Bradshaw’s Hand Book, Part III – The West, The Strand, including St Clement Danes (no.14)

My spirits were low today, so, before embarking on ‘the route’ I visited Lincoln’s Inn to see  how the garden was progressing in our rather gloomy spring weather. It was beautiful, and tranquil.

Lincoln's Inn

Lincoln’s Inn

Ceanothus

Ceanothus – glorious!

Wisteria, and new leaves

Wisteria, and new leaves

The euphorbias still in bloom

The euphorbias still in bloom

Alliums

Alliums

‘We now proceed from Temple Bar westward, and enter the Strand…’, leaving the City and entering the City of Westminster.

The site of Temple Bar

The site of Temple Bar

‘..Before us is the Church of St Clement’s Danes..,’.  Apparently the Danes established a church on this site in the 9th century, and they named it after St Clement, the Patron Saint of feltworkers and hat makers; but there are also other explanations of the name, and history. The Church was ‘..rebuilt in 1682 by William Pierce, who received the design from Wren..’, and James Gibb raised the spire in 1719. St Clement Danes was destroyed in WWII and restored by appeals in the RAF, probably the fourth church on the site. Now the official RAF Church, on this afternoon I shared the Church with elderly men, and their wives, and there was a real sense of association with the past.

St Clement Danes, c.1720, before the construction of the Aldwych

St Clement Danes, c.1720, before the construction of the Aldwych

St Clement Danes on fire, 10 May 1941

St Clement Danes on fire, 10 May 1941

The interior of St Clement Danes

The interior of St Clement Danes today

The tower of St Clement Danes

The tower of St Clement Danes

(More photographs of the interior here.)

'Bomber' Harris standing guard outside the Church

‘Bomber’ Harris standing guard outside the front of the Church

And Dr Samuel Johnson thinking about words - this was his home territory

And Dr Samuel Johnson thinking about words – this was his home territory

Dr Johnson's pew in St Clement Danes

Dr Johnson’s pew in St Clement Danes

There is no churchyard – the church is its own island with traffic whizzing past on either side. A few gravestones lie on the pavement surrounding the church, and despite the noise I noticed a cabby standing to attention in front of these gravestones, in his own space and time – I felt he was remembering.

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‘On the right, .. is the entrance to Clement’s Inn..’. The building was demolished in 1934, and is remembered in the name of a little passageway. Clement’s Inn was attached to the Inner Temple and was closed down in 1903.

Clement's Inn, the Garden House

Clement’s Inn, the Garden House

Holywell Street is chiefly tenanted by newsvendors, second-hand booksellers, and renovators of faded garments’, says Mr Bradshaw, but no longer. The street was removed when the Aldwych was built in 1902-03; see here for article and images. Apparently the well, after which the road was named, can still be found under the Australian High Commission in the Strand. The redevelopment also removed Wych Street (noted for pornography, apparently), and its Olympic Theatre, and Lyon’s Inn in Newcastle Street. The Inn was attached to the Inner Temple and by its dissolution in 1863 had a poor reputation.

The site of the Holy Well in Holywell Street

The site of the Holy Well in Holywell Street

‘Essex Street, leading down to the river, where there is a pier at which the steamboats call, stands partly upon the site of Essex House..’. Essex House was demolished in the the 1670s and the street built by property speculator Nicholas Barbon. His full name was Nicholas Unless-Jesus-Christ-Had-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barebon, understandably he used the abbreviated form!

Essex Street today

Essex Street today

Information on the wall of Essex Street

Information on the wall of Essex Street

‘..From the 12th century onwards, large mansions lined the Strand including several palaces and townhouses inhabited by bishops and royal courtiers, mainly located on the south side, with their own ‘river gates’ and landings directly on the Thames..’ – none remain.

The Strand Theatre [in Arundel Street], a small establishment devoted principally to the production of burlettas and burlesques..’ was one of the many theatres so important to the Victorians. However, it too was demolished when the area was redeveloped in the early years of the 19th century.

The Whittington Club was also in Arundel Street: ‘..established in 1847, [it] occupies spacious buildings in Arundel Street, Strand, on the site of the old Crown and Anchor tavern, one of Dr. Johnson’s favourite hostelries. The club mainly owes its existence to the exertions of the late Douglas Jerrold and his friends, and is designed to afford the principal advantages of a “West End Club,” at a sufficiently moderate rate to meet the views of members of the middle class.’ The club closed in 1873 and was reopened as The Temple Club, but I assume this was also demolished at some point – I certainly couldn’t find it.

