UCL logo




Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Institutions


Ladies’ Dwellings Company

Also known as Ladies’ Residential Chambers Ltd/Chenies Chambers/Chenies Street Chambers


It was founded in 1888 by Agnes Garrett to provide single-sex accommodation for professional women

The first recorded meeting of directors was held on 27 March 1888 at Agnes and Rhoda Garrett’s house, 2 Gower Street (Elizabeth Crawford, Enterprising Women: The Garretts and their Circle, 2002)

Architect J. M. Brydon was hired to build dwellings in Chenies Street; , he had had employed Agnes and Rhoda Garrett as his apprentices

Brydon also designed the New Hospital for Women in Euston Road (1890) and the London School of Medicine for Women in Hunter Street (1898)

A temporary notice board for the Ladies' Residential Chambers was erected at the Garretts’ warehouse in Morwell Street (Elizabeth Crawford, Enterprising Women: The Garretts and their Circle, 2002)

The building on Chenies Street was opened by Millicent Fawcett on 20 May 1889 (Elizabeth Crawford, Enterprising Women: The Garretts and their Circle, 2002)

It was so successful that in 1896 Brydon was asked to draw up plans to extend the Chambers along Huntley Street, so increasing the number of sets of rooms from 22 to 37

The building was damaged by bombing during the Second World War

It was rebuilt by Camden Council in 1947 and its entrance moved to the former “Tradesmen’s Entrance” in Huntley Street

Its original appearance can be seen in an illustration in the Builder, 9 November 1889; the rebuilding took away some of its flourishes and finer detailing

Its tenants are no longer required to be single professional women

What was reforming about it?

It was a form of assistance for women who wished to remain unmarried and pursue professional careers

Its founders envisaged a community of like-minded individuals

It was almost the first institution of its kind; a rival, the Ladies’ Associated Dwellings Company, opened its block of flats at 52 Lower Sloane Street a month earlier, in January 1888 (Elizabeth Crawford, Enterprising Women: The Garretts and their Circle, 2002)

Where in Bloomsbury

The first meeting of the organisation was held at 2 Gower Street

Its first major building project was the set of chambers at 9 Chenies Street (1889)

Nos 3, 5, and 7 Huntley Street were acquired and the building substantially extended (also by Brydon) in 1896–1897, increasing the number of sets of rooms from 22 to 37; at the same time, a new dining room was added in the basement

Website of current institution

Chenies Street Chambers has its own Historical Society, Chenies Street Chambers Historical Society, currently at www.purplepoets.com/chenies.html (opens in new window)


Chenies Street Chambers

Books about it

There is a good account of the Society, its buildings, and their residents in Elizabeth Crawford, Enterprising Women: The Garretts and their Circle (2002)


A few records of the Ladies’ Dwellings Company and the opening of the Chenies Street Chambers are contained within the Millicent Garrett Fawcett papers in Manchester Archives and Local Studies, ref. M50/5/34/1-6; details are available online via Access to Archives (opens in new window)

The minutes of the Ladies’ Residential Chambers Ltd are held in Westminster Archives, ref. Acc 975; further details are available online via the Westminster Archives website (opens in new window)

This page last modified 19 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


Bloomsbury Project - University College London - Gower Street - London - WC1E 6BT - Telephone: +44 (0)20 7679 3134 - Copyright © 1999-2005 UCL

Search by Google