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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Streets, Squares, and Buildings

Southern Boundary of Bloomsbury

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

High Street

Also known as High Street Bloomsbury/ St Giles’ High Street

It forms the south-western boundary of Bloomsbury, in the parish of St Giles; it originally joined Broad Street outside the church of St Giles to the southern end of Tottenham Court Road in a gentle curve

It had been part of the main route from the City of London to the west from Roman times

It was originally developed as a main thoroughfare, but during the later Middle Ages it began to be the centre of a small village based around the church of St Giles, as well as gaining hotels and inns for travellers; there were forty houses at its north-west end by 1672 (Rowland Dobie, The History of the United Parishes of St Giles in the Fields and St George Bloomsbury, 1829)

It became the high street of firstly St Giles, the parish around the church, and latterly of Bloomsbury, as that area developed residentially from the south

Horwood’s maps of 1799—1819 show evidence of rebuilding in progress

His map of 1819 shows on the south side, consecutive numbers from 1 to 12 and 18 to 24, with unnumbered buildings between these, running from west to east, and on the north side, numbering in the 20s which does not appear to relate easily either to High Street itself or to Broad Street to the east

In the twentieth century its western end was rerouted, so that instead of curving gently towards Tottenham Court Road, it went straight on to Charing Cross Road; the Centre Point development was built over the original curved end

It also became part of a one-way system in attempts to deal with ever-increasing London traffic

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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