Project Gutenberg's Hampstead and Marylebone, by Geraldine Edith Mitton This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Hampstead and Marylebone The Fascination of London Author: Geraldine Edith Mitton Editor: Sir Walter Besant Release Date: August 15, 2009 [EBook #29690] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HAMPSTEAD AND MARYLEBONE *** Produced by Susan Skinner and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
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THE STRAND DISTRICT.
By Sir Walter Besant and G. E. Mitton.
By Sir Walter Besant and G. E. Mitton.
HAMPSTEAD AND MARYLEBONE.
By G. E. Mitton. Edited by Sir Walter Besant.
By G. E. Mitton. Edited by Sir Walter Besant.
By G. E. Mitton. Edited by Sir Walter Besant.
HOLBORN AND BLOOMSBURY.
By G. E. Mitton. Edited by Sir Walter Besant.
G. E. MITTON
SIR WALTER BESANT
ADAM & CHARLES BLACK
Published August, 1902
Reprinted February, 1903
A survey of London, a record of the greatest of all cities, that should preserve her history, her historical and literary associations, her mighty buildings, past and present, a book that should comprise all that Londoners love, all that they ought to know of their heritage from the past—this was the work on which Sir Walter Besant was engaged when he died.
As he himself said of it: "This work fascinates me more than anything else I've ever done. Nothing at all like it has ever been attempted before. I've been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day."
He had seen one at least of his dreams realized in the People's Palace, but he was not destined to see this mighty work on London take form. He died when it was still incomplete. His scheme included several volumes on the history of London as a whole. These he finished up to the end of the eighteenth century, and they form a record of the great city practically unique, and exception[Pg viii]ally interesting, compiled by one who had the qualities both of novelist and historian, and who knew how to make the dry bones live. The volume on the eighteenth century, which Sir Walter called a "very big chapter indeed, and particularly interesting," will shortly be issued by Messrs. A. and C. Black, who had undertaken the publication of the Survey.
Sir Walter's idea was that the next two volumes should be a regular and systematic perambulation of London by different persons, so that the history of each parish should be complete in itself. This was a very original feature in the great scheme, and one in which he took the keenest interest. Enough has been done of this section to warrant its issue in the form originally intended, but in the meantime it is proposed to select some of the most interesting of the districts and publish them as a series of booklets, attractive alike to the local inhabitant and the student of London, because much of the interest and the history of London lie in these street associations. For this purpose Chelsea, Westminster, the Strand, and Hampstead have been selected for publication first, and have been revised and brought up to date.
The difficulty of finding a general title for the series was very great, for the title desired was one that would express concisely the undying charm[Pg ix] of London—that is to say, the continuity of her past history with the present times. In streets and stones, in names and palaces, her history is written for those who can read it, and the object of the series is to bring forward these associations, and to make them plain. The solution of the difficulty was found in the words of the man who loved London and planned the great scheme. The work "fascinated" him, and it was because of these associations that it did so. These links between past and present in themselves largely constitute The Fascination of London.
G. E. M.
The name of this borough is clearly derived from "ham," or "hame," a home; and "steede," a place, and has consequently the same meaning as homestead. Park, in a note in his book on Hampstead, says that the "p" is a modern interpolation, scarcely found before the seventeenth century, and not in general use until the eighteenth.
Lysons says that the Manor of Hampstead was given in 986 A.D. by King Ethelred to the church at Westminster, and that this gift was confirmed by Edward the Confessor; but there is an earlier charter of King Edgar of uncertain date, probably between 963 and 978. It granted the land at Hamstede to one Mangoda, and the limits of the grant are thus stated: "From Sandgate along the road to Foxhanger; from the Hanger west to Watling Street north along the street to the Cucking Pool; from the Cucking Pool east to Sandgate."
Professor Hales, who thinks, whether genuine[Pg 2] or not, this charter is certainly of value, interprets Sandgate as North End, Foxhanger as Haverstock Hill, Watling Street as Edgeware Road, and the Cucking Pool he concludes was in the marshy ground at the north-west corner of the parish.
This earlier charter is only interesting because it carries the history one point further back; the gift to the monks by King Ethelred was in its consequences far more important. The Bishop of Westminster, who held the land after the dissolution of the monastery, surrendered it to the King in 1550, by whom it was given to Sir Thomas Wroth. It remained in the Wroth family until 1620, when it was acquired by Sir Baptist Hickes, afterwards Viscount Campden. Hickes' daughter and coheir married Lord Noel, ancestor of the Earls of Gainsborough, and it was held by the Gainsboroughs until 1707. In that year it was bought by Sir William Langhorne, who left it to his nephew. It then went to a Mrs. Margaret Maryon, later to Mrs. Weller, and about 1780 to Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson, in right of his wife. Her son, Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson, succeeded her, and in this line it has remained since 1818.
Besides the Manor of Hampstead there is included in the borough the ancient Manor of Belsize, or Belses. Sir Roger de Brabazon in[Pg 3] 1317 gave an estate to Westminster Abbey to found a chantry for himself, Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, and Blanche his wife. After many changes it was occupied by Lord Wotton, who had been created a Baron by Charles II. His half-brother, Philip, Earl of Chesterfield, succeeded him, and the family held the Belsize estate until 1807. The house was afterwards turned into a popular place of amusement.
Hampstead as a whole has grown very rapidly. In a map of the beginning of the nineteenth century there are comparatively few houses; these nestle in the shape of a spear-head and haft about the High Street. At West End and Fortune Green are a few more, a few straggle up the southern end of the Kilburn Road, and Rosslyn House and Belsize House are detached, out in the open country.
Seymour, writing in 1735, gives a quaint description of Hampstead as follows: "This Village ... is much more frequented by good company than can well be expected considering its vicinity to London, but such care has been taken to discourage the meaner sort from making it a place of residence that it is now become, after Scarborough and Bath and Tunbridge, one of the Politest Public Places in England, and to add to the Entertainment of the Company there is, besides the long room in which the Company meet publicly on a Monday evening[Pg 4] to play at cards, etc., a new Dancing Room built this year."
Hampstead itself, now a town of 80,000 people, is almost entirely modern; the old village has been gradually destroyed until there is next to nothing left. But the Heath remains, the only wild piece of ground within easy reach of the Londoner. It remains to be seen whether the authorities will continue to observe the difference between a park and a heath.
No suburb of London can point to so many distinguished residents as this, the most favoured and the most favourite. Among them may be mentioned Sir Henry Vane, Dr. Butler (author of the "Analogy"), Lord Alvanley, Lord Chatham, Lord Erskine, Crabbe, Dr. Johnson, Joanna Baillie, Mrs. Barbauld, Constable, Romney, Sir James Mackintosh, Steele, Gay, Arbuthnot, Akenside, Thomas Day, Leigh Hunt, Keats, William Blake, John Linnell, Wilkie, Stanfield, Du Maurier, and many others.
Directly you get within the boundaries of Hampstead you are aware that the borough has an atmosphere of its own—an atmosphere in two senses, for the great height of part of the borough and its distance from London combine to give it as wholesome and pure an air as may be found in any place in England, and an atmosphere in the metaphorical sense—a peculiar feeling of bright[Pg 5]ness and lightness which proclaims a favoured suburb. Hampstead has always been celebrated for its trees, and in spite of the great annual increase in the number of its houses these have not been wiped out of existence. Nearly every house possesses one or more, and some are very fine specimens. The long sinuous backbone of the borough, beginning as Haverstock Hill, continuing as Rosslyn Hill, and running through High Street and Heath Street to the Heath, is tree-shaded almost all its length. The streets on either side show vistas of irregular red brick, softened and toned down by the greenery of trees; every road is an avenue. The main artery, indicated above, is all uphill, not all equally steep, but collar-work throughout its length; at the top it bifurcates, and the winding of Heath Street reminds one of a Continental town. The steep little streets or alleys running down into it are furnished with steps like the Edinburgh wynds. The way is long, but the toil is forgotten at the summit in the splendid view from the flagstaff. Here the rolling blue outlines of distant hills are emphasized by the beautiful foreground of the West Heath. There is none of what painters call the "middle distance"; everything is near or far, and the near is extraordinarily beautiful, especially if it be seen in springtime when the spray of blossom is like the spray of deep water breaking upon rocks, and the[Pg 6] gorse twinkles like the twinkling of ripples in the golden sunlight. The immediate foreground is bare and worn, but a little further away the miniature heights and hollows, the scrubby bush and little winding paths, add that mystery which so greatly increases delight. The pond by the Flagstaff is frequently very gay; there are carriages and horses, children with flotillas of white-sailed craft, and horses splashing knee-deep from end to end of the pond, an advantage much appreciated in the hot and thirsty summer. Away to the east stretches of rolling green form a joyous playground for all at holiday times, but are bare and arid compared with the West Heath.
