Tag Archives: Strand

The Duchy of Lancaster

It is not often that you can trace the naming of streets and the ownership of land to events that happened between 600 and 800 years ago, however there is one place between the Strand and the Thames, and the boundary marker for the Duchy of Lancaster shown in the following photo provides a clue:

Duchy of Lancaster

The boundary marker is close to the ground, by the steps from the Embankment up to Waterloo Bridge, on the Somerset House side of the bridge. The marker is circled in the following photo:

Duchy of Lancaster

It must have been the position of the sun, and the strength of light on the stairs, however I have never realised how impressive the stairs leading up to Waterloo Bridge are, despite walking past, and up them, very many times:

Duchy of Lancaster

The marker is to mark the historic boundary of the Manor of Savoy. I got in contact with the Duchy of Lancaster who told me that this is one of a number of boundary markers, including one on the Lyceum Theatre. A future project to locate them all.

So what does a boundary marker of the Manor of Savoy have to do with the Duchy of Lancaster.

The answer goes back to the Middle Ages, and the time of King Henry III and his wife, Eleanor of Provence in the 13th century.

This was a time when the bank of the river between the City and Westminster was being lined with palaces and grounds belonging to the nobility of the country. One of these was Simon de Montfort, the 6th Earl of Leicester, who formed an estate to the west of Somerset House.

de Montfort has a fascinating history and both supported, and fought against the king, and for a time he ran an early form of Parliament. de Montfort died during the Battle of Evesham on the 4th of August, 1265, when he led a small army of rebellious barons against Edward, the son of King Henry III.

Following the death of Simon de Montfort, the king granted his estate to Peter, the Earl of Savoy, from where the estate would get the name “Manor of Savoy” a name which can still be found in a number of streets and buildings in the area.

Edward was the eldest son of Henry III. He would later become Edward I. Henry III had another son called Edmund, and in 1266 Edmund was granted the title of Earl of Lancaster.

Meanwhile, Peter, the Earl of Savoy had died and the Savoy estate seems to have been in the possession of a small religious establishment. Eleanor of Provence, the wife of King Henry III and mother of Edmund purchased the Savoy estate and bestowed it to her son Edmund in 1284, thereby bringing together the names Savoy and Lancaster.

The history of the estate between 1245 and 1399 is rather complex, so rather than write lots of confusing text, I have tried to show this almost as a flow chart:

Duchy of Lancaster

Basically, the Manor of Savoy is formed, and then granted, along with lots of other titles, to Edmund, the second son of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.

When Edmund died, the estate passed to his son Thomas, who was beheaded in 1322 after leading a rebellion, then the estate passed to Edmund’s second son, Henry, the 3rd Earl of Lancaster. On his death, the estate passed to his eldest son, Henry Grosmont, who was granted the title Duke of Lancaster by Edward III.

Henry Grosmont had two daughters, and as daughters could not inherit a title, it became part of the dowry of his daughter Blanche, who married John of Gaunt, the third son of King Edward III.

Blanche and John of Gaunt had a son, Henry who should have inherited the estate, however during the short reign of Richard II, the king confiscated his estates and banished Henry.

Henry returned with an army, beat Richard II and became King Henry IV, thereby bringing the Manor of Savoy and the Duchy of Lancaster into royal ownership in 1399.

Henry IV defined that the estates belonging to the Duchy of Lancaster should be held by the Monarch as a private estate, separate to all other estates, and should descend through the Monarchy.

The Crown Lands Act 1702 defined that the Monarch could only receive an income from the estate and not benefit from any capital, and that is how the Duchy of Lancaster, including what remains of the Manor of Savoy remains to this day.

The area occupied by the Savoy in 1755 is shown in the following map extract. Somerset House can be seen to the right of the area occupied by the Savoy.

Manor of Savoy

At the lower left corner of the Savoy, you can see the “Savoy Stairs”. These disappeared under the construction of the Embankment which pushed the river wall further out into the Thames, but as I have written about in a number of previous posts, these stairs provide snapshots of life in London and the wider country.

The 1730s and 1740s were decades when the country was often at war, with, for example, the War of the Austrian Succession between 1740 and 1748 which was basically a war between the ruling dynasties of Europe, and who would inherit the Hapsburg crown.

In 1743, the Battle of Dettingen took place where Britain, Austria and Hanover fought the French. This was the last battle where a British monarch (George II) led an army into Battle.

