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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)

Thanet Street

Also known as Lancaster Street

Not to be confused with Lancaster Street, Hyde Park, or Lancaster Street, Borough

It is in the east of Bloomsbury, on the Skinners’ (Tonbridge) estate; it runs north from Leigh Street to Hastings Street

Its first houses were built in 1812, and it was completed by 1822 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

This area was mostly undeveloped grassland until the early nineteenth century; a plan of the Skinners’ estate from 1785 also shows a bowling green in an area encompassing most of the west side of Lancaster Street and part of Judd Street

It was presumably named originally after Sir James Lancaster (d. 1618), benefactor of the Skinners’ estate (see Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

It was renamed in 1826, according to the Survey of London, presumably after the place in Kent associated with the Skinners’ estate; however, the Survey notes that it is still marked as Lancaster Street on Britton’s map of 1834 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952), and it is also named Lancaster Street on Cary’s map of 1837

The Survey of London describes it as “an early and picturesque example of a street of workmen's cottages” (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952), but this area became notorious for brothels, which may be why it and neighbouring Sandwich Street were renamed by 1841 (The Times, 4 February 1841)

It appears as Thanet Street on Reynolds’ map of 1859

No numbers appear on Horwood’s map of 1819

It was part of the generally respectable development of the Skinners’ estate

The Skinners’ estate had their own meeting-room here in the 1820s (The Times, 17 March 1828)

There was also a watch-house here in the 1820s (The Times, 10 September 1828)

By the middle of the nineteenth century, it appears to have deteriorated; in 1841 Eliza Hawkins, otherwise Trafford, pleaded guilty to keeping a house of ill-fame in “Thanet-street (lately known as Lancaster-street, Burton-crescent)” (The Times, 4 February 1841)

The prosecutor, a committee composed largely of members of the Skinners’ Estate, was said to have succeeded in getting rid of 70 such houses in the immediate neighbourhood in the preceding 18 months (The Times, 4 February 1841)

In the later nineteenth century, there was a National School here

Its houses had become lodging-houses, not always with very respectable tenants; in 1883 a marble polisher and his wife lodging at no. 34 were charged with causing the death of their two-year-old daughter through neglect (The Times, 18 September 1883)

The street was made more desirable by the building of Sinclair House, a mansion block, in the early twentieth century

Some original houses, possibly by Burton, survive on the east side and were Grade II listed in 1970

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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