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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Streets, Squares, and Buildings

Harrison 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 Harrison Estate

The estate comprised an eighteen-acre field which was already established as a brickmaking centre by the early seventeenth century, when it was owned by the Harrison family (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Thomas Harrison, formerly a farmer, inherited the estate in 1783 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

He observed closely the development of the Foundling estate to the south, and seems to have decided to follow their example by building on his land instead of producing the bricks for other developments (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

In 1807 he was himself living in one of the earliest houses to be built on the estate, at Sidmouth Place, fronting Gray’s Inn Road, but he had moved out by 1809 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Horwood’s map of 1807 shows the houses on Sidmouth Place and eight houses at the east end of Sidmouth Street; it also shows the tile kiln adjoining this small development

The famous “Harrison dust heap” was actually on the Battle Bridge estate to the north; the brickmakers mixed these ash with the rich brick earth (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

In 1809 an Act of Parliament was passed to allow Thomas Harrison to develop his estate properly, although the main development was further delayed as, ironically, the estate was too busy supplying its neighbours with bricks to be able to spare the time and materials for its own land until 1818 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The estate was bordered by the Cromer–Lucas estate to the north, the St George’s Bloomsbury parish boundary to the west, Gray’s Inn Road to the east, and the Foundling Hospital estate to the south (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

This means that it extended to a line north of Harrison Street and south of Cromer Street at its western end, down Wakefield Street in the west to the east end of Handel Street, across north of the burying grounds to include Prospect Terrace, and continuing this diagonal line to Gray’s Inn Road, the west side of which formed its eastern boundary

The Harrison estate still existed as such in the 1920s, when it was one of the interested parties represented in the negotiations over the future of the neighbouring Foundling Hospital site (The Times, 13 January 1928, 14 January 1928, 4 February 1928)

Regent Square

It is in the east of Bloomsbury, north of St George’s Gardens

It was planned during the Regency peri14 April, 2011ndon, vol. 24, 1952)

It was named after the Prince Regent, probably reflecting its builders’ aspirations as well as the time in which it was planned; it was designed for the relatively well-off middle class

Numbering goes from no. 1 on the south side (east corner) consecutively in a clockwise direction

The first building leases were granted in 1818; houses were first occupied in 1829 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

By this time there were already two churches in the square: St Peter’s (Church of England), built 1822–1826, and the Church of Scotland church, built 1824–1827 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

St Peter’s was built to a design by William Inwood, who had already built the controversial St Pancras New Church in Bloomsbury (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

The Church of Scotland church (National Scotch Church) in the south-west corner of the square was built on a freehold site bought for £1500 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

It was the first commission for architect Sir William Tite, commissioned by Rev. Edward Irving; its Decorated Gothic style was partly modelled on York Minster (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for Sir William Tite)

Its congregation were Church of Scotland until 1843, although in 1832 its minister, Rev. Edward Irving, left with many of his congregation for the Royal London Bazaar after being expelled for heresy (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

In the 1830s the Square’s residents included solicitors and barristers, architects, a surgeon, a widowed member of the nobility (Lady Henniker), and a judge (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Isaac Seabrook, building contractor for both the local Inwood churches (St Pancras New Church, and St Peter’s Regent Square itself) and , lived at no. 1 in 1834–1835 and again in 1838–1844, having spent the intervening time living at no. 7 and then no. 27 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The Church of Scotland church became English Presbyterian in 1843 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The Square’s occupants still included many solicitors, along with a surgeon, a clergyman, and more than one civil engineer

No. 3 was the home of failed civil engineer, musician, and music journalist Edward Taylor from at least 1839 to at least 1847 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

No. 18 was the home from about 1845 to 1850 of civil engineer Angier March Perkins, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography this was as he became more successful

Another new resident in the 1840s was Edward Creasey, Professor of Modern and Ancient History at the University of London and recently married, but he was there only from 1848 to 1849 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

In the 1850s it was still occupied by solicitors, a clergyman, a physician, and an artist, according to street directories and the 1851 census

The only resident worthy of note in the 1860s for the 1860s is John Daniel Pinero, who lived at no. 22 from 1860 until 1875 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

He was the father of the playwright Arthur Wing Pinero (born 1855); the family lived here when he was a child

Nos 4–6 were from about 1863 to around the time of the First World War the Homes of Hope for fallen women of good character

By the 1870s, the Square seems to have been in decline

The Pinero family were still living here, apparently in desperate financial straits (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

The Homes of Hope housed its most prominent residents at the end of the nineteenth century

The Square was heavily bombed in the Second World War and both St Peter’s Church and the Presbyterian (National Scotch) Church were badly damaged; both were subsequently demolished

Most of the other original buildings have vanished and been replaced by late twentieth-century blocks of flats

The Square also seems to have been reduced in size

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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