Mr Bradshaw accompanied me to London this afternoon for the first time since mid-September – I have missed him and today felt almost like a secret assignation. I set off rather nervously with my new camera.
Mr Bradshaw launched himself: ‘It will not be uninteresting to mention that this large district, that for years has constituted the most fashionable haunt of the titled and the wealthy was, not more than a century and a half ago, the most filthy and repulsive in the metropolis’! Change must have been very rapid because in 1700 Bond Street ended at Clifford Street, and the houses below were built in Clifford Street c.1719
Clifford Street was on Lord Burlington’s estate and named after his great-grandmother, Elizabeth Clifford. The interior of no.8 was mainly burnt out in 1988, which is a great loss as it must have been stunning, with paintings probably by Sir James Thornhill.
Old Bond Street was developed by Sir Thomas Bond in the 1680s and development stopped at Clifford Street. (Interesting post on Old Bond Street here.) To the north were open fields which supplied water to this part of London, Conduit Mead (now New Bond Street) – Conduit Street was named for the same reason. The Great Conduit, built in 1236, funnelled water to the City, and the City of London acquired the land, the Conduit Mead Estate, in the 15C to safeguard the water supply to the City. (This post says other.) It was this estate which was developed during a building boom in the 1700s.
Bruton Lane is curiously winding on the map, inviting me walk this way, through Berkeley Square to Grosvenor Square. I also noticed the curves in Marylebone Lane, slightly further north, and of course this was and still is the course of the Tyburn River. (There are many fascinating posts and an excellent book on this and other ‘lost’ rivers in London.) I also found a curious sight:
And in Berkeley Square, clear signs of autumn
Grosvenor Square lies to the west of this area, and was developed at the same time as Hanover Square, 1715. Mr Bradshaw feels the squares in this area ‘..seem to have the stamp of the last century indelibly impressed upon them..’. (Interesting post here.) I found Grosvenor Square somewhat characterless, despite its strong American associations, and did not find evidence of Mr Bradshaw’s comments – perhaps I need to revisit.
Grosvenor Square is the second largest square in London. ‘.. The average cost of homes originally built there was the amazing sum of 7,500 pounds–at a time when a time when a farm laborer received less than 40 pence, there are 240 pence per pound, per day during the high demand harvest season…’. These were new residential areas in London, mainly developed by wealthy landowners (mainly the aristocracy), for the wealthy.
The Eagle Squadrons ‘..were three fighter squadrons of the Royal Air Force (RAF), formed with volunteer pilots from the United States during the early days of World War II(circa 1940), prior to America’s entry into the war in December 1941.’
I felt Portman Square was quite different – atmospheric, private, and therefore locked. Building of the Square started in 1764 on land belonging to Henry William Portman, a property developer.(The Portman Estate site lists maps showing the progressive development of the area, and giving more background.)
No.20 Portman Square, Home House, (with the portico) was the original Courtauld Institute. It was built 1773-77 by Robert Adam for Elizabeth, Countess of Home. Montagu House was destroyed in WWII, the home of the intriguing Mrs Elizabeth Montagu.
From here I walked up the squiggle of Marylebone Lane, the course of the Tyburn River. A church and the river named this area. The first church, St John the Evangelist, was built c.1200, in the village of Tybourn. In c.1400 the second church was built further along the river and named St Mary-by-the-Bourne (which eventually became Marylebone.) It was rebuilt 1741, and demolished in 1949. (Images of the second and third churches here.) And the current church is on the Marylebone Road. (This area is now owned by the Howard de Walden Estates, who give a brief history here, and further details here.)
It curious that Mr Bradshaw does not mention it; numerous interesting or remarkable people were associated with the church. Just round the corner is the current (fourth) parish church of Marylebone, completed in 1817.
Madame Tussaud’s Wax Exhibition ‘..should not be overlooked..’. Well, I regret that I did not visit on this occasion. (History here.) The show was originally positioned in The Baker Street Bazaar, bombed in WWII, and now Michael House. The Baker Street Bazaar also staged a very popular annual Christmas Cattle Show, and had an ice rink – now repeated in the Christmas ice rinks all over London!
I then wandered through residential streets: ‘..To the west[of Portland Place] are some of the finest and most aristocratically inhabited streets in the metropolis, but presenting nothing deserving especial mention..’. Chandos House in Queen Anne Street, designed by Robert Adam and with an illustrious history. It is quite splendid inside, built from stone quarried at Adam’s own quarry near Edinburgh.
Portland Place remains a wide, elegant boulevard, but I couldn’t find the statue of the Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria’s father. There were instead memorials to Lister and General Sikorski.
At the curve in the road is ‘..At the end of Langham Place is All Souls’ Church, built by John Nash in 1823 to take advantage of the curve in the newly designed Regent Street.
In Upper Regent Street I would have found The Polytechnic Institution, first opened in 1838, and an exhibition hall for machinery, inventions, and pictures. There are also two theatres. The Institution was founded by Quintin Hogg, who lived in Cavendish Square and is commemorated in a statue in Portland Place.
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