There are many newspaper reports naming the Savoy Stairs, and for this post I will use just two which tell of the risks to Londoners of being press ganged into the Navy, and of those where the stairs were the point where they left London, during this turbulent period of history.

Those working on the river was always at risk of being taken, but they would fight back. Report from the Stamford Mercury on the 21st June 1739 “Yesterday a Press-Gang of Eight, in a Man of War’s Boat, having impressed a Waterman off of Barge-House-Stairs, a Gally was manned from the Temple, by the Temple Watermen, who taking Truncheons, Stones and Brickbats with them, rowed after the Press Boat, boarded them and at last beat the Gang, brought off the Waterman, and the Press-Boat at the Savoy-Stairs, where she sunk by the Holes made in her in the Battle.”

And from the Ipswich Journal on the 30th July 1743: “Yesterday morning a great number of Recruits were put on board a close Lighter at the Savoy-Stairs, in order to be shipped at Gravesend to Portmahon and Gibraltar.

That was a slight detour, but I find the river stairs tell us so much of what life was like in London when the river was a central part of the lives of so many people, whether a place of work, or point of departure or return.

Back to the Duchy of Lancaster.

The boundary marker photographed at the top of the post shows the historical boundary of the Manor of Savoy, that became part of the Duchy of Lancaster.

I have marked the properties that are still owned by the Duchy of Lancaster. along with the location of the boundary marker in the following map  (© OpenStreetMap contributors):

Duchy of Lancaster

The roads around these buildings still recall the name of the old Manor of Savoy with Savoy Street, Savoy Place, Savoy Hill and Savoy Way.

The long building that runs to the west of the approach to Waterloo Bridge is the 1932 constructed Brettenham House. The southern end of the building can be seen in the following photo:

Duchy of Lancaster

From Waterloo Bridge, the two river facing properties of the Duchy of Lancaster are Brettenham House and the part brick building named Savoy Place to the left is now part occupied by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and is also available as an events space.

Duchy of Lancaster

Savoy Place is the name of the building and the street that runs in front of the building, and continues left between the gardens and buildings.

The building at the southern end of Brettenham House, facing the river is 1 Lancaster Place, and are the offices of the Duchy of Lancaster, with the coat of arms of the Duchy above the door. These date back to Edmund, the first Earl of Lancaster:

Duchy of Lancaster

The entrance to 1 Lancaster Place:

Duchy of Lancaster

Walking from Waterloo Bridge, down to Savoy Place and this is the view up Savoy Street with Brettenham House on the right. The photo shows the slope of the street down from the Strand in the distance, to the Thames.

Duchy of Lancaster

Part of the Savoy Place building seen from Waterloo Bridge in the street of the same name, can be seen to the left of the above photo.

In front of Savoy Place is a statue of Michael Faraday:

Savoy Place

Michael Faraday was a 19th century scientist who investigated electromagnetism and electromagnetic induction, basically how a magnet could induce an electrical current to flow in a wire, which has led to how we generate electricity today.

The society occupying Savoy Place tells the history of how electricity has impacted every element of everyday life. The Society of Telegraph Engineers was formed in 1871. As the use of electricity started to grow, the society changed name to Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians in 1880, and in 1889, the society became the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

These societies had been meeting in the buildings of other London institutions, but in 1909 the Institution of Electrical Engineers took possession of the lease of Savoy Place which had been built in the 1830s for the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

Walking up Savoy Street and I found these garage doors in the side of Brettenham House. The photo shows the slope of the road down to the river, and I rather like the lettering used above the doors.

Duchy of Lancaster

Half way up Savoy Street, and hidden among all the 20th and 21st century buildings is a survivor from the hospital built on the land of the Savoy estate by Henry VII in the early years of the 16th century. This is the Savoy Chapel:

Savoy Chapel

The chapel is a private chapel of the Sovereign in Right of the Duchy of Lancaster. Despite appearances of being older, much of the chapel dates from 1865 after the building was gutted by fire. Only part of the outer wall dates from the original construction in 1502.

The Savoy Chapel is maintained by the Duchy of Lancaster. The chapel as it appeared in 1830 (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Savoy Chapel

Despite the later rebuild the chapel today looks much the same as the above print, although there are no sheep to be seen tending the perfect looking grass.

