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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Streets, Squares, and Buildings

Bedford Charity (Harpur) 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 Bedford Charity (Harpur) Estate

The Bedford Charity, also known as the Harpur Trust, was founded in the sixteenth century by Sir William Harpur, for the benefit of a school he had helped to found in Bedford (www.bedfordcharity.org.uk)

The original 13-acre site in the east of Bloomsbury which formed part of the original endowment is now reduced to a mere 3 acres, but is still worth millions (Shirley Green, Who Owns London?, 1986)

The original estate encompasses a crooked area south of the Rugby estate and north and east of Red Lion Square, including the southern half of what is now Lamb’s Conduit Street but was known as Red Lion Street until the late eighteenth century

Its proximity to already-developed areas to the south and east of Bloomsbury, including the legal centre of Gray’s Inn, meant that it was developed residentially much earlier than the western and northern areas of Bloomsbury, beginning in 1686

Much of the development was carried out by unscrupulous builder Nicholas Barbon, who built houses all over the Red Lion Fields area without necessarily obtaining the permission of the legal owner first (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

The Trust continues to own freeholds in Dombey Street, Bedford Row, New North Street, Sandland Street, Red Lion Street, and Theobald’s Road; it also invested in property in Eagle Street, outside the original estate boundaries, as a “vote of confidence in the present Estate’s future” (Shirley Green, Who Owns London?, 1986)

New North Street

Not to be confused with New North Street, Finsbury, or any other streets of the same name in London

It is in the south-east of Bloomsbury, on the Bedford Charity estate, running north from Theobald’s Road to East Street, continuing the line of Old North Street

It was developed by Barbon in the seventeenth century (David Hayes, East of Bloomsbury, 1998)

The area was formerly fields

It was named as a continuation of the already established Old North Street

Horwood’s map of 1819 shows on the east side, consecutive numbers from 2 (sic) to 20, running from south to north, and on the west side, consecutive numbers from 21 to 36, running from south to north, although as the street is split over different sheets this is not very clear

It was designed as a mainly middle-class residential development

In the early nineteenth century it was respectable enough for some of its inhabitants to be included in The Times birth, marriage, and death announcements; residents included solicitors like J. H. Webber (The Times, 8 December 1823)

Mr Fisher of no. 2 was a collector for the Society for the Suppression of Mendicity (The Times, 27 December 1830)

It remains partly residential, although mainly rebuilt in the twentieth century

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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