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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Streets, Squares, and Buildings


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

Fisher Street

Also known as Fisher’s Street

It is in the south-east of Bloomsbury, leading south-west out of Red Lion Square to what was originally Kingsgate Street

This area was developed in the late seventeenth century by Nicholas Barbon

It appears to have been designed for the well-to-do but rapidly deteriorated; it is described (as “Fisher’s Street”) by Strype in his Survey of 1720 as “better built than inhabited” (John Strype, Stow’s Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, Corrected, Improved and Very Much Enlarged, 1720)

It was presumably named, like Fisher Street, after Thomas Fisher, who owned land in Red Lion Fields in the sixteenth century

Horwood’s map of 1813 shows: on the south side consecutive numbers from 1 to 10 running from south-west to north-east, and on the north side consecutive numbers from 11 to 15 running from north-east to south-west

No. 11 was the home of a money-lender, Mr C., in the early nineteenth century (The Times, 1 April 1806), while no. 4 housed a baker in 1817 (The Times, 6 June 1817), and another house belonged to a hard-working carpenter who became the victim of an alleged fraud in 1821 (The Times, 31 July 1821)

Later in the century it seems to have had school buildings associated with the Baptist chapel on Kingsgate Street; these are shown on Weller’s map of 1868

In the early twentieth century the Metropolitan Electricity Supply Company built a sub-station here (Electrician, vol. 64, 20 January 1905), supplying power for much of Holborn

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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