

The date does pre-date the time when the gardens and well were part of the pleasure gardens so the house referred to must have been one of the earliest houses on the land.

Although the caption to the following print does state “The Original Garden Entrance To Bagnigge Wells, Established in 1680”, the gardens and wells were not a public gardens at that time (© The Trustees of the British Museum).

River Fleet

Presumably, the view is looking north with the garden entrance on the left and Bagnigge House behind the trees on the right.

The river running along the middle of the print must therefore be the River Fleet, which looks rather serene and calm, however it was not always so, and heavy rains around the source of the river in Hampstead could quickly result in the river flooding as the following article from the Derby Mercury on the 9th September 1768 reports:

“And about One o’clock yesterday morning the water came down in such torrents from Hampstead that the road and flat fields about Bagnigge Wells were overflown; the water rose eight feet perpendicular above the usual height of the drain, and was nearly four feet above the foot bridge at that house; the Pleasure-garden, cellars, and Out-houses belonging thereto were overflown, and several of the Pales broke down by the Violence of the stream. Great damage was done to Mr Harrison’s Tile-kiln near the said Wells, where three young men were sleeping in an Out house and were surprised by the Flood, and two of them drowned. The house of Dr. Sharpe, near Bagnigge Wells, was four feet deep in water, and a man and woman behind the House narrowly escaped being drowned.”

The article mentions Mr. Harrison’s Tile-kiln and if you refer back to the extract from Smith’s New Plan of London, you can see the tile-kilns just to the north east of Bagnigge Wells.

The rain was probably caused by the brief, very heavy showers we have also seen in London recently which cause a flash flood. Today, this volume of water falling in north London would now be carried by the same sewer in which the old River Fleet in now buried.

The following print is from 1777, eleven years after the floods in the above article and shows the buildings at Bagnigge Wells, with the entrance to the gardens on the left (© The Trustees of the British Museum).

Bagnigge Wells

Today, roughly where the River Fleet once ran, is Cubitt Street (originally Arthur Street). This is the street that curves slightly to the west of King’s Cross Road and is where the River Fleet formed the original western boundary to Bagnigge Wells as shown in Rocque’s map of 1746,

The view south along Cubitt Street:

Cubitt Street

And the view north along Cubitt Street:

Cubitt Street

In the above view, the River Fleet would have run roughly along the line of the street. Bagngge Wells was originally to the right, and following the commercial success of the gardens, expanded to include the left of the photo, with wooden bridges providing access between the two sections of the gardens.

Seats were arranged along the River Fleet for those who wanted to smoke or drink ale or cider. Tea, cake and hot buttered rolls were served, and concerts were held in the main room of the house. A small temple shaped building was created to house the wells from which water was taken and sold.

London’s pleasure gardens and their visitors were often the subject of satirical prints. The following print from 1781 shows “Mr. Deputy Dumpling and Family enjoying a Summer Afternoon” at the entrance to the gardens at Bagnigge Wells (© The Trustees of the British Museum).

Bagnigge Wells

18th century pleasure gardens were intended to be peaceful places in London’s countryside, away from the noise and dirt of the City. Where people could spend an afternoon or evening, being entertained, or just drinking and eating and seeing and being seen by others at the gardens, however they were not always places of peace.

in May, 1784, Bagnigge Wells was the scene of some violence between two opposing political groupings, as documented in the following newspaper report:

“Yesterday evening the gardens at Bagnigge Wells exhibited a strange scene of riot and confusion. How the affair began is not easy to be determined, but, at the same moment, several hundreds of Stentorian lungs vociferated the cry of ‘Hood and Wray’ and these were answered by the exclamation of ‘Fox for ever’. Intoxicated with liquor and politics those who were for Hood and Wray boxed with the friends of the Coalition and Fox, and many on both sides were knocked down with the canes and sticks of their adversaries. So sudden a disarrangement of the tea-table apparatus was perhaps never before seen and innumerable fragments of china shone on every walk, and served to give issues to the inflamed blood of the fallen and sprawling heroes. Those peace officers were sent for, the tumult was not appeased for near two hours and a half. Three men, who had been active in fomenting the disturbance, were taken into custody and were soon rescued”.

The same newspaper also reported on a “violent fracas” between the same two opposing groups in the Piazzas, Covent Garden.

Wray was Sir Cecil Wray who was a member of Parliament but was highly critical of proposals to raise taxes by a “receipts tax” which he claimed would fall “on the middling ranks of people and very partially and unequally laid”. Wray preferred a land tax, which in his view had always been too low in the country, but was opposed by the land owning classes (some things do not change).

He also presented a petition that had been drawn up by the Quakers calling for the abolition of slavery, which he called “an infamous traffic that disgraced humanity”.

The MP Charles James Fox put forward the East India bill which proposed nationalising the troubled East India Company, and Wray was strongly opposed to such an action.

At the general election Wray and Lord Hood stood against Fox with Wray standing as an Administrative candidate in Fox’s Westminster constituency. It was a violent election period as indicated by the trouble at Bagnigge Wells, however Fox won and Wray then appears to have abandoned any plans to try and get back into Parliament. He was described as being “one of the most upright, one of the most virtuous, one of the most honourable and independent men” in Parliament.

Up until the end of the 18th century, Bagnigge Wells continued to be a fashionable place to visit, however its days were numbered as the buildings and streets of London started to surround the gardens.

Less desirable and the “lower class of tradesmen” were now to be found in the gardens, and there was petty crime and prostitution, as illustrated by the following print from 1799 titled “The Road To Ruin”, where a young man, possibly an apprentice, in poor fitting clothes, stands between two prostitutes who appear to be berating him (© The Trustees of the British Museum).

Bagnigge Wells

In 1813, the manager of the gardens went bankrupt, they reopened somewhat reduced the following year and attempts to rejuvenate the place by building a concert hall in 1831 led to nothing as the customers of the concert hall were described as being of the “disreputable sorts”. The concert hall closed in 1841 and what was left of Bagnigge Wells was built on.

With the River Fleet now buried in a sewer, there are today no signs above the surface of the waters that once made this area an attractive place to visit, away from the noise and dirt of central London.

I have photographed the plaque before, however there was a bus stop directly in front which made the plaque rather difficult to photograph. The following photo is from about 18 months ago and shows the bus stop in its original position.

Bagnigge Wells

If you refer back to the second photo from the top of this post you can see that the bus stop has now been moved to the right. No idea why this has been done, but it does make the plaque easier to see, which is to the good, as it is the only reminder of Bagnigge House, the Well and Gardens now to be found in the area.

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The Death of the London Telephone Box

Before exploring the London Telephone Box, an update on the walk exploring Islington’s place in the history of London’s water supply and some of the original buildings at New River Head, that I wrote about in a post a couple of week’s ago. I will be guiding on some of these walks and whilst most of walks have now sold out, the only walk that has tickets remaining is on Friday 10th September (PM). They can be booked here.

I cannot remember the last time I used a telephone box, or when I last saw anyone else using one. The mobile phone has effectively killed off the need to find a telephone box, yet they are still to be found across the city.

I have a number of photographic themes when walking London’s streets and for the last couple of years, London’s telephone boxes has been added to my theme list. So long a key part of the city’s street infrastructure, I wonder for how long they will survive.

The majority do not work, many have had their phone equipment removed, and many are not in a state that you would wish to stand in and make a call, even if they did work.

Some have found new uses. The most common being advertising as they are often in prime street locations, with full length advertising covering their windows.

The original red telephone box was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, a design he entered into a Post Office competition in 1924. The model K2 telephone box was the result, which first appeared on the streets of London in 1926. He would then update the design to the K6 which first appeared in 1934 and is the traditional red telephone box we see across the streets of the city.

There have been many modifications, and significant redesigns, the majority of these coming after the Post Office / British Telecom was privatised in the 1980s.

The technology in the phone box has changed over the years. I can just remember the manual method of paying for a call when you had to Press Button A to put coins into the phone to make a call, then if the call was not answered, Press Button B to return the coins.

Having the right change for a phone call was always a problem, and hearing the dreaded pips when the money was running out and you had no more change was a challenge for calls of more than a few minutes.

There are some 2,390 telephone boxes which have been listed by Historic England. The majority are Grade II, but some Grade II*. Historic England have a spreadsheet available for download here, which details the location of all listed telephone boxes.

I have to admit to finding telephone boxes rather scary. I know exactly why. As a young teenager I watched the short 1972 Spanish horror film La Cabina, or the telephone box on TV. It is why whenever I used a telephone box I would always keep my foot in the door, to keep it slightly open. The film is on Reddit, here.

So, still never letting a door shut me in a phone box, here are a selection of photos of London telephone boxes, starting with Charterhouse Square:

Telephone Box

Grade II listed (the larger K6 models) telephone boxes at Smithfield Market:

Smithfield Market

One of the modern versions of the telephone box, also showing how so many of these are now used for advertising. This one is in Aldersgate Street:

Aldersgate Street

Advertising is a potentially profitable business for the reuse of telephone boxes. They are in locations where they are easy to be seen, and where there is a high footfall, so they originally could be found when you wanted to make a call. These original reasons for locating a phone box also apply to sites where advertising works best, and as advertised on the phone box in the photo below, at the junction of London Wall and Moorgate, there is a company (Redphonebox Advertising) that specialises in this new use.

Telephone Box

Perhaps the most photographed telephone box in London is this one in Great George Street / Parliament Square:

Parliament Square

Before Covid, there would frequently be queues of tourists waiting to get their photo taken in a London red phone box with the Elizabeth Tower, or more probably Big Ben to those taking photos, in the background.

With the lack of tourists this phone box is now much quieter, and looking inside, even in such a prominent position, the telephone does not work, with the front panel being pulled away from the rear.

Telephone Box

The following telephone boxes in Parliament Street are also a frequent destination for those wanting a photo with a phone box.

Parliament Street

The following phone box is by the side of Grosvenor Road:

Telephone Box

Internally, whilst the phone still has power, and the display reads BT Payphones, there is no chance of talking to anyone with the vandalised handset:

Telephone Box

This view of the telephone box shows changing street furniture. The old, unused telephone box alongside a TfL cycle dock:

Telephone Box

The above telephone box was made by Walter Macfarlane & Co, at their Saracen Foundry in Glasgow. It seems the company took on the manufacture of phone boxes in the late 1940s after their traditional markets started to disappear. The foundry closed, and the site demolished in 1967, however the company has left their mark on multiple telephone boxes across London:

Telephone Box

Outside Pimlico Station:

Pimlico Station

Duncannon Street, looking towards Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery:

Telephone Box

St Martins Lane, opposite the Duke of York’s theatre:

Telephone Box

Great Newport Street:

Telephone Box

The large blue plaque in the above photo records that the artist Joshua Reynolds lived there between 1753 and 1761.

Charing Cross Road, looking up towards the junction with Shaftsbury Avenue:

Charing Cross Road

The telephone box in the following photo is in St Giles High Street with the church of St Giles in the Fields in the background. The door was left open, and at the time, it was not a phone box you would want to make a call from, even if it was working.

St Giles high Street

Shaftesbury Avenue:

Telephone Box

Bloomsbury Street, opposite the Bloomsbury Street Hotel:

Telephone Box

As with many telephone boxes across London, despite being in Bloomsbury Street, the phone box is used as a litter bin. The telephone equipment has been removed.

