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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

Three Cups Yard

Not to be confused with Three Cups Inn Yard

This extensive yard originally ran between Gray’s Inn Passage and Princes Street, on land developed before 1800

It is shown (but not named) on Horwood’s map of 1799

Its name derives from the Three Cups pub which occupied a site at the south end from at least 1472 (David Hayes, East of Bloomsbury, 1998)

Strype describes this inn as “large, and of a considerable Resort for Persons that come to Town; having great Conveniencies of Coach Houses and Stables” (John Strype, Stow’s Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, Corrected, Improved and Very Much Enlarged, 1720)

In the early nineteenth century there were stables here; horses were advertised for sale in The Times of 19 October 1819

Baker’s Livery Stables were advertising from here in The Times of 24 September 1828

In 1841 a Mr Clive, of the Three Cups pub here, lost his dog, a 9-month-old liver and white pointer named Grouse, and advertised in The Times a ten-shilling reward for his return (The Times, 14 September 1841)

In 1850 Miss Matilda Halfhide brought an action for breach of promise against Mr Baxter, some thirty years her senior, who had broken their engagement and married someone else (The Times, 2 February 1850)

She was the daughter of a smith who had a shop in Three Cups Yard; Baxter had been confidential servant for twenty years to Sir George Martin, who left him a legacy of £1000 when he died in 1847 (The Times, 2 February 1850)

She won her case and was awarded £150 damages (The Times, 2 February 1850)

The Three Cups pub was rebuilt around 1900

In the twentieth century, the north part of the street leading through to Princes Street was blocked off

At the south end, Gray’s Inn Passage was demolished entirely, so that the Three Cups pub now finds itself on the north side of Sandland Street

The modern yard is therefore about half its original extent

Its buildings have been redeveloped into bijou and expensive residences

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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