Arundel Street today

Arundel Street today

The Old Roman Bath lies between Strand Lane and Surrey Street. This article disputes the  age of the bath and suggests that it may have been a feeder for Essex House or Arundel House, and was eventually converted to a plunge pool. The water, according to Mr Bradshaw, comes from the Holy Well in the Strand. 

The 'Roman Bath' off Surrey Street

The ‘Roman Bath’ off Surrey Street

Strand Lane

Strand Lane, the entry to the Bath

Access only by appointment

Access only by appointment

The Church of St Mary-le-Strand was built by John Gibbs in 1717 and stands on the site of an ancient maypole..’. It is the official church for the WRNS, the Womens Royal Naval Service, and, like St Clement Danes, stands on an island in a sea of traffic.

St Mary le Strand & Somerset House, 18th century print

St Mary le Strand & Somerset House, 18th century print

St Mary le Strand

St Mary le Strand

It wasn’t a particularly beautiful church, but I love the blue light and so I sat for a while and remembered my mother, who died a year ago, and whose ashes blew away in the wind a year ago last week. And then I lit two candles, for my sister and me.

St Mary le Strand, interior

St Mary le Strand, interior

Somerset House was originally built by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, regent of England from 1547-49, and one of the grand mansions overlooking the Thames. It was  rebuilt completely by Sir William Chambers in 1786. Now the home of the Courtauld Institute, and a major arts centre, the signs over the doors tell of past functions.

Somerset House by Kip, 1722

Somerset House by Kip, 1722

The interior of Somerset House, with the Edmund J Safra Fountain Courtyard

The interior of Somerset House, with the Edmond J Safra Fountain Courtyard

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Somerset House from Waterloo Bridge today, obscured by trees and separated from the river by the Embankment

Somerset House from Waterloo Bridge today, obscured by trees and separated from the river by the Embankment

King’s College was ‘..founded in 1828-9 by a group of eminent politicians, churchmen and others. They wanted a Church of England alternative to what later became University College London (UCL, founded in 1826), known as ‘the godless college in Gower Street’. King’s was granted a royal charter by King George IV on 14 August 1829. The University of London was established in 1836 with King’s and UCL its two founding colleges..’.

The quadrangle between the College and the East Wing of Somerset House, now part of the University

The quadrangle between the College and the East Wing of Somerset House, now part of the University

Mr Bradshaw describes John Rennie’s Waterloo Bridge, which opened on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, June 18, 1817. It carried a railway, vehicles, and allowed foot passengers who ‘..pay a toll of one halfpenny..’.

However, there proved to be structural problems and the current Waterloo Bridge, built by Sir Gilbert Scott, opened in 1945.

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Waterloo Bridge, from the London Eye, August 2009. Somerset House is at the top of the picture, alongside the Bridge.

Unfortunately the views described by Mr Bradshaw no longer exist, particularly the ‘..misty line of hills..reaching to the very heart of the most picturesque and pastoral portion of Surrey..’. Even the view towards the City is very different: we can still see St Paul’s, but a ‘..bristling forest of masts dwindling into the hazy perspective of the Pool..’ has gone.

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The Lyceum Theatre in Upper Wellington Street, opened in 1834, is still in use:

Lyceum Theatre today

Lyceum Theatre today

‘The shops which we now pass on our progress westward, are generally devoted to the exposition of some one of the multifarious shapes of art.’ But no longer; the Strand is a busy thoroughfare, moving traffic and people from the City to the West End, via Charing Cross Station, and as such it captures the noise and grubbiness of which Mr Bradshaw spoke in the beginning of his Guide.

Next we find Savoy Street, the site of John of Gaunt’s Savoy Palace which was considered the grandest London residence but was burned down in 1381. It was replaced by the Savoy Hospital, built by Henry VIII and opened in 1512 to care for the poor. The hospital closed in 1702 and the buildings were demolished in the 19th century. What remains is the hospital chapel of St Mary-le-Savoy in Savoy Row, although the name lives on in the hotel and theatre, and street names.

The Savoy Hospital

The Savoy Hospital

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The interior of The Savoy Chapel

The interior of The Savoy Chapel

This beautiful, tranquil Chapel, so close to the grubbiness of the Strand, has been controversial in recent times.