Telephone Box

Outside the British Museum:

British Museum

Telephone boxes have been converted to other uses. In Russell Square, two have been converted to a take away coffee shop:

Italian Tiranisu and Coffee Shop

Known as the Italian Tiramisu and Coffee Shop:

Russell Square Gardens

Walking further around Russell Square Gardens and there are another three, which according to the Historic England spreadsheet are Grade II listed:

Russell Square Gardens

At the entrance to Regent Square Gardens on Regent Square:

Regent Square

Looking inside the Regent Square Garden’s telephone box:

Regent Square

At the junction of Euston Road and North Gower Street:

Euston Road

Upper Street, Islington:

Upper Street

Across the road from the above phone box is the following:

Islington

Waterloo Place, looking up towards Piccadilly Circus:

Waterloo Place

The Strand, close to Charing Cross Station:

Charing Cross Station

Opposite Charing Cross Station are these four telephone boxes:

Charing Cross station

They are usually more obvious, however the black hoardings to their right are slightly obscuring them.

Hard to imagine seeing a row of four, empty telephone boxes, however they were sited together in an area of frequent use. In a high footfall area, between the Strand, Charing Cross Station, Trafalgar Square and the theatres of the West End, they would have attracted a considerable number of users.

When I commuted into and out of London during the 1980s, train distruption would always lead to long queues at the phone boxes as the only means of communicating with those at home, or who you were to meet, that you would be late.

Later conversions of telephone boxes have tried to keep them relevant, however Internet access on a mobile phone renders WiFi from a phone box a failed model for their continued use.

Telephone Box

These two telephone boxes are Grade II listed, so even if there are no customers who have an urgent need to make a telephone call from in front of St Paul’s Cathedral, they will probably be here long into the future:

St Paul's cathedral

In the triangle of land where St Martin’s le Grand meets Cheapside:

Telephone Box

Telephone boxes advertising the time when cards as well as coins could be used to pay for a call:

Telephone Box

Euston Road:

Euston Road

Outside St Pancras Station, with the sex work adverts that were once common across central London telephone boxes:

St Pancras

I titled this post the Death of the London Telephone Box, however that is not quite true. Many of them are listed so presumably will be around for years to come, and they are valuable assets as an advertising platform, however what they will not be used for is their original purpose of making telephone calls.

What is clear is that many are not maintained or cleaned. I have found very few that actually work. Many have had their equipment removed, others have been vandalised and many of the remainder are just dead.

I suspect the majority of people under the age of thirty have never used a telephone box, and find the concept of a fixed, wired phone rather antiquated.

They are a left over from a time when the only way to make a call when out on the streets was from a telephone box. When you needed to call for a lift home late at night, meet with friends, change an appointment, check on a place to meet, or just simply calling someone for a chat, the red telephone box was an essential part of street infrastructure.

One of my other photographic themes is information panels, intended to show the passerby what can be seen in the area. I walked by this one a couple of weeks ago, close to the Bank junction:

Bank junction

The plaque was unveiled by the Queen in October 2002, and shows the City’s skyline as it was, just 19 years ago,

Thr highlighted buildings include the London Stock Exchange, Tower 42 (the old NatWest Tower), 30 St Mary Axe (the Gherkin) and the Lloyds of London building.

it is a strange location as none of these buildings can be seen from the location of the plaque. I cannot remember if it has been moved from a different location. The “You Are Here” label on the map implies it is in its original location.

Bank junction

Walking further into the Bank junction and only Tower 42 remains visible, although now partly obscured.

Bank junction

London’s streets will continuously change, as technologies change as do the buildings lining the streets.

As with the transition from telephone boxes to mobile phones, there seems to be another transition gradually underway with the introduction of low traffic neighbourhoods, closure of many city streets to vehicles, cycle lanes etc.

It will be interesting to see how this impacts the city’s recovery from the pandemic, Does it enhance the city, or restrict its viability as a place to work.

In future, will the car in a city be seen the same as a telephone box today, an essential in the past, irrelevant in the future?

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The Angel, Islington and Plackett’s Common

Even if you have not visited the area, or travelled to the underground station with the same name, you probably recognise the name of the Angel, Islington.

This is probably down to the game of Monopoly, where The Angel, Islington can be purchased for £100, and is one of the light blue board positions, along with Euston Road and Pentonville Road.

Monopoly is probably why the name Angel is nearly always followed by Islington. Unlike the majority of other places on the Monopoly board, the Angel, Islington is not a street, and when you buy a hotel for the location in the game, you are bringing some historic reality to the game.

The original Monopoly game was a US invention, and its migration to the UK happened when the board game makers John Waddington licensed the game for UK sale. The game required UK locations, and the story is that the Managing Director of the company, Victor Watson, along with his secretary, Marjory Phillips, visited the capital looking for locations for the game. Dependent on different Internet sources (always a dangerous thing), they either met, or had lunch at the Angel, and decided it would be a good location and name for inclusion in their new game.

The Angel, Islington had been a key London landmark and meeting place long before its appearance on the Monopoly board.

It appeared in the 1896 book “The Queen’s London”, published as a pictorial and descriptive record of London in the 59th year of the reign of Queen Victoria.

In the book, the Angel, Islington is described as:

“Trams and omnibuses give an invaluable gratuitous advertisement to the inns at certain points on their route; and one of the hostelries best known in all London – by name at least – from this cause is the Angel. For here trams start and stop, and innumerable omnibuses converge and diverge. The Angel occupies a commanding position at the corner of the High Street, Islington, and of Pentonville Road, leading to King’s Cross, while it faces the end of the City Road, Goswell Road, and St. John’s Street Road. It is no wonder, therefore that the pavement in front of it should be always thronged.”

The photo from the 1896 Queen’s London showing the Angel, Islington:

Angel Islington

The text from the Queen’s London sums up why the Angel, Islington became such a well known location – its position at the junction of four important London Roads.

In the following map, I have circled the location of the Angel (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors):

Angel Islington

To the left is Pentonville Road, opened in 1756 as the eastern section of the New Road. It took its current name in 1857 after the Pentonville Estate which had been built on land around the road.

To the right is the City Road, completed in 1761, to continue the New Road on towards east London. These streets formed an 18th century “North Circular” allowing traffic to pass around the City, and to reach the best street for entering the City. One of these was Goswell Road which in the map above branches off to the south from City Road.

To the south is St John Street which led to the City and provided a direct route to Smithfield Market.

To the north, Islington High Street now forms the A1, indicating the street’s importance as the start of a key route to the north of the country.

The Angel, Islington was therefore located where drovers and farmers bringing their sheep and cattle to Smithfield Market would stop off before making the final journey. Where those heading north or south would stop before continuing their journey. Where those travelling around the City would stop, as the junction was a key meeting point, a place where people could relatively easily travel to and meet others from across both London and the rest of the country.

The area has long been associated with livestock. Local cattle farms as well as the fields around Islington providing stopping off points to feed and fatten cattle on their way to Smithfield Market. The Royal Agricultural Hall, built a short distance away in 1862 continued this tradition.

Long before the construction of Pentonville Road / New Road / City Road, the Angel had been a key stopping point. In the following extract from Rocque’s map of 1746, I have circled the location of the Angel, at the junction where the road that would become the start of City Road, with the branch of what is now Goswell Road, meet the street that continues south to Smithfield.

Angel Islington

Looking towards the upper half of the map, we can see how three key streets converged just before the Angel, which also contributed to the location’s importance.

The Angel, and the buildings lining the road up to Islington Green, Upper and Lower Streets are surrounded by the fields that were used for livestock and for the temporary provision of grazing prior to completing their journey to Smithfield Market.

The building seen in the photo from the Queen’s London was originally built in 1819, however by the time of the 1896 photo it had been heavily modified over the years and was known as the Angel Hotel. It was demolished to make way for a new version of the Angel, built by the owners of the site, Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. – the London brewery company.

The 1903 building (again, modified a number of times over the years) is the building that we see on the site today:

Angel Islington

The location of the Angel has long been the site for an inn or tavern. Some of the first references are to an inn on the site towards the end of the 16th century, when the property on the site was called Sheepcote.

The name Angel for the inn appears around 1614. There is a Wikipedia reference as to the origin of the name, however I cannot find any written references, either to confirm the Wikipedia suggestion, or to offer an alternative. When researching these posts, I prefer to have at least two different written sources, so for the purposes of the post I cannot find the source.

The excellent “Streets with a Story – The Book of Islington” by Eric A. Willats does state that early in the 17th century, the Angel had a sign of the Angel of the Annunciation, with wings outstretched, however the sign only aligns with the name, and does not identify the source.

The inn was a staging post for travelers from and to the city, and it was a good place to spend a night before entering the city. There are numerous 18th century newspaper articles about thefts and muggings across the fields, paths and roads between Islington and the built edge of the city, so after dark it was not a safe place to travel, and the Angel Hotel was the perfect place to stay until the following morning.

The following print shows the Angel as it appeared in 1808  (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Angel Islington

The view is from what is now Islington High Street. The singe storey buildings to the left of the picture are stables that were on land owned by the Angel, located where Pentonville Road now runs, and extending across the street to the opposite side of the Angel.

The following print shows the view from the Angel, looking down the City Road. Goswell Road is the road branching off to the right  (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Goswell Road

The print mentions the Blue Coat Boy public house. This is the building on the left of the print.

The print is also a perfect example of how easy it is to go off on a tangent with London’s history. The text at the bottom of the above print mentions Jack Plackett’s Common as the space where the obelisk now stands, (to the right of the print) at the junction of City Road and Goswell Road.

I suspect that Jack Plackett was John Plackett who was executed on City Road in 1762. A newspaper report of the time reads: “Yesterday the report was made to his Majesty at St. James’s, by Sir William Morton, Knight, Recorder of this City, of the Six Capital Convicts in Newgate, when John Plackett, for robbing Mr. Jacob Faye, was ordered, for Execution on Wednesday next, near the Turnpike-House, on the New Road from Islington to Old-Street”.

John Plackett was a career criminal who had already served seven years transportation for house robbery. At the end of this sentence, he returned to England and continued to commit a series of robberies between Islington and London.

The crime that led to his execution happened on the 10th June 1762, after he had spent the day drinking in a pub in Wapping. He left the pub around midnight and met the Norwegian merchant Jacob Faye (also written as Fayne).

Faye was trying to find his lodgings in Shadwell, however because of his poor English he could not explain where he wanted to go, or get any directions. Plackett met him and indicated that he should follow. Faye assumed he was taking him to Shadwell.

They walked for a lengthy time, and ended in the fields around Islington. It was here that Plackett hit Faye on the head from behind. Faye collapsed to the ground and after a while awoke to find that Plackett had stolen all his clothes and possessions, including his pocket book and money.

A reward was offered, and Plackett was quickly found, still in possession of Faye’s shirt. He was sentenced to be hung, and was executed on the 28th July 1762, on City Road, close to where he had committed his crime in the fields of Islington.

Although the obelisk has gone, there is still a landmark where City and Goswell Roads divide and at the point where Jack Plackett’s Common was located.

A short walk down City Road from the Angel, and this is the view where the roads divide:

City Road

A clock tower is now at the space once occupied by the obelisk – the area identified as Jack Plackett’s Common in the print.

Apparently, the obelisk was replaced by a clock tower, which in turn was replaced early in the 20th century by the clock tower we see today.

City Road

Around the base of the clock tower are the words from the third verse of the nursery rhyme “Pop goes the weasel”, as the City Road in the rhyme passes to the left of the clock tower:

Up and down the City road,
In and out the Eagle,
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop goes the weasel

The clock tower was made by the St Johns Square, Clerkenwell firm of J. Smith & Sons, and they donated the clock to replace the previous version. It was originally clockwork, and the company retained responsibility for maintaining and winding the clock. It is now electric.

