OXFORD STREET, AND ITS NORTHERN TRIBUTARIES (continued).
"And business compelled them to go by the way
Which led them through Cavendish Square."—Old Song.
Progress of Building in Last Century—Number of Houses and Population of Marylebone—Harley Fields—The Harleys, Earls of Oxford—Vere
Street—Rysbrack, the Sculptor—St. Peter's Chapel—Henrietta Street—The Old Countess of Mornington—Welbeck, Bentinck, and Wigmore
Streets—Cavendish Square—The "Princely" Duke of Chandos, and his proposed Palace—Mr. George Watson–Taylor, M.P.—The Statue
of the Duke of Cumberland—Harcourt House—Holles Street—The Birthplace of Lord Byron—Queen Anne Street—Turner's "Den"—Mansfield Street—Duchess Street—The Residence of Mr. Thomas Hope—Harley Street, and its Distinguished Residents—Park Crescent—Portland Place—The Langham Hotel—Langham Place—The Portland Bazaar, or German Gallery—A Skating Rink—The Royal Polytechnic
Institution—Cavendish Club—Civil and United Service Club.
At the beginning of the last century, if we may
believe contemporary accounts, Marylebone was a
small village, "nearly a mile distant from any part
of the metropolis." In the year 1715 the plan for
building Cavendish Square and several new streets
on the north side of Oxford Street, then, as we have
already shown, called indiscriminately by that name
and Tyburn Road, was first suggested. About two
years afterwards the ground was laid out, and the
circular plantation in the centre enclosed, planted,
and surrounded by a parapet wall and wooden railings. The buildings, however, seem to have been
proceeded with very slowly; for several years
elapsed before either the square or the surrounding
streets were actually completed. It was the building of this square that originally gave an impetus to
the increase of Marylebone, and Maitland, in his
"History of London," published in 1739, gives the
number of houses in Marylebone as 577, and
the persons who kept coaches (carriages) as thirtyfive. "At present," writes Lambert in the year
1806, "the number of houses is near upon 9,000,
and the number of coaches must have increased
in a proportionate if not even a greater ratio."
The present population (1876) is estimated at
about 600,000 souls.
The South Sea Bubble, in the year 1720, put a
stop for a time to the building of the square, which
for many years later remained in an unfinished
state. In the view of Hanover Square by Sutton
Nicholls, which bears the date of 1754, this square
is shown as standing almost alone to the north of
Oxford Road, and surrounded by fields, with an
uninterrupted view of Hampstead and Highgate.
At this particular time Harley Street extended
very little way to the north, and Harley Fields were
resorted to by thousands who went to hear George
Whitefield preach there.
The site of Cavendish Square is said to have
been intersected by a shady lane called "Lover's
Walk," leading from Margaret Street to where now
stands Cavendish Square.
Cavendish Square and the adjoining streets were
named after the various relatives of Robert Harley,
first Earl of Oxford, K.G., and of his son, Lord
Harley, afterwards second Earl. The family titles
as they stood in the pages of Lodge and Burke till
the extinction of the peerage, were "Earl of Oxford
and Mortimer, and Baron Harley of Wigmore
Castle." The second earl married the Lady
Henrietta Cavendish Holles, only daughter and
heiress of John, Duke of Newcastle, who carried
all this property by marriage into the family of the
Duke of Portland. It is necessary to state these
facts in order to account for the names of Cavendish Square, Portland Place, and Henrietta, Harley,
Wigmore, Mortimer, and Holles Streets, in the immediate neighbourhood.
The approaches to Cavendish Square from
Oxford Street are by Old Cavendish, Holles, and
Princes Streets. Another short thoroughfare, called
Vere Street, leads into Henrietta Street, which
opens into the south-western corner of the square.
By Vere Street we now again proceed to make our
way northward. The street was so called after the
De Veres, who for many centuries previous to the
Harleys had held the Earldom of Oxford. In this
street resided Rysbrack, the sculptor, and here he
died in 1770. Gibbs, the architect, in a letter to
Pope, says: "Mr. Rysbrack's house is in the further
end of Bond Street, and up across Tyburne Rode
(sic), in Lord Oxford's grownd, upon the right hand
going to his chaple." The chapel here spoken of
stands at the corner of Vere Street and Henrietta
Street. It is dedicated to St. Peter, and is a nondescript edifice of the reign of George I., built
from the designs of Gibbs about the year 1724, and
is said in the prints of the day to have been erected
at Lord Harley's cost, "to accommodate the inhabitants of his manor." It may cause a smile to
add that once it was thought one of the most
beautiful structures of its kind in London. In his
"Guide to the London Churches" Mr. C. Mackeson
thus remarks: "This is a Government church: the
Government collects and reserves the pew-rents,
and pays £450 to the incumbent." It has no
district assigned to it; consequently it is not burdened with any poor, and cannot require any
free seats! The chief interest of the chapel lies
in the fact that the late Rev. F. D. Maurice was its
minister for nine years before his death in 1870.
This chapel was called, down to a date within the
present century, "Oxford Chapel," and is described
by Lambert, in 1806, as surmounted by a steeple
springing from the centre of the roof, and consisting of three stages. Here, on the 11th of July,
1734, William, second Duke of Portland, was
married to the Lady Margaret Harley, the heiress
of Lord Oxford, the same lady whom Prior has
celebrated as "my noble, lovely, little Peggy."
Henrietta Street, which we now cross, runs from
Marylebone Lane into the south-west corner of
Cavendish Square. At No. 3 in this street resided
for some time the venerable Countess of Mornington, mother of the Duke of Wellington, who, after
living to witness the multiplied honours of her
children, died in 1831, at the age of ninety. In
this street is the studio of Mr. William Theed,
the sculptor, to whose chisel we owe the group of
"Asia," on the Albert Memorial at Kensington.
Mr. Theed numbered among his pupils Count
Gleichen, formerly known as Prince Victor of
Hohenlohe, and maternally a cousin of Queen
Extending from the western end of Henrietta
Street to Marylebone Street is Welbeck Street,
so named after Welbeck Priory, near Ollerton,
Nottinghamshire, the seat of the Duke of Portland.
Here, at No. 59, lived the Right Hon. Henry
Ellis, the diplomatist. He died in 1855. At
No. 30, in 1826, lived Count Woronzow, of Russia,
some time ambassador, and father-in-law of the
eleventh Earl of Pembroke. Edmund Hoyle, of
whist celebrity, who died here at the age of ninetyseven; Mrs. Piozzi, and Martha Blount, were also
residents in this street at various dates. This street,
says Mr. J. P. Malcolm, "will long be famous in
the annals of our time as the residence of that mad
and honourable (?) imitator of the Wat Tylers and
Jack Straws of old times, Lord George Gordon."
In this street, too, resided for a short time before
his death the eccentric John Elwes.
Bentinck Street, between Welbeck Street and
Manchester Square, was so named after the family
surname of the Duke of Portland. In this street
Charles Dickens lived for some time with his
father, whilst acting as a newspaper reporter at
Doctors' Commons, and in the "gallery" of the
House of Commons, spending his spare time
amongst the books in the library of the British
Museum. Here, too, Gibbon, the historian, lived
for some time at No. 7, while member for Liskeard,
and here he wrote a large portion of his "Decline
and Fall of the Roman Empire," and the whole of
his "Defence." In a letter to Lord Sheffield, dated
17th January, 1783, Gibbon writes: "For my own
part, my late journey has only convinced me in the
opinion that No. 7, Bentinck Street is the best
house in the world."
Wigmore Street, which extends from Duke Street,
Manchester Square, to the north-west corner of
Cavendish Square, derives its name from Wigmore,
in Herefordshire, whence Robert Harley took his
title as Earl of Oxford, Earl Mortimer, and Lord
Harley of Wigmore Castle. All these names are
perpetuated in the streets in this immediate neighbourhood. In Wigmore Street at one time lived
the friend of Alfieri, Ugo Foscolo; and here, at
his humble lodgings, he used to entertain at breakfast Samuel Rogers, Tom Campbell, Roscoe the
historian, Cyrus Redding, and other celebrities.
Whilst residing here he showed in his studies that
ardour which marks the man of genius. "I once
found him there," writes Cyrus Redding, "at noonday in summer, with his room still shut up, and
studying by candlelight, forgetful that it was day.
He had prolonged his sitting from the previous
night, whilst composing an article for the forthcoming Quarterly." We shall have more to say
about his eccentric and wayward career when we
come to stand by what was once his grave in
From Wigmore Street we pass into Cavendish
Square, at its north-western corner. In the reign
of George II. the building of this square had been
commenced, but had not been carried through, and
the site lay desolate and incomplete. The writer of
the "New Critical Review of the Public Buildings
of London," in 1736, is uncertain whether he ought
to call it "Oxford" or "Cavendish" Square; but
whichever name we choose, he says, "here we shall
see the folly of attempting great things before we
are sure that we can accomplish little ones. Here
it is the modern plague of building was first stayed;
and I think the rude, unfinished figure of this
project should deter others from a like infatuation.
. . . . I am morally assured that more people are
displeased at seeing this square lie in its present
neglected condition than are entertained with what
was meant for elegance or ornament in it. . . . .
It is said the imperfect side (the north) of this
square was laid out for a certain nobleman's palace,
which was to have extended its whole length, and
that the two detached houses which now stand at
each end of the line were to have been the wings.
I am apt, however, to believe that this is a vulgar
mistake; for these structures, though exactly alike,
could have been in no way of a piece with any
regular or stately building; and it is to be presumed this nobleman would have as little attempted
any other, as he would have left any attempt unfinished." The "certain nobleman" to whom
allusion is here made, is none other than the
"princely" Duke of Chandos, who had succeeded
in amassing a splendid fortune as paymaster to the
army in Queen Anne's reign. It is said that he
proposed building here a palatial residence, and to
have purchased all the property between Cavendish
Square and his palace of Canons at Edgware, "so
that he might ride from town to the country through
his own estate."
Dodsley writes, in his "Environs of London,"
1761: "In the centre of the north side is a space
left for a house intended to be erected by the late
Duke of Chandos, the wings only being built;
there is, however, a handsome wall and gates
before this space, which serve to preserve the
uniformity of the square." An elevation of the
grand house or palace which the duke intended
to erect may be seen in the Royal Collection of
Maps and Drawings in the British Museum. It
bears the inscription, "Designed by John Price,
architect, 1720." It is obvious to remark that the
connection of the "princely" duke with this square
is still commemorated by Chandos Street, which
joins its north-eastern corner with the east end of
Queen Anne Street.
We shall have more to say about "princely
Canons," the duke's seat near Edgware, when we
come to treat of the suburban districts. Meanwhile,
we may be pardoned for reminding the reader that
this duke is the person who figures in Pope's
"Epistles" as Timon, the man who builds on a
magnificent scale, but with false taste, and the
downfall of whose projects the poet prophesied;
and had he lived but three years longer, would
actually have seen. It is to his palace at Edgware,
and not to that in Marylebone, that Pope alludes
when he writes—
"Another age shall see the golden ear
Imbrow the slope and nod on the parterre;
Deep harvest bury all his pride has planned,
And laughing Ceres re-assume the land."
At all events, it is not the fair goddess of corn,
but the demon of bricks and mortar, who has "reassumed" the lordship of the vicinity of Cavendish
Square. Of the duke's magnificent conceptions in
building here, the satirist says that—
"Greatness with Timon dwells in such a draught
As brings all Brobdingnag before your thought;
To compass this his building is a town,
His pond an ocean, his parterre a down."