Below North End on West Heath this character is maintained, and there are few sights in England more beautiful than the richly clothed broken ground stretching away from the slopes below Jack Straw's Castle when the sunlight catches the leaves of the poplars and beeches, making them shine with shimmery silver light. On all sides are magnificent views of distant horizons.
The Heath forms one of the greatest attractions of Hampstead, and that the inhabitants are fully alive to its beauty and importance is shown by their gallant and successful efforts to preserve it intact, when, from time to time, it has been threatened. Neither the proposed curtailments by the Lord of the Manor nor the park-like[Pg 7] "improvements" of the London County Council have been permitted. It is still a wide space of undulating ground, outlined by masses of foliage rising to the heights of Highgate, and is an untold boon to the dwellers in the City, who throng its slopes on Bank Holidays. In 1866 a contest arose between the Lord of the Manor, Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson, and the inhabitants of Hampstead as to the preservation of the Heath. Up to that date for twenty years a guerilla warfare had been going on in dispute of Sir Maryon Wilson's right to build upon the Heath, and when he began to build a house close to the Flagstaff pond the matter came to an issue. A subscription list was opened called the Hampstead Heath Protection Fund, and the matter was taken into court. Before the case was ended Sir Thomas died, and was succeeded by his brother Sir John, who was open to a compromise. Under an Act of Parliament the Metropolitan Board of Works acquired the Heath for £55,045. The ground thus acquired comprised 220 acres. In 1889-90 Parliament Hill Fields and the Brickfields were purchased for £302,000, with money partly raised by the local Vestries, partly by public subscription, and partly by Metropolitan taxation. The land thus bought from Lord Mansfield and Sir Spencer Wilson comprised 261 acres, and was dedicated to the public as an open space for ever.[Pg 8]
The part of the Heath known as East Heath consists of rolling grassy slopes outlined with clumps of trees and intersected by roads and footpaths. The great road known as Spaniards, which cuts across as straight as an arrow, gives the impression of having been banked up and levelled at some previous date, but this appearance is due to the excavations for sand and gravel at its sides which took place while the ground was still under the rule of the lord of the manor.
The Heath has suffered from highwaymen in common with most lonely spots in the vicinity of the Metropolis. One, Jackson, in 1673, was hung behind Jack Straw's Castle for highway murder, but no other very notorious crimes are attached to this spot as there are to Hounslow or Blackheath.
The Heath is not altogether destitute of houses; of those detached, several have had the origin of what Baines terms "Squatters' right," and have established their title by process of time. There are also several hamlets: the Vale of Health, the houses about Jack Straw's Castle, North End, and the group near the Spaniards.
The curious little cluster of buildings called the Vale of Health, situated in a basin near to one of the Hampstead ponds, has always attracted considerable attention. Here Leigh Hunt came to live in 1816; his house was on the site of the Vale[Pg 9] of Health Hotel. Thornbury quotes an old inhabitant, who writes of Leigh Hunt's cottage as having a "pretty balcony environed with creepers, and a tall arbor vitæ which almost overtops the roof." There are very few even tolerably old houses left here; the little streets are of the modern villa order, and the great square tavern, with its tea-gardens and merry-go-rounds, its shooting-galleries and penny-in-the-slot machines, has vulgarized the place. Prince Esterhazy is said to have taken a house in the Vale of Health in 1840; this has been "long since pulled down." The place is now dedicated to the sweeping tide of merry-makers which flows over it every recurring Bank Holiday.
The charming spot called North End still remains rural in appearance: small cottages with red-tiled roofs and quaint inns survive side by side with the modern red-brick school-house. The Bull and Bush is said to have been the country seat of Hogarth, and later, when it became a tavern, to have been visited by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Garrick, Sterne, Foote, and other celebrities. The house is very picturesque: the projecting wing northward is of rusticated woodwork; the leads of the bayed-windows are covered with flowers in summer. There are still the old-fashioned tea-gardens attached.
There are many substantial and comfortable[Pg 10] residences about North End, but the Hampstead boundary does not include them all. Wildwoods, or, as it used to be called, North End House, is the most important within the boundary. The original fabric of the house is two centuries old, but has been altered and repaired largely. The spot is named Wildwood Corner in Domesday Book. Its chief historical interest lies in its occupation by William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham, who shut himself up here from all communication with his fellow-Ministers in 1767; he was then a miserable invalid, afflicted with a disorder which in modern times would have been termed "nerves"; he refused to see anyone, even his own attendant, and his food was passed to him through a panel of the door. However, he afterwards returned to public life. In Wildwood Terrace are the Home of Rest for the Aged Poor, and a Convalescent Cottage Home. Wilkie Collins was born at North End. Besides this, the names of Linnell, portrait and landscape painter, Coventry Patmore, Mrs. Craik, Eliza Meteyard, a minor author, and Sir Fowell Buxton, are more or less intimately associated with the little hamlet.
A charming path leads over the broken ground from North End to the Spaniards. The most noticeable object as the pedestrian approaches the latter is a grove of fine Scotch firs, which at one time formed an avenue to a substantial, unpre[Pg 11]tentious house on the north. A Mr. Turner, a tobacconist of Fleet Street, built the house and planted the trees in 1734. The road past the house turns to the left or north, and is bounded on the east side by the wall of the Caenwood property.
Following the road we come upon Erskine House, a stuccoed house with covered porch, chiefly remarkable for the immense size of its upper windows, which are out of all proportion to those of the ground-floor. These command a magnificent prospect, and light a room which, it is said, was designed as a banqueting-hall in which to entertain George III. The house was the residence of the great law lord, Thomas Erskine, and on that account alone is worthy of special mention. A tunnel connecting it with Lord Mansfield's grounds formerly ran under the road.
Below the house, standing at an angle to the Highgate Road, and looking down the hill, is the famous old inn called the Spaniards. Here, at least, the modern builder has not been at work. From the quaint tiled roof to the irregular windows and white-washed brick walls, all is simple and charming. A little lean-to shed of rusticated woodwork forms a bar at the back. This tavern is actually outside the boundary of Hampstead, but it is so closely connected with the parish that it cannot be overlooked. It is on[Pg 12] the site of a lodge at the entrance to the park or grounds of the Bishop of London.
From Wroth we learn that about the middle of the eighteenth century or earlier one Staples laid out a curious pleasure-garden here, with quaint designs, which attracted much attention. It was the landlord of the Spaniards Inn who in the time of the Gordon Riots dexterously detained the rioters from proceeding to Caenwood House until the troops arrived to protect it. The tea-gardens at the back still survive; in these was the old bowling-green. Close by was another pleasure-garden, New Georgia, but this is quite beyond the parish limits.