It was somewhere on the space that stretches south from the clock tower that John Plackett was executed for the crime he had committed in the surrounding fields.

The view looking back towards the Angel, from where City and Goswell Roads divide, shows how both the height of the land, and the corner location contributed to the Angel being in such a prominent position for those travelling the roads in and out of the City of London:

Angel Islington

Although many of the 18th century newspaper references to the area around the Angel often refer to crime, there are the occasional reports that bring to life the people that once walked these streets. A report from the 5th January 1793:

“Saturday, a cutler, in the City road, undertook for a wager of five shillings, to hold by the spokes of a carriage wheel, while it was turned round for a given distance. A Hackney Coach was in consequence procured, and he placed himself on the outside of the wheel, holding the spokes with his knees and hands, and in this position continued from the Angel at Islington, to the turnpike, the coachman driving for the most part of the way with great velocity. At the turnpike he leaped from the wheel while in motion, and when the horses were in a smart canter, resumed his station on his return, eating with much composure, an orange”.

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, there are many adverts for staff, adverts for auctions taking place at the Angel, and also references to the many meetings that would take place, many with an agricultural theme, continuing the Angel’s long term association with those bringing their livestock to Smithfield Market, and also those visiting the nearby Royal Agricultural Hall. For example, in December 1900, there was a meeting of the Cotswold Sheep Society, who held their annual general meeting in the Angel Hotel.

The Angel was also a stopping place for coach and mail services. The following print dated 1828, shows the Royal Mails at the Angel Inn, Islington, on the night of his majesty’s birthday  (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Angel Islington

The destinations listed on the side of the coaches are Holyhead, Manchester and Liverpool, illustrating the routes that would be taken by those passing the Angel.

Lettering on the side of the building reads “Angel Inn Tavern and Hotel for Gentlemen and Families”.

The Angel would change significantly in 1921, when the lower three floors of the building were converted into a Lyons’ Café, with a Grill in the basement, Café on the ground floor, and cafeteria on the first floor.

The Lyons’ Café lasted until 1959, with the site then being sold to the London County Council.

The Angel had long been at an important road junction, with an ever increasing volume of traffic moving through the junction in front of the building. In 1932, Harold Clunn in The Face of London was describing the junction as “the busiest traffic centre of north London”.

The road junction was the reason for the London County Council’s purchase of the Angel site. There had long been proposals for ways in which the junction could be improved, however in the 1960s and early 1970s, a rather large roundabout was proposed as the solution for the amount of traffic using the junction, and the traffic bypassing the junction and using residential streets as alternative routes.

In January 1973, Mr. George Cunningham, the MP for Islington, South-West asked a parliamentary question about the plans for the junction and whether the Greater London Council or the national Government would be funding the costs.

Cunningham describes “The proposal at the Angel is for an enormous roundabout, the central island of which will be an acre or perhaps 1.1 acres in area. It will be surrounded by a relatively narrow carriageway of 20 yards—relatively narrow, that is, in relation to the central island”

There was strong opposition to the loss of the Angel, and such a large roundabout taking so much space, and in 1975 the GLC started researching less ambitious options for the junction. There was an updated proposal in 1979, however with political changes, proposals for the junction disappeared and the junction remained as we see it today.

The Angel, along with the Angel side of Islington High Street is now part of the Angel Conservation Area. In 1979 it was sold by the GLC to the New River Company, which by then was a property company and a subsidiary of London Merchant Securities. The building was refurbished and opened as offices and a bank on the ground floor. It now appears to be owned by an offshore property company.

The western side of Islington High Street, with the Angel at the southern end has an interesting range of buildings, that tell part of the story of the evolution of this part of Islington.

Angel Islington

In the above photo, the old Angel Hotel is on the far left. To the right is a Wetherspoons pub called the Angel. This is on land that was part of the original Angel Inn.

The narrow building with the tower is the remains of the Angel Cinema, built in 1911, the building was the narrow entrance foyer to the cinema, which led back to a large auditorium on land behind the buildings that face onto Islington High Street.

The building to the right dates from 1891, then the large brick building, along with the much smaller three story building on the right edge of the photo mark the site of another old inn, serving the people passing along these roads. This was the Peacock Inn that lasted from 1564 to 1962.

The large brick building was the final version of the Peacock and dates from 1931. The small building on the right is all that survives of the terrace that formed the 1700 version of the Peacock.

This was a fascinating walk around a very small area, and as usual there is so much to discover. Opposite the location of the clock tower was the original entrance to Angel underground station, which I covered in an earlier post.

The Angel is still a well known landmark, as it was well before the game of Monopoly brought the name to the attention of those who had never been to the area.

When exploring London, it is always interesting to find long lost places and place names, that tell some of the history of London life, and discovering Jack (or John) Plackett’s Common was a perfect example.

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Carter Lane – 17th Century Houses, Hairdressers and Alleys

One ticket has just become available on my walk next Wednesday, 4th August on The South Bank – Marsh, Industry, Culture and the Festival of Britain. This ticket can be booked here.

As with my Roupell Street post a couple of weeks ago, for this week’s post, a mid 1980s hairdressers is the reason why I am revisiting Carter Lane in the City of London. Initially to find the location of the Gentlemen’s Hairdressing Salon and Nichola’s Hair Designs of St Paul’s, but then to explore a very historic street, alleys, and two houses that have their origins back in the 17th century.

But first, here is the hairdressers on the corner of Carter Lane and St Andrews Hill, photographed in 1986:

Carter Lane

The same place in July 2021:

Carter Lane

The hairdressers are no more, and the latest occupier of the site, L’Express City, part of the L’Express chain of restaurants / coffee shops, has since closed. Possibly one of the casualties of the lack of customers in the City since the start of the pandemic.

The above two photos are on the corner of Carter Lane and St Andrews Hill. Carter Lane is an old street, but today is much longer than in previous centuries.

In the following map, St Paul’s Cathedral is the large building in the upper centre. Saint Paul’s Church Yard is the street immediately to the south of the cathedral. Keep going south, and the next street you will come to is Carter Lane  (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors).

Carter Lane

As can be seen in the above map, Carter Lane is a relatively long street. It has a central section in white, and the two outer sections are in grey. As we walk along the street, the relevance of the different colouring of the street will become clear.

In the above map, the eastern section to the right has green space between Carter Lane and the cathedral. This space is today the location of the City of London Visitor Centre, and an expanse of gardens, however this was once a densely built area.

The following map is from the 1940 edition of Bartholomew’s Reference Atlas of Greater London.

Carter Lane

Here we can see Carter Lane running from Blackfriars Lane in the west, to Old Change in the east. The area above the right section of the street, above the word “Lane”, now the site of gardens and visitor centre was then built up, with Black Swan Court running between Carter Lane and St Paul’s Church Yard.

There are a couple of key buildings highlighted in dark red in the above map, which I will come to later in the post.

The Carter Lane of the above two maps, was not the original Carter Lane. To see the original Carter Lane, and many of the side streets and alleys that we can still find today, we need to look at Rocque’s map of 1746:

Carter Lane

In the above map, running where Carter Lane is today, we find three named streets. From left to right: Shoe Makers Row, Great Carter Lane (underneath the circled number 15), and Little Carter Lane.

Harben’s “Dictionary of London” gives the first mention of the street as Carterstrete in 1295, with Great and Little Carter Lane’s appearing prior to 1677.

Great and Little Carter Lane, along with Shoe Makers Row were abolished in 1866 when the whole street became simply Carter Lane.

Many references on the Internet refer to the name of the lane being associated with carts, however Harben attributes the name: “the early forms of the name suggest that it was intended to commemorate a former owner of property there”. Many streets were named after either owners of the land, property on the street, or an original builder, so whilst is is impossible to be sure of the source of a centuries old name, Harben’s does sound the most probable.

Time for a walk along Carter Lane. In the following photo, I am standing at the junction of Carter Lane and Godliman Street, looking east.

Carter Lane

This is the section that was Little Carter Lane in Rocque’s map.

Today, only one side is built, and the lane is a pedestrian walkway with gardens to the north. The area was badly damaged by fire during bombing on the night of the 29th December 1940 and the northern side of Carter Lane was not rebuilt after the war. It is now gardens, with the building on left being the City of London Visitor Centre.

Looking in the opposite direction, and the following photo shows the section that was Great Carter Lane in Rocque’s map of 1746:

Carter Lane

Walking along the street, and the building on the right is the old home of the St Paul’s Cathedral (Choir) School.

Carter Lane

Purpose built for the school in 1874, the school moved to a new building in New Change during the 1960s, when Carter Lane was threatened with a road widening scheme which thankfully was not carried out. The building is now one of the hostels of the Youth Hostels Association.

There is some rather ornate decoration on the walls of the old St Paul’s Cathedral School:

Carter Lane

To the left of where I was standing to take the above photo, there is a modern building. Look carefully on the pillar to the right and there is a plaque:

Carter Lane

The plaque records that the Bell originally stood on the site, and it was in the Bell that Richard Quiney wrote to William Shakespeare, and his letter is the only letter addressed to Shakespeare known to remain.

The Bell tavern

A photo of the letter can be seen on the site of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust here.

The Bell was a very old pub. The earliest written reference I could find to the pub dates from a report in the Kentish Gazette on the 12th October 1776, when it was reported that on the previous Sunday, Mr Milward, master of the Bell inn, Carter-lane, Doctors Commons had died.

The address of the Bell inn in the above report included “Doctors Commons”. Doctors Commons was the general name used for an area between Carter Lane and what is now Queen Victoria Street that included the College of Advocates and Doctors of Law, along with Ecclesiastical and Admiralty Courts.

The buildings were demolished in 1867 after the functions of the College and Courts had been consolidated into other roles, or been abolished.

In David Copperfield, Charles Dickens had Steerforth describing Doctors Commons as:

“It’s a little out of the way place, where they administer what is called ecclesiastical law, and play all kinds of tricks with obsolete old monsters of acts of Parliament, which three-fourths of the world know nothing about, and the other fourth supposes to have been dug up, in a fossil state, in the days of the Edwards. It’s a place that has an ancient monopoly in suits about people’s wills and people’s marriages, and disputes among ships and boats”.

The Bell was demolished at the end of the 19th century to make way for the Post Office Savings Bank building referenced in the plaque by the mention of the Post Master General. Prior to demolition, the Bell seems to have been a thriving establishment, as can be seen from this advert in the Morning Advertiser on the 24th February 1869 when the Bell was for sale due to the ill-health of the current proprietor:

BELL TAVERN AND WINE-VAULTS occupying a most commanding corner position in one of the busiest and most improving parts of the City of London, close to St. Paul’s in a much frequented thoroughfare, and surrounded by many vast mercantile Establishments, affording an almost unlimited variety of sources of the best class of trade. The billiard-tables alone realise sufficient to pay the rent, and the extremely profitable nature of the business generally in the City is universally admitted”.

A shame that after the above sale, this centuries old pub would have less than thirty years left.

The Bell inn was on the corner of Carter Lane and Bell Yard which can be seen in the Rocque map. Bell Yard sort of still exists as New Bell Yard, an alley between two modern buildings:

New Bell Yard

As we walk further along Carter Lane, we come to the part that survived the fires that surrounded St Paul’s Cathedral during the 1940s. Epic Pies on the corner of Carter Lane and Addle Hill:

Carter Lane

Addle Hill is worth a quick walk down, to see a survival from the late 19th century Post Office building, which can be seen half way down the building on the left:

Addle Hill

Go back to the 1940 map, and on the block occupied by the building on the left of the above photo was a building called Faraday Building. This was part of the complex of Post Office buildings in the area that formed one of the London hubs of the growing telephone network.