The duke's scheme, we need hardly say, was
never carried out, for he died of a broken heart,
caused by the death of his infant heir while being
christened in the midst of the greatest pomp and
magnificence. Of the two wings of the duke's
mansion, which we have mentioned above, one is
the large house standing at the corner of Harley
Street, which has numbered among its distinguished
occupants, at different periods, the Princess Amelia,
aunt to George III.; the Earl of Hopetoun, and the
Hopes of Amsterdam; and also the late Mr. George
Watson-Taylor, M.P., who, as John Timbs informs
us, "assembled here a very valuable collection of
paintings." Mr. Watson-Taylor, in 1832, was declared a bankrupt. At the outset of life he had
a private income of £1,500 a year, on which he
lived comfortably. At forty-five he came into an
income of £60,000 a year, and by extravagant
living, and by squandering sums of money on
articles of vertu, he was quite ruined within ten or
twelve years. It was of him that Sir Robert Peel
said, that "no man ever bought ridicule at so high
LANGHAM HOUSE IN 1820. (From a Print in Mr. Crace's Collection.)
The other wing of the duke's plan is the corresponding mansion at the corner of Chandos Street.
It has been for many years the town residence of
the Earls of Gainsborough. The central part is
now principally occupied by two splendid mansions,
the fronts of which are ornamented with Corinthian
columns, said to have been designed by James, of
Greenwich, who was architect to the duke at
It was at first intended to place a statue of
Queen Anne in the centre of the enclosure, and in
the plan above referred to the statue is marked;
the idea, however, was never realised, and the site
remained vacant till 1770, when Lieutenant-General
William Strode erected an equestrian statue of
William, Duke of Cumberland, "the butcher of
Culloden," as the inscription sets forth, "in gratitude for private kindness, and in honour of public
worth." The statue, which was of lead, gilt, represented the "hero" in the full military costume of
his day; it has recently been removed. On the
south side, facing Holles Street, is a colossal standing bronze statue of Lord George Bentinck, some
time leader of the Conservative party in the House
of Commons; this was set up soon after his death,
in 1848. The heavy wooden railings which
originally surmounted the dwarf brick wall forming
the enclosure were allowed to fall into a sad state
of decay, so that in 1761 we are told that they
made "but an indifferent appearance;" but the
unsightly rails have long since given way to substantial iron railings. In this square, as also in
Manchester Square and in Queen Anne Street,
there remain, or remained till only a year or two
since, some good specimens of the flambeaux-extinguisher which a century ago formed an almost
necessary adjunct to the front door of a house
belonging to "the quality." These extinguishers
sometimes formed a part of the ornamental iron
scroll-work with which the front entrances of town
mansions were adorned. One or two good specimens of them are given in Robert Chambers'
"Book of Days."
CAVENDISH SQUARE, 1820.
The large and heavy mansion called Harcourt
House, which occupies the centre of the west side
of the square, and which has long been the town
residence of the Dukes of Portland, was built by
Lord Bingley, in 1722–3. It was purchased after
his death by the Earl of Harcourt, who had previously built a house on the east side of the square.
This mansion is mentioned by the author of the
"New Critical Review," already quoted, as "one
of the most singular pieces of architecture about
the town," and "rather like a convent than the
residence of a man of quality; in fact," he adds,
"it seems more like a copy of one of Poussin's
landscape ornaments than a design to imitate any
of the genuine beauties of building." After an
interval of a century and a half, the verdict of
any man of architectural taste who sees it will be
very much the same. It is a dull, heavy, drowsylooking house, and it has about it an air of seclusion
and privacy almost monastic. Its seclusion of late
has been increased by three high walls, which have
been raised behind the house, the chief object of
which appears to be to screen the duke's stables
from the vulgar gaze.
This square was the scene of one of the mad
freaks of Lord Camelford, who fell in a duel fought
near Holland House, at Kensington. On one
occasion he and a boon companion, Captain Barry,
returning home at a very late, or, more probably,
very early hour, found the "Charlies asleep at their
posts, and woke them up and thrashed them, an
offence for which the assailants were brought up
next morning at the Marlborough Street police
station, and fined.
Among the celebrated inhabitants of Cavendish
Square may be mentioned Lady Mary Wortley
Montagu, who was living here, at all events, from
1723 to 1730, during which period she was satirised
with great grossness by Pope.
At No. 24 lived for some time George Romney,
the painter. He produced such exquisite portraits
as to become a dangerous rival to Sir Joshua
Reynolds, and by whom Romney was always
referred to as "the man of Cavendish Square."
Romney forsook his lawful wife, and became entangled with Emma, Lady Hamilton, whom he
admitted as a model to his studio, and whom he
portrayed in no less than fourteen of his most
beautiful paintings; all of them are, however, more
or less of the type of the Phrynes and Lesbias of
Horace and Catullus. The house had been previously inhabited by Mr. F. Cotes, R.A., another
distinguished portrait painter, who built it; it has
been a home of arts and artists in its day, for it
was subsequently tenanted by Sir Martin Archer
Shee, R.A., afterwards President of the Royal
Academy, who died in 1850.
The mansion No. 15 was for many years the
scene of the fashionable "receptions" of the
Dowager Countess of Charleville, the chief rival
of Lady Blessington in her day, as a "queen
of society." At No. 16 resided Field-Marshal
Viscount Beresford, one of the "great Duke's"
In this square lived, and here died in August,
1769, aged ninety-seven, Edmund Hoyle, registrar
of the Prerogative Court, but better known to the
world at large as the author of "Hoyle's Games."
Here, too, lived Mr. Thomas Hope, F.R.S., F.S.A.,
the accomplished author of "Anastasius;" and also
Matthew Baillie, the fashionable physician. At
No. 5, behind the premises of the Polytechnic, was
played, in 1851, the great "International Chess
Tournament," players from all quarters of the world
taking part in the competition. In this square, in
1747, the newly-formed Dilettanti Society purchased
ground on which they intended to build a house
for their accommodation, but they afterwards abandoned the idea.
As a proof of the once rural character of the
neighbourhood of Cavendish Square, we may here
mention that Mr. Fox told Samuel Rogers that
when Dr. Sydenham was sitting at his window in
Pall Mall, with his pipe and a silver tankard on the
sill, a fellow made a snatch at the tankard and ran
off with it, and that he was not overtaken, for his
pursuers could not keep him in sight further than
the bushes at the top of Bond Street, where they
In Old Cavendish Street, close by Oxford Street,
was the shop of Mr. Marsh, the publisher, in 1825,
of the Star Chamber, the first literary venture of
Mr. Benjamin Disraeli, subsequently Premier of
England. He was already the editor of this
periodical, of which the public took but little
notice, when he gave to the world his first novel,
"Vivian Grey;" and Mr. Cyrus Redding tells us
in his "Recollections," that "D'Israeli reviewed
and extolled his own book in his own columns."
The Star Chamber was strongly personal. "I
have heard," adds Redding, "that the author suppressed it, but not till it had attacked most of the
literary men of the day." It appears that Marsh
meantime published "A Key to Vivian Grey," professing to be a complete exposition of the royal,
noble, and fashionable characters who figure in
that most extraordinary work.
Holles Street, which runs from the south side
of the square into Oxford Street, was so named
after Henrietta Holles, already mentioned as the
daughter and heiress of John Holles, Duke of
Newcastle. The street, which was originally composed of private houses, at present consists almost
entirely of shops and private hotels. At No. 24
in this street Lord Byron was born on the 22nd
of January, 1788; and a tablet has been placed
on the front of the house by the Society of Arts,
in order to record the fact for the benefit of
posterity. Lord Byron was baptised in the old
parish church of Marylebone.
In May, 1831, Queen Hortense and her son
Prince (afterwards Emperor) Louis Napoleon, took
up their abode in Holles Street; and "assuming
their own proper name and dignity, speedily found
themselves the centre of a brilliant circle of sympathising friends."
At No. 10, in Chandos Street, which runs out
of the square at its north-east angle, lived, for
many years, the Right Hon. Joseph Planta, M.P.,
Chief Librarian of the British Museum—an office,
the duties of which he discharged by deputy,
whilst mixing in political and official circles.
Queen Anne Street, which unites the northern
end of Chandos Street with Welbeck Street, has
numbered among its residents, at different periods,
men famous both in literature and the fine arts.
Here, in 1770, Richard Cumberland was living
when he wrote his play of the West Indian;
and at the beginning of this century, No. 58 was
in the occupation of Malone, the commentator on
At No. 47 was living, in the year 1836, J. M. W.
Turner, the prince of modern English landscape
painters; and here he kept for many years the
greater part of his stores of pictures, patiently
biding his time till they should be worth thousands.
He was right in his calculations, as well as in
the estimate which he had formed of himself.
Indeed, his one hundred and more paintings in
the National Gallery, not to mention his drawings
on the basement-floor, and at South Kensington,
show a versatility and an infinite variety, endless
as Nature herself. It has been, perhaps justly,
observed, that "after all allowance and deduction,
Turner remains the fullest exponent of nature, the
man above all others who was able to reflect the
glory and the grandeur, the sunshine and the shade,
the gladness and the gloom which in the outward
landscape respond to the desires and the wants of
the human heart."
He was just commencing to climb the hill of
fame when he first settled here. As a young man
he was slovenly and untidy, and now he gave way
to his penchant for dirt and disorder. The house
was "subsequently known," writes Dr. W. Russell,
"as 'Turner's Den.' And truly it was a den. The
windows were never cleaned, and had in them
breaches patched with paper; the door was black
and blistered; the iron palisades were rusty for
lack of paint. If a would-be visitor knocked or
rang, it was long before the summons was replied
to by a wizened, meagre old man, who would
unfasten the chain sufficiently to see who knocked
or rang, and the almost invariable answer was,
'You can't come in.' After the old man's death,
an elderly woman, with a diseased face, supplied
The same writer records a visit which Turner
received at this "Den" from Mr. Gillat, a wealthy
Birmingham manufacturer, who called in order to
purchase one of Turner's pictures. "He was met
at the door by a refusal of admission, and was
obliged to make an almost forcible entry. He had
hardly gained the hall when Turner, hearing a
strange footstep, rushed out of his own particular
compartment, and angrily confronted the intruder,
'What do you want here?' 'I have come to
purchase some of your pictures.' 'I have none
to sell.' 'But you won't mind exchanging them
for some of these?' and he took out of his
pocket a roll of bank-notes, to the amount of five
thousand pounds. The Birmingham gentleman
was successful, and carried off his five thousand
pounds worth—now, perhaps, worth five times that
sum—of the great artist's creations."
A wealthy merchant of Liverpool, at a later
date, was less fortunate in his visit to the "Den."
He offered a hundred thousand pounds for the
art treasures rolled up in dark closets, or hanging
from the damp walls, in Queen Anne Street.
"Give me the key of the house, Mr. Turner," said
the would-be purchaser. "No, I thank you,"
replied Turner; "I have refused a better offer."
And so he had. He could not bear to sell a
favourite painting—it was a portion of his being;
to part with it was a blotting out of that part of
his life which had been spent in its creation. He
was always dejected and melancholy after such
a transaction; and he would say, with tears in his
eyes, "I have lost one of my children."
Mr. C. Redding, in his "Fifty Years' Recollections," claims Turner as a native, not of Maiden
Lane, as usually supposed, but of the west country.
He writes, "We were sailing on the St. German's
River—Turner, Collier, and myself—when I remarked what a number of artists the West of
England had produced from Reynolds to Prout.