Returning across the Heath, we come to Jack Straw's Castle, though there is no evidence to show that the riotous ringleader of 1381 had ever any connection with the hostelry named after him, but it is quite possible that the Heath formed a rendezvous for the malcontents of his time. In early times an earthwork stood on the site, which gave rise to the name "castle." The real Jack Straw's Castle was at Highgate. It is almost certain that the Hampstead hostelry was originally a private house; the wood of the gallows on which one Jackson had been hanged behind the house, in 1673, for highway murder, was built into the wall. When the place became an inn it was called Castle Inn, and the first mention of Jack Straw's[Pg 13] Castle is in a book published in 1822 called "The Cabinet of Curiosities." The present inn was built in the early part of the eighteenth century, and is a nice-looking stuccoed old house; through the entry to the yard we get a glimpse of red-tiled, rusticated wooden outbuildings. On one side are the tea-gardens. Dickens often resorted here, as is mentioned in Forster's "Life of Dickens," and the inn is referred to also by Washington Irving in "The Sketch-Book."
There was a race-course behind the hotel on the Heath, but the races have been suppressed. In a paper contributed to Baines' book on Hampstead a correspondent says: "The Castle Hotel is associated with the meetings of the Courts Leet, and in the old days during the Middlesex Parliamentary elections the house was a famous rendezvous for candidates and voters." A brick house two centuries old at the corner of Spaniards Road is Heath House. It was long occupied by the Hoare family, of banking fame, whose name has been intimately associated with Hampstead. Visitors of distinction have often been received here, and the names of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Crabbe were among those of frequent guests.
The Flagstaff marks a very high point on the Heath, 439 feet, which is, however, surpassed by Jack Straw's Castle at 443 feet.
The Whitestone Pond has been enlarged, and is[Pg 14] supplied by New River water. From this site a view of surprising beauty is seen—broken ground covered by bracken and gorse, bushes and trees, with the blue outlines of the distant hills.
South of the Whitestone Pond is the Hampstead water reservoir, and near it beds of flowers, rhododendron bushes, etc., are neatly laid out. Almost immediately opposite is a quiet, dark-coloured little brick house, with area steps descending in front and the entrance on the north. This (now a private residence) was once the Upper Flask Tavern, familiar to all the readers of Richardson, for here he makes the unhappy Clarissa Harlowe fly in his famous novel. The Kit Kat Club used to meet here during the summer months, and many celebrities of Queen Anne's reign, including Pope and Steele, are known to have patronized the tavern. George Steevens, the commentator on Shakespeare, who died in the beginning of the present century, lived here, and spent much money on alterations and improvements. Anything less suggestive of a tavern than this cool, shady, retired spot cannot well be imagined. A very large red-brick house, modern, with fancy tiles, stands in its own grounds adjacent, overlooking Holford Road. But it is quite impossible to enumerate all the charming residences scattered about in this locality.
East Heath Road skirts the edge of the Heath.[Pg 15] In itself it contains nothing remarkable, but closely adjoining are one or two of those charming old red-brick mansions which make Hampstead what it is. Heathfield House, Squires Mount, and The Pryors are specimens of these.
On the south side is Cannon Hall, an old Queen Anne mansion. Old cannon, which have doubtless some connection with the name, stand in the roadway before it, and close by is Christ Church Vicarage, of the same type, with red-tiled roof.
Christ Church Road is a long tree-shaded thoroughfare descending the slope of the hill; it was formerly called Green Man Lane, from the public-house of that name at the foot.
The church stands at a great elevation, and has a high spire, which forms a landmark far and wide. It was built by Sir Gilbert Scott, consecrated in 1852, and was the successor of the chapel in Well Walk, an account of which is given on p. 18. The church was enlarged in 1882. The streets hereabouts are set at all angles, and the result to a stranger is a little perplexing.
Hampstead Square is a square only in name; one or two delightful old brick houses are dotted about, but are chiefly detached, and can hardly be said to form a square. At New End is the workhouse originally built in 1845, but extended in 1870 and 1883. It is a solid and commodious building. Of the remainder of that part of Hampstead[Pg 16] known as New End, it is almost impossible to give any detailed account. It is a curious medley of steeply tilted narrow streets, little passages, small cottages set down at any angle, with vine or Virginia creeper growing over them, and here and there a hideous row of little modern brick houses. The White Bear at New End is the oldest public-house in the parish, bearing date 1704. Willow Road lays claim to its name by the fringe of willows that lines its northern side.
The Flask Tavern in Flask Walk is on the site of one of the oldest beerhouses in Hampstead; the present structure is a hideous brick building of modern date. The Walk is reached from High Street under a covered entry, and the street is at first only wide enough for the passage of one vehicle. Being on the side of the hill it shows, further on, a picturesque irregularity with the footway at a different level from the road. Small rows of limes add a certain quaintness to its aspect, and it is easy to imagine the four days' fair, beginning on August 1, which used to be held here annually. The watch-house and public stocks stood at the upper end of this street when removed from Heath Street.
It is easy to imagine that the name Flask originated in the shape of the road, with its narrow neck and expanded end, but perhaps the[Pg 17] Walk took its name from the public-house, in which case the suggested derivation would fail.
Well Walk is the most celebrated spot in Hampstead, for here flow the famous chalybeate waters, which rivalled those of Bath and Tunbridge Wells, and in their best days drew an amazing army of gay people to the spot. The earliest mention of the spring is in the time of Charles II., when a halfpenny token with the words "Dorothy Rippin at the well in Hampsted" on the obverse was issued. In 1698 Susanna Noel with her son Baptist, third Earl of Gainsborough, gave the well, encompassed by six acres of ground, to the poor of Hampstead. It was in the beginning of the eighteenth century that the waters first became famous. Howitt says they were carried fresh every day for sale to Holborn Bars, Charing Cross, and other central spots; but their palmy days did not last very long, for in 1734 there was an attempt to revive interest in them by a laudatory pamphlet. However, while they were at the height of their popularity many persons whose names are well known were attracted by them. It was at the Long Room, Hampstead, that Fanny Burney (afterwards Madame D'Arblay) came to stay, and here she made her heroine Evelina attend balls. Her book gained her such a circle of admirers that it is said her second work was expected as eagerly as a novel from Scott.[Pg 18]
The chief building was the Pump Room, on the south side of the street, near where the entrance to Gainsborough Gardens now is. The first recorded entertainment here was on August 18, 1701, when a concert was given. Concerts and entertainments of various kinds were kept up during the season. There was a bowling-green near. This house dated from about the beginning of the eighteenth century. In 1733 it was converted into an episcopal chapel, and was so used until 1849. There was another chapel called Sion Chapel in the vicinity, though its exact situation is unknown; here couples could be married for five shillings, provided they brought with them a license. The license was not always insisted on. The Pump Room was later used as a guard-room of the West Middlesex Volunteers, and was pulled down in 1880 to make way for the road above mentioned. It was then discovered by the intervening wall that the adjacent house was of still older date, and it is thus proved to be one of the oldest remaining in Hampstead. It has a graceful spindle porch and delightful old-world air, though the side adjoining Gainsborough Gardens has been refaced.
Just opposite is a solid drinking fountain of polished granite, with inscription to the effect that it is in memory of Susanna Noel's gift, and here the chalybeate waters may still be tasted. One or[Pg 19] two old houses are on the northern side of the Walk, and one of these, a long, low, red-brick edifice called Weatherhall House, deserves special notice. It contained the Long Room where dances and assemblies were held, and even after the fame of the waters declined it still held its place. Perhaps this is the room referred to by Seymour as having been built in 1735. He describes it as "60 feet long and 30 feet wide, well adorned with chandeliers. The manner of being admitted into it is by a ticket, of which every gentleman who subscribes a guinea for the season has one for himself and two more for two ladies; all those who have not subscribers' tickets pay 2s. 6d. each at the entrance every night. And Sunday nights in the same room is an assembly where the gentlemen and ladies who lodge in the town are entertained with tea and coffee at sixpence per head, but no other amusements are allowed on these nights."
Here Mrs. Johnson came, and Mark Akenside, poet and physician of the eighteenth century; Dr. Arbuthnot, friend of Swift, a man ranked high among the wits of his day, and holding the appointment of physician to Queen Anne; Fanny Burney, and many others. The house is now a private residence. Standing further back from the road behind a quadrangle is Burgh House, also old. This was at one time used as a militia[Pg 20] barracks, at which time (1863) the two solid wings adjoining the road were erected.