The original late 19th century door surround to the Post Office building has been retained:

Faraday Building

The plaque records that this was the “Former site of Faraday Building North, City, Central, Long Distance and International Telephone Exchanges, 1902 to 1982”.

For much of the life of the Faraday Building, long distance and international telephone calls would need to be connected by an operator, and hundreds of operators worked in the building, sitting at desks labelled with the country that was connected to their desk. the operator would manually plug in patch cables to connect a caller to the destination’s telephone network.

An example of a small part of the operator positions in the Faraday Building is shown in the following photo (with Addle Hill labelled as the emergency exit above the Montreal position – from the booklet “The Post Office Went To War“):

Telephone Operators Faraday Building

Continuing down Carter Lane, and we can see the building that was the hairdresser in the photo at the top of the post, along with the Rising Sun pub:

Carter Lane

But before we come to the home of the hairdressers, we pass the entrance to Wardrobe Place.

Wardrobe Place

Wardrobe Place was so named as up until the Great Fire of 1666, it was the site of the King’s Wardrobe (the storage, administration and expenditure office for the King). The Wardrobe was moved here from the Tower in the 1360s into the mansion owned by Sir John Beauchampe. From Stow’s Survey of London:

“Then is the kings greate Wardrobe, Sir John Beauchampe, knight of the Garter, Constable of Dover, Warden of the Sinke Portes builded this house, was lodged there, deceased in the yeare 1359.  His Executors sold the house to King Edware the third”.

We then come to the site of the 1980s hairdressers at number 59a Carter Lane. which was on the corner of Carter Lane and St Andrew’s Hill:

Carter Lane

In between the hairdressers and becoming a food / coffee take-away and cafe, the site was home to KK Newsagents in the 1990s.

Although the café / takeaway has now closed, there are still a number of these in Carter Lane. We perhaps think that the vast number of such establishments on London’s streets is a recent phenomena, however there has always been a need to provide food and drink for those who lived and worked in the City.

In the 1895 Post Office directory, there were five listed:

  • Number 29: Florence Jones-Albrt, Dining Rooms
  • Number 55; Miss Sarah Ann Ash, Coffee Rooms
  • Number 66; Miss Eliza Louise Catchpole, St Ann’s Coffee House
  • Number 75; William Clemenace, Dining Rooms
  • Number 79; Charles Batchelor, Dining Rooms

I suspect the number of such establishments can be used as a measure of the number of people working in the City, and similar to number 59a, many of these have closed over the last year.

St Andrew’s Hill leads down to Queen Victoria Street, opposite where Puddle Dock was originally located and according to George Cunningham in his 1927 Survey of London, was originally called Puddledock Hill (although I have been unable to find any other reference that confirms this, however it could well have been an earlier or alternative name as the street leads up from both Puddle Dock and the church of St. Andrew’s by the Wardrobe.)

One of the Bollards outside number 59a. This is different to the 1980s photo, and I am not sure of the age of either the bollard, or the City of London name panel which appears to slot over the bollard.

City of London

On the St Andrews Hill side of number 59a is a boundary marker on the right:

At Andrews Hill

And an FP plate on the left. According to a document on the Essex Fire Brigade web site, FP stands for Fire Plug. Apparently in the early days of the fire service, and when many underground water pipes were made out of wood, firemen would dig down to the water main and bore a small, circular hole in the pipe to obtain a supply of water to fight the fire.

When finished, they would put a wooden plug into the hole, and leave an FP plate on a nearby wall to alert future firefighters that a water main with a plug already existed.

When wooden pipes were replaced by cast iron pipes in the 19th century, workmen would often bore a small hole in the pipe and fit with a wooden plug when they saw an FP plate.

This would later be replaced with the Fire Hydrant method, which would be identified by a large H.

Just after number 59a, we come to the part of Carter Lane, that on Rocque’s map was in 1746 called Shoe Makers Row:

Carter Lane

It is still a distinctive section of the overall street, as at the end of what was Great Carter Lane, the street narrows considerably into Shoe Makers Row.

However, before continuing further, there are a number of interesting buildings and streets at this junction of streets.

The building in the middle of the following photo once had a ground floor with symmetrical doors on either side, and possibly a much grander entrance or windows in the centre. It has now been modified somewhat by an entrance cut into the face, possibly as access to a goods loading bay or car parking. It is often how buildings survive over time in the City if not completely demolished, by being modified for different use.

Carter Lane

On the corner of Carter Lane and Burgon Street is the Rising Sun, a Grade II listed, early / mid 19th century building, the Rising Sun is a typical City pub.

Rising Sun pub

And to the right of the above photo, leading north from Carter Lane, is Creed Lane, another old City street that is currently blocked off as part of a building site:

Creed Lane

Continuing on down Carter Lane, and although the previous section of the street was not that wide, the section that was Shoe Makers Row is a much narrower street. There are very few written references to the street, and I suspect that the original name of the street refers to the trade that was carried out here.

Carter Lane

This section of the street feels older than the rest of Carter Lane, and leading off from the street are a number of alleys.

In the following photo is Cobb’s Court:

Cobb's Court

According to Harben, Cobb’s Court was first mentioned in 1677, and the name originally referred to a central court, with the passage leading down to Carter Lane (the section shown in the above photo) called Postboy Passage. We can see this original name in the extract from Rocque’s 1746 map at the start of the post.

Standing in Cobb’s Court, we can look across Carter Lane to another alley, this time leading south:

Cobb's Court

This alley has the rather unusual name of Church Entry:

Church Entry

Harben records that the name was first mentioned in 1677, and in 1559 was called Church Lane.

A short distance along Church Entry, there is a raised garden:

Church Entry

A plaque mounted on the railings providing some background as to the name of the alley, the garden, and the location being part of the church of the Dominican priory at Blackfriars.

Church Entry

After the dissolution, the land and buildings were sold, and it appears that Church Entry may have been formed when new, or perhaps a division of the existing buildings, allowed the alley to be formed.

The earlier religious nature of the area changed considerably over the following years, and we can get an impression of the street in the middle of the 18th century from the following report from Pope’s Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette on the 9th June 1763:

“Yesterday morning, about Three o’Clock, two young men, one a Peruke-maker, the other a Watch-maker, went into a House of ill Fame in Church Entry, Black-friars, when a Dispute arose about paying the Reckoning; on which the old Bawd gave the Barber a violent blow on the Head with a Poker, and called a soldier, who was then in the House, to her Assistance, who fell upon them with the aforesaid Weapon; the Watch-maker, in his Defence, drew a Knife and cut the Soldier cross the Belly, who was carried to St Batholomew’s Hospital, where he lies dangerously ill. The Barber has received a most dreadful Blow on his Head, several inches in length, quite to his Brain; and, with the Mistress of the House and one of the prostitutes, is committed to Clerkenwell Bridewell; and the Watch-maker, who is charged with wounding the Soldier, is committed to New Prison, Clerkenwell”.

It is fascinating to think about these events when standing in the alley, and the amount of individual stories that could be told about every London street and alley is one of the overwhelming things about researching the city.

There is one rather unqiue building remaining in Church Entry:

Church Entry

This is the Vestry Hall of St Ann’s Church.

Although the church of St Ann’s was not rebuilt after the Great Fire in 1666, the vestry hall seems to have continued. The building we see now is much later than the original church, having been built in 1905 and is now Grade II listed.

St Ann’s Vestry Hall is now home to the Ancient Monuments Society and the Friends of Friendless Churches.

Walking back up to Carter Lane, and a little further along are two rather special buildings. Both of these buildings, although considerably changed over the years, date back to the late 17th century. On the left is 79 Carter Lane, and part of number 81 is on the right.

17th Century houses

They are both Grade II listed, and the Historic England listing for number 79 reads:

“Possibly late C17, stuccoed in C19. 3 storeys plus continuous dormer. 2 windows. Shop. Corniced 1st floor windows. Crowning cornice and parapet.”

And for number 81:

“Late C17, stuccoed and altered. 3 storeys plus continuous dormer in roof. 3 windows. Shop and passageway. Storey-bands. Parapet.”

Remarkable to think that there could be buildings that at their core date back to the late 17th century in the heart of the City.

I started the post with a hairdresser / barber, and I am almost finishing the post with another one, as at ground level at number 79 is the closed Carter Lane Barbershop.

Carter Court

Under number 81, and between numbers 79 and 81 is another alley, Carter Court:

Carter Court

Referring back to the Rocque map, and in 1746, Carter Court was called Flower de Lis Court. I double checked this with Richard Horwood’s map of 1799, and the same name appears to cover the court.

There were a number of alleys and courts in London with variations on the Flower de Lis name, and no clear source for the name, with a number of possible origins including the name of a wharf, a tenement, or a tavern.

Walking down what is now Carter Court, and looking at the wall of number 81 we can get a sense of the age of the building and the construction methods and materials used as the building has been repaired and modified over the centuries. It is extremely rare to see this exposed form of construction.

17th century houses

Further down the court, there is more evidence of the early date of construction, and at the end, a small window opening into the court.

17th century houses

I have now reached the end of Carter Lane, the point where the street meets Ludgate Broadway and Black Friars Lane. Looking back up the street, to what was Shoe Makers Row, with the oldest buildings on the street, numbers 79 and 81, on the right.

Carter Lane

With the exception of the part of the street that was Little Carter Lane, and the western end of Great Carter Lane, the rest of the street was not destroyed by wartime bombing. Victorian building along the street was relatively modest, and much of this 19th century and early 20th century building occupied the original plots of land.

Carter Lane is today part of the St. Paul’s Cathedral Conservation Area which should give the street some protection.

A street that is well worth a walk, and where a sense of the historic City of London can still be found.

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Roupell Street and Aquinas Street – Two Streets on Lambeth Marsh

A short distance from Waterloo Station, there are some wonderful streets. Lined with terrace housing that date back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. A couple of weeks ago, I went for a walk along these streets, starting at Roupell Street and ending at Aquinas Street.

The reason for the visit was to revisit the site of a 1986 photo of a men’s hairdresser on the corner of Roupell Street and Cornwall Road:

Roupell Street

The same view 35 years later in June 2021:

Roupell Street

What was then, simply a “mens hairdresser” is now “First Barber”. Really good to see that the same type of business is in operation thirty five years later.

Getting your hair cut is a service which cannot be provided over the Internet, so hairdressers / barbers are the type of shops that will hopefully be on the streets for many years to come.

It did though get me thinking about name changes. In the 1980s I went to a hairdressers, or a hair stylist (see my post on the Hairdressers of 1980s London for lots more examples). When did the shop for a men’s hair cut change from a hairdresser to a barber? One of those gradual changes that you do not really notice until you compare street scenes.

Another 1986 photo shows the rear of the houses in Roupell Street. A jumble of chimneys and TV aerials:

Brad Street

I walked down Brad Street, which runs behind the southern side of Roupell Street, trying to find the same chimney combination as in the 1986 photo, but there seem to have been many subtle changes. The following photo is the nearest I could get:

Brad Street

The centre tower in the 1986 photo was Kings Reach Tower, the home of IPC Media, publisher of a vast range of titles from Country Life to NME. It was sold some years ago, had additional floors added to the top (hence the difference in height between the two photos) and is now apartments.