'You may add my name to the list,' said Turner;
'I am a Devonshire man.' I asked from what part
of the county, and he replied, 'From Barnstaple.'
I have several times mentioned this statement
to persons who insisted that Turner was a native
of Maiden Lane, London, where, it is true, he
appears to have resided in very early life, whither
he must have come from the country. His father
was a barber. When Turner had a cottage near
Twickenham, the father resided with his son, and
used to walk into town to open the gallery in
Queen Anne Street, where I well remember seeing
him, a little plain, but not ill-made old man—not
reserved and austere as his son, in whom the worth
lay between a coarse soil."
Some years before his death, Turner abruptly
and secretly quitted his "Den" and walked to
Chelsea, where he took lodgings next door to a
ginger-beer shop close to Cremorne Pier; here, after
some days, he was discovered by his faithful housekeeper, Miss Danby; but the hand of death was
upon him. He died in December, 1851, and was
buried in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral, near
the grave of Reynolds.
Between 1788 and 1793 the house No. 72 in
this street was in the occupation of Fuseli, the
painter; he afterwards removed to No. 75. In
1826 No. 48 was the residence of Mr. Charles
C. Pepys, while practising at the Bar; he became
afterwards Lord Chancellor Cottenham. At that
time No. 7 was in the occupation of Prince Nicholas
Esterhazy, the Austrian Ambassador, who was still
living there in 1836. The prince, it will be remembered by some, at least, of our readers, was
noted for the splendour of his attire when taking
part in any public state ceremonial; and he is
thus commemorated by Ingoldsby in "Mr. Barney
Maguire's Account of the Coronation of Queen
"'Twould have made you crazy to see Esterhazy,
All jewels from jasey to his di'mond boots."
In this street Edmund Burke took up his
residence in 1764–5, on his return from his first
public employment at Dublin, in order to resume
his literary labours. Whilst living here he used to
frequent the "Turk's Head," in Greek Street, and
other debating societies of the metropolis; and on
spare evenings was to be seen in the Strangers'
Gallery in the House of Commons, studying the
art of oratory in the best school, from the lips of
Mr. Serjeant Burke tells us in his life of his
kinsman, that the future statesman and orator,
when he first came to London to study for the Bar,
found in the Strangers' Gallery a powerful attraction,
which drew him away even from the tables of his
friends. "It was his favourite custom to go alone
to the House of Commons, there to ensconce himself in the gallery, and to sit for hours, his attention
absorbed and his mind enwrapped in the scene
beneath him. 'Some of the men,' he remarked
to a friend, 'talk like Demosthenes and Cicero,
and I feel, when listening to them, as if I were
in Athens or Rome.' Soon these nightly visits
became his passion; a strange fascination drew
him again to the same place. No doubt the
magic of his own master spirit was upon him, and
the spell was working. He might be compared to
the young eagle accustoming its eyes to the sun
before it soars aloft. . . . . . The House of
Commons was but his recreation; literature continued to be his chief employment." Burke was
still living in Queen Anne Street when he entered
Parliament, by Lord Verney's influence, as one of
the members for Wendover. It may be added that
if Burke really wrote the "Letters of Junius," it is
most probable that those letters were composed in
In Queen Anne Street, at the end of Mansfield
Street, and looking directly down it, is a spacious
mansion, formerly called Chandos House, but now
divided into two, built by the "princely" Duke of
Chandos as a town residence. The side, or rather
back front, of the mansion in Queen Anne Street
opens into a garden on the western side adjoining
Mansfield Street, a continuation of Chandos
Street on the north side of Queen Anne Street, was
built by the brothers Adam, of the Adelphi, about
the year 1770, on a plot of ground which had previously been a basin or reservoir of water. Some
of the houses in this neighbourhood exhibit many
good architectural details, especially in the rooms
In this street, in 1836, were living the Princess De
la Beiza and the Prince of Asturias. This street
appears to have been a great rallying-point for
the Roman Catholic aristocracy. At various times
the families of Lord Clifford, Lord Stourton, Lord
Petre, the Howards of Corby, &c., have resided
here. Count Woronzow, the Russian diplomatist,
died at his residence in this street, in 1832, at the
age of eighty-seven.
Duchess Street is a short thoroughfare connecting
Mansfield Street with Portland Place. Here was
the town mansion of Mr. Thomas Hope, F.R.S.,
the author of "Anastatius," "The Costumes of the
Ancients," &c. Mr. Hope had here formed a valuable collection of works of art altogether unrivalled,
and comprising paintings, antique statues, busts,
vases, and other relics of antiquity, arranged in
apartments, the furniture and decorations of which
were in general designed after classic models,
by the ingenious possessor himself. Among the
specimens of sculpture was the exquisite group
representing "Venus rising from the Bath," by
Canova. The whole of these valuables were open
to the public, under certain restrictions, during
Mr. John Timbs says that, in the decoration of
his mansion in this street, Mr. Hope "exemplified
the classic principles illustrated in his large work
on 'Household Furniture and Internal Decorations.' Thus, the suite of apartments included the
Egyptian, or Black Room, with ornaments from
scrolls of papyrus and mummy-cases; the furniture and ornaments were pale yellow and bluishgreen, relieved by masses of black and gold. The
Blue, or Indian Room, in costly Oriental style.
The Star Room: emblems of Night below; and
above, 'Aurora visiting Cephalus on Mount Ida,'
by Flaxman; furniture, wreathed figures of the
Hours. The Closet, or Boudoir, hung with tent-like
drapery; the mantelpiece, an Egyptian portico;
Egyptian, Hindoo, and Chinese idols and curiosities. Picture Gallery, Ionic columns, entablature
and pediment from the Temple of Erectheus at
Athens, car of Apollo, classic tables, pedestals, &c.
The New Gallery, for one hundred pictures of the
Flemish school, antique bronzes and vases; furniture of elegant Grecian design." Mr. Hope
was one of the earliest patrons of Chantrey, Flaxman, Canova, Thorwaldsen, and George Dawe;
and he died here in 1831.
Harley Street dates from the same period as
Mansfield Street, with which it runs parallel on
its western side. It was called after the Harleys,
Earls of Oxford, to one of whom Pope pays a
well-deserved compliment in his "Moral Essays," in
which he writes:—
"And, showing Harley, teach the golden mean."
A happy and graceful allusion to the second earl of
that line, of whose marriage with the daughter and
heiress of the noble house of Holles we have
already spoken. Harley died in 1741, regretted
by all men of taste and letters, great numbers of
whom had experienced the benefits of his munificence. He left behind him one of the most noble
libraries in Europe. The collection was formed by
himself and his son, and was purchased for the
British Museum in 1753. His name is perpetuated
in the Harleian MSS. in the Museum, and in the
In this street Lord and Lady Walsingham were
accidentally burnt to death in bed in April, 1831.
At No. 18 lived Sir William Beechey, the celebrated
painter, during the latter years of his life. He
was born at Burford, in Oxfordshire, in 1753, and
in early life was articled in a solicitor's office, but
at nineteen found admission as a student to the
Royal Academy, where he became a pupil and
close imitator of the great Sir Joshua. Having
attracted public notice by his portraits of the Duke
and Duchess of Cumberland, he was appointed
portrait-painter to Queen Charlotte. In 1793 he
was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy,
and attained the full honours of R.A. four years
later. He died at Hampstead in January, 1839,
in his eighty-sixth year. The house No. 45 was
built and occupied by Mr. John Stuart, the author
of "Athenian Antiquities," published under the
auspices of the Dilettanti Society; it was afterwards
the town-house of Admiral Viscount Keith.
At No. 73 lived for many years Sir Charles Lyell,
the eminent geologist. Born at Kinnordy, in Fifeshire, in 1797, he graduated at Exeter College,
Oxford, and received the honorary degree of
D.C.L. from his University in 1855. He was twice
President of the Royal Geological Society, and
was the author of a volume of "Travels in North
America," "The Antiquity of Man," of treatises
on the Elements and Principles of Geology, and
of many papers in scientific journals. He was
created a baronet late in life, and died here at the
beginning of 1875. His house, in 1876, became
the residence of Mr. W. E. Gladstone. In this
street, too, lived Sir John Herschel, the son of Sir
William Herschel, the astronomer. The father,
who was of Hanoverian extraction, coming to
England in the reign of George II., held for some
time the post of organist at Halifax, and also at
Bath. Whilst at the latter place he turned his
attention to astronomy. He began to contribute
to the "Philosophical Transactions" in 1780, and
in the following year announced to the world his
discovery of a supposed comet, which soon turned
out to be the new planet now called Uranus. This
announcement drew him immediately into the "full
blaze of fame," and he was at once appointed astronomer to King George III. It was the discovery
of this planet which gave the impetus to further
additions to the solar system by others in more
recent times. In the stellar field Herschel also
achieved great results. Late in life he was elected
President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and
he died at Slough, near Windsor, in 1822. Sir
John Herschel, who was little inferior to his father,
either as an astronomer or as a mathematician, received the honour of a baronetcy at the Queen's
coronation, and was for some time Master of the
Mint. He died in 1871.
Allan Ramsay, the painter, who lived at No. 67,
was appointed "principal painter to George III.,"
and died in 1784. "Allan Ramsay's house," says
Mr. Peter Cunningham, "was in 1800 the residence
of Colonel John Ramsay, his son." In 1826 No.
49 was in the occupation of Mr. William Horne,
afterwards Sir William Horne, Solicitor-General in
1832–4, and M.P. for Marylebone. In this street,
too, lived Viscount Strangford, the diplomatist and
poet; and also Lady Nelson, the relict of the hero
of the Nile and Trafalgar.
Dean Swift appears to have been at one time a
resident here; at all events, he dates from Harley
Street one of his letters to "Stella," in which
he alludes with feelings of disgust to the nightly
outrages then being perpetrated in London by the
"Mohawks," whose street outrages we have already
mentioned. (fn. 1) This street is now principally inhabited by physicians and surgeons. On the west
side, between Queen Anne Street and Great Mary
lebone Street, are the Queen's College for Ladies
and the Governesses' Benevolent Institution. The
former was incorporated by Royal Charter in
1853, for the general education of ladies, and for
granting certificates of knowledge. Individual instruction is given here in vocal and instrumental
music, and there is a Cambridge Scholarship, open
to the daughters or granddaughters of a graduate
FOLEY HOUSE, IN 1800.
The readers of Charles Dickens will hardly need
to be reminded that it was in this street that "Mr.
Merdle," the gigantic swindler in "Little Dorrit,"
Eastward of Harley Street and running parallel
with it, is Portland Place, a thoroughfare remarkable for its width, being upwards of 100 feet wide,
in respect of which it contrasts most agreeably
with the narrow thoroughfares which prevail in
most quarters of London, reminding us of the
broad boulevards of Paris and other foreign cities,
though falling short of them in beauty because it
has no trees. In 1875, however, it was resolved
by the parochial and municipal authorities that
trees should be planted on either side, but as yet
the suggestion has not been carried into effect.
The two rows of stately houses which form Portland Place were constructed from the designs of
Mr. Robert Adam in 1778, and named after the
ground landlord. The north end was originally
intended to have been terminated by a circus, but
only one half was built; and that, now designated
Park Crescent, was called, in 1816, by Nash, the
architect, "the key to Marylebone Park." Had
this design been carried out, it would have been
the largest circle of buildings in Europe. The
foundations of the western quadrant of it were even
laid, and the arches for the coal-cellars turned.
