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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Streets, Squares, and Buildings

Skinners’ (Tonbridge) Estate

Estates in Bloomsbury

1 Duke of Bedford
2 City of London Corporation
3 Capper Mortimer
4 Fitzroy (Duke of Grafton)
5 Somers
6 Skinners' (Tonbridge)
7 Battle Bridge
8 Lucas
9 Harrison
10 Foundling Hospital
11 Rugby
12 Bedford Charity (Harpur)
13 Doughty
14 Gray's Inn
15 Bainbridge–Dyott (Rookeries)

Area between the Foundling and Harrison estates: Church land

Grey areas: fragmented ownership and haphazard development; already built up by 1800

About the Skinners’ (Tonbridge) Estate

This estate was also known as Sandhills, and was acquired by Sir Andrew Juddd in the seventeenth century, who vested it in the Skinners’ Company as Trustees for the benefit of the Tonbridge School in Kent (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

It comprised an area extending slightly north of what became Euston Road (around the modern St Pancras station), and south into Bloomsbury, extending slightly south and west of Burton Street, south of Leigh Street, and slightly west of Judd Street up to just south of Hastings Street, where it extended further east to just east of Tonbridge Street

Maps of the estate from 1785, before it was developed, and 1898, after development, appear in S. Rivington, History of Tonbridge School (2nd edn, 1898) and are reproduced in the Survey of London, vol. 24 (1952)

North of Euston Road building began before 1800, including Judd Place East and West; the part south of Euston Road remained mainly farmland until 1807, although it also had the buildings of Bowling Green House and access roads to this coffee house with its pleasure grounds (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Development of the land was prompted partly by development on the neighbouring Foundling Estate to the south, some of which was apparently encroaching on the Skinners’ land; in 1807 the Skinners’ estate followed the Foundling Estate’s example and granted building leases to James Burton

See also S. Rivington, ‘Burton and the Sandhills Estate,’ The Builder, 30 May 1908

In the twentieth century the estate sold the freeholds of much of its Bloomsbury property, although retaining the pubs the Skinners Arms, the Euston Tavern on the corner of Euston Road and Judd Street, and the Dolphin on Tonbridge Street (Shirley Green, Who Owns London?, 1986)

Its Burton Street and Bidborough Street residential properties were let on long leases to Camden Borough Council, while “Cartwright Gardens…is the only street where the freeholds have stayed virtually intact. Several of them are let to London University on long leases and are used as university halls of residence; but most are let to private hotels on shorter and far more profitable leases” (Shirley Green, Who Owns London?, 1986)

Burton Street

It is in the north of Bloomsbury, forming the entire western boundary of the Skinners’ estate

It is not shown on Horwood’s map of 1799, but appears in full on the 1807 edition; however, its houses were actually built by Burton between 1809 and 1820 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

It was originally a cul-de-sac at both ends, so the numbering scheme starts in the middle opposite Crescent Place and runs anti-clockwise

It was a respectable development aimed at the prosperous middle-classes; its houses were “of the best second grade” (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

There was a gate through from Burton Street to Burton’s Tavistock House (site now of the British Medical Association)

The mystic James Pierrepoint Greaves lived here in the 1820s; his house became a meeting-place for like-minded idealists (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

Robert Owen founded his London Co-Operative Society (not to be confused with an earlier society of the same name) at the Burton Street Hall here in 1824 (David Hayes, ‘ “Without Parallel in the Known World”: The Chequered Past of 277 Gray’s Inn Road’, Camden History Review, vol. 25, 2001)

No. 54 was apparently the home of Rev. Sydney Smith from 1839–1844

No. 42 was the home in 1841 of the author (under various pseudonyms) James Rymer (populariser of Sweeney Todd and author of Varney the Vampire), who also worked at that time as a civil engineer, and ran Rymer & Co, lithographers, at 16 Red Lion Square (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

The Post Office directories of 1841 and 1851 show a generally middle-class neighbourhood, with some professional residents (such as architect and antiquarian John Britton at no. 17 in both years) as well as some food retailers and a pub, the Carpenters’ Arms; the 1841 directory also lists naturalist George Tradescant Lay and Spanish scholar Pascual De Gayangos as residents

No. 51 became in 1842 the West London Synagogue of British Jews; it moved to a larger site near Cavendish Square in 1849

Architect and antiquarian John Britton died at his home there in 1857 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

No. 47 was apparently where artist George Sidney Shepherd (brother of artist Thomas Hosmer Shepherd) died in 1858

By 1861 there were fewer Esquires and more tradesmen listed in the Post Office directory, including a carver and gilder, a dressmaker, a tailor, a shoemaker, a cabinet maker, and two artists; there was also a school, Burton House School, in the former home of John Britton at no. 17

By the time of the 1871 Post Office directory there was a different school, St Mary’s RC School, as well as the same skilled and semi-skilled tradesmen, and now Letellier Bros veneering at no. 17

It was more definitively artisan and working-class by the 1880s and 1890s; the RC School was still listed in the 1881 Post Office directory, along with a dairy, a fruiterer, a builder, a plumber and glazier, and a tailor

Letellier Bros veneering were also still listed at no. 17 in the 1881 Post Office directory, but their business had apparently been taken over by Witt and Palmer in the same trade at no. 17 by the time of the 1891 directory

In the early twentieth century it continued to be decidedly working-class; however, some of the long-established occupations of the street remained, including Thomas and Reuben Mound, carvers and gilders, as well as the Carpenters’ Arms

There was still a veneer merchant at no. 17, by now David Witt & Co; also listed in the 1901 Post Office Directory was a Salvation Army hall

In 1906, when Flaxman Terrace was developed, a roadway was made through to Duke’s Road; prior to this, there had only been a flight of steps down into Draper’s Place

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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