Burgh House is now a private residence, and the cells where insubordinate soldiers were confined are converted into the drying and mangling rooms of a laundry.
The Wells Tavern is on the site of the Green Man, of ancient date. In 1879 the Vestry proposed to sweep away the groves of the Well Walk and make it into a modern thoroughfare, a New Wells Street, which drew forth indignant protest from the parishioners and a pamphlet from Sir Gilbert Scott.
The renovations, accordingly, were confined to the opening of one or two new streets on the south side, and the erection of the fountain. But even this involved the destruction of part of the old Pump Room. On the site of the Pump Room is a new red-brick house called Wellside, built in 1892, which has an inscription to that effect. Besides the Pump Room, Well Walk has many associations. The famous painter Constable lived in a house which was then numbered 6. He took this house as an extra one in 1826, though still retaining the studio and a few rooms in his London house, near Fitzroy Square; he was then fifty, and was just beginning to feel the small measure of success which was all that was granted him in his lifetime. John Keats and his brothers[Pg 21] lodged in Well Walk, next to the Wells Tavern, in 1817-18; and the seat on which Keats loved to sit under a grove of trees at the most easterly end is still called by his name. Here Hone found him "sobbing his dying breath into a handkerchief."
East Heath and South End Roads are traversed annually by millions of people, for they lead from the station and the tramway terminus to the Heath, passing some nicely laid-out ground suggestive of a watering-place, and a curious octagonal tower connected with the water companies.
To the north-east are the Hampstead ponds, which are supposed to have been made in Henry VIII.'s reign. They are certainly larger now than they were in the seventeenth century, and have probably been enlarged artificially. They are now in possession of the New River Waterworks Company. The streets on the hill beyond the ponds are all modern.
Gayton Road is composed entirely of modern villas in a continuous straight line. Many of the streets in the vicinity are in the same style, and were built over open meadows at a comparatively recent date. On Downshire Hill is an episcopal chapel with white porch and small cupola; this is dedicated to St. John.
John Street, like Downshire Hill, has detached[Pg 22] residences on either side. Large brick flats are rising on the ground once covered by Lawn Bank and Wentworth House. In the former Keats was a welcome visitor from 1818 to 1820, and here he wrote many of his famous poems. Fanny Brawne, with her mother, occupied the adjacent house.
Rosslyn Hill was formerly called Red Lion Hill, from a public-house which stood on the site of the present police-station. On the north side are a Unitarian chapel and schools approached by handsome iron gates. The chapel is approached from Pilgrim Lane and Kemplay Road, and the schools from Willoughby Road. There stood near by until within the last twenty years an old building known as the Chicken House. This is supposed to have been once a hunting lodge of King James I., though there is little basis for the tradition. It became later a mean hovel, the rendezvous for the scum and riffraff of the neighbourhood. It stood a little back from the road just at the spot where Pilgrim Place now is, and contained some very curious stained glass in its windows. There was in one section a portrait of King James I., with an inscription on a tablet below in French to the effect that the King slept here on August 25, 1619. In another section was a corresponding portrait of the favourite, Buckingham. Further north there existed another old[Pg 23] house known as Carlisle House. Perhaps this is the one mentioned by Park as a red-brick Elizabethan house with rubbed quoins, which had been let in tenements, and was in a ruinous state in 1777.
On the south or western side of Rosslyn Hill there is the police-station before mentioned, and adjacent an interesting Tudor house, which, though not old, is well built; this contains the Soldiers' Daughters' Home. Old Vane House previously stood here, and was the residence of Sir Harry Vane of the Commonwealth, and later of Bishop Butler, who wrote the "Analogy." The Home is on the site of the south wing of this building, and includes no part of it. Belmont House, now a private residence, was the northern wing. Baines speaks of a date, 1789, and the initials I.R.W. scored on the leads of the latter, but this gives no clue to the age of the building. He says: "The antiquity of the house is abundantly shown by the arrangement of the basements, by the thickness of the main walls, and by a curious subterranean passage from the brewhouse to the stable-yard."
The institution of the Soldiers' Daughters' Home was the outcome of the patriotic feeling aroused by the Crimean War. The house was built for the reception of the girls, who entered into possession in 1867. The Tudor feeling has been well carried out, from the deep porch which overlooks[Pg 24] the ivy-surrounded courtyard in front to the stone staircases within. The result is delightful; instead of the hideous dreariness of an institution, we have a real home. At the back a large extent of grass playground stretches out westward, and at the end of this there is a grove of trees. On one side of the grass is a large playroom built in 1880 by means of an opportune legacy, and on the other a covered cloister which leads to the school, standing detached from the house at the other end of the playground. An old pier burdened with a mass of ivy stands up in the centre, the only remnant of this part of old Vane House. Some years ago a portion of the ground was profitably sold for the frontage to Fitz John's Avenue.
The girls are received between the ages of six and eleven years, and remain until sixteen. They are trained in every requisite for domestic service, and make all their own clothes except hats and boots. As a badge of the army, they are always dressed in scarlet.
High Street has been greatly changed within recent years, and it is within the memory of living persons that there were trees on each side. The opening of the two new roads, Prince Arthur Road and Gayton Road, affected its appearance. At the corner of Prince Arthur Road is a large Wesleyan chapel in many coloured bricks. Opposite is the[Pg 25] King of Bohemia, a public-house which dates back to Jacobean times, and contains some good Jacobean woodwork; also Stanfield House, once the residence of Clarkson Stanfield the artist, now used as a subscription library. The Free Library reading-room is under the same roof. The house is of brick with ivy climbing over it. About the end of old Church Lane cluster a few old red-brick houses, which preserve a certain flavour of picturesqueness in the street. Opposite the Wesleyan chapel a few more peep over more modern additions. The north-east side is almost entirely modern. The Bird in Hand public-house, where the London omnibuses complete their journey, inherits the name and site of an old tavern. A Presbyterian church at the corner of Willoughby Road dates from 1862, but replaces a much older one removed 1736. In the earlier one Mr. Barbauld, chiefly known on account of his famous wife, ministered for many years. After his death Mrs. Barbauld continued to live at Rosslyn Hill.
Heath Street cuts diagonally across the top of High Street. Below the junction it is all modern, immense red-brick buildings of similar type, with large shops on the ground-floors. At the junction is an imposing fire-station, built by Vulliamy in 1874 on the site of the old police-station. The street higher up is narrow and irregular, with a row[Pg 26] of elms above the level of the roadway on the west side. A conspicuous Baptist chapel in white stone with two western spires was built in 1862, but the origin of the congregation here dates from the preaching of Whitfield on the Heath in 1739. The watch-house and stocks were formerly situated at the foot of Heath Street, and later removed to Flask Walk. About Golden Square there are many little irregular entwined streets and passages, with here and there a cottage, here and there the flat sashed windows of a house of a bygone generation, all intricate, entangled, but very quaint and charming.
The Grove is a long shady avenue, with one or two fine old houses on either side of the road and a few cottages. At the top is a big boys' school. On the east in one building are Old and New Grove Houses, and opposite is Fenton House, which was long known as the Clock House. New Grove House was the residence of Du Maurier. At the north end is the Hampstead Waterworks reservoir.
A tree-shaded eminence, crowned with pleasant seats and commanding a magnificent view of the Heath, leads to Branch Hill. This, marked in Park's map Prospect Walk, is now called the Judge's Walk. This name is derived from a tradition that the judges came here and held their courts under canvas while the plague was[Pg 27] raging in 1665. But derivations of this sort are very easy to make up and entirely unreliable.
Lower and Upper Terraces just behind are full of charming residences. In the former Constable lived at intervals (No. 2) during 1821, and to the latter Mrs. Siddons came in the autumn of 1804. In Montague House Sir G. Scott lived.