For some reasons, however, this plan was abandoned, and the entire chord of the semicircle left
open to the Park, instead of being closed in by the
intended half circus. This alteration is a manifest
improvement of the entire design, and is productive of great benefit to the houses in the crescent
and in Portland Place. Of Park Square, which was
erected in its stead, we shall have to speak in a
future chapter. In Park Crescent, facing Portland
Place, is a bronze statue of the Duke of Kent, the
father of Queen Victoria; it was designed and cast
J. M. W. TURNER, R.A.
Among the residents in Park Crescent have been
Mr. Ralph Bernal, who lived at No. 11, before
settling in Eaton Square; Joseph Buonaparte; the
late Sir John Taylor Coleridge and his son Sir
John Duke (afterwards Lord Chief Justice) Coleridge; and also Sir Charles Wheatstone, the inventor of the electric telegraph, and the man who,
in conjunction with Sir William Fothergill Cooke,
placed that discovery at the service of the nation,
and, in fact, of the world. He died at Paris in
1875, but his remains were brought over to England,
and buried at Kensal Green.
Although less fashionably inhabited than when
first built, Portland Place still numbers among its
occupants several members of "the upper ten
thousand," including peers, baronets, judges, and
ambassadors. In the year 1836 No. 38 was the
residence of Lord Denman, Chief Justice of the
Court of Queen's Bench; No. 58 was that of
Count Batthyani; and at No. 61 lived Sir William
Curtis, the eccentric alderman, the advocate of
"the three R's"—reading, 'riting, and rithmetic.
No. 24 at that time was occupied by Mr. J. B.
Sawrey Morritt, of Rokeby, the friend and correspondent of Sir Walter Scott. Lord Selborne has
lived in Portland Place for the last twenty years.
Here, in 1819, was the Spanish Embassy; and
here the ambassador gave a splendid entertainment
on the 16th of December in that year in honour of
the marriage of his master, the King of Spain; the
Prince Regent, all the royal dukes, and members
of the Cabinet, the Duke of Wellington, &c., were
present; the house was brilliantly illuminated, and
a squadron of the Royal Horse Guards was on duty
in the street in case of any disturbance arising.
In the year 1772, according to a plan and
detailed account given in Northouck's "History
of London," a new square was intended on the
site of Portland Place, to be called Queen Square;
it was to be bounded by Foley House and gardens
on the south; by houses abutting on Portland
Street on the east; by Harley Street on the west;
and by an island of mansions on the north; with
two grand streets, one on the east, called Highgate Place; and the other, on the west, designated
Hampstead Place. Westward, towards the south,
is Great Queen Anne Street, and opposite to it, on
the east, Little Queen Anne Street. This design,
however, was abandoned, and Portland Place built
as above described.
It was part of Nash's design, in building Regent
Street, that the great thoroughfare should lead
through and beyond Portland Place to a magnificent palace to be built for George IV. in the
centre of the Regent's Park. This design, also,
Foley House, at the southern end of Portland
Place, was the town residence of Lord Foley; it was
a large mansion, and with its surrounding grounds
occupied a considerable amount of space, stretching
away to the north-east corner of Cavendish Square.
The house was of the same width as Portland
Place, and had a somewhat dwarfed elevation;
and the garden in front was separated from Portland Place by a brick wall. The building was
pulled down about the year 1820, for the formation
of Langham Place, so called after the adjoining
mansion, belonging to Sir James Langham. Foley
House is still kept in remembrance by the name
being given to one of the mansions (No. 6) on the
east side of Portland Place, and also by Foley
Street, which is immediately contiguous. In Foley
Place (now called Langham Street), which also
occupied part of the grounds surrounding Foley
House, lived John Hayter, the artist. Close by old
Foley House, on part of the site now occupied by
the Langham Hotel, stood till about 1860 Mansfield
House, the town mansion of the Earl of Mansfield.
The first Lord Mansfield, it is said, owed his first
steps in professional success to the kindness of his
friend and neighbour, Lord Foley, who allowed
him £200 a year out of his own not very large
income, to "keep up appearances" till he could
achieve an income for himself.
Lord Mansfield in his early life was a great friend
of Pope, who addresses him in his "Moral Essays"
as "Dear Murray;" and, in his later days, of Dr.
Johnson, who, however, stoutly refused to give
Scotland any very great share of the credit arising
from his lordship's career, as he was educated in
England. "Much may be done with a Scotchman," the prejudiced old doctor would say, good-humouredly, "if he is only caught young!"
Close to Foley House stood also the mansion of
Sir James Langham, after whom the adjoining Place
was named. On its site, about the year 1862, was
erected a monster hotel called the "Langham,"
one of the most spacious and complete establishments of the kind in London. Here families can
live, being boarded by contract, escaping all the
domestic worries of servants, and petty household
English inns have not lost their reputation for
comfort and the attention paid to guests; but the
almost entire alteration in the methods of travelling
by the introduction of railways has left them considerably behind the requirements of the age.
Except in the smaller towns and villages, they have
been superseded by hotels—houses of a more pretentious kind, which contain suites of apartments
for families or individuals who choose to be alone,
also a larger apartment for travellers generally.
About the year 1861 projects were set on foot for
the purpose of building several hotels in London
worthy of the place, and corresponding to the
vastness of modern demands, and the "Langham"
was not only one of the first erected, but has ever
since remained one of the most important.
The Langham Hotel was originally designed by
a company about the year 1858, but the project
proved abortive. The design, however, was subsequently taken in hand by another set of shareholders, who employed Messrs. Giles and Murray
as the architects, and the foundations were laid in
1863. The hotel, which cost upwards of £300,000,
is one of the largest buildings in London, and comprises no less than six hundred apartments. It
measures upwards of 200 feet in the facade looking
up Portland Place, and is upwards of 120 feet in
height, the rooms rising to a sixth storey, and overtops by some forty or fifty feet all the mansions in
Portland Place and Cavendish Square. The style
of architecture would be called Italian; it is, however, plain, simple, and substantial, and singularly
free from meretricious ornament. It includes
large drawing-rooms, a dining-room, or coffee-room,
100 feet in length, smoking-rooms, billiard-rooms,
post-office, telegraph-office, parcels-office, &c., thus
uniting all the comforts of a club with those of a
private home, each set of apartments forming a
"flat" complete in itself. Below are spacious
kitchen, laundry, &c., and water is laid over all the
house, being raised by an engine in the basement.
Some idea of the extensive nature of this establishment may be formed when we add that its staff
of servants numbers about two hundred and fifty
persons, from the head steward and matron down
to the junior kitchenmaid and smallest "tiger."
The "Langham," on an emergency, can make up as
many as 400 beds. The floors are connected with
each other by means of a "lift" which goes up and
down at intervals. It is as nearly fire-proof as art
can render it.
The hotel, which may be called, not a monster,
but a leviathan of its kind, was opened in June,
1865, with a luncheon at which the Prince of Wales
was present; and not long after its opening a
dinner was given here, as an experiment towards
utilising horse-flesh by the "hippophagists" of this
country and of Paris. These monster hotels are
no novelties in America; indeed, the Langham is
far outstripped in size by the Palace Hotel at St.
Francisco; but as this is the first experiment of the
kind which has been made in London, it may be
as well to add that it has paid a dividend of 20 per
cent upon the outlay.
Langham Place has had, at different times, some
noted men among its residents. At No. 15 lived,
and here also died, May 30th, 1832, the accomplished lawyer, philosopher, and historian, Sir James
Mackintosh. His death was occasioned by a small
bone of a fowl which accidentally lodged in his
throat. He was buried in the churchyard at
Hampstead. No. 6 was formerly the house of
Sir Anthony Carlisle, the fashionable surgeon; and
during the parliamentary season of 1836, No. 10
was the town residence of Daniel O'Connell, the
well-known member for Dublin.
In the north-east corner of Langham Place, at
the point where the road sweeps boldly round to
enter Portland Place, stands All Souls' Church. It
was built from the designs of Nash, in 1824, and
forms a pleasing termination of the view from the
junction of Regent Street and Oxford Street. It
has a circular tower surrounded with Ionic columns,
and Corinthian peristyle above; the "extinguisher"
spire is circular and tapering. The interior arrangement is after the Italian style, being divided into a
nave and aisles by colonnades. The altar-piece
is a painting of "Christ crowned with Thorns," by
Westall. Among the previous incumbents of this
church have been Dr. Thomson, Archbishop of
York, and Dr. Baring, Bishop of Durham.
On the east side of Langham Place, about half
way between the church and the north end of
Upper Regent Street, is St. George's Hall. The
building contains a spacious room which is occasionally used for balls, concerts, and other entertainments; and likewise for public meetings and
lectures both on week days and Sundays. Here
are the offices of the London Academy of Music,
which was established in 1861. The academy is
open to amateur as well as to professional students,
and the instruction in the various branches of
musical education is given by some of the first
professors of the day.
The Portland Bazaar in Langham Place, better
known as the "German Fair," was erected as far
back as the year 1835, and was opened as a
bazaar in 1839. Fourteen years afterwards it was
burnt down and rebuilt with great improvements.
The management of this establishment was in one
respect unlike that of rival undertakings, as every
young person employed had a direct interest in the
profits, and was not in any way responsible for stall
rents, or the purchase of stock; consequently there
was no fear of her losing her little all. From
November to the end of January the German Fair
was literally crammed with customers, the whole
stock being imported direct from Germany, France,
and other foreign countries. When the bazaar was
rebuilt after the fire above mentioned, the southern
portion of the premises, up to that time used as a
furniture warehouse, was converted into the large
building known as St. George's Hall, of which we
have spoken above. In the winter of 1875–6 the
premises were taken for the purpose of forming a
large first-class "skating-rink," and the necessary
alterations were at once effected in the building.
The project was started by a company, and the
rink is called the "Langham." It includes the
conveniences of a club, a restaurant, &c., on the
grandest possible scale. The rink comprises a hall
fitted up for musical performances, fancy-dress
fêtes, &c., and is surrounded by galleries which can
be used as promenades. The decorations, illuminations, statuary, and lighting are of a most appropriate and novel character.
The upper part of Regent Street was made by
demolishing two narrow and ill-built thoroughfares,
called Edward and Bolsover Streets, which formed
a continuous line from the east side of Foley House
into Oxford Street, nearly opposite to Great Swallow
Street, which, as we have shown in a previous
chapter, was amplified into Regent Street. On the
west side of Upper Regent Street is an institution perhaps as well known to country visitors to
London as to Londoners themselves—the Royal
Polytechnic. It was founded in 1838, for the
exhibition of novelties in "the Arts and Practical
Science, especially in connection with Agriculture,
Manufactures, and other branches of Industry."
The buildings were enlarged in 1848. The premises of this institution are capacious and wellappointed, and extend from the east entrance in
Regent Street 320 feet in depth, including the
mansion, No. 5, Cavendish Square. The exhibition consists, for the most part, of mechanical
and other models, distributed through various
apartments; a hall devoted to manufacturing processes; a theatre, or lecture-room; a very spacious
hall; and other apartments.
The "Great Hall" is lighted from the roof, and
about midway around the apartment extends a
roomy gallery. The latter contains models and
designs. The floor of the hall was principally
occupied by two canals, containing a surface of
700 feet of water; attached to which were the
appurtenances of a dockyard, locks, water-wheels,
steam-boat models, &c. But these have been removed as occupying too much space. At the west
end is a reservoir, or tank, fourteen feet deep;
this, with the canals, holds nearly 5,000 gallons
of water, and can, if requisite, be emptied in less
than one minute. Beneath the west-end gallery
hangs the diving-bell, which has, from the commencement, been the chief and standing attraction
of the Polytechnic, especially with the young folks
and country cousins.