Exeter Hall was demolished in 1907 and the site is now the Strand Palace Hotel. The Hall opened in 1831 and its two halls could accommodate 1,000 and 4,000 people. The Anti-Slavery Society met in the Hall, it was the YMCA headquarters, and a concert hall, where Berlioz conducted.

Exeter Hall, the Strand

Exeter Hall, the Strand

The Adelphi Theatre is the fourth theatre on this site.

The current Adelphi Theatre

The current Adelphi Theatre

Maiden Lane lies behind the Theatre and ‘..almost certainly occupies the site of an ancient track from Drury Lane through the convent garden to St. Martin’s Lane. The south side of the street probably marks the line of the old mud wall of the garden and, after c. 1610, the line of the brick boundary wall built by the third Earl of Bedford…’. Mr Bradshaw has encouraged me to divert in the past and so I did!

Voltaire lived here

Voltaire lived here

The famous Rules Restaurant

The famous Rules Restaurant

The house where Turner was born, no.21

The house where Turner was born, no.21, with Exchange Court to the right, leading to the Strand

DSCF6653DSCF6654Corpus Christi Church in Maiden Lane only dates to 1873, but it feels older and is unexpectedly peaceful in a busy area.

The interior of Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, Maiden Lane

The interior of Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, Maiden Lane

Crossing over to the south side of the Strand, John Adam Street leads to the Adelphi Terrace, built by the Adams brothers in 1768-72. These eleven large houses, with warehouses underneath, were the first neo-classical buildings in London. Durham House was demolished for their construction. The print below is interesting because, without the Embankment, the close relationship with the Thames is very obvious. The buildings were demolished in the 1930s and replaced with the Art Deco Adelphi building – why?

The Adelphi Terrace, 1768-72, by Robert and John Adams

The Adelphi Terrace, 1768-72, by Robert and John Adams

The land slopes down to the river but the houses are level with the Strand. The warehouses underneath accommodated the slope of the land, and the tunnel in Lower Robert Street today remains as part of those warehouses – a quick cut through to the Embankment. (Interesting article here.)

And we can also find The Royal Society of Arts, established in 1754. ‘..At the heart of the RSA’s contemporary mission and public debates about the future prospects for the human race is the question: ‘Can we go on like this?’ Will the ideas and values which transformed our world in the last two centuries be sufficient to find solutions to the challenges we now face or do we need new ways of thinking?..’

The Royal Society of Arts, John Adam Street

The Royal Society of Arts, John Adam Street

Buckingham Street has an old water gate, built by Inigo Jones, and this is the ‘..only remnant of a princely mansion, built for George Villiers, the second and last duke of that family..’, remembered also in Villiers Street, and of course in Buckingham Palace.

The water gate at the bottom of Buckingham Street

The water gate at the bottom of Buckingham Street

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The river side of the water gate

Looking towards the river

Looking towards the river, now out of sight!

Embankment gardens were rewarding today –

Abundant laburnum

Abundant laburnum

Fragrant lilac

Fragrant lilac

Hungerford Market opened in July 1833 on the site of an older market, and sold fruit, vegetables, and fish along the river. There was ‘..a direct entrance to Hungerford Suspension Bridge, …and a steam-boat pier..’.

Hungerford Market in 1850

Hungerford Market in 1850

Brunel's Hungerford Suspension Bridge in London linking the market (now Charing Cross) with the south bank

Brunel’s Hungerford Suspension Bridge in London linking the market (now Charing Cross) with the south bank

Charing Cross was built on the site of Hungerford Market in 1864, just after Mr Bradshaw’s time. Brunel’s Hungerford Suspension Bridge was demolished in 1863 for the railway bridge, and the chains were used in the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol.

Clifton Suspension Bridge, with Brunel's chains

Clifton Suspension Bridge, with Brunel’s chains

Opposite the Market was the Lowther Arcade. The Strand was a favoured shopping area and although the Arcade is no longer there the building remains.

The Lowther Arcade

The Lowther Arcade

Charing Cross Hospital at the corner of King William Street was built in 1833, and remained in use until 1973, when it relocated to Hammersmith, and the building became a police station.

Charing Cross Hospital, c.1930, on the right of the picture

Charing Cross Hospital, c.1930, on the right of the picture

At this point the rain began in earnest and I stopped for the day. I had mixed feelings – so much had changed because of the new road layout, and the creation of the Embankment. But then change is a leitmotiv in London. However, Westminster is very different to the City!