Branch Hill runs down into Frognal Rise, and on the west there are one or two big houses scattered about.
Branch Hill Lodge belonged to Sir Thomas Clarke, Master of the Rolls in 1745, who presented it to Lord Chancellor Macclesfield. It was for a period the residence of the Earl of Rosslyn, and tradition connects Lord Byron's name with it. It stands in beautiful and extensive grounds. Further along Branch Hill Road there are many new terraces and one or two big houses.
Hollybush Hill is in a straight line with High Street, and between it and Heath Street there are curious little steep passages and alleys, which resemble those found in some Continental towns. Hollybush Hill is associated with the name of Romney the artist, who lived here and built a studio in 1796. He was then sixty-two, the zenith of his career was past, he suffered from ill-health and was morbid and irritable. The studio was converted into Assembly Rooms after his death, and is now[Pg 28] incorporated into the Constitutional Club building which adjoins. This club is social and Conservative. The exterior is of rusticated woodwork, and a flagstaff stands before it. In the curious little side-street known as Holly Mount is the front of the Hollybush Tavern, a stuccoed building with a somewhat fantastic wooden porch or veranda. Three houses in a row face the open space at the top of Hollybush Hill. The most easterly possesses a charming old ironwork gate supported by old brick piers and the inevitable stone balls. This is protected by an outer modern gate. All three houses stand back behind gardens, so that only glimpses of them can be seen from the road.
In Bolton House, the most westerly of the three, Joanna Baillie, dramatic writer, and her sister Agnes lived. Mr. Shaw, writing in the "Dictionary of National Biography," says: "Geniality and hospitality were the characteristics of the two sisters during their residence at Hampstead, and even when one became an octogenarian and the other a nonagenarian they could enter keenly into the various literary and scientific controversies of the day." This is next door to the house known as Windmill Hill, which is also the name given to the locality. Opposite is Mount Vernon, where the Hospital for Consumption stands, a pleasant red-brick building which contains accommodation for eighty in-patients; the out-patient[Pg 29] department is in Fitzroy Square. A new wing was opened by Princess Christian in 1893. On the sloping ground near the old workhouse used to stand; before it was a workhouse, Colley Cibber used to meet Booth and Wilkes to arrange his dramatic campaigns in this building.
Behind the hospital is a Roman Catholic chapel, in which Mary Anderson was married. This was built in 1816, and the founder was the Abbé Morel. The front is stuccoed, and in a niche there is a group of Virgin and Child. Close by a stone slab bears the name "Holly Place, 1816."
St. Vincent's Roman Catholic Orphanage occupies No.'s 1, 2, 3, Holly Place. To the west are big National schools and playgrounds, and a curving hill called Hollybush Vale runs into the modern part of Heath Street. On the west of Heath Street are Oriel Place and Church Lane. At the corner of the latter is the Sailors' Orphan Girls' Home. This is a big formal building, with none of the architectural beauty which marks the sister establishment on Rosslyn Hill. The institution, however, claims an older date, having been founded in 1829. The present building was opened in 1869 by the Duke of Edinburgh. The girls are kept from six to sixteen years of age and trained for domestic service. Their uniform is the naval colour, dark blue. This road, running[Pg 30] past the building formerly called Greenhill, is now merged into Fitz John's Avenue.
Church Row is almost entirely old, one of the most lovable and quiet parts of the parish—houses of brick with flat-sashed windows, projecting porches with carved brackets, here and there red tiles, here and there a bower of jasmine and ivy. One house covered with rusticated woodwork projects above the ground-floor in a bay carried up to the roof.
Dr. Sherlock, Dean of St. Paul's, and a great theological and controversial writer in the reigns of William III. and Anne, and Dr. Arbuthnot were former residents in the Row, and the great Dr. Johnson stayed at Frognal Park in the vicinity. Mrs. Barbauld (see p. 25) and Miss Aikin are also to be numbered among the residents. There is an industrial school for girls, and at the western end of the Row the parish church (St. John the Evangelist) rears its tower beyond a line of small lime-trees. The place has, however, recently been disfigured by high mansions.
The parish of Hampstead was originally included in that of Hendon. The churchwardens of Hampstead first appeared at the Bishop's visitation in 1598, which therefore marks the beginning of an actual parochial settlement, though the register commences in 1560, nearly forty years earlier. Until 1561 it was considered[Pg 31] as a donative or free chapel, and after that date it became a perpetual curacy, subject to the jurisdiction of the Bishop and the Archdeacon.
The first church or chapel, which stood on the same site as the present one, must have been a curious little structure, if one may judge from the illustrations still extant—a low-pitched Gothic building with wooden belfry. This was dedicated to St. Mary, and the date of its origin is unknown. In 1745 it was taken down, and services were held in the chapel in Well Walk for two years, while the new church was being built. The building itself is of a kind of dingy earth-brick, which, in spite of the conspicuous date, 1745, at the east end, looks as fresh and sharp-edged as if it were of yesterday. The body of the church is mercifully clothed in ivy, but the square tower, with its abnormal battlements and stone courses and facings, rises up nakedly. The peculiarity of the church is that the tower is at the east end. The conical copper spire was added in 1784. An old clock-dial of stone faces eastward.
To raise funds for the building of the church a plan was formed by which those who gave £50 were to have first choice of seats, and to have the additional privilege of handing on such seats to their heirs. This arrangement continued until 1827. Besides many minor alterations and improvements, a thorough rearrangement of the[Pg 32] interior took place in 1878. Then a chancel was added at the west end, and thus we have beneath it the open-arched vaults which form its support. The old pews were done away with, and the interior redecorated. The reredos is of mosaic work. The font is of Siena marble "with moulded bases and carved Ionic capitals of white statuary." The general scheme of decoration is of a free Renaissance colour. The restoration cost £14,000. The ceiling is very elaborately decorated, and in a side chapel is a large fresco painting. The choir is ornamented by beautiful inlaid wood, in the same style as the font cover. There is an excellent bust of Keats, presented by American admirers in 1894.
The churchyard is a peculiarly peaceful spot, surrounded by trees, beeches, acacia, and evergreens. There are no abnormal monstrosities such as are found among the tombstones of our big cemeteries, but plain altar-tombs, crosses, and upright slabs of stone. The main entrance is by flagged walks between neatly-trimmed hedges, and from this foreground even the church looks almost picturesque.
The tomb of John Constable the artist, his wife, and some of his children, is in a shaded corner in the south-east. Joanna Baillie is buried here, and Lucy Aikin, also Lord Erskine, and many minor artists. The churchyard was enlarged in 1738, and in 1811 an additional ground was[Pg 33] formed on the north side of the road. Here, though it is very peaceful, there is not the same charm as there is about the older ground. Mrs. Rundle Charles, author of "The Chronicles of the Schonberg Cotta Family," rests here, with a plain Iona marble cross bearing date 1896, as her memorial.
The more important of the parish charities are:
The Wells and Campden Charity, originating in the Gainsborough bequest of the well and six acres of land in Well Walk. In 1642 Lady Campden bequeathed £200 to trustees to purchase land for the poor of the parish, and to this other legacies were added. Freehold land was purchased at Child's Hill, and in 1855 the distribution of the money was reorganized.
The oldest parish benefactor was Thomas Charles, who in 1617 left money to buy bread for the poor of the parish. The bread is still bought and distributed. Various other bequests of small amounts were made from time to time. About 1723 the then Bishop of London, John Robinson, left £169 odd for the poor.
The succeeding bequests were below this in value until 1771, when William Pierce, a surgeon, left the interest on £1,700 in 3 per cents. to endow a Friday evening lecture, to pay the parish clerk and others for attendance, and to buy Bibles and[Pg 34] Prayer-Books. John Stock's Charity produces nearly £80 per annum for the clothing and education of poor children. The next in importance was Thomas Rumsey's gift of £900, the interest on which was to buy coals for the poor. The other bequests are too numerous and too small in amount to mention.