Courses of lectures are delivered on the principal
topics of the day, and indeed upon almost every
subject connected with human interest, accompanied with dioramic illustrations, and various
optical illusions; not the least interesting of these
was the so-called "Ghost" illusion, which is associated with the name of Professor Pepper, and
has obtained great popularity in all the various
shapes, dramatic and other, which it has assumed
from season to season. The manufacture of spunglass also has been carried on in the large room
almost from the commencement with great success.
Whilst its rival, the Adelaide Gallery, in West
Strand, has been converted to other purposes, the
Polytechnic remains one of the most popular and
attractive exhibitions in London.
The Royal Polytechnic Institution, we may add,
is under the management of a council. Besides
the rooms mentioned above, there is an excellent
laboratory, where chemical experiments are carried
out. Public classes are likewise held, in which
instruction is given in the various branches of
science, in music, history, geography, in Latin, and
also in French, German, and other modern languages. These classes are open to ladies as well
as to gentlemen, and they render the institution a
most valuable assistant to the cause of adult education. Prizes are given annually to the pupils who
pass the best examinations.
In the house over the entrance of the Polytechnic Institution was opened, in January, 1855,
the Cavendish Club; its founder and proprietor
was Mr. Lionel Booth. The club died a natural
death at the end of 1872, but was revived at the
beginning of 1874, under new management, and
with increased resources, especially in the culinary
On the opposite side of the street is another
house which has been at different times the home
of divers clubs, some of which have had but a
transient existence. At one time it was the
"Corinthian," and opened professedly with the
view of affording the luxury and comforts of a club
to the north-west of London; but this proved a
failure. In 1873 it was opened as the "Civil and
Military," a title which was subsequently altered to
the "Civil and United Service."
Passing on a few yards further to the south, we
find ourselves at Regent Circus, Oxford Street, of
which we have already spoken in a previous
OXFORD STREET EAST.—NORTHERN TRIBUTARIES.
"Miratur portas strepitumque, et strata viarum."—Virgil, "Æn." i.
Condition of Oxford Street in the Beginning of the Last Century—The "Adam and Eve" Tavern—Figg, the Prize-Fighter—Selwyn and the
Earl of March stopped by a Highwayman—The London Crystal Palace—Mark Lemon's Birthplace—Great Portland Street—"Homes"
and Charitable Institutions—St. Paul's Church—The Central Jewish Synagogue—Sir George Smart and Von Weber—David Wilkie and
Dr. Waagen—The Woodbury Permanent Photographic Printing Company—The "Girls' Home," Charlotte Street—George Jones, R.A.—Unitarian Chapel, Little Portland Street, and Charles Dickens—Riding House Street—Mortimer Street—Nollekens, the Sculptor—St.
Elizabeth's Home for Incurable Women—Margaret Street—David Williams, Founder of the Royal Literary Fund—"Tom" Campbell and
Belzoni—Sir Walter Scott—All Saints' Church—All Saints' Sisterhood—Great Titchfield Street—Castle Street—Oxford Market—The
Princess's Theatre—Charles Kean's Shakespearian Revivals—Blenheim Street—A Strange Occurrence—Poland Street—The "North Pole"
Tavern—Wells Street—St. Andrew's Church—Berners Street—The Hoax played by Theodore Hook—A Batch of Medical Societies—The
Middlesex Hospital—Nassau Street—Cleveland Street—Newman Street—A Modern Worker of Miracles—Mr. Heatherley's School of Art—An Eccentric Vow.
The region upon which we are about to enter dates
its existence from the earlier years of the reign of
Queen Anne. John Timbs writes thus in his
"Curiosities of London:"—"In a map of 1707,
on the south side, King Street, near Golden Square,
is perfect to Oxford Road, between which and
Berwick Street are fields; thence to St. Giles's is
covered with buildings, but westward not a house
is to be seen; the northern side of Oxford Road
contains a few scattered buildings, but no semblance of streets westward of Tottenham Court
Road." This would appear to have been literally
the case, for a plan of 1708, which he also mentions, shows the "Adam and Eve" as "a detached
road-side public-house." It stood, according to
this plan, in the "Dung-field," near the present
Adam and Eve Court, almost opposite Poland
Street; in an adjoining field is represented "the
boarded house of Figg, the prize-fighter," standing
quite isolated from other buildings. Figg appears
to have been a noted character in his time.
Hogarth has preserved his face in one of his engravings; and local gossips still quote the lines, by
an unknown author—
"Long live the great Figg, by the prize-fighting swains
Sole monarch acknowledged of Marybone plains."
It appears that the amusements at "Figg's" were
more varied than select, for we find that even
women here could have "sets-to" in a manner
marvellous to behold. One advertisement of the
time announces that "Mrs. Stokes, the City Championess, is ready to meet the Hibernian Heroine at
Figg's." Other advertisements of a more disgusting character we omit to quote, in mercy to our
That the street in its early days must have been
anything but a pleasant or safe thoroughfare for
travellers is pretty clear from Pennant's remark
that he remembered it "a deep hollow road, and
full of sloughs, with here and there a ragged house,
the lurking-place of cut-throats; insomuch," he
adds, "that I never was taken that way by night
in my hackney-coach to a worthy uncle's, who gave
me lodgings in his house in George Street, but I
went in dread the whole way." It was this part of
Oxford Street that was probably the scene of a
highway robbery, recorded in Lloyd's Evening Post,
about the year 1760:—"Jan. 30.—Saturday last,
about ten in the evening, as a post-chaise was
coming to town, between the turnpike and Tottenham Court Road, . . . . with the Earl of March
and George Augustus Selwyn, Esq., a highwayman
stopped the postilion, and swore he would blow his
brains out if he did not stop; on which the Earl of
March jumped out of the chaise and fired a pistol,
and the highwayman immediately rode off."
But we are now concerned mainly with the
northern tributaries of Oxford Street which lie
between Regent Street and Tottenham Court Road.
We will begin, therefore, with the Circus, and work
our way gradually eastwards, very leisurely, for we
shall have a good deal to say before we find ourselves at Bloomsbury again.
Near the Regent Circus is the chief entrance
to the London Crystal Palace, one of the most
elegant bazaars in the metropolis. This building,
which has also an entrance in Great Portland
Street, was erected in 1858, from the designs of
Mr. Owen Jones, the plan of the structure being
somewhat similar to that of the Floral Hall, in
Covent Garden. It is constructed chiefly of iron
and glass, after the manner of its great prototype
at Sydenham. The roof, which is of coloured
glass, of mosaic appearance, is supported by iron
columns. The nave of the building, from the
Great Portland Street entrance to the western extremity, is 180 feet in length; from it there is a
transept extending southwards to the Oxford Street
entrance, which internally has a length of 90 feet,
giving, with the entrance-hall on that side, a total
length, from north to south, of about 140 feet. On
the ground floor is a spacious hall, divided by iron
columns on each side into a nave and aisles, the
floor being occupied by counters for the exhibition
and sale of fancy goods of all descriptions; there
is on each side a gallery above, and in and under
these galleries there are also convenient and welllighted stalls. The building was advertised for
sale while this sheet was in the printer's hands.
In a house on this site was born, in November,
1809, Mark Lemon, the genial editor of Punch
during the first quarter of a century of its existence.
Great Portland Street is a broad and respectable
thoroughfare, at present almost entirely consisting
of shops, largely occupied by picture-dealers and
music-sellers, &c. It extends, in a direct line from
Oxford Street to the Marylebone Road, close by
the eastern end of Park Crescent. The houses
on each side, towards the northern end, stood back
from the roadway, with gardens in front; but of
late years shops have been thrown out on both
sides of the way.
THE ENTRANCE TO PORTLAND PLACE, 1815.
At this end of the street are various charitable
institutions, or "homes." Amongst others are the
National Dental Hospital, the National Orthopædic
Hospital, and Miss Gladstone's Female Servants'
On the west side of the street, near Little Portland Street, are the offices of the Association for
the Sale of Work by Ladies of Limited Means;
and close by is a building called the Lyric Hall,
which, as its name implies, is used for concerts and
other entertainments of a similar character.
On the same side of the way, about half-way up,
stands St. Paul's Church, for many years known as
Portland Chapel. It was erected in 1775–6, and
stands on a site which formed part of a basin of
the Marylebone Waterworks. John Timbs tells us
that there is a view, by Chatelain, of this basin,
which was the scene of several fatal accidents and
suicides. The chapel was first consecrated in
1831, when it was dedicated to St. Paul.
Near the above church is another religious edifice,
which forms a conspicuous architectural feature in
the street. It is the central Jewish Synagogue,
which was completed and opened in 1870. The
building is a fine specimen of Moorish design, its
thoroughly Oriental style being especially exemplified in the interior, with its tiers of columns
decorated with Saracenic capitals, supporting the
gallery, clerestory, and lofty vaulted roof. The ark,
in which are placed the sacred scrolls of the law,
is situated at the south-east end of the building.
looking towards Jerusalem, and is covered by a
heavy curtain, embroidered with gold. Immediately over it are the two tables of stone inscribed
with the Ten Commandments; and above them,
through a small circular window, shines the "per
petual light" which is never extinguished. The
ark rests on a platform of white marble, raised
several steps above the floor. The almemar, a
large raised pew, where the readers, choristers, and
harmonium are placed, stands conspicuously in the
centre of the synagogue, and is richly ornamented
with gilt stanchions.
INTERIOR OF THE JEWISH SYNAGOGUE, GREAT PORTLAND STREET.
The Rothschild family showed much interest in,
and subscribed largely to, the building fund of this
At No. 204 is the West London School of Art,
with classes in architectural drawing, in drawing
from life and the antique, and in design, as applied
to mural, textile, and other kinds of decoration.
This institution is in connection with the Government Department of Science and Art at South
Among the eminent residents in this street mentioned by Mr. Peter Cunningham, were William
Seward, author of the "Anecdotes" which bear
his name; Dr. William Guthrie, author of a wellknown grammar; James Boswell, Dr. Johnson's
biographer; and Carl Maria von Weber. The
two last-mentioned persons died here; the latter
very suddenly, on the 5th of June, 1826, at No. 91,
for many years the house of the late eminent
composer, Sir George Smart. Sir George, we may
here remark, is thus celebrated by "Ingoldsby," in
"Mr. Barney Maguire's Account of the Coronation
of Her Majesty:"—
"That same Sir George Smart, O!
Who played the consarto,
With his four-and-twenty fiddlers all of a row."
Weber was buried at the Roman Catholic Church
of St. Mary's, Moorfields, whence his body was
afterwards taken to Germany. On his death Mr.
J. R. Planché, who knew him well, penned the
following exquisite lines, which were set to music,
and sung by Braham:—
"Weep, for the word is spoken!
Mourn, for the knell hath tolled!
The master-chord is broken,
And the master-hand is cold.
Romance hath lost her minstrel;
No more his magic strain
Shall throw a sweeter spell around
The legends of Almaine.
"His fame had flown before him
To many a foreign land;
His lays were sung by every tongue.
And harped by every hand.
He came to seek fresh laurels,
But Fate was in their breath,
And turned his march of triumph
Into a dirge of death."
In this street, in a hackney-coach, which was
conveying her home from the Seven Dials, his
mother, in 1766, gave birth to Mr. J. T. Smith,
afterwards the superintendent of the print-room at
the British Museum, and the author of "Nollekens
and his Times," and of "A Book for a Rainy
Day," from which we have quoted very largely in
In this street lodged Wilkie in the early part of
his career in London, as we learn from Cyrus
Redding's "Fifty Years' Recollections." In 1835
he was in the very height of his fame and popularity.
