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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Streets, Squares, and Buildings

Bedford Charity (Harpur) Estate/Doughty 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)

About the Doughty Estate

The Doughty estate in the south-east of Bloomsbury was part of extensive lands owned by the Doughty and Tichborne families, mainly outside London (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Its proximity to the Foundling Estate meant that in the late eighteenth century it was involved in exchanges of land to enable the Foundling Estate to connect its new residential developments with the rest of London (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

This also prompted the Doughty estate owners to begin developing their land (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The estate is sometimes also known as the Brownlow–Doughty estate, after William Brownlow, who built the streets in the late seventeenth century, and Elizabeth Brownlow, who had married into the Doughty family

In 1867 the estate was embroiled in the celebrated Tichborne case, when a claimant came forward asserting his identity as Sir Roger Charles Doughty-Tichborne, which would have entitled him to the Doughty estate in Bloomsbury along with other property (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for Tichborne claimant)

Sir Edward Doughty, né Tichborne, came into possession of the Doughty estate in 1826 from his cousin, Mrs Elizabeth Doughty, daughter of George Brownlow-Doughty and granddaughter of the fourth Baronet Tichborne; he changed his name to Doughty as a condition of the settlement (Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 193, May 1853)

Prior to this, it was Henry Doughty who had been negotiating land deals with the Foundling Estate on behalf of the Doughty Estate (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The entire estate was sold off in 1921; Joseph Henry Bernard Doughty Tichborne, The Doughty Estate, Holborn (1921) has details and plans of the property included in the sale


Bedford Row

Also known as Bedford Walk

Not to be confused with Bedford Row, Westminster

It is in the south-east corner of Bloomsbury, running between Theobalds Road and High Holborn, forming the eastern boundary of the Harpur (Bedford Charity) estate in the seventeenth century; its east and south end area was on Brownlow–Doughty land

Its development began mainly on the west side with houses erected by the opportunist builder Nicholas Barbon (also known as Barebones) not long after the Civil War (David Hayes, East of Bloomsbury, 1998)

Development of the south and east Brownlow–Doughty part of the land dates from the eighteenth century

It had earlier been fields

All four editions of Horwood’s map show the same numbering system: on the east side, consecutive numbers from 1 to 17 only, running from south to north; the remaining houses are shown but not numbered (numbers presumably ran through to 24); and on the west side, consecutive numbers from 25 to 43, running from north to south

There is a peculiarity at the junction with Princes Street, where no. 31 north of this street actually faces Princes Street and not Bedford Row; on the south side, by contrast, there is a house north of no. 32 Bedford Row also facing Bedford Row but apparently belonging to Princes Street

No. 25 Bedford Row was some way south of the houses of Theobalds Road; originally a stable-yard and trees filled this space, as shown on Rocque’s map of 1746

“The Row was described in 1734 as ‘one of the most noble streets that London has to boast of’ ” (David Hayes, East of Bloomsbury, 1998)

It was a wide, tree-lined street, with a close proximity to the Inns of Court which attracted well-to-do legal occupants

John Bate Cardale, first apostle of the Catholic Apostolic Church, was the head of two legal partnerships here in the 1820s, including Cardale and Bromley at no. 2, from 1824 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

Christopher Heath, first minister (or “angel”) of the Catholic Apostolic Church, lived here in 1834, moving shortly afterwards to Newman Street (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

In 1833 the Entomological Society was at no. 12

In the 1830s no. 19 was the home of homeopathic physician David Uwins, who died there in 1837 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

The judge Sir James Alan Park died at his home here in 1838 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

Thackeray published The Bedford Row Conspiracy in 1840, when the occupants included many lawyers

There is a reference in Dickens’s letters in February 1840 about the “Sharks of Bedford Row” who are likely to bring in a “Compensation Question” in Dickens’s legal row with the publisher Bentley over the rivalry between Oliver Twist and Harrison Ainsworth’s Jack Sheppard

Dickens was threatened with being sued by Bentley for reneging on a contract, although this did not in the end happen; Bentley’s solicitors, Messrs Adlington, Gregory, Faulkner, & Follett of Bedford Row, were the sharks

No. 13 was the headquarters of the campaigning group the Lord’s Day of Rest Association until the end of the century

No. 48 was the address of the Ironmongers’ Association in the late nineteenth century

The street suffered bomb damage in the Second World War, particularly affecting the west side

The bombing did, however, reveal original house fronts behind façades added centuries later (Hugh Braun, Old London Buildings, 1949)

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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