The origin of the name of Frognal is not known, though the locality is of some importance, as it contained the old manor-house where the Courts Leet were held. The demesne lands at Frognal occupied from four to five hundred acres of the best land stretching from Child's Hill to Belsize. The old manor-house, which stood at the north-east corner of West End Lane, was a long, low farmhouse building which contained a big hall. Mr. Pool, a lessee, pulled it down and built a brick house on the site, and, later, built a small house on the south side of the lane, where he went to live himself. The Courts followed him, and were held there. There are now on the site of the ancient manor-house two buildings side by side; the one to which the ancient title has descended appears the more modern. The Ferns next door looks older, in spite of Howitt's assertion that the manor-house built by Mr. Pool is the same now bearing the name, and The Ferns occupies the site of the former manor-house. There are numerous substantial and comfortable[Pg 35] houses in the vicinity. Frognal Hall, near the west end of the church, was the residence of Isaac Ware, architect, and here Lord Alvanley died.
To the north-west are a row of new buildings, forming a crescent on the hill called Oakhill Park, and to one of these Miss Florence Nightingale is a frequent visitor during the summer months. At the top of Frognal Gardens the Editor of this survey lived. Returning again to West End Lane, we find the hand of the modern builder everywhere apparent. Until recently a mock antique erection in the Gothic style known as Frognal Priory formed a feature in the landscape; this has quite disappeared. It was built by a dealer in curios known as "Memory" Thompson about the end of the eighteenth century, and was full of curiosities. The owner was pleased to have visitors to inspect his property, and it is said that one of his freaks was to leave five-shilling pieces lying about for them to pick up. Lower down the Frognal Road all is modern, and we come into the part formerly known as Shepherd's or Conduit Fields. There was a spring here which used to be the principal source of the Hampstead water-supply. The water was carried in pails by persons who thus earned a livelihood. An old woodcut of this well is still extant; it is represented as a spring with an arch over it. The building of Fitz-John's Avenue, cutting right[Pg 36] through the fields, quite destroyed their character, and they are now more or less covered with streets.
Rosslyn House, which stood between Wedderburn and Lyndhurst Roads, deserves a word of mention as one of the latest of the famous old Hampstead houses to be destroyed. It was originally called Shelford House, but changed its name when it became the property of Alexander Wedderburn, first Earl of Rosslyn, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, 1793. It was noted for its magnificent avenue of Spanish chestnuts said to have been planted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Elizabethan relics have been found in the vicinity. The grounds are now cut up and let for building purposes. Woodlands, another fine large house, is also shorn of its glory, roads having been driven through its leafy gardens.
West End Ward embraces that portion of Hampstead which is limited by the Hampstead junction railway on the south and the Finchley Road on the east.
West End still preserves the character of a little hamlet, though surrounded on all sides by new streets. The name arose from its being the western terminus of the demesne lands. The small triangular bit of green at the junction of Fortune Green and Mill Lanes preserves its rural aspect, with two little tumbledown, creeper-covered[Pg 37] cottages overlooking it, though it will probably before long suffer from the plague of red brick. To the south there is a line of buildings and shops, with a few—a very few—of older date wedged in between the new ones. West End Hall, a square red-brick house of respectable antiquity, stands back behind a rather dilapidated wooden palisade, but a row of magnificent elms lines the street before it. Beyond it are one or two other houses in their own grounds. Here a fair was formerly held annually on July 26 and two following days.
Mill Lane was formerly Shoot-up-Hill Lane, a name now absorbed by a portion of the northern road into which it runs on the west. The present name is derived from a mill which stood in the Edgware Road, and was burnt in 1861, owing to the friction caused by the high velocity of the sails in a gale of wind. A building called Kilburn Mill still marks the western end of the lane, though it is in a dilapidated condition, with the windows broken. Mill Lane was widened by the Vestry, and now runs between rows of small houses, all of modern date. At the top of Aldred Road is a big brick building, the Field Lane Boys' Industrial School. At the corner of the same road stood an unpretentious little church, built in 1871; it has been pulled down in the last few years. A little further eastward in Mill Lane is a national school looking[Pg 38] rather like a chapel, and then we come to the Green again.
There is little in Fortune Green Lane that calls for comment. On the west side it is completely lined with small new houses. The Green at the top still remains open for the geese to hiss and cackle over at their will. The Hampstead cemetery lies on the north. This consists of about 20 acres of land, and two-thirds of it was consecrated by the Bishop of London in 1876, the remainder being left unconsecrated. A smooth drive runs down between close-shaven turf, and is lined by rows of singularly uniform monuments, of which two-thirds are in the form of marble crosses. The chapel, with its two wings for Church of England and Nonconformists, connected by a pointed spire and tower, stands across the central drive as an archway. There is a different kind of fascination in this well-kept, quiet spot from that derived from the irregularity of sloping Highgate or the monstrous tombs and overpowering vaults at Kensal Town. There are many persons buried here whose names are known to those of their own country and time, but none of any world-wide note. Maas the singer is perhaps the most important among them. We have now commented on the principal parts of the ward, except the great eastern and western roads by which it is bounded.
Finchley Road bounds the borough on the west.[Pg 39] Beginning at Swiss Cottage, we recall the fact that Hood died in a house near the present railway-station which is now pulled down. The first building that strikes the eye is New College, for Nonconformists, a big stone edifice standing on a green lawn behind a row of small trees. On the opposite side, further northward, building operations are taking place on a large scale. On the west side again is Trinity Church, date 1872, a small church of ragstone with red-tiled roof. We travel much further on before arriving at any other feature of interest, passing Finchley Road Station and the shops gathered in the vicinity, also the Hampstead Public Library, a big building at the corner of Arkwright Road. Hampstead was comparatively slow in adopting the Public Library Act. The site for its library was acquired from Sir Maryon Wilson, and the stone was laid by Sir Henry Harben, who had given £5,000 for the erection of the building. Five branch libraries are established in connection, and the main one is chiefly for reference. This was opened in 1897. Further on, we pass on the east numerous rows of red-brick houses, and on the west the fields and meadow-lands still open.
Then we come to a huge red brick building with terra-cotta facings; this was founded in 1866, and is intended both as a college and seminary. It belongs to the Congregationalists, and their[Pg 40] chapel attached is of the same materials, and was founded in 1894. Another well-known institution is Westfield College for ladies, which stands in Kidderpore Avenue on the rising ground to the west of Finchley Road. The front of the house, in which the entrance is, is an old building called Kidderpore Hall, and to this the large modern wing inhabited by the students was added in 1890. The work is for the London Degrees in Arts and Sciences. There are forty-five students, and each one has two rooms, a larger allowance than is made at Girton. Through the fields, beyond the cemetery, a winding footpath takes us over the railway into the Edgware Road.
The part of the road which goes by the name of Shuttup Hill or Shoot-up-Hill deserves some comment. The Knights Templars anciently held an estate here of which the origin is obscure. At the Dissolution King Henry seized it, and handed it over to the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. But their turn was to come also. In 1540 the King despoiled them, and gave Shoot-up-Hill to Sir Roger Cholmeley. At a later date we find that this and the estate at Kilburn were vested in the same holder, Sir Arthur Atye and Judith his wife.
There is very little to remark on in this hill. A few of the houses on the west are not aggressively modern, but those on the east are all start[Pg 41]lingly new. St. Cuthbert's Church, built in 1887, stands at the end of St. Cuthbert's Road.
Howitt derives the name of Kilburn from Kule-bourne or Coal-brook. The earliest mention of this locality is when one Godwyn, a hermit, retired here in the reign of Henry I., and "built a cell near a little rivulet, called in different records Cuneburne, Keelebourne, Coldbourne, and Kilbourne, on a site surrounded with wood." This stream is the same which passed southward to the Serpentine, and empties itself into the Thames at Chelsea, called in its lower course the Westbourne.