Savoy Chapel

A future post will cover the chapel and the history of the Savoy and the hospital in more detail, as I wanted to look at the Duchy of Lancaster in this post.

Savoy Chapel

The Savoy Tap pub, which although today is built into the surrounding 19th century buildings, a pub has been on the site since the mid 19th century. Again, the street shows the slope between Strand and Thames:

Savoy Tap pub

My map of the buildings owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, shows a couple of buildings along the Strand, west of Savoy Street. These are the first two buildings in the following photo:

Duchy of Lancaster

The main block on the corner is 111 Strand, and has a map carved on the front of the building which I wrote about in this post.

On the eastern corner of the junction between the Strand and the approach to Waterloo Bridge is Duchy House, the Duchy of Lancaster’s single building on this side of the approach to Waterloo Bridge:

Duchy of Lancaster

On the western side of the junction is the corner building owned by the Duchy of Lancaster with Brettenham House to the left:

Duchy of Lancaster

From across the river, we can see the end of Brettenham House, and Savoy Place.

Savoy Manor

The following print from 1736 shows the Savoy from the south bank of the river. the Savoy Stairs are on the left and the tower of the Savoy chapel can be seen to the rear of the left of the print (© The Trustees of the British Museum):

Savoy Palace

If the perspective and scale of the buildings in the above print is correct, then Savoy Stairs would have been just to the left of centre of the Savoy Place building today.

The right hand part of the buildings in the above print would today be under the approach to Waterloo Bridge, hence the location of the boundary marker on the eastern side of the bridge.

As well as the remaining parts of the land associated with the Manor of Savoy, the Duchy of Lancaster also owns a considerable portfolio of other holdings associated with the original holdings at the time of Henry IV.

This includes land in Lancashire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire, various mineral rights and parts of the foreshore in Lancashire.

The estates of the Duchy of Lancaster have been owned by the Monarch since Henry IV took over the Lancaster inheritance in 1399, and continue to be owned by the current Monarch, as Duke of Lancaster.

The name goes further back to 1266 when Edmund , the second son of Henry III granted him the title of Earl of Lancaster, the Savoy name originates from Peter, Earl of Savoy who was also granted the estate by Henry III, and the estate goes back to 1245 when Simon de Montfort formed the estate and built a palace on the banks of the Thames.

All from a small boundary marker on the side of the steps up to Waterloo Bridge. Now I need to find the rest of the markers.

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London At Night – The Strand To The Monument

London at night is a very different city. The West End continues to be just as busy as during the day with thousands of people at the theaters, pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants that make this area the entertainment center of London, however head just beyond the West End and London takes on a very different aspect.

My father took a number of photos in 1951 of the streets at the northern end of Waterloo Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Monument. I do not know why he took photos of these locations, he was probably experimenting with nighttime photography which would have been a challenge for an amateur at the time given the camera and film available.

To take these, he must have taken a walk from Waterloo Bridge down to the Monument, so I thought I would take a late evening walk along the same route and take some photos of the same locations and more, along the route. I took many more than the five taken in 1951, the cost of film, home developing and printing all limited the number of photos that an amateur would have taken, and really brings home the differences with digital photography today.

I wanted to walk the route after the weather had been raining to get the same effect as in my father’s photos, so planned an evening when there should have been a rain shower, however as is typical with trying to forecast the weather, it failed to rain so my full walk of the route was in the dry. The evening before I published this article, it did rain so I headed out again, just to photo the first three locations to get the same effect, the rest of the photos are from my original walk.

The first location is from the approach road to Waterloo Bridge, looking to where the Strand crosses, the curve of Aldwych to the right, with Wellington Street running up on the left.

London after dark 28

Standing in the same position on a rain and wind-swept evening in February. The building on the right is the same as in my father’s photo, as is the building across the street. The public toilets that were in the middle of the road have disappeared.

London after dark 35

To also check that this is the right location, by enlarging the sign on the post in the original photo, we can see it reads “No crossing to Wellington Street”.

London after dark 31

Wellington Street is directly opposite the road that leads to Waterloo Bridge and today is blocked off for road traffic from the Strand. It is the location of the Lyceum Theater. The traffic signals appear temporary and are Police Signals, so this may have been some experimentation with traffic and pedestrian control at the end of Waterloo Bridge.