Dr. Waagen tells us that on one occasion he met
Callcott, Eastlake, and Etty the painter at dinner.
"Wilkie," he adds, "is now unhappily so overwhelmed with orders for portraits that he has hardly
a moment for his good-natured humorous subjects."
At No. 157 are the offices of the Woodbury Permanent Photographic Printing Company.
Charlotte Street, between Great Portland Street
and Portland Place, and running parallel to both,
at one time bore a very bad character for its residents. A clearance, however, was made by the
parochial authorities about the year 1860, and now
it is largely occupied by public institutions, among
which may be mentioned the "Girls' Home," which
was instituted in 1867 for the purpose of lodging,
clothing, and educating destitute girls, who may not
have been convicted of crime—a sister institution
to the "Boys' Home" in Regent's Park Road, which
we shall describe hereafter. Here also are the
offices of the Central Synagogue and of the United
At No. 10, New Cavendish Street, George Jones,
R.A., was living in 1806. He was a well-known
painter of battle-pieces, and some time Librarian
and afterwards Keeper of the Royal Academy.
He died in 1869.
In Little Portland Street is the leading West-end
Chapel of the Unitarian body. Its minister was
for many years Mr. James Martineau, a brother
of Harriet Martineau. In this chapel Mr. Charles
Dickens for a time held sittings, though in later
years he frequented a parish church. Mr. Forster
tells us that he was led to frequent the Unitarian
worship on account of his "impatience of differences with the clergymen of the Established Church
on the subject of creeds and formularies."
The neighbourhood of Great Portland Street,
towards the upper end, is largely the home of
artists and sculptors' studios; and on the southern
side of the Euston Road the marble-yards are not
unlike the Piccadilly of a century ago. Clipstone
Street and Carburton Street, in this neighbourhood,
are both named after villages belonging to the ducal
estate; the former in Nottinghamshire, and the
latter in Northamptonshire.
Facing the New Road, in the garden of the top
house on the east side of what was formerly known
as Norton Street, but is now styled Bolsover Street,
a few yards east of the top of Great Portland Street,
were two fine elm-trees, standing as lately as the
year 1853. It was said by the late Mr. Robert
Cole, to whom the house then belonged, that Lord
Byron had once spent an evening under their
Riding House Street, which connects the top of
Regent Street with Great Portland Street, bears
witness in its name to an establishment long since
forgotten, one of the Riding Academies so popular
in the days of our great-grandfathers.
At No. 30, Foley Place (now called Langham
Street), Campbell was living in 1822, and here he
wrote some of his shorter poems.
Mortimer Street, which crosses Great Portland
Street, extending from the north-east corner of
Cavendish Square to Charles Street, was so called
after the earldom of Mortimer, which was borne
by the Harleys, conjointly with that of Oxford.
At No. 9 in this street was the studio of the
sculptor Nollekens, almost as remarkable for his
parsimony as for the artistic power of his chisel.
Here Dr. Johnson came to sit to him for his bust,
and Mr. J. T. Smith, who was then a boy working
at art under Nollekens, was busy drawing in the
studio at the time. He thus describes Dr. Johnson
to the life:—"The doctor, after looking at my
drawing, then at the bust I was copying, put his
hand heavily upon my head, pronouncing 'Very
well, very well.' Here I frequently saw him, and
recollect his figure and dress with tolerable correctness. He was tall, and must have been, when
young, a powerful man: he stooped, with his head
inclined to the right shoulder: heavy brows, sleepy
eyes, nose very narrow between the eye-brows, but
broad at the bottom; lips enormously thick; chin
wide and double. He wore a stock and wristbands; his wig was what is called a Busby, but
often wanted powder. His hat, a three-cornered
one; coats, one a dark mulberry, the other brown,
inclining to the colour of Scotch snuff; large brass
or gilt buttons; black waistcoat, and small clothes—sometimes the latter were corduroy; black stockings; large easy shoes, with buckles; latterly he
used a hooked walking-stick; his gait was wide and
awkwardly sprawling." The late Mr. C. Towneley,
the collector of the Towneley Marbles in the
British Museum, was also a frequenter of Nollekens'
studio, and on one visit he tipped or "pouched"
young Smith half-a-guinea to buy a store of paper
and chalk. Though an exquisite sculptor, Nollekens was utterly uneducated, and could not even
spell his own language. His wife, a daughter of
Mr. Justice Welch, was as niggardly as himself.
It is said that he attended the Royal Academy
Club dinners, at the cost of a guinea a year,
because he could carry off in his pockets enough
nutmegs to make that difference in his housekeeping. He died in April, 1823, very rich; and
eccentric to the last, left a very long drawn will,
with no less than fourteen codicils to it.
At No. 67 in this street is a charitable institution
in connection with All Saints' Home, in Margaret
Street. It is called St. Elizabeth's Home, and
its object is to relieve women whom the present
London hospitals reject as incurable. The persons
received here are chiefly those who have "seen
better days," and are unable to support themselves
without assistance. In each case it is required that
the applicant should be able herself, or through her
friends, to guarantee a small annual payment.
Running parallel with Mortimer Street, and extending from the south-east corner of Cavendish
Square to Wells Street, is Margaret Street, which
keeps in remembrance the name of Lady Margaret
Cavendish, the daughter and heiress of the second
and last Duke of Newcastle of that line, and wife
of John Holles, Marquis of Clare and Duke of
Newcastle. The duke died without male issue,
and his daughter married Edward Harley, second
Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, whose daughter and
heiress became, in her turn, as we have already
seen, the wife of the second Duke of Portland.
The name of the duke's second title, Marquis of
Titchfield, is given to the street running parallel
with Great Portland Street, on its eastern side, and
reaching from Oxford Street to the Marylebone
Road; whilst Bolsover Street, close by, is named
after the duke's estate in Derbyshire.
In Margaret Street was the chapel of the Rev.
David Williams, the founder of the Royal Literary
Fund. For the facts contained in the following
account of him we are indebted to Dr. Robert
Chambers' "Book of Days:"—Born in a humble
sphere of life, near Cardigan, in 1738, he was
originally a minister of the Unitarian body, and
settled at Highgate. He next set up a very
liberal form of worship in Margaret Street, where
he preached mainly on social subjects, such as the
bad effects of gaming. We next catch a glimpse of
him at Chelsea, where he kept a school, and had
Benjamin Franklin for a guest at the time when the
American philosopher was subjected to the abuse
of Wedderburn before the Privy Council. He
wrote works on education, politics, public worship,
economy, &c., in all of which he showed a spirit
of philanthropy; but soon after the outbreak of
the French Revolution we find him joining the
Girondists, whom he helped to frame a constitution. When, however, the rabble at Paris began
to thirst for blood, he returned to England, and
set to work on the more sensible task of founding
a society for the aid of men of letters. In this he
succeeded, after many years of persevering labour,
in which he collected £6,000. He had the satisfaction of seeing the society regularly constituted and
founded in May, 1790. The society distributes
between £1,000 and £2,000 a year regularly in
aiding poor authors in their struggles. David
Williams died in 1816, and was buried in St. Anne's
In Margaret Street Campbell occupied chambers
during the day, whilst editing the New Monthly
Magazine, though he lived at Sydenham, and went
home every night by the stage-coach. Mr. Cyrus
Redding writes thus of him in his "Fifty Years'
Recollections:"—"When Belzoni returned from
Egypt I went to see his exhibition of the Egyptian
tombs. He appeared little altered, and as I was
going to take coffee with Campbell, I asked him
if he would like to be acquainted with the poet,
Campbell being curious about everything relating
to the East. He said he should like to go at that
moment, and I took him. The king, the queen,
and Bergami then occupied the attention of the
public. Belzoni and I passing through Bond
Street, his remarkable stature and foreign appearance attracted attention. Somebody gave out that
it was Bergami. People stopped to stare at us,
and a crowd rapidly collected. Belzoni proposed
we should get out of the larger thoroughfares,
which we did, he moving his Herculean form
rapidly onwards. We crossed into Hanover Square,
still followed by some of the mob; then crossing
Oxford Street, we were soon in Margaret Street,
and ensconced in the poet's lodgings. When
Belzoni stood by Campbell, I thought of 'Ajax the
Less and Ajax the son of Telamon.' I never saw
Belzoni but once after this, before he started on
the African expedition in which he died. He was
an unassuming, quiet man, on whose merit I am
convinced there were wrongful attempts made to
cast a cloud. His knowledge was strictly practical;
indeed, he pretended to nothing more."
On another occasion Cyrus Redding paid a
visit to the poet in his apartments here, which he
thus records:—"Walter Scott was in town soon
after the New Monthly Magazine commenced. He
was too much engaged, and too 'anti-Whig' to be
enrolled at any price in our pages. One day Scott
called in Margaret Street; he was going away as I
went in. When he was gone, Campbell tried at an
impromptu. 'Don't speak for a moment,' said the
poet, 'I have it.'
"Quoth the South to the North, 'In your comfortless sky
Not a nightingale sings.' 'True,' the North made reply;
'But your nightingale's warblings, I envy them not,
When I think of the strains of my Burns and my Scott!'"
Cyrus Redding, like a "Fidus Achates," took the
lines down on a letter-cover at the moment, and so
saved them from perishing. Let us be grateful for
In this street, between Great Portland and Regent
Streets, was formerly the West London Jewish Synagogue. It was built in 1850, from the designs of
Mr. Mocatta, and consisted of a square building,
surrounded on three sides with Ionic columns supporting the ladies' gallery, whence rose other
columns, receiving semi-circular arches, crowned
by a bold cornice and lantern light. The ark,
which completed the fourth side, was surmounted
by a decorated entablature, above which were placed
the tablets of the Ten Commandments. This
edifice has been superseded by the new building in
Great Portland Street, above described.
In Margaret Street stands All Saints' Church, a
handsome modern building of red brick, in the
simplest and severest style externally, though its
interior is more richly decorated than any other
church of the Anglican communion in London.
Until about 1850 there stood here a poor, meagre,
and gloomy little structure, built in the year 1788,
and known as "Margaret Street Chapel." It had
been originally a meeting-house belonging to Lady
Huntingdon's connection. On the publication of
the "Tracts for the Times," this chapel, then under
the Rev. W. Dodsworth, became a focus of extreme
Tractarian views, and its incumbent and his colleague, the Rev. F. Oakeley, both became Roman
Catholics. The new church, of which the architect was Mr. W. Butterfield, was built in 1850–9.
The first stone was laid by Dr. Pusey, its first
minister being the late Rev. W. Upton Richards.
The spire rises to the height of 230 feet. The
interior is richly decorated with carving, and with
frescoes of the Birth and Crucifixion of our Lord,
and the Court of Heaven, showing the saints with
our Lord in the centre, by Mr. W. Dyce, R.A.
The painted windows are by O'Connor. At the
entrance of the church is a baptistery, and adjoining it is a residence for its clergy, who are mostly
celibates. The music of this church is of a very
ornate and elaborate character; and its ritualistic
services attract large congregations, especially of
the upper classes, the majority being ladies. There
are separate seats provided for the male and
The following jeu d'esprit, said to be from the
pen of a clerical wit of our day, in all probability
contains an allusion to this sacred edifice:—
"In a church that is furnished with mullion and gable,
With altar and reredos, with gurgoyle and groin,
The penitents' dresses are seal-skin and sable,
The odour of sanctity 's Eau de Cologne.