The location of the hairdressers / barbers is shown in the following map (red circle) (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors):

Roupell Street

Roupell Street runs to the right of the red circle, and Waterloo East station is below.

Part of a roundabout can be seen on the left edge of the map. This is the large roundabout at the southern end of Waterloo Bridge, and Waterloo Station is just off the map to the left.

Development of the area is relatively recent. It was long part of the area known as Lambeth Marsh. An area of low lying land, with many streams and ditches, and marshy ground. During the 17th century, much of the area was being converted to different forms of agricultural use, and in 1746, Roqcues map shows some streets, limited building, and a network of fields (red oval is future location of Roupell Street and green oval future location of Aquinas Street, which I will be coming to later in the post).

By 1816, Smith’s New Map of London was showing increased building in the area, however the area around what will become Roupell Street (red oval) was still open land, with what may have been large plots extending back from the houses on Broad Wall.

Roupell Street

The yellow oval is around the first stretch of Stamford Street. This is the road that runs to the north of the area I am walking, and is a busy road connecting Blackfriars Road and Waterloo Road.

Note the Strand Bridge. This was the recently built first bridge on the site of what is now Waterloo Bridge. Also, running south from Strand Bridge is the outline of a street labelled “Intended New Road”. This is the future Waterloo Road.

In the above map, there is a track called Curtis’s Halfpenny Hatch where the future Roupell Street would be located.

This was named after a William Curtis who was the founder of a Botanic Gardens in the area. It was a suitable location for aquatic and bog plants as the area was low lying. The Halfpenny element of the name was the cost to use the route when it was previously a short cut through the agricultural land on either side.

The 19th century would bring considerable change and development to the area with the arrival of Waterloo Station, however this had not yet been built by the time of the 1847 edition of Reynolds’s Splendid New Map Of London. Roupel Street had arrived, but apparently not yet fully built, along with the streets that would fill in the area to the north (more on this later in the post).

Roupell Street

Between the 1816 and 1847 maps, Stamford Street was completed linking Blackfriars and the now completed Waterloo Road.

To explore the area, I went for a walk from Roupell Street to Aquinas Street, shown by the dotted red line in the following map, starting at the red circled location of the hairdressers (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors).

Roupell Street

This is the full view of the corner building with the barbers at street level:

Roupell Street

On the opposite corner is an identical building, even with the same bricked windows:

Roupell Street

With a bakers shop now occupying the corner position.

Looking down the full length of Roupell Street:

Roupell Street

The name of the street comes from John Roupell, who purchased the land and built the estate in the early 19th century.

John Roupell had a Bankside metal works, and seems to have inherited the wealth needed to pay £8,000 for the land through his wife’s family.

The street was laid out and construction started around 1824. when John Roupell was 64. The houses in the street seem to have been occupied from the early 1830s as from 1835 onwards, references to those living in the street, or local events, start appearing in the press. One strange mention concerns a murder in a pub garden in Broad Wall, at the eastern end of Roupell Street, when during the inquest, one witness stated:

“John Bingley deposed he is a private watchman. On Sunday morning, about twenty minutes after two, witness was in Roupell-street; he heard a voice – apparently that of a women – exclaim ‘Here’s a villain! – he has got me down and is trying to kill me’.

By the Coroner – Did you hear any other words?

Witness – Yes, i heard the same voice say ‘Come to me’ and then in a fainter tone, ‘Have mercy on me’.

Apparently John Bingley thought it was a drunken row, and took no notice of the matter, he did not see any person answering the description of the deceased either alone, or accompanied by any other person – he does not sound perhaps the most pro-active watchman that you would want to employ on London’s streets.

Roupell built two storey terrace housing. Brick built, directly onto the street with no front garden or a small area protected by railings. Open the front door and you are directly on the street.

Roupell Street

The first time that Roupell Street features in London’s newspapers is when the London Evening Standard reported, on the 1st June 1829, the impact of Roupell’s builders working extra hours:

“On Saturday evening a fire broke out in Roupell-street in one of the new houses belonging to Mr Roupell. On the first alarm, the engines of the Palladium and West of England fire-offices promptly attended, and by the aid of a plentiful supply of water the flames were prevented from spreading, and eventually subdued in about an hour, but not before one of the houses, nearly in a finished state, was totally destroyed and the adjoining one considerably damaged.

The fire originated under these circumstances:- Mr Roupell had bound himself by contract to have both houses finished by a given time, and the period fast approaching, men were employed to work beyond the usual hours.

Some of them were in the act of pitching some gutters, when the pot boiled over and set fire to the shavings and wood with such rapidity that it was with some difficulty all the workmen succeeded in effecting their escape.

Of course none of the houses were insured, as they were in an unfinished state.”

The street was quickly finished after the fire. By the time of the 1841 census, Roupell Street seems to have had a good population, with 250 people recorded in the census as living in the street.

Roupell had built the street for what were described as “artisan workers” and the 1841 census provides a view of the professions of what must have been some of the first people living in the street. This included; painters, labourers, clerks, printers, bakers, carpenters, bricklayers, compositors, paper hanger, hatter, an excise officer, lighterman, warehouseman – all the typical jobs that you expect to find in such a street in 1840s London.

Roupell Street

This Citroen has been parked on the street for many years, and provides one of the most photographed views of the street.

Roupell Street

Walking further down Roupell Street, and a pedestrian walkway that was once a street cuts across. This is Windmill Walk.

On either side of the northern entrance to Windmill Walk are two buildings that have what appears to be shop fronts, along with what could be a very faded painted advertising sign on the wall.

Roupell Street

The 1910 Post Office Directory confirms that these were shops, and the businesses that operated in them at the start of the 20th century.

At number 61 (nearest the camera) was john Bowen Walters – Dairyman and at number 62 was Arthur Edward Cowdery – Baker.

The 2007 Conservation Area Statement records that the shop fronts are replacement / reproductions of the originals.

Directly across the street from the above old shops, is the Kings Arms, a brilliant local pub:

Kings Arms

The Kings Arms was part of the original build of the street and has retained the same name since opening in the 1830s.

The first reference to the pub in the press provides a fascinating view of the agricultural nature of the area. An advert from the Morning Advertiser on the 22nd March 1836:

“Broadwall, Blackfriars-road – to Timber-merchants, Hard Wood-turners, Veneer-sawyers and Others, By Mr. C. COULTON on the Premises, a field opposite the King’s Arms, Roupell-street, Broadwall, on THURSDAY, March 24, at Twelve.

COMPRISING two hundred Yew Trees – to be paid for on the fall of the hammer. may be viewed till the sale, and Catalogues had of the Auctioneer, No 32, Union-street, Borough”.

The advert shows that in the 1830s, reminders of the old agricultural nature of this part of Lambeth could still be found. Two hundred yew trees sounds like a reasonable number so this was not a small field. I do not believe they like water logged conditions, so the typical wet conditions of the Lambeth Marsh were also disappearing.

The trees were almost certainly being sold to release the field for building, as in the late 1830s and 1840s, the remaining open space was being built on.

The majority of Roupell Street has a uniform appearance, however walking further east along the street and there is a three storey pair of houses.

Roupell Street

These houses were not part of the original construction of the street as within the triangular pediment at the top of the building there is the date 1891 which is presumably the date of construction.

The two houses retain the same width as those along the rest of the street and the doors and windows are also much the same, so it may be that in 1891 only the top floor and pediment was added to two existing terrace houses. Perhaps some late 19th century home improvements.

John Roupell died on the 23rd December 1835, when the St James’s Chronicle reported that he had died in his 75th year at his own residence in Roupell Street. Along with Roupell Street, he had a substantial portfolio of land and property in south London, part of which gets mentioned in a news report when his son Richard Palmer Roupell was a witness to a possible murder in his grounds at Norwood. At the inquest, Richard Palmer Roupell was described as a lead merchant of Cross-street, Blackfriars who has a country residence at Brixton Hill.

It may have been Richard Palmer Roupell who developed Theed Street which runs north from Roupell Street:

Theed Street

Theed Street still consists of a terrace of two storey houses, however there is a very different treatment at the top of the buildings where instead of the rise and fall of the triangular wall in Roupell Street, Theed Street has a top wall blanking off the roof at the rear, giving the impression of a more substantial row of houses.

According to Reynolds’s Splendid New Map Of London published in 1847, Theed Street had not yet been built. See the annotated map below:

Theed Street

I am not sure whether the 1847 map is correct. Greenwood’s map from 1828 shows what would become Theed Street as an unnamed street running between two fields. It could be that in 1847 it was still unnamed and running between fields and therefore not considered worth recording – one of the challenges of trying to interpret maps of different scales and over the years as London changes.

Greenwood’s map does show that Roupell Street was originally called Navarino Street (after a naval sea battle fought by the British and allies against the Ottoman and Egyptian forces in the Greek War of Independence in 1827). This was in 1828, and Roupell seems to have quickly changed the name of the street.

Branching off Theed Street is Whittlesey Street which continues the same architectural style of Theed Street:

Whittlesey Streeet

Looking back up Theed Street towards Roupell Street – not a parked car in sight which adds considerably to the view:

Theed Street

In the above photo, the house on the right is to the same design as those in Theed Street, and the way that the top line of brick hides the rear slopping roof can be seen.

Not what you expect to see running across the street of such a densely built area:

Whittlesey Street

Where Windmill Walk crosses Whittlesey Street:

Windmill Walk

The towers in the distance of the above photo are the new blocks recently built around the Shell Centre site on the Southbank.

Reaching the end of Whittlesey Street, where the street meets Cornwall Road, the following photo is looking south with the railway bridge over the street and above that, the pedestrian walkways that take travelers down to the platforms of Waterloo East.

Cornwall Road

On the corner of Whittlesey Street and Cornwall Road is another pub – the White Hart:

Roupell Street

Another pub that has been here since the development of the area and that has retained the same name. The first record I can find of the pub dates from the 25th January 1849 when they placed an advert in the Morning Advertiser for a Barman or Under-Barman. In the advert the pub was described as “a respectable Tavern”.

From here, I am going to take a short walk from the area of Roupell’s developments as there is another street with some fantastic architecture.

Following the route in the map shown earlier in the post, I walked north along Cornwall Road to turn right onto Stamford Street, then south down Coin Street to find Aquinas Street:

Aquinas Street

Aquinas Street is early 20th century, so later than Roupell, Theed and Whittlesey Streets, but like these early 19th century streets, Aquinas Street is lined by rows of terrace houses of a continuous and unique design.

This is the south side of the street:

Aquinas Street

The south side of the street dates from 1911, and in the conservation area statement are described as Neo-Georgian, with their original doors, sash windows and railings. The terrace is Grade II listed.

The northern side of the street has a continuous terrace of houses, but of a very different style:

Aquinas Street

Substantial three storeys, each with a full height bay. They are not what you expect to find in this part of Lambeth and represent a rare example of a surviving, continuous terrace of houses dating from the early decades of the 20th century.

Aquinas Street

Aquinas Street is a perfect example of some of the wonderful streets that can be found by turning off the main streets of the city.

Aquinas Street

I started the post with the hairdressers / barbers on the corner of Roupell Street, so I will conclude the post by returning to the Roupell family.

John Roupell, the original developer of the estate, died in 1835. He died a wealthy man.

His son Richard Palmer Roupell had four children, however it appears that John Roupell was unaware of his grandchildren as Richard had the children with Sarah Crane who was recorded as the daughter of a carpenter. John Roupell would apparently have disapproved of this match, so Richard hid the relationship from him.

