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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

Dane Street

Also known as Lee Street/Leigh Street

Not to be confused with Leigh Street in the north-east of Bloomsbury

This short street connecting Red Lion Square to Eagle Street still exists, although its southern continuation Dean Street is now lost

It existed by 1720, when Strype described it as “a good handsome broad Street, well built” (John Strype, Stow’s Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, Corrected, Improved and Very Much Enlarged, 1720)

Strype called it “Lee Street”, as does Rocque on his map of 1746; by the time of Horwood’s 1799 map it had become Leigh Street

It was still Leigh Street on the Ordnance Survey map of 1867–1870

It stands on land “owned since 1522 by the ‘Holborn Charity’ of the parish of St Clement Danes at the Aldywch” (David Hayes, East of Bloomsbury, 1998)

Its buildings, although apparently residential, are not numbered on Horwood’s maps

Strype’s description suggests it was intended for the well-to-do, but by the beginning of the nineteenth century, it had gone downhill

There was a draper’s there in the 1820s, which did not do well (The Times, 5 December 1827)

Marsh’s library was there in the 1830s (The Times, 22 August 1837)

There was a dairy there by 1856 (The Times, 5 April 1856)

In the later nineteenth century, its advertisements in The Times are few and mainly concern servants wanting places

In 1904 a carman, William Price, resident in the street, was charged with the attempted murder by shooting of a fellow carman from Devonshire Street after a street brawl (The Times, 4 October 1904)

The street was later renamed Dane Street; it had been renamed by 1921, when a particularly brutal murder occurred there (The Times, 4 April 1921)

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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