"But if only could Lucifer flying from Hades
Gaze down on this crowd with its panniers and paints,
He could say, as he looked at the lords and the ladies,
Oh! where is 'All Sinners,' if this is 'All Saints?'"
At the corner of Margaret and Wells Street,
opposite the church, and more or less dependent on
it and its clergy, are various religious houses and
homes, in which the work of Christian charity is
conducted by ladies, who style themselves the "All
Saints' Sisterhood;" they work under the sanction
of the Bishop of London. The works in which they
are engaged are various. They teach in the nightschool of the district, and visit and nurse the poor
and sick at their own houses; and they take charge
of orphan girls, and receive aged and infirm women,
incurable sick women, and young serving girls into
the Home. These latter, as well as the orphans,
are trained up for service, and are instructed in the
various kinds of household work; and if any show
an aptitude for teaching, they are trained to be
schoolmistresses. The Sisters have also an industrial school, in which all kinds of plain needlework
are done. The building once used as the temporary
church in Margaret Street has been fitted up as an
orphanage. Attached to the Home is a pharmacy,
where medicines are dispensed by the Sisters to
the sick and needy, under the supervision of able
and experienced physicians, who regularly visit the
institution, and give their services gratuitously.
The buildings are of red brick, in the severest style
of Gothic architecture, and serve the double purpose
of a home and national schools.
Great Titchfield Street has had in its time, among
its residents, a few men of note in the world of art.
Mr. Cunningham mentions the names of Richard
Wilson, the landscape painter, who, in 1779, lived
at No. 85. Again, Loutherbourg, the landscape
painter, resided for some years at No. 45; and No.
76 was the residence of Mr. Bonomi, R.A.
In this street was formerly a place of worship for
the "Independents;" it was known as "Providence
Chapel," and was under the ministry of the eccentric
preacher, William Huntington. (fn. 2) The fabric was
burnt down in 1810, and on the minister being
spoken to respecting its rebuilding, he is said to
have observed that "Providence having allowed the
chapel to be destroyed, Providence might rebuild it,
for he would not," and in consequence the site was
afterwards occupied as a timber-yard.
Cirencester Place, the former name of the north
end of Great Titchfield Street, recorded one of the
inferior titles of the Duke of Portland, who is also
Baron of Cirencester. Like Norton Street, it was
formerly tenanted by an unsatisfactory population;
but these were cleared out a few years ago; and,
the houses being numbered as part of Titchfield
Street, the name disappeared.
Castle Street, a thoroughfare extending from
Upper Regent Street to Wells Street, and passing
across the north of Oxford Market, is probably
named after an inn which bore that sign, and it has
a history of its own. At No. 36, James Barry, the
Royal Academician, resided in 1773, when in the
height of his professional reputation and engagements. Here Edmund Burke gave him sittings for
a portrait painted at the request of their mutual
friend, Dr. Brocklesby. The painter here entertained Burke at a homely dinner, cooking the beefsteak on the fire in his parlour, and availing himself
of the great orator's aid in the operation. Barry
died in 1806, at the house of his friend and neighbour, Mr. Bonomi.
At No. 6, Dr. Johnson and his wife were living,
as we learn from Boswell, in 1738, on his second
visit to London; and it was in this street, at the
house of some Miss Cotterells, his opposite neighbours, that the great lexicographer first met and was
introduced to Sir Joshua Reynolds. It was also
whilst living here that he made the acquaintance
of Edmund Cave, to whom he addressed several
letters, printed in Boswell's "Life," and dated from
Oxford Market was so called either from the
Oxford Road, to which it was adjacent, or, more
probably, after Harley, Earl of Oxford, the original
ground landlord. It was erected in 1721, as shown
by the date in the brass vane which surmounts
its centre. The vane bears upon it the initials
"H. E. H.," which are probably those of Edward
Lord Harley and his wife, Henrietta (the heiress
of the house of Holles, Duke of Newcastle), who
gave the site. It is called by the painter Barry "the
most classic of London markets;" but it is certainly
difficult to see in what its "classic" nature consists.
It was originally a plain hexagonal structure, mostly
of wood; this was pulled down, either entirely or
to a great extent, about the year 1815, when it was
rebuilt, small dwelling-rooms above being added
to the shops below. It was the only daughter of
the above-named Lord Harley who carried this
and other adjoining property by marriage into the
family of the Duke of Portland. In February,
1876, the site of the market was disposed of by
public auction, the property being purchased for
£27,500 by Messrs. Louise and Co.
The Princess's Theatre stands on the north side
of Oxford Street, about four hundred yards east of
the Circus; it stretches backwards as far as Castle
Street. It occupies the site of a building formerly
known as the Queen's Bazaar, which had existed
for some years, but never gained popularity. It
was destroyed by fire in 1829, but rebuilt. In
1833 were exhibited here Mr. Roberts's great
picture of the "Departure of the Israelites out of
Egypt," and also the "Physiorama," comprising
twelve views arranged in a gallery 200 feet long.
The edifice, like its successor, had a back entrance
in Castle Street.
The building of the theatre was a costly and unsuccessful speculation, and it nearly ruined Hamlet,
the great silversmith of Leicester Square. In 1841
it was entirely remodelled, from the designs of
Nelson, and decorated by Mr. Crace; and it was
opened in the September of that year with a series
of promenade concerts. It is a chaste, elegant,
and commodious house, having three tiers of boxes,
besides another row just below the ceiling.
The history of the theatre is chiefly remarkable
for its having been the scene of Mr. Charles Kean's
Shakespearian revivals, which were commenced in
1849, and continued for ten years. In putting
these plays on the stage Mr. Kean spared no
expense, and shirked no amount of study and
trouble; and the theatrical world and the public
at large are largely indebted to his liberality and
erudition for the admirably correct costumes and
mise en scène which were in his time characteristic
of the plays at the Princess's. In all this he was
ably seconded by Mrs. Kean (formerly known as
Miss Ellen Tree), who entered warmly into the
spirit of his work of revival. In the first year he
adapted and produced Byron's play of Sardanapalus, and varied his Shakesperian revivals by
putting on the boards at various times Sheridan's
Pisarro, Louis XI., and other standard dramas.
In the year 1860, on his resigning the management of the theatre, Mr. Kean was invited to a
dinner in St. James's Hall, where a large company,
with the Duke of Newcastle in the chair, assembled
to do honour to the famous tragedian and spirited
manager. Shortly afterwards, in recognition of his
efforts to raise the dramatic profession and elevate
the English stage, Mr. Kean was presented with
a handsome service of plate.
THE MIDDLESEX HOSPITAL.
The theatre subsequently passed into the hands
of Messrs. Webster and Chatterton, of the Adelphi,
and Mr. Dion Boucicault for some time figured as
the leading actor. In 1864 a drama entitled the
Streets of London was performed here to overflowing houses. The play, however, like many others
of a similar character which have been since produced, appears to have aimed more at "sensationalism" than to have rested on its literary merits,
and, therefore, as stated in Charles Dickens's
"Life," may be put down as "but an inferior style
of theatrical taste." In May, 1866, after a three
years' absence from England, Mr. and Mrs. Kean
again appeared on the boards of this theatre for
one night, in the play of King Henry VIII. Mr.
Charles Kean died in London, in January, 1868.
We must here cross for a few minutes to the
south side of Oxford Street, in order to speak of
one or two matters which escaped us in our
wanderings westward. Nearly opposite the Princess's Theatre, in Blenheim Street, was at one
time the residence of Ugo Foscolo, of whom we
shall have more to say hereafter.
A strange occurrence is related by tradition as
having happened in Blenheim Street about the
time that Dr. Johnson lodged in it. A coach
drew up late one evening at the door of a surgeon,
Mr. Brooks, who was in the habit of buying "subjects" for dissection. A heavy sack was taken
out and deposited in the hall, and the servants
were about to carry it down the back stairs into
the dissecting-room, when a living "subject" thrust
his head and neck out of one end, and begged
for his life. The servants in alarm ran to fetch
pistols, but the "subject" continued to implore for
mercy in such tones as to assure them that there
was no ground for alarm, for he had been drunk,
and did not know how he had got into the sack.
Dr. Brooks coming in, ordered the fellow to have
the sack tied up again loosely round his chin, and
sent him off in a coach to the watch-house, where
it is to be hoped that he recovered his senses.
In Poland Street, the next turning eastward on
the same side of Oxford Street, was living, in 1765,
Mr. Burney, the friend and correspondent of Dr.
Johnson, so often mentioned by Boswell. This
street has also numbered among its residents Dr.
Macaulay, the husband of the authoress, Mrs.
Macaulay; Dr. Burney, the author of the "History
of Music;" and the old Earl of Cromartie, who
was pardoned by George II. for his share in the
Scottish rising of 1745.
In Oxford Street, on the same side, not far from
Wardour Street, is an inn called the "North Pole,"
so named, no doubt, to commemorate one of
those many arctic expeditions which from time to
time have left our shores, and those of adjoining
countries, in search of the spot "where there is no
north beyond it."
Re-crossing Oxford Street, we now leave the
Portland property on our left, and pass into that
belonging to Lord Berners' family. Wells Street,
which crosses the eastern end of Castle Street, is
narrow and crooked, and therefore more ancient
than its neighbours. Its name is probably a corruption of Well Street, and so called after Well, in
Yorkshire, the seat of the family of Strangeways,
from whom Lady Berners descends. Here Dr.
Beattie, the author of "The Minstrel," and of the
essay on "Truth," &c., was living during his stay
in London, in 1771. He was one of the last of
Dr. Johnson's contemporaries, surviving till 1803.
In this street is the handsome district church of
St. Andrew's, erected in 1846 from the designs of
Mr. Dankes. It is in the Early Perpendicular
Gothic style, and has a tower and spire upwards
of 150 feet high. At the east end is a large
painted glass window, by Hardman. The services
are intoned, but "plain-song and anthems are
used instead of Gregorian compositions;" and the
church has been always remarkable for the excellence of its choir.
Berners Street, so called after the family title of
its ground-landlord, runs northward a little to the
east of Wells Street. It was built about the middle
of the last century, and has always been celebrated
as the "home and haunt" of artists, painters, and
sculptors. Among its former residents are to be
reckoned Opie, Fuseli, and Sir William Chambers,
the latter of whom we have already mentioned in
connection with Somerset House. Opie was buried
in St. Paul's Cathedral. His second wife, Amelia,
the learned Quakeress, was well known by her
writings, "Tales of Real Life," "Poems," "Simple
Tales," &c. In this street was the bank in which
Fauntleroy, the forger, was a partner.
As we saunter up Berners Street we are irresistibly reminded of one of Theodore Hook's
earliest pranks, when his life was already a succession of boisterous buffooneries. This was in the
year 1809; and the lady on whom it was practised,
says Mr. Peter Cunningham, was a Mrs. Tottingham, living at No. 54. Hook, it appears, had laid
a wager that "in one week that nice quiet dwelling
should be the most famous in all London." The
bet was taken; and in the course of four or five
days he had written and dispatched several hundred
letters, conveying orders to tradesmen of every sort
"within the bills of mortality," all to be executed
on one particular day, and as nearly as possible
at one fixed hour. From "wagons of coal and
potatoes, to books, prints, feathers, ices, jellies, and
cranberry tarts," nothing in any way whatever
available to any human being but was commanded
from scores of rival dealers scattered all over the
metropolis. At that time the Oxford Road (as it
was then called) was not approachable either from
Westminster or from the City otherwise than
through a complicated series of lanes. It may be
feebly guessed, therefore, what was the crush, and
jam, and tumult of that day. We are told that
"Hook had provided himself with a lodging nearly
opposite the fated house; and there, with a couple
of trusty allies, he watched the development of his
midday melodrame. But some of the dramatis persome were seldom, if ever, alluded to in later times.