One of the four sons of Richard Roupell was William Roupell. He discovered that his father left his estate to his brother Richard, who was the only son born after Richard and Sarah had married (after John Roupell had died).

Richard forged his father’s will to leave his estate to his mother with Richard as executor. He was able to borrow against the estate. He also became an MP for Lambeth.

He had substantial debts and when those who had lent him money called for the debts to be repaid, he fled to Spain. He was persuaded to return, and then tried at the Old Bailey in 1862.

The trial gained considerable publicity, because of the level of forgeries, and because Roupell had been an MP.

An account of the trial was published, published in 1862 and described as “From the shorthand notes of Mr. G. Blagrave Snell – Shorthand writer to the Court of Bankruptcy”. The introduction to the account provides an indication of the sensational nature of the trial:

“The following pages contain the whole of the startling details of one of the most extraordinary series of forgeries that was ever disclosed in a court of justice in this country. No work of fiction, it may safely be said, ever was conceived, in which all the incidents that go to make up a tale of thrilling interest, can be more striking than is this bare, unvarnished tale of truth.

The principal party concerned in it was but the other day a member of Parliament, and a man of whom many prophesised that it would be no long time ere he would rise to distinction in the senate; but who by embarking on a career of reckless profligacy, has brought down absolute ruin upon himself, and upon his family an amount of calamity wholly undeserved, which would have been far greater had he not surrendered to justice by placing himself in the felon’s dock.

It was but recently that the pubic were surprised at the resignation of the Member for Lambeth. They little knew the tale that lay behind that resignation. They little knew that forgery and fraud had been the common paths and beaten ways of William Roupell for seven long years; that he had wasted the patrimony of his family, and had reduced them to comparative poverty even before his father’s death.

At length the fatal truth came out, and he was obliged either to face his father’s executors or fly the country. The family property had been fraudulently sold, and it was only when overwhelmed with difficulties, pecuniary and otherwise, that he resolved to confess the whole truth, even at the bar of the court of justice”.

A dramatic end to a once wealthy family, however we still have John Roupell’s original development as a memorial to his achievements, rather than his fraudulent grandson.

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Carlton House Terrace

For today’s post, I am in Carlton House Terrace. It is one of my favourite types of post as I am looking for a place that has been demolished, the site has changed significantly, however I can still find part of a building that helps to confirm the location.

The following photo was taken by my father in 1949, and shows a house in some form of courtyard, with some steps to a street on the right.

Carlton House Terrace

The location should be easy to find as the house has the address 22A Carlton House Terrace next to the door. The photo appears to have been taken from underneath some form of archway.

As well as finding the location of the above photo, I took a walk through the area to the north of Carlton House Terrace to explore the stairs and streets which few people seem to walk.

The following map shows my route, starting at S, where Carlton House Terrace meets Waterloo Place, and ending at E, on Pall Mall. Also on the map, the arrow shows the location of the photo (start of the arrow) pointing in the direction of the stairs through to the wall seen in the background of the stairs in the 1949 photo. Although there is a very different building on the site today, I will explain how I found the location in the rest of the post  (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors).

Carlton House Terrace

This is the view along Carlton House Terrace from the junction with Waterloo Place. The street is a dead end with no exit for vehicles.

Carlton House Terrace

On the right of the above photo are the houses that were originally part of the plan by the architect John Nash to enhance the background to St James’s Park as the other side of the houses face onto The Mall, with the park on the other side.

Although part of the plans developed by Nash, much of the terrace seems to have been heavily influenced by architect Decimus Burton. The terrace was constructed in 1831.

Carlton House Terrace consists of a run of terrace houses, divided by the stairs that lead down from the end of Waterloo Place down to The Mall. The houses provide an impressive background to the northern edge of The Mall, however it is in Carlton House Terrace that we find the front of the buildings with their entrances and forecourts, and facades whilst not as impressive as on The Mall, still with considerable grandeur.

Carlton House Terrace

The round plaque in the above photo records that William Gladstone, the Liberal politician and Prime Minister lived in the house.

The view along the southern edge of Carlton House Terrace. The rear of these buildings face onto The Mall:

Carlton House Terrace

On the opposite side of the street is a relatively modern development. The number on the first building – 24 Carlton House Terrace – shows that the building is close to the 22A in my father’s photo.

Carlton House Terrace

A wider view of the northern side of Carlton House Terrace.

Carlton House Terrace

The large building on the left dates from the 1970s and is the former head office of the mining company Anglo American. It is this building that is on the site of my father’s photo.

To identify the location, I turned to the 1951 revision of the Ordnance Survey map as this was only two years after my father’s photo.

In the following photo I have marked the position from where the photo was taken with the red dot (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’).

Carlton House Terrace

The red dot is under a feature which has an X arcros the dark grey for a building. The use of X is to show a building which has a walk / roadway through at ground level, and the buildings continue above. This explains the dark walls of such a feature on either side and above the immediate location of the 1949 photo.

Following the arrow across the open courtyard, and on the left of number 22A is the symbol for a set of stairs, exactly as seen in my father’s photo.

As usual, there is so much to discover in these maps. To the right of the above map is a building labelled “Old County Hall”. If we go back further to the 1895 Ordnance Survey map, we can see the same building labelled London County Council Office (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’).

Carlton House Terrace

This was the first offices of the London County Coucil after it was formed in 1889, and prior to the move to County Hall on the Southbank in 1922. Prior to the London County Council, the building was occupied by the Metropolitan Board of Works, which the London County Council replaced.

The above 1895 map also shows the same features as the 1951 map, providing confirmation of the same features in my father’s photo.

if you look at the above two maps, the arrow in the first map is pointing to the houses on the south side of Carlton House Terrace, and there is a curving feature to the edge of the forecourt in the centre of the terrace.

The same feature can be found today, with the railings curving from street to building:

Carlton House Terrace

My father’s photo is looking towards some stairs which lead up to Carlton House Terrace, and through the gap above the stairs we can see part of the wall of a building.

To the left of the hut in the above photo is a drain pipe, and this can also be seen above the stairs. In the following photo, I have outlined the area of wall in red and included an extract from the 1951 photo to show the same area of wall.

Carlton House Terrace

The following photo is from the south side of Carlton House Terrace, in front of the building in the above photo, looking across to the location of the stairs in my father’s photo. If I have worked out the exact location correctly, the stairs were just behind the car in the middle of the photo.

Carlton House Terrace

The above building was built during the 1970s. I cannot find when the buildings, courtyard and stairs in my father’s photo were demolished, however I suspect they were part of the demolitions to free up space for the building which now covers much of the northern side of this stretch of Carlton House Terrace, and occupy a large area of space back to Warwick House Street.

The following photo is from the eastern end of Carlton House Terrace, looking back to the junction with Waterloo Place and the stairs down to The Mall. The Duke of York’s Column (dating from 1834) which marks the stairs to the Mall and the split between the two sections of the terrace can be seen in the distance.

Carlton House Terrace

The street and terrace are named after Carlton House, which occupied much of the space now occupied by Waterloo Place. Carlton House had a considerable area of gardens which covered the space where today we can find the two sections of the terrace, on either side of the Duke of York’s Column.

I will save the story of the house and the rest of the terrace for another post, as my walk explored a couple of the streets to the north, between the terrace and Cockspur Street / Pall Mall (see map at start of the post).

Although Carlton House Terrace is a dead end for traffic, there is an exit for pedestrians, with some stairs at the far north eastern corner of the terrace.

Carlton House Terrace

Looking back up the stairs, and there is an artwork by the sculptor David John Kent titled “States of Mind” at the top of the stairs:

Carlton House Terrace

Close up view of “States of Mind”:

Carlton House Terrace

The stairs take us into a short street called Cockspur Court that leads from Spring Gardens. Cockspur Court is a dead end, and its only function seems to be to provide a service access to the surrounding buildings.

In the centre of Cockspur Court appears to be the loneliest tree in London. No other trees within view, and a tree that must spend much of its time in shade due to the height of the surrounding buildings.

Cockspur Court

Looking across the court, and a building on the far side has the words “Grand Trunk Railway” displayed.

Cockspur Court

The following photo was taken towards the end of Cockspur Court, looking back towards Spring Gardens, again showing the lonely tree. The stairs down from Carlton House Terrace are behind the tree, and the large building behind the tree, and also running over Cockspur Court is the British Council Building, much of which occupies the space where the first London County Council building was located.

Cockspur Court

Although a dead end for vehicles, at the end of Cockspur Court, there is another set of steps:

Cockspur Court

Walking up these steps, and between two buildings:

Warwick House Street

Which leads into Warwick House Street:

Warwick House Street

Despite appearing to be just a service road for the buildings on either side, Warwick House Street is actually a very old street, which predates Carlton House Terrace, and survives from the time of Car;ton House and the extensive gardens just to the south.

In the following extract from Rocque’s map of London from 1746, I have ringed Warwick Street, now Warwick House Street:

Warwick House Street

Referring back to the maps earlier in the post, it can be seen that the street follows the same route as the much earlier Warwick Street, apart from a slight change at the final junction with Cockspur Street.

In the 1747 map above, large gardens can be seen to the south. Carlton House Terrace now occupies this space.

Warwick House Street consists of the backs of buildings that face onto other streets. To the north is Cockspur Street and Pall Mall, and there are a number of interesting buildings that have their backs on Warwick House Street, for example, this interesting mix of materials and shapes:

Warwick House Street

And on the same building that had “Grand Trunk Railway” displayed at the top, has “The Grand Trunk Railways of Canada” inscribed above the ground floor of the rear of the building:

Warwick House Street

Looking back along the street towards Cockspur Street and Trafalgar Square along a street that was here in 1746:

Warwick House Street

To take a look at the front of these buildings, I walked round to Cockspur Street.

The Brazilian Embassy occupies the buildings which has the ground floor with a mix of materials and shapes:

Brazilian Embassy

And the building with the railway references also has one on the front with the “Canadian National Railway Company”, the company that the “Trunk Railways” became part of. It is now the London Visitor Centre, and if I remember rightly, in the 1980s was the US Visitor Centre.

Canadian National Railway Company

Confirming the building’s Canadian heritage, between the windows of the upper floors are the coats of arms of the provinces and territories of Canada:

Canadian National Railway Company

I am pleased I found the location of the photo at the top of the post. Buildings and a view that have long been lost, however it is always good to find the exact location, and some remaining part of the view.

The sides streets are very close to Trafalgar Square, but are very quiet, mainly as they are basically service roads to the buildings on either side, but finding one that has been here since at least 1746 shows that whilst major houses and gardens come and go, and spaces are significantly reconfigured, in London, it is always possible to find traces of the past.

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Euston Station and HS2 – A 2021 Update

For the past four years, I have written an annual post on the work around Euston to create the extension to the station for HS2, recording the area from before work started to at some point in the future, when the new station will be operational.

My first post was back in 2017 and covered St James Gardens, just before they were closed for excavation.

My second post in 2018 walked around the streets to the west of the station, as buildings began to close, and the extent of the works could be seen.

I then went back in 2019 as demolition started.

In 2020, demolition was well underway and St James Gardens had disappeared, and the associated archaeological excavation had finished

One year on, and in 2021, the majority of the buildings in the surrounding streets have now been demolished, and work has extended to the west of Hampstead Road, along with the grounds between Euston Station and Euston Road. Walking the area now provides an indication of just how large an area is being developed for HS2’s London terminus at Euston station.

So for 2021’s update, in today’s post are some of the photos from a walk through the area that will become Euston’s new HS2 station, following the route shown in the following map (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors).