The next photo is from roughly the same position and is looking in the opposite direction down Waterloo Bridge:

London after dark 27

The same view today:

London after dark 34

The following photo should have been easy to locate given the bus stop clearly labelled as the Strand stop. I do not often use the bus in central London, preferring to walk, and was not sure where the Strand stop was located. Walking the length of the Strand, I could not find a stop with this name. What finally helped to locate the position of the photo is the wall on the right side of the photo.

London after dark 26

This is the wall at the side of the church of St. Mary-le-Strand and is the same in my 2016 photo below. The pillars in the original photo either side of the bus stop sign are still there, they are just hidden in the 2016 photo behind bushes running along the length of the church wall. The bus stop has been moved slightly along the street and the stop is now named “Aldwych”. Where the original bus stop and pillar box were located is now the entrance to the King’s College London, Strand Building.

London after dark 33

Having found these locations, it was time to walk down to the Monument. The Waterloo Bridge junction with the Strand seems to be a nighttime boundary. From the end of the bridge turn left and the streets are busy with people, turn right and it is a much quieter street with only a few late night walkers to be seen.

The church of St. Mary-le-Strand. The stone columns at the entrance to the church seen in my father’s photo can just be seen.

London after dark 32

Just a short distance along, turn right off the Strand, through the archway and into the courtyard of Somerset House. The buildings that surround the courtyard are brilliantly lit at night.

London after dark 25

Back on the Strand, bikes and buses:

London after dark 24

As with many other places across London, there are new buildings being constructed to the south of the Strand adjacent to the church of St. Clement Danes. I happened to notice this model of the area and the church lit up in one of the ground floor windows of the new building facing the Strand.

London after dark 23

The Royal Courts of Justice:

London after dark 22

Looking back at St. Clements Danes:

London after dark 21

I much prefer to walk London at night, but other options are available:

London after dark 20

The side roads from the Strand down to the Thames show how steeply the land slopes down to the river. The Oxo Tower on the south bank can be seen along many of these side roads.

London after dark 19

Now into Fleet Street and St. Paul’s Cathedral in the distance:

London after dark 18

Fast food shops that are busy during the day are closed and silent at night:

London after dark 17

A very quiet junction of Fleet Street, Farringdon Street, New Bridge Street and Ludgate Hill.

London after dark 15

An empty City Thameslink station on Ludgate Hill.

London after dark 13

Late night drinkers on Ludgate Hill:

London after dark 12

St. Paul’s Cathedral from the south-east:

London after dark 11

The following is one of my father’s photos from 1951. In the immediate post war period the very top of the Cathedral was lit up by search lights that only a few years earlier had been used to search the sky for enemy aircraft trying to bomb a city that was hiding in the blackout. The post war lighting had the effect of highlighting the Golden Gallery, the Lantern and Cross. Today, the whole of the cathedral is illuminated.

London after dark 30

The above photo was taken from a point on the land now occupied by One New Change. At the time, this was still empty land having been cleared of all the bomb damaged buildings. I could not get far enough back to take a photo from the same position so the following photo is the nearest I could get. The base of the Cathedral is also obscured by the post war buildings that house the Cathedral School.

London after dark 10

This photo from my post on the “Post war view from the Stone Gallery” shows the land then used as a car park that my father was standing in to take the nighttime view of the Cathedral:

IMG02593-upload

Time to head on down Cannon Street in the direction of the Monument. Empty offices, still lit up, waiting for their occupants:

London after dark 9

The Cathedral follows you as you walk down Cannon Street:

London after dark 8

Another very quiet station, this time Cannon Street:

London after dark 6

The next photo is of Abchurch Lane, leading up to the church of St. Mary Abchurch in the heart of the City. Very busy during the day, however I stood here for about 10 minutes and did not see a single person along the length of the lane. It is in these alleys and lanes across the city that it is possible to imagine a much earlier London. Many more people would have lived in the City, but long after dark what reason would there be for people with legitimate business to be walking the streets?

London after dark 5

Back to the 21st century and the junction of Cannon Street with King William Street. Walking across the City at night, I find that there are very few people walking, but the main streets through the City are always busy with traffic.

London after dark 4

Walking down King William Street and a quick look over at Upper Thames Street. Roadworks for the Cycle Superhighway have closed one of the carriageways leading to queues of traffic long into the night. Upper and Lower Thames Streets form the southern route taking traffic east – west through the City. The roads were widened post war rather than build the Embankment extension which was one of the options put forward in the plan for post war reconstruction of the City (see last weeks post).