Between 1128 and 1134 Godwyn granted his hermitage to the conventual church of St. Peter, Westminster. The Abbot, with the consent of the convent, gave it to three pious maidens, Emma, Gunhilda, and Cristina, who are said to have been maids of honour to Queen Matilda. They were to live here, and Godwyn was to be master warden, and on his death they were to choose some staid and senior person to fill his place. It is to be gathered that the maidens were bound to celibacy, though no particular monastic rule seems to have been enjoined. In the ensuing years there were jealousies between the Bishop of London and the Abbot of Westminster, who both claimed jurisdiction over the Priory. The Pope, in 1224, who arbitrated, gave the award in the Abbot's favour, but the Bishop[Pg 42] appealed to the Bishops of Rochester and Prior of Dunstable, and, as they were on his side, he calmly assumed authority. The Priory was enriched by various grants and privileges, and its devotees increased in number. At the dissolution of the monasteries the King gave it to the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem in exchange for some lands he wanted. But in 1540 he wrested it from him, and regranted it to Robert, Earl of Sussex. As has been mentioned above, Kilburn eventually came into the same holding as Shoot-up-Hill.
A sketch of the Priory as it remained in 1772 is still extant, and shows a little barn-like building with exterior buttresses and gable-ends. Needless to say that no trace of it now remains, though its memory is perpetuated in the names of Priory, Abbots, and Abbey Roads.
When the foundations for the London and North-Western Railway were dug in 1850 various relics were found—tessellated tiles, human bones, and a bunch of old-fashioned keys, etc.—which pointed to the fact that the Priory had stood on that site. This spot is still pointed out not far from Kilburn Station, close by the place where Priory Road goes over the railway. It is a most uninteresting spot at present, with dull respectable middle-class shops leading up to it.
A legend of Kilburn given in Timbs' "Romance of London" may be alluded to here. It states[Pg 43] that at "a place called St. John's Wood, near Kilburn," there was a stone stained dark-red with the blood of Sir Gervase de Mertoun, who was slain by his brother, who had become enamoured of his wife. Gervase, with his dying breath, exclaimed: "This stone shall be my deathbed!" The brother Stephen suffered remorse for his crime, and ordered a handsome mausoleum to be erected to his victim's memory, which was to be built of stone taken from the quarry where the murder was committed. As the eye of the murderer rested on a certain stone, blood was seen to issue from it. This completed the murderer's horror and remorse; he confessed his fault and died shortly after, leaving his property to Kilburn Priory.
Kilburn Wells became famous about the middle of the eighteenth century, and soon rivalled those of Hampstead as a place of entertainment. Even so late as 1818 they were a favourite resort for Londoners.
The High Road at Kilburn, continuing in a straight line into Maida Vale and the Edgware Road, is the old Watling Street of the Romans.
As a street it possesses little interest. Lines of modern red-brick buildings with shops on the ground-floor form the main part of it, and further south the shops are smaller, the buildings more irregular.[Pg 44]
In the remainder of the ward pleasant rows of moderate-sized houses with small trees growing before them form the majority of the streets.
In Priory Road is St. Mary's Church, a fine stone edifice in the Gothic style, dating from 1857. Behind this are open fields, rapidly being encroached upon by the builder.
In Quex Road there is a large Wesleyan chapel with a big portico, close by a Roman Catholic church with high-pitched roof, which instantly recalls the Carmelite Church at Kensington; the architect was the same, Pugin. It was built in 1878, and inside is lofty and light, with polished gray granite pillars supporting the roof.
A slight account of the Manor of Belsize has been given above (see p. 2). The manor-house stood about the site of the present church, St. Peter's, and Rocque's map of 1745 shows it in the middle of very extensive grounds surrounded by fields. In the beginning of the eighteenth century the house was a place of public entertainment. In some newspaper cuttings from the Daily Post, date 1720, we read that the "ancient and noble house" had been fitted up for the entertainment of ladies and gentlemen during the whole summer season, and was to be opened with "uncommon Solemnity of Dancing and Music." Among the entertainments mentioned are the[Pg 45] Park, Bowling Green, and Fish Ponds. The latter were stored with the "best of Carp and other Fish," and the company might amuse themselves by angling or catching them with nets, when they should be "dressed to perfection." We hear also that the Park was well stocked with deer, and in August, 1721, a notice was issued. "Besides the usual Diversions, there is to be a wild Fox Hunted To Morrow, the 1st inst., to begin at four a clock." One hundred coaches could stand in the square of the house, if we may trust the advertiser, and "Twelve men will continue to guard the Road every night till the last of the Company are gone." There was a satirical poem called "Belsize House," published in 1722, showing that the house had earned a bad reputation. Belsize Avenue, Park Gardens, and Buckland Crescent are all built over the property. There is a tradition that the house was the private residence of the Right Hon. Sir Spencer Perceval, when it ceased to be a place of amusement in 1745. In 1841 the place was demolished, and the site transformed as we now see it.
Belsize Lane is very old, being marked between hedges in Rocque's 1745 map, and shown as leading to the grounds of the manor-house. Baines says that about 1839 "Belsize Lane was long, narrow, and lonesome; midway in it was a very small farm, and near thereto the owner of Belsize[Pg 46] House erected a turnpike gate to demonstrate his rights of possession."
The lane at present boasts a few shops and modern red-brick houses, but it is greatly bounded by high garden walls, and the gardens reaching from the backs of the houses in Belsize Avenue.
Belsize Avenue is a park-like road, from which on the south side stretch the meadows of Belsize Park. Large elm-trees of great age throw shade across the road, and seats afford rest to those climbing the ascent to Haverstock Hill. Up to 1835 a five-barred gate closed the east-end and made the road private.
In Belsize Square stands the Church of St. Peter, with a square pinnacled tower. This was consecrated in 1859, and the chancel added some seventeen years later. It is in the decorated style of Gothic, and has a row of picturesque gable-ends lining the north-east side.
Belsize and Buckland Crescents and Belsize Park Gardens are all in the same pleasant villa-like style, with trees and bushes growing beside the roadway, but their chief claim to interest lies in their association with the old manor-house.
The southern part of this ward is still more modern than the above, the greater part having been built over since 1851. Eton Avenue is lined by prettily-built, moderate-sized houses of bright[Pg 47] red brick alternating with open spaces yet unbuilt on.
The north-eastern corner of the ward, including Eton Road, Provost Road, Oppidans Road, College Road, and Fellows Road, is made up of medium houses, many covered with rough stucco, and with a profusion of flowering trees and bushes in the small gardens. This section of the parish might well be part of some fashionable and fresh watering-place. At No. 6, Eton Road lived Robertson, author of "Caste" and other plays. St. Saviour's Church, built of ragstone, is at the corner of Eton and Provost Roads; it is in Early English style, consecrated 1856.
Fellows Road runs into Steele Road, near the end of which, on Haverstock Hill, is the Sir Richard Steele public-house. These names commemorate a real fact. Sir Richard Steele had a cottage on Haverstock Hill, of which prints are still extant. They show a funny little square, barn-like building with pent house-roof, set in the middle of fields and surrounded by trees. With a vividness of detail that does more credit to his imagination than his eye the artist has depicted St. Paul's Cathedral in the not very far distance!
England's Lane in 1839 was bounded on the south side by palings and a wall, and on the north side by low palings and a ditch full of water.
Three houses there were in it, Chalcots, North[Pg 48] Hall, and Wychcomb. In a view of the lane in 1864 we see a leafy country road with fine timber growing over it. The lane at present is chiefly lined by shops, though there are a few private houses.
In the Upper Avenue Road stands a large brick building with stuccoed facings; it is the institution of the Society for Teaching the Blind, founded in 1838. In 1840 certain industrial occupations were added to the tuition in reading, which had been the primary object of the foundation. After moving to several localities in succession, in 1847 the present site was obtained. In 1864 the building was enlarged, and external workshops have since been added. The institution is entirely supported by voluntary contributions, though a few paying pupils are admitted. The pupils are taught any industrial trade which may support them in after-life, such as piano-tuning, knitting, chair-caning, basket-making, as well as the usual branches of a useful education. They are admitted at any age under eight, and leave at twenty-one if men, and twenty-four if women. There are day-scholars in attendance as well as those resident in the house.