Euston Station and HS2

This is the view looking west from point S in the above map, at the south western corner of the station.

Euston Station and HS2

The road in the foreground is what was Melton Street, which now provides one of the access routes into the works.

From this point, there are a couple of pedestrian walkways that have been created through the site:

Euston Station and HS2

I turned right to head towards Drummond Street. The following photo is looking along the closed Melton Street. The old Euston Underground station of Leslie Green’s distinctive design is the one remaining building on the corner of Melton Street and Drummond Street.

Euston Station and HS2

View across Melton Street to the left of the above photo:

Euston Station and HS2

Here is the turning which takes you across Melton Street to Drummond Street:

Euston Station and HS2

The old underground station:

Euston Station and HS2

This was the station back in 2016, on the day I went on a Hidden London tour to visit the closed tunnels below the station. You can read my post of the visit here.

Euston Underground Station

Into Cobourg Street and the Exmouth Arms is still open, on the edge of the construction site.

Exmouth Arms

Another access gate at the end of Cobourg Street:

Euston Station and HS2

From where we can look out over what was St James Gardens, which is now a large hole:

Euston Station and HS2

View back along Cobourg Street showing on the left the large and continuous hoardings that have been erected along the edge of the construction site:

Euston Station and HS2

I cut through to the Hampstead Road and started walking north. This is the junction of Cardington Street with Hampstead Road:

Euston Station and HS2

Walking further north along Hampstead Road and the area to the left of the street, south of the rail lines out of Euston are now another major construction site:

Euston Station and HS2

Work had not started here back in February 2020, and now demonstrates how large an area is being covered by the work to create the new Euston Station and HS2. The entrance to the new work area:

Euston Station and HS2

Obligatory camera over the wall shot to see the existing tracks running into Euston:

Euston Station

Walking back south along Hampstead Road, and it is not just the geographic size of the construction work, but the related infrastructure, with a number of large, temporary buildings constructed for those working on the site:

Euston Station and HS2

Back into Drummond Street and this is looking from the part of the street that has not been touched, through to the demolished section which now forms the pedestrian walking route to Euston station:

Euston Station and HS2

Although the western section of many of the surrounding streets are not being demolished, there are several works taking place along their length:

Euston Station and HS2

The following photo is from the junction of Euiston Street (which once went straght on) and Cobourg Street on the left:

Bree Louise

The above photo was the location of the Bree Louise pub, here photographed just after the pub closed in 2018:

Bree Louise

With hoardings in place in 2019:

Bree Louise

Work blocking off Regnart Buildings:

Euston Station and HS2

View along Cobourg Street from the end of Euston Street:

Euston Station and HS2

The whole construction site is very secure, with very few points to look in and see the work underway. Tall hoardings with information about local businesses and institutes, what there is to find in the area, the history of Euston station, the future HS2 etc. line the entire site, with well protected work access points the only means of access:

Euston Station and HS2

Work access point at the entrance to what was the eastern section of Drummond Street:

Euston Station and HS2

Walking back to Euston Road, and this is the Melton Street access point:

Euston Road

There is now only a short length of Melton Street in use, providing access for taxis and drop offs at the station to the immediate right. The traffic lights providing access to Euston Road only seem to change to green for a couple of vehicles, resulting in a number of rather irate drivers.

Further along Euston Road, and this view is looking across the bus access road to the station, to what was green space in front of the station:

Euston Road

This green space is where demonstrators occupied the trees and dug tunnels a few months ago. Fencing around the site now seems to resemble some form of high secure establishment rather than a constructiion site.

Two layers of fencing, with an outer green mesh metal fence, and inner hoardings:

Euston Road

Indeed the whole Euston Station and HS2 construction site is the most secure of this type of construction site that I have seen. As well as the metal fencing and continuous hoardings through the site, there are plenty of orange high-vis security staff guarding entrances and walking the boundaries.

North east corner of the green space in front of the station. Closed Euston Square leading up to Euston Road on the left resulting in buses coming out of the station having to divert around Grafton Place adding to the congestion in the area:

Euston Road

The corner of Euston Square and Euston Road:

Euston Station and HS2

From the walkways and streets available to the public, there is really not much to see. The construction phase has reached what appears to be the end of demolition, there are plenty of big holes in the ground and temporary structures, but nothing yet of the new station.

According to the HS2 web site, “Phase One will open between 2029 and 2033”, so a minimum of eight more annual posts walking around Euston Station and HS2, more probably around twelve. By 2033 this area will look very different.

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Kynance Mews – Kensington

One of the pleasures of walking in London is turning off a very busy road and finding a very different place. The Cromwell Road in west London carries four lanes of traffic in and out of London, with the road being the main road route from Heathrow Airport to central London. It is the A4 that leads to the start of the M4 motorway. Lined with hotels, including the world’s largest Holiday Inn hotel. The road also passes the Natural History and V&A museum.

However, turn off the Cromwell Road opposite the Holiday Inn and after a four minute walk you will find one of the most picturesque of London’s mews.

This is Kynance Mews, which my father photographed in 1986:

Kynance Mews

The same view thirty five years later:

Kynance Mews

The mews are a favourite of “travel and lifestyle” bloggers as well as on Instagram. I resisted the temptation to take any selfies whilst posing in front of the many picturesque locations along the mews.

I have marked the location of Kynance Mews with the red oval in the following map (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors).

Kynance Mews

Cromwell Road is the large road running across the bottom of the map.

As well as finding the location of my father’s photo, I took a short walk to have a look at a couple of the streets in the area. I have marked the route on the following map, with the location of the two photos at the top of the post marked by the red circle (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors):

Kynance Mews

Kynance Mews starts on the Gloucester Road, where an arch can be found leading into the mews. The road on the immediate right of the entrance to the mews is called Kynance Place.

Kynance Mews

Looking through the arch and we can see Kynance Mews disappearing into the distance.

Kynance Mews

Kynance Mews is a few feet lower than Kynance Place and separated by a high brick wall.

Kynance Mews

Kynance Mews date from the 1860s, and owes its existance to the estate that was built to the south. The name is also not the original name for the mews.

The following extract from the 1895 Ordnance Survey map shows the area thirty years after completion. In the centre of the map is the centre of the development – Cornwall Gardens, and behind the large houses on the north of the gardens is Cornwall Mews  (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’).

Kynance Mews

The central area from Gloucester Road on the right and the edge of the map on the left was owned by Thomas Broadwood from 1803. By the 1850s, the area surrounding Broadwood’s land was being developed, and in 1862, Thomas Broadwood’s son (also called Thomas) decided to develop their own estate on the land.

After laying sewers in 1862, construction started on the houses and this work would continue until the mid 1870s. Work included the construction of Cornwall Mews which were built to provide stables to the large houses that the mews backed on to, the houses which formed the northern side of Cornwall Gardens.

The name Cornwall Gardens was chosen as the year when construction started (1862) was also the 21st birthday of the Prince of Wales, who also had the title of the Duke of Cornwall (the future King Edward VII).

The mews seem to have changed name from Cornwall to Kynance Mews around 1924. Kynance retains the Cornish connection with Kynance Cove on the Lizard, near Helson in Cornwall.

The entrance to Kynance Mews from Gloucester Road, with Kynance Place on the right of the mews entrance is one of the many strange street and building configurations on the estate. Kynance Mews is truncated in length and does not run the full length of Cornwall Gardens. Building lengths vary, and there are some rather odd alignments with the houses of neighbouring streets.

The reason comes down to Thomas Broadwood’s original land holding, with these early boundaries dictating the street and house plans we still see today.

In the following map, I have outlined Thomas Broadwood’s land holding, and the boundaries of the Cornwall Gardens development in red. Cornwall / Kynance Mews runs along the top right of the boundary, but stops short as the end of the mews hit another land boundary, with the length of the houses at this point decreasing to align with the boundary  (‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’).

Kynance Mews

The red line of Broadwood’s boundary reveal some very strange street and building configurations. As we walk into Kymamce Mews, one of these can be seen with the first building in the mews that borders Kynance Place (then St Georges Place).

In the following photo the end of the boundary wall is on the right, followed by the first building, which starts of narrow and then does widen out slightly as Kynance Mews and Kynance Place diverge (see the above map).

Kynance Mews

The first section of Kynance Mews is relatively short, with Launceston Place cutting across (another Cornish connection with the Cornish town of the same name).

At the end of the first section, and start of the second section are two more arches that frame the entrance to Kynance Mews:

Kynance Mews

All three arches are Grade II listed, with their Historic England listing describing them as “Archway. Circa 1860. Simple stucco arch with rusticated piers and vermiculated architrave, cornice over”.

Crossing Launceston Place, and we can look back at the shorter section of Kynance Mews:

Kynance Mews

I visited the mews in April, before the plants and trees along the mews had come into leaf or flower. The two arches in Launceston Place should by now be topped with hanging green branches – part of what makes the mews popular with the Instagram and Lifestyle / Travel communities.

Walking through the arch and there is a sign on the right of the arch that points to a Right of Way and some hidden steps that provide a walking route out of the mews.

Kynance Mews

Walking further along Kynance Mews and we can see the two storey buildings that back onto the houses in Cornwall Gardens. A number of these retain the large doors that once would have been part of the stables.

Kynance Mews

The census of 1911 provides a view of the employment of those who lived in the mews:

  • Groom Domestic
  • Caretaker
  • Coachman Domestic
  • Farrier
  • Carman
  • Chauffer Domestic
  • Horse Keeper

The majority of those living in the mews had jobs that seem to have involved some aspect of providing the transport for those who lived in the large houses in Cornwall Gardens, there were also a number of trades people who were probably employed in local building and maintenance works.

The transition from horse to motor transport can be seen in newspaper reports from the 1910 onwards, including one from the 14th July 1928 when Lady Grace Indja Thomson of Bell Cottage, Kynance Mews was fined 10 shillings for driving without a licence.

Lady Grace Indja Thomson was the wife of Sir Basil Home Thomson, who was typical of many of the residents of the Cornwall Gardens estate, having passed through Eton and Oxford then working in the Colonial Service where he was posted as a Colonial Administrator in Fiji and Tonga. After resigning from the Colonial Service and returning home, he took up appointments first with the Prison Service, then the Metropolitan Police.

I suspect that the original occupiers would have been stunned by the prices the houses in Kynance Mews now sell for, and the rate at which they are increasing. A typical terrace house in the mews sold for £975,000 in 2001 and was sold again in 2020 for £2,175,000.

Despite these prices, and being in a mews, the houses still suffer with road works. This is the reason why my 2021 photo is slightly different to my father’s, which, as far I could work out, was taken in the middle of the road works.

Kynance Mews

The western end of Kynance Mews terminates in a dead end, with houses on another estate, not part of Thomas Broadwood’s original land holding and Cornwall Gardens development on the other side of the wall.

Kynance Mews

There are some rather ornate chimneys lining the roofs of some of the houses in Kynance Mews:

Kynance Mews

To the north of Keynance Mews, on the other side of the boundary wall is Christ Church, Kensington:

Christ Church Kensington

In my father’s 1986 photo, there is a sign projecting from the wall on the left. The sign directs the walker to a set of stairs leading up to Victoria Road, on the eastern boundary of the church. The stairs form part of the pedestrian right of way seen on the sign on the arch leading to this section of the mews.

Kynance Mews

There are a number of stubs of roads in this part of Kensington which reflect the original estate boundaries. Victoria Road has a short stub that passes the church and ends at the boundary wall with Kynance Mews, and this stub of road provides access to the stairs which can just be seen behind the motorbike and adjacent to the lamp post.