He had no objection to bodying forth the arrival of
the Lord Mayor and his chaplain, invited to take
the death-bed confession of a peculating commoncouncilman; but he would have buried in oblivion
that no less liberty was taken with the Governor of
the Bank, the Chairman of the East India Company,
a Lord Chief Justice, a Cabinet Minister—above
all, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and his
Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief. They
all obeyed the summons—every pious and patriotic
feeling had been most movingly appealed to. We
are not sure that they all reached Berners Street;
but the Duke of York's military punctuality and
crimson liveries brought him to the point of attack
before the poor widow's astonishment had risen to
terror and despair. Perhaps no assassination, no
conspiracy, no royal demise or ministerial revolution of recent times was a greater godsend to the
newspapers than this audacious piece of mischief.
In Hook's own theatrical world he was instantly
suspected, but no sign escaped either him or his
confidants. The affair was beyond that circle a
serious one. Fierce were the growlings of the
doctors and surgeons, scores of whom had been
cheated of valuable hours. Attorneys, teachers of
all kinds, male and female, hair-dressers, tailors,
popular preachers, parliamentary philanthropists,
had been alike victimised, and were in their
various notes alike vociferous. But the tangible
material damage done was itself no joking matter.
There had been an awful smashing of glass, china,
harpsichords, and coach-panels. Many a horse fell,
never to rise again. Beer-barrels and wine-barrels
had been overturned and exhausted with impunity
amidst the press of countless multitudes. It had
been a fine field-day for the pickpockets. There
arose a fervent hue and cry for the detection of the
wholesale deceiver and destroyer."
Hook, after this escapade, found it convenient to
have a severe fit of illness, and then to recruit his
health by a prolonged country tour. The affair,
however, having been a nine days' (or, possibly, a
nine weeks') wonder, blew over, and the unknown
author of the hoax re-appeared with his usual coolness in the green-room of the theatre.
Berners Street forms the head-quarters of several
foreign and charitable institutions, some of which
have been established ever since the last century.
In 1788 was founded the Society for the Relief of
Widows and Orphans of Medical Men. The
Medical and Chirurgical Society was established in
1805, and incorporated in 1834, for the cultivation
and promotion of medicine and surgery. The
society possesses a good library, numbering some
25,000 volumes. Here, too, are the Obstetrical
Society of London, instituted in 1858; and the
Pathological Society, founded in 1846. The lastnamed society was instituted for the exhibition and
examination of specimens, drawings, microscopic
preparations, casts or models of morbid parts, with
accompanying written or oral descriptions, illustrative of pathological science. All the above-mentioned medical societies, together with another
styled the Clinical Society of London, are accommodated in the same house (No. 53).
Adjoining this building (No. 54) is St. Peter's
Hospital for Stone. This charitable institution was
established in 1860, and its object is to benefit as
large a number as possible of suffering poor by
affording them, without a letter of recommendation, the advantages of hospital accommodation;
to improve medical and surgical knowledge on
the subjects specially treated of here, by bringing
together a large number of patients suffering from
those diseases, and thus affording opportunities for
observation and classification; and, in the cases of
patients suffering from stone, to investigate the best
means of accomplishing its removal with the least
possible danger to the life of the patient, and, whenever practicable, to substitute lithotrity for lithotomy.
The practice of the hospital is open to all students
and members of the profession.
At No. 22 are the offices of the Ladies' Sanitary
Association, and also the Society for Promoting
the Employment of Women. At No. 9 is the
Berners Women's Club—one of the first experiments in this direction. In the same house are
the offices of the Central Committee of the National
Society for Women's Suffrage. The London Association for the Protection of Trade has its office at
In Charles Street, at the top of Berners Street,
the view down which it commands, is the Middlesex
Hospital. The building, which is of brick, and
very extensive, comprises a centre and wings; it is
fitted up with baths, laboratory works, ventilating
shaft, and, indeed, all the necessary appliances for
comfort, &c. The hospital dates from about ten or
twenty years after the splendid bequest of Thomas
Guy, the penurious bookseller of Lombard Street.
It was first established, in 1745, in Windmill Street,
Tottenham Court Road, for sick and lame persons,
and for lying-in married women. It was removed,
in 1755, to its present site, when it stood among
green fields and lanes. Since 1807 the midwifery
patients, to the number of nearly a thousand yearly,
instead of being received as inmates, are attended
at their own homes by the medical officers of the
hospital. The cancer wards were founded by a
gift of £4,000 from Mr. Samuel Whitbread, in
1807, to which other gifts and legacies were added.
A remarkable incident in the history of the hospital
is that in 1793 it became a refuge for many of the
French royalist emigrants driven from France by
the Jacobin Reign of Terror. The buildings were
enlarged by new wings constructed in 1775, and
again in 1834. Lord Robert Seymour, a zealous
and munificent friend of this institution, obtained
for it the royal patronage of George IV., which is
continued by her present Majesty. The medical
school, established in 1835, enjoys a high reputation; it is furnished with a museum of valuable
The hospital contains beds for upwards of three
hundred patients. Of these twenty-six are devoted
to the cancer establishment, instituted in the year
1791, where the patient is allowed to remain "until
relieved by art or released by death;" eight are
appropriated to women suffering from diseases
peculiar to their sex; the remainder of the beds
being set apart for general miscellaneous cases.
Upwards of nine hundred lying-in married women
are attended at their own habitations, and eighteen
thousand out-door patients are relieved every year.
The hospital is unendowed. The annual subscriptions amount to not more than £2,355, while
of late years the expenditure has been increased by
some necessary works of improvement.
This hospital has numbered among its surgeons
and physicians men of the highest eminence in the
medical profession; besides which it has been the
cradle of many eminent careers in surgery.
In 1812 Sir Charles Bell was appointed surgeon
to this hospital, an important step in his early professional progress. We have spoken of him somewhat later in life, in our account of the Windmill
Street School of Surgery (page 236). It was he to
whom is ascribed the saying that "London is a
place to live in, not to die in;" and his remarks,
perhaps, may explain the reason which led him, in
the midst of a successful career in the metropolis,
to retire to his native city of Edinburgh—a step
which few Scotchmen take, if successful on the
south of the Tweed.
The southern side of Charles Street, which is continued by Goodge Street into Tottenham Court
Road, presents a busy appearance, especially on
Friday and Saturday evenings; and as one of the
few street markets remaining at the West-end, and
probably destined at no long interval to disappear,
may claim a short notice. To the long row of stallkeepers on its southern side, who display their
stores of fish, fruit, and vegetables in hand-barrows
and baskets, and on movable slabs, we may apply
the words of Henry Mayhew:—"The scene in these
parts has more of the character of a fair than of a
market. There are hundreds of stalls, and every
stall has its one or two lights; either it is illuminated
by the intense white light of the new self-generating
gas-lamp, or else it is brightened up by the red
smoking flame of the old-fashioned grease lamps.
One man shows off his yellow haddock with a
candle stuck in a bundle of firewood; his neighbour
makes his candlestick of a huge turnip, and the
tallow gutters over its sides; while the boy shouting
'Eight a penny pears!' has rolled his dip in a
thick coat of brown paper, that flares away with the
candle. Some stalls are crimson with a fire shining
through the holes beneath the baked chestnut stove.
Others have handsome octohedral lamps; while a
few have a candle shining through a sieve. These,
with the sparkling ground-glass of the tea-dealers'
shops, and the butchers' gas-lights streaming and
fluttering in the wind like flags of flame, pour forth
such a flood of light, that at a distance the atmosphere immediately above the spot is as lurid as if
the street was on fire."
Nassau Street, which runs north and south, a
little to the west of the Middlesex Hospital, was so
named in compliment to the royal house from which
King William III. was sprung.
Cleveland Street, which severs the Portland from
the Southampton estate, is a good broad street,
extending from Euston Road in a south-easterly
direction to the corner of Charles Street, close by
Middlesex Hospital, and, together with Newman
Street, affords a direct communication into Oxford
Street. On the eastern side of Cleveland Street is
a dull, heavy building, formerly the Strand Union
Workhouse, but which was taken, in 1874, as the
Central London Sick Asylum Infirmary, by the joint
action of the several parishes of Westminster, St.
Pancras, the Strand, and St. Giles's.
Newman Street was built between the years 1750
and 1770, and was, from the first, inhabited by
artists of celebrity, and its shops at the present
time still having among them several devoted to
art studies. Banks and Bacon, the sculptors, both
lived in this street; as also did Benjamin West, the
president of the Royal Academy. Cyrus Redding,
in his "Fifty Years' Recollections," speaks of him
as "a man of few words, grave, and I imagine," he
adds, "not possessed of much acquired information
beyond his art. I remember there were numerous
sketches in his gallery, but that of 'Death on the
Pale Horse' struck me most as a composition. It
was, indeed, of a high character." West's gallery
was in the year 1832 converted into a chapel by
the Rev. Edward Irving, on his expulsion from the
National Scottish Church in Regent Square, Gray's
In 1826, No. 28 was in the occupation of Thomas
Stothard, R.A., the designer of the Waterloo shield
at Apsley House; and four other royal academicians of lesser note figure in the Royal Blue Book
of that year as residents here. In 1836, three of
these five R.A.'s have disappeared; but the name
of Copley Fielding, as yet without those mystic
letters appended to it, is entered as part occupant
of No. 26.
At No. 73 is the London Artisans' Club and
Institute, and No. 85 is the National Hospital for
Diseases of the Heart.
In this street is a large public room called Cambridge Hall, where lectures on secular and religious
subjects are delivered. In 1870 some temporary
celebrity was given to it by a man named Newton,
who professed to be able to work miraculous cures
on all who came to him with a sufficient stock of
faith. Numbers of persons responded to his call,
most of them being females, of course; and in some
of them faith, or mind, had so great a command over
the body and the nervous system, that they went
away feeling or regarding themselves as cured. But
this strange "popular delusion" soon passed away,
and Mr. Newton was forgotten.
At No. 79 is Mr. Heatherley's School of Art,
where many, if not most, of the rising artists of the
time have made their commencement in artistic
practice. It was formerly kept by a Mr. Leigh,
who succeeded William Etty, the Royal Academician. Though the artists are "flown to another
retreat," yet their aroma still remains in Newman
Street, for half the shops are devoted to the sale of
articles subservient to artistic purposes.
Some of the shop-fronts on the north side of
Oxford Street about this point are very fanciful
and picturesque. At the corner of Berners Street,
No. 54, the shop of Messrs. Battam and Co., decorators, has a Rénaissance or Elizabethan front, "a
picturesque composition of pedestals, consoles, or
Amid all its bustle and business, Oxford Street
has nevertheless had a touch of "the romantic," if
a peculiar eccentricity, brought about by disappointment in love affairs, can be called a romance.
At all events, we read how a certain Miss Mary
Lucrine, a maiden of small fortune, who resided in
this street, and who died in 1778, having met with
a disappointment in matrimony in early life, vowed
that she would "never see the light of the sun!"
Accordingly the windows of her apartments were
closely shut up for years, and she kept her resolution to her dying day. It would, of course, be
impossible at this distant date to fix with accuracy
upon the exact house in which this singular whim
of turning day into night was carried out, for, as
the lady was merely occupying "apartments," it is
probable that her name does not appear on the
parish register of ratepayers, and a further search
would be profitless.