In Winchester Road are a few shops and St. Paul's parochial schools. Where Eton Avenue and Adamson Road join there is the Hampstead conservatoire of music, a large brick building.[Pg 49]
Professor Hales suggests that the word Haverstock in Haverstock Hill may come from "aver," the Low Latin averia meaning cattle. He says that, as in Rocque's map Pond is Pound Street, perhaps a cattle pound stood here. The hill is at present a toilsome ascent, but most picturesque; masses of shady trees in the grounds of Woodlands and Hillfield hang over the seats placed for wayfarers, and on the east side, in spring, bushes of flowering lilac or laburnum soften the picturesque red tiles and bricks of the well-built modern houses. Here and there a small row of shops forms a straight line, but between them the villa houses are dotted about at any angle.
Of public buildings or institutions on the hill there are not many. The Borough Hall, a red-brick building in the Italian style, stands at the corner of Belsize Avenue. It was built in 1876, and first used for the Cambridge Local Examination for Women.
Further up on the other side is St. Stephen's Church, which differs very much from the ordinary church of the last half-century. It stands well, surrounded by an enclosure of green grass, on a spot formerly called Hampstead Green. The best view is obtained from Lyndhurst Road. Just below it is the entrance to the immense buildings of the North-Western Hospital. The brick wall encloses a house and front-garden at one time[Pg 50] belonging to Sir Rowland Hill. This site was acquired by the Metropolitan Asylums Board in 1868, and was destined to be used for cases of infectious disease, a plan which provoked the greatest agitation in the parish. In 1870 a severe epidemic of small-pox broke out, and some wards were hastily built in addition to those which had already been used for fever patients. As this was followed by an outbreak of small-pox in the parish, the parishioners very naturally wished the hospital to be removed, but without result. In 1876 another outbreak and a further congregation of patients had the same result, and after a long and protracted fight the inhabitants of Hampstead obtained a verdict preventing the Asylums Board from using the hospital for small-pox, though fever cases were not prohibited. In 1882 a Royal Commission inquired into the facts regarding the spread of disease from hospitals, and gave as their decision that thirty or forty patients might safely be treated when a larger number would be injurious to the neighbourhood. The Asylums Board eventually came to terms, agreeing to restrict the hospital cases of small-pox to the number mentioned, to pay the plaintiffs' costs, and an additional £1,000 by way of damages; but they demanded that Sir Rowland's property should be sold to them.
The terms were accepted, and the hospital[Pg 51] henceforth was known as the North-Western Hospital. In 1884 another epidemic of small-pox caused them to fill the limited number of beds agreed upon, but as this also was followed by an outbreak of the disease in Hampstead, a fresh appeal was made by the local authorities, and ended in victory, no more small-pox patients being received. The hospital was in full use during the scarlet fever epidemic of 1888.
Close by the entrance to the hospital is an ancient inn, The George. It has been repaired and renovated, but still shows its picturesquely ancient lines. In front of the inn there used to be tea-gardens. A convent of the Sisters of Providence is not far south. Looking up Haverstock Hill from Chalk Farm there is an almost unbroken line of greenery. Moderate-sized houses stand back on either side in their gardens.
The Load of Hay was originally a very old inn, but has been rebuilt recently, and is now a hideous yellow-brick public-house, with date 1863. Just opposite the Load of Hay lived Sir Richard Steele, in a picturesque two-storied cottage, already mentioned. The cottage was later divided into two, and in 1867 was pulled down.
Park Road is a long thoroughfare of no particular interest. At the north end a range of red-brick, wide-windowed buildings attract atten[Pg 52]tion. These are studios, occupied by some of the artists for which Hampstead is famous; among the names perhaps that of W. Q. Orchardson, R.A., is the best known. Beyond are the London Street Tramway Companies stables, and to the north and east we get into a district very poor and slummy for such a fresh, pleasant suburb as Hampstead.
The Fleet Road recalls the Fleet River, which had origin among the hills of Hampstead and flowed down over this course. The hospital wall lines one side of this dreary street. At the upper end, where two or three roads meet, there is a fountain and pump, and this open space is known as the Green and Pond Street. Pond Street seems to have alternately encroached upon and receded from the Green, houses being named in one or the other according to fancy. The street is steep and irregularly built. It was about this site that some of the first houses in Hampstead were built.
On the south-east side of the lane which leads to the hospital Sir Sydney Godolphin Osborne resided. Sir Rowland Hill has been already mentioned. Prince Talleyrand stayed in a house afterwards occupied by Sir Francis Palgrave, and later by Teulon the architect. In the adjoining house was Edward Irving, founder of the sect of that name, and next to him the sculptor Bacon.[Pg 53] Collins the artist also lived in Pond Street. In No. 21 there is at present an Industrial Home for Girls.
Adelaide Ward contains very little that is of interest. The streets are all of one pattern, formed of detached or semi-detached villas standing a little back from the road, with small trees growing before them.
The three churches in this part—namely, St. Paul's, Avenue Road; All Souls, Loudoun Road; and St. Mary the Virgin, Primrose Hill Road—all date from the last thirty or forty years, and are in the same style, built of brick, and requiring no special notice.
Primrose Hill rises to the height of 216 feet in a conical shape, and commands a magnificent view. The earliest name was Barrow Hill, and the name Primrose Hill was first used in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; it originated, it is said, from the quantity of primroses which grew here. Professor Hales, in an address to the Hampstead Antiquarian and Historical Society, quoted from the "Roxburgh Ballads," printed about 1620:
It was in a ditch on Primrose Hill that the[Pg 54] body of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey, who was mysteriously murdered, was found in 1678. Soon after Queen Victoria's accession the hill was obtained by the Crown as a public space for the people for ever, the provost and fellows of Eton surrendering their rights in consideration of an exchange of land.
The derivation of the odd name of Chalk Farm was not from any chalk found in the vicinity, but is a corruption of Chalcots, a country house or farm which stood on the south side of England's Lane. Contemporary prints show us a large white house with balconies and pleasure-grounds, for the house was at one time one of the minor tea-gardens in which the North of London seemed particularly rich.
Chalk Farm was a favourite spot for duels in the earlier half of the nineteenth century. The Adelaide Tavern dates from 1839, and facing the spot there was previously a toll-house with turnpike gate.
We have now traversed the length and breadth of Hampstead, finding there much that is picturesque, some few things ancient and many modern; and above all we have experienced some of the charm and freshness of this favoured spot. It is not difficult to see why Hampstead has been so frequently selected as a home by artists—and not by artists alone, but by literary[Pg 55] men of all classes. Its natural advantages and its many associations have exercised, and continue to exercise, a fascination which draws men potently, in spite of some drawbacks, not the least of which is its inaccessibility.[Pg 56]
The derivation of this name is simple. Lysons says: "The name of this place was anciently called Tiburn, from its situation near a small bourn or rivulet formerly called Aye-brook or Eye-brook, and now Tybourn Brook. When the site of the church was altered to another spot, near the same brook, it became St. Mary at the Bourne, now corrupted to St. Mary le bone or Marybone." There is a possibility that the "bourne" did not indicate the brook, but the boundary of the parish, in which case Marybone would still be a corruption of St. Mary at the Bourne.
The borough of Marylebone is unique in many respects. It contains many well-known and magnificent houses, such as Montagu House, Portman Square; Hertford House, Manchester Square, where is Sir Richard Wallace's collection of pictures and curiosities; Portland House, Cavendish Square; and others. More than two-thirds of Regent's Park are within its boundaries, including[Pg 57] nearly all the Zoological Gardens. In some parts of the borough the street lists furnish many titled and famous names; in others are the poorest and most squalid districts, rivalling in misery