Kynance Mews

The above photo also helps to demonstrate the difference between the size of the mews houses in the foreground, and the much larger houses to the rear which faced onto Cornwall Gardens, and that the mews buildings were built to serve.

For the rest of the post, I will take a walk in the streets to the north of Kynance Mews, as the stairs were part of the original 1986 photo and the mews and land to the north show how original owners and land boundaries influenced the current layout of streets and buildings in this part of Kensington.

The land to the north of Kynance Mews was known as the Vallotton estate, as it was developed by the Vallotton family.

John James Vallotton purchased the first parcel of land in the area in 1794. His son Howell Leny Vallotton continued with land purchases to form a significant block of land amounting to around 20 acres.

Development of Victoria Road seems to have started around 1829, and development of the area would continue through the 1830s to 1850s.

The Vallotton estate has a varied mix of architectural styles and construction materials. On the corner of Eldon Road and Victoria Road is number 52 Victoria Road:

Eldon Road

Built between 1851 and 1853 for the painter Alfred Hitchen Corbould, the building has a square blue plaque recording his residence here, and that he was Art Tutor to the children of Queen Victoria.

Opposite the above house, and on the corner of Eldon and Victoria Street is Christ Church Kensington, the church that backs onto Kynance Mews.

Christ Church Kensington

The church was built to a design by Benjamin Ferrey between 1850 and 1851 to serve the growing population of Vallotton’s estate. Vallotton had donated the land, and subscriptions were raised to fund the £3,540 bid for the work from builder George Myers of Lambeth.

Very few changes have been made to the church in the 170 years since completion and the church still looks as it was designed and completed.

Christ Church Kensington also serves the Cornwall Gardens estate, and is possibly one of the reasons why there is a public right of way between Kynance Mews and Victoria Road, to provide easy walking access to the church from the mews and Cornwall Gardens.

A church had been planned on the western end of Cornwall Gardens, however whilst the estate was being developed, the Metropolitan and District Railway was also being built and used land through the western end of the gardens where the church had intended to be placed.

The railway used the cut and cover method of construction and therefore prevented any work on the western end of the estate whilst it was being built, and complicated any construction on the land above when the railway was completed.

From the church, I continued to walk north along Victoria Road, the street that was the first part of the development of the Vallotton estate.

Victoria Road originally consisted of semi-detached pairs of villas, surrounded by substantial gardens. There has been a fair amount of ongoing development of the houses resulting in few being exactly as built.

Despite changes since their original construction, the houses still look magnificent. The street is quiet as the design of the estate and boundaries with other estates mean that it is not a through road.

The flowers and spring blossom on the trees add to the photogenic appearance of the estate.

Victoria Road
Victoria Road
Victoria Road

Victoria Road is a long street that runs all the way north to Kensington Road, and I do not intend to walk that far, rather head back to the start of Kynance Mews, so at the road junction with St Albans Grove, I turn right.

It is here that I cross into another of the original estates that developed this part of Kensington.

In the following map, I have marked the three estates that I am walking through. The Cornwall Gardens estate is marked by the red line. The Vallotton estate is bounded by the dark blue line and can be seen as the larger of the estates as it continues to head north.

At St Albans Grove, I am turning into the third estate, the boundary marked by the green line of the Inderwick Estate (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors).

Inderwick Estate

The land comprising the Inderwick estate was purchased by John Inderwick in 1836 from Samuel Hutchins, who in turn had purchased the land from the manor of Kensington.

John Inderwick was an importer of pipes and snuff boxes who lived in Wardour Street. His pipe business was still in operation until as recently as 2000 when the business was finally closed. It had operated in Carnaby Street since the 1960s.

The relatively small size of the Inderwick estate probably explains the speed of construction, with work starting in 1837 and completed by 1846, with Launceston Place being the last street to be developed.

In the above map you can also see where the railway cut through the western end of Cornwall Gardens using the cut and cover method of construction. This was where the Cornwall Gardens church was intended to be built.

Launceston Place was the street that took me back down to Kynance Mews. The houses in Launceston Place are slightly smaller than Victoria Road, but are still lovely semi-detached villas.

Launceston Place

With some interesting designs at some of the end of terrace pairs:

Launceston Place

Where the gardens at the rear of the houses in Launceston Place meet the gardens at the rear of the houses in Victoria Road, there was an old footpath before the estates were built, that went by the name of Love Lane, which would also have been the original boundary of the Vallotton and Inderwick estates.

I find it fascinating when walking London’s streets that the route of 500 year old footpaths, and ancient land holdings can still be traced today.

Until 1883, Launceston Place was called Sussex Place. the name change seems to have been to extend the Cornish connection across the area.

Before Launceston Place cuts across Kynance Mews, I turn into Kynance Place, a short street that to the south has the narrow buildings and brick dividing wall with Kynance Mews, maintaining the division between the Inderwick and Cornwall Gardens estates.

The northern side of Kynance Place has a line of small shops:

Kynance Place

The early history of Kynance Place illustrates the problems that the early developers of these estates had with infrastructure.

Whilst Inderwick could complete the sewers across his estate, he would have needed a larger sewer to connect with to drain away from the estate. When he started to build the estate, no such sewers were available. There were plans to build a large sewer along Gloucester Road, however Inderwick would have had to pay the full costs of such a project.

Until there was a connecting sewer available, Inderwick was forced to construct a large open cesspool where Kynance Place now stands. Although Inderwick improved his own infrastructure, the estate had to wait until the 1860s when the Gloucester Road sewer was finally completed.

And at the end of Kynance Place, I am back to where I started the walk through Kynance Mews.

Kynance Mews probably looks even better now as the greenery will probably be out, and it is well worth a visit for a fascinating walk through an area where the boundaries of the three original estates that formed the area can still be found.

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The Star – Belgrave Mews West

This week, I am back to exploring pubs of the 1980s, and unlike the last post on the Narrow Boat in Ladbroke Grove, today’s pub is still open. This is the Star in Belgrave Mews West:

Belgrave Mews West

The same view today:

The Star Belgrave Mews West

Apart from some minor cosmetic changes, and a change of colour for the ground floor of the pub, it has hardly changed in 35 years.

There is one minor difference which tells a wider story of how pubs have changed. Go back to the 1986 photo at the top of the post and look at the ground floor window to the left of the pub, and there is an Xpelair fan installed at the top of the window.

These were so common in pubs (there is one in the centre of the Horse and Groom Pub, Groom Place, Belgravia from a few weeks ago). They were needed as this was long before the smoking ban came into force in 2007, and pubs were mainly for drinking with a much smaller side line in food. I had a part time job in a pub in the early 1980s and I am sure I was on the equivalent of 20 day sometimes, just by breathing the air.

There is also a change at the top of the arch. In 1986 the top was plain, however in 2021 there is a wheatsheaf. The wheatsheaf is the symbol of the Grosvenor Estate, of which the mews are part.

The Star is located at the northern end of Belgrave Mews West, which runs between Chesham Place and Halkin Place, just to the west of Belgrave Square. I have highlighted the location of the mews in the following map (Map © OpenStreetMap contributors):

Belgrave Mews West

The Star was part of the westward expansion of Belgravia in the 1830s / 1840s, with the development of the Grosvenor Estate. The pub has retained its original name, and the first reference I can find to the pub implies that it opened in 1848, as from the Morning Advertiser on the 13th March 1848, in the column detailing the results of licence applications:

“Star, Belgrave-mews West, Belgrave-square – Mr Woolff appeared for Richard William Ledger, a beer-house-keeper, and applied for a licence on the grounds that there were a great many workmen and servants of the nobility and gentry in the neighbourhood, who required that accommodation which only a licensed house could afford, and that there was no public-house nearer than the Turk’s Head which is distant 400 yards from the petitioner’s. There was no objection – Licence granted”.

The Turk’s Head mentioned in the licence application is still a pub, but is now called the Alfred Tennyson, and can be found at 10 Motcombe Street, Belgravia.

The Star looks to be in a purpose built pub building, so I am not sure what came first, the building or the licence application? I assume the building was designed with the sole purpose of being a pub.

The licence application is also interesting as it clearly identifies the target clientele. You would probably not have found any of the wealthy owners of the large houses around Belgrave Square in the Star, however for their servants, and those working in the area, the Star must have been a welcome escape.

The following photo is looking south down Belgrave Mews West. Belgrave Square is to the left and the buildings on the left of the mews back onto the houses in Belgrave Square, which is probably where many of the pubs clientele worked.

Belgrave Mews West

The Star – currently closed, but opening soon.

The Star Belgrave Mews West

The Star seems to have been a place where the rich and famous, as well as many of the major criminals of the time met in the 1950s and 1960s.

It is the place where members of the gang who carried out the Great Train Robbery met to plan the raid.

A description of the pub in the Tatler on the 23rd July 1966 describes the rather colourful landlord at the time:

“The Star, 6 Belgrave Mews West. Pat Kennedy’s voice sounds like gravel-chips being steamrollered. It is heard at full blast any time of day or night, as he holds court in the upstairs bar. Paddy’s, as the pub is known, has seen it all. Name a personality, and he or she has been there. Nuff said”.

Those reported as frequenting the Star included actors Albert Finney, Diana Dors and Peter O’Toole, A couple of months after the above report, in a section on London’s best bars, the Tatler described the Star as “it attracts fanatical partisans of darts and pin-tables, and creates an illusion of spies and illicit rendezvous”.

The pub sign features a view of the pub to the side, looking through the arched entrance to the mews, where a coach and horses are waiting.

The Star Belgrave Mews West

Looking through the arch with the Star to the left:

The Star Belgrave Mews West

Walking further down the mews and this is the view looking up, with the pub at the far left:

Belgrave Mews West

The majority of the buildings that line Belgrave Mews West are the type of buildings you would expect to find in such as place. Two storey buildings, many with large entrances on the ground floor which would have once been the stables for the large houses in Belgrave Square. The rear of these buildings face onto a small open space between them and the larger houses on Belgrave Square, allowing easy access when a servant needed to get the horse and carriage round to the front door in Belgrave Square.

The difference with Belgrave Mews West is that towards the southern end of the mews there are two embassy buildings.

The Austrian Embassy has a very impressive frontage onto Belgrave Square, however to the southern end of the mews, on the left, we can see the Austrian flag above the very plain rear of the embassy.

Belgrave Mews West

At the far end of the mews, between the arch that mirrors the arch by the Star is the German Embassy which occupies a large area of land between Belgrave Mews West and Chesham Place.

Belgrave Mews West

View through the southern arch of Belgrave Mews West:

Belgrave Mews West

The LCC Bomb Damage Maps show that the buildings in the space occupied by the Austrian Embassy in Belgrave Mews West suffered severe damage, and the houses that were along Chesham Place and the mews were damaged beyond repair, so bomb damage probably explains why the original early 19th century buildings have been replaced by more the more recent embassy buildings.

The following photo shows the entrance to Belgrave Mews West from Chesham Place, which passes underneath the German Embassy. I was surprised that it was so easy to walk around the embassy and take photos, however there were plenty of CCTV cameras around.

Belgrave Mews West

Belgravia has been a preferred location for embassies since the area was first built. In “Knightsbridge and Belgravia” E. Beresford Chancellor (1909) writes about Chesham Place, including that the “Russian Embassy has been located here since 1852”.

The Star is one of those wonderful pubs that make wandering the side streets so very enjoyable, even more so when the pub reopens on the 17th May. Brilliant to see that the Star is still to be found, and another pub added to the list to revisit when open.

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