London after dark 3

The next photo is my father’s photo of the Monument in 1951. I can place where the photo was taken from by looking at the position of the viewing gallery, the photo was looking up at the Monument and the glow in the background is from the searchlights on St. Paul’s. It was taken from Lower Thames Street prior to the widening of the road and the new buildings which have now obscured the view.

London after dark 29

As I could not get a photo of the Monument from the same position due to the height of the buildings between the Monument and Lower Thames Street, this is the Monument from Monument Street with typical London building work on the right. Advertising for the new office building shows the view from the roof with office workers on the roof apparently able to look straight across to the tourists on the viewing gallery of the Monument.

London after dark 2

A close-up of the viewing gallery and very top of the Monument:

London after dark 1

It would have been much darker in 1951 when my father took the same route to photograph the Strand junction, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Monument which is probably why he did not take any photos between these locations, however walking London at night is still a very different experience to the day. The Strand and Ludgate Hill are relatively quiet compared to the day, but turn off the main streets through the City, away from the traffic and you can walk the lanes and alleys, often without seeing another person.

It is here that you can let your imagination run over the last two thousand years of London’s history and imagine who has walked and what has happened in this nighttime City.

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Walking The Streets On The Evening Before The 1981 Royal Wedding

A couple of weeks ago I published the photos my father took of people waiting for the Coronation in 1953. That post can be found here.

Just under 30 years later there was another royal event in central London, and on the evening before people were finding the best position along the route to watch the events of the following day.

This was the wedding of Charles and Diana that took place on the 29th July 1981 and on the evening of the 28th July I took a walk from St. Paul’s Cathedral and along Fleet Street and the Strand to take some photos.

Starting at St. Paul’s Cathedral, this is where the best positions were and large crowds had already found their place ready for an overnight stay.

I must have had a couple of photos left on some Black and White film before moving to colour.

Outside St. Paul’s Cathedral:

Royal Wedding St. Paul's

Crowds at this perfect position looking across at the steps leading into the Cathedral: Royal Wedding St. Paul'sI must have then switched to a colour film:Royal Wedding St. Paul's

Looking back up Ludgate Hill. Although this was the evening before, the road had been closed and a large number of people were just walking the route, taking in the atmosphere and watching the people who were settling in for the night along the edge of the route. It was a warm evening and I remember there being a real sense of a big event taking place the following day.

Royal Wedding Ludgate Hill

The same view today looking back up Ludgate Hill towards the cathedral. St. Martin Ludgate on the left is still there, along with many of the buildings on the right.

Ludgate Hill

Just to the right in the above photo in 1981:

Royal Wedding Ludgate Hill

Now in Ludgate Circus. This was when the railway bridge still ran across the start of Ludgate Hill.

Royal Wedding Ludgate Circus

Just to the left of the railway bridge is the Old King Lud pub, decorated for the event. This was a lovely Victorian pub, built-in 1870,

Royal Wedding Ludgate Circus

After going through some changes in the 1990s, the pub finally closed in 2005 and became yet another of London’s lost Victorian pubs. The site is now occupied by a fast food store with offices above:

Ludgate Circus

Moving up into Fleet Street. This road was still open and the pavements were busy with those walking and those waiting:

Royal Wedding Fleet Street

This was when Fleet Street was still occupied by newspaper publishers. The Express offices on the left and those of the Star on the right. I remember walking along Fleet Street and the side roads leading down to the Thames on a late Saturday afternoon / early evening and listening to the sound of the newspapers being printed and the amount of activity to get the next day’s edition distributed. All very exciting when you are young and exploring London.

Royal Wedding Fleet Street

Prepared for a night’s wait:

Royal Wedding Fleet Street

Along the side of the Royal Court’s of Justice:

Royal Wedding Law Courts

The George pub in the Strand which fortunately is still there:

Royal Wedding Strand

Most of the decorations were put up by the owners of the buildings along the route. “Official” street decoration was very limited, mainly these pennants hanging from lamp posts. Union Jacks along with red, white and blue bunting was out in abundance.

Royal Wedding Strand

One of many events that have taken this route to St. Paul’s Cathedral, but a special event for me as this was my first opportunity to get out and photograph the streets and people preparing for the following day.

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