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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Streets, Squares, and Buildings

Northern Boundary of Bloomsbury

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

Area of fragmented ownership

The area extending north from High Holborn east of the Bedford estate boundary at Southampton Row and King Street, being nearer to the city of London, was developed much earlier than the fields to its north

The major landowners in the east of this area were Gray’s Inn, and the Bedford Charity, Doughty, and Rugby estates, all of which also began developing their land in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century

Nicholas Barbon, who was the first major speculative builder in the area, laid out Red Lion Square itself as well as many of the streets further north and east; it is not clear who owned the land of Red Lion Fields on which the Square was built

To its north, Queen Square and surrounding land was part of an estate owned by the Curzons of Kedleston, Derbyshire, also developed in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, but sold off by about 1779 to pay off debts

Queen Square and Red Lion Square in particular, as well as the smaller streets in the area around them, thus became attractive locations in the nineteenth century to institutions which would have found it more difficult to establish themselves on the surrounding estates with their restrictions on non-residential and commercial tenants

Along the borders of Bloomsbury, the increasing importance of Euston Road, Gray’s Inn Road, High Holborn, and Tottenham Court Road as through traffic routes meant that they became more unified and coherent as streets, despite the multiplicity of estates whose land they had originally incorporated; as their residential significance to those estates waned, so they too became easier targets for institutions

Euston Road

Also known as the New Road from Paddington to Islington/New Road

Incorporating the former Dyer’s Place, Egremont Place, Euston Place, Hamilton Place, Inwood Place, Judd Place, Palace Row, Place Row, Pershore Place, Seymour Place, Southampton Place, Somers Place, South Row, Tonbridge Place, and Tottenham Court

It was constructed in the late 1750s, as a through route to enable cattle to be driven to market in the City without going through Holborn and St Giles

Ribbon development including residential terraces began along the road in the 1790s

The Duke of Bedford initially opposed the building of the road, but then built Duke’s Road to make use of it

The Act of Parliament establishing the New Road in 1756 provided that “no new buildings be erected within 50 feet of the carriageway,” giving the houses and other buildings long front yards

No. 21 (on the corner of Gower Street, then Gower Street North) was in 1843 home to the gymnasium of J. Chiosso, Master of Gymnastics at University College School; he advertised his teaching of fencing, gymnastics, and calisthenic exercises there (The Times, 13 March 1843)

James Chiosso, who often used the title Captain, was the author of several books on physical education and gymnastics, and is often claimed to have been the inventor of the world’s first weight training machine, the ‘Polymachinon‘, at University College School in 1831 (see John Wood, ‘Captain Chiosso‘s Polymachinon‘, 2009)

The three major railway termini appeared during the mid nineteenth century: Euston in 1837, King’s Cross in 1852, on the site of the old Smallpox and Fever hospitals, and St Pancras in 1868

In 1857 the Metropolitan Board of Works recommended that the ‘New Road’ be renamed along its length, with the section between Osnaburgh Street and King’s Cross to be known as Euston Road; at the same time, all its individual terrace names should be abolished to lessen confusion, as along the length of the road this would “substitute three names for 50” (Report of the Metropolitan Board of Works, 30 June 1857, House of Commons, Accounts and Papers, vol. 17: Public Health; Woods and Forests, 30 April–28 August 1857)

At the same time, the Euston Road would be renumbered according to the new and supposedly rational principle whereby odd numbers were always to be on the left and even numbers on the right, working from the end of the street nearest to St Paul’s Cathedral (Report of the Metropolitan Board of Works, 30 June 1857, House of Commons, Accounts and Papers, vol. 17: Public Health; Woods and Forests, 30 April–28 August 1857)

Accordingly, all the separate terraces were incorporated into the road, and this section of it was renamed Euston Road, after the Euston estates of the Duke of Grafton whose land it crosses

No. 200 was the address in 1874 of E. W. Thomas, Secretary of the London Female Preventive and Reformatory Institution (The Times, 7 October 1874)

According to Charles Dickens junior, writing in 1888, “it has no very special feature, except perhaps the semi-suburban character of most of its houses, each with its little patch of garden in front, and its little cluster of tombstone-makers about Tottenham-court-rd” (Charles Dickens (jr), Dickens’s Dictionary of London 1888: An Unconventional Handbook, 1888)

One such mason was at no. 373, the London premises of monumental masons Macdonald, Field & Co, Aberdeen Granite Monuments; "numerous examples of monumental and architectural work" could be seen at their premises here (The Times, 14 November 1881)

The New Hospital for Women moved to its new purpose-built hospital building here in 1890

Euston Palace of Varieties opened in 1900 (buildings demolished in the twentieth century and replaced by St Pancras Library)

This page last modified 14 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

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