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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Streets, Squares, and Buildings

Harrison 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 Harrison Estate

The estate comprised an eighteen-acre field which was already established as a brickmaking centre by the early seventeenth century, when it was owned by the Harrison family (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Thomas Harrison, formerly a farmer, inherited the estate in 1783 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

He observed closely the development of the Foundling estate to the south, and seems to have decided to follow their example by building on his land instead of producing the bricks for other developments (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

In 1807 he was himself living in one of the earliest houses to be built on the estate, at Sidmouth Place, fronting Gray’s Inn Road, but he had moved out by 1809 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Horwood’s map of 1807 shows the houses on Sidmouth Place and eight houses at the east end of Sidmouth Street; it also shows the tile kiln adjoining this small development

The famous “Harrison dust heap” was actually on the Battle Bridge estate to the north; the brickmakers mixed these ash with the rich brick earth (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

In 1809 an Act of Parliament was passed to allow Thomas Harrison to develop his estate properly, although the main development was further delayed as, ironically, the estate was too busy supplying its neighbours with bricks to be able to spare the time and materials for its own land until 1818 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The estate was bordered by the Cromer–Lucas estate to the north, the St George’s Bloomsbury parish boundary to the west, Gray’s Inn Road to the east, and the Foundling Hospital estate to the south (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

This means that it extended to a line north of Harrison Street and south of Cromer Street at its western end, down Wakefield Street in the west to the east end of Handel Street, across north of the burying grounds to include Prospect Terrace, and continuing this diagonal line to Gray’s Inn Road, the west side of which formed its eastern boundary

The Harrison estate still existed as such in the 1920s, when it was one of the interested parties represented in the negotiations over the future of the neighbouring Foundling Hospital site (The Times, 13 January 1928, 14 January 1928, 4 February 1928)

Sidmouth Street

It is in the northeast of Bloomsbury, running between Gray’s Inn Road and 12 April, 2011/regent_square.htm">Regent Square

The first houses were built in 1807, and the street was completed in 1818 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The derivation of its name is uncertain

According to the Survey of London, there were twenty-eight houses in total (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952); despite this, it quotes numbers up to 55

However, Horwood’s map of 1819 shows forty, running from the east side of Regent Square on the north side and from halfway along the south side of Regent Square on the south side, numbered as follows: on the north side, consecutive numbers from 1 to 16, running from east to west, and on the south side: consecutive numbers from 17 to 34, running from west to east and beginning in the southeast corner of Regent Square, along with consecutive numbers from 35 to 40, running from east to west and beginning on the south side of Regent Square

The houses were later renumbered with even numbers on the north side and odd numbers on the south side (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The houses were four storeys plus basement, with brick or stucco facings; they were intended for respectable lower middle-class residents (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

No. 24 was the Theatre of Anatomy of Henry William Dewhurst, who lectured there on anatomy and physiology in 1827–1828 (A Lecture Introductory to the Study of Anatomy and Physiology Delivered by Henry William Dewhurst...on Monday, October 1, 1827, at the New Theatre of Anatomy, 24, Sidmouth Street, Gray’s Inn Lane, 1827; copy originally owned by Joseph Hume, UCL Special Collections; L. Hebert ed, The Register of Arts, and Journal of Patent Inventions, vol. I, 1828)

No. 25 was the family home of adult education pioneer James William Hudson from 1840 to 1843 (David Hayes, East of Bloomsbury, 1998)

No. 53 became in 1881 the home of then recently-widowed politician and reformer Matilda Maria Evans (née Webb), whose mother Rachel Webb lived here (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

The street was damaged by wartime bombing; some houses on the north side and many on the south side were subsequently demolished (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The south side of the street is now dominated by Westminster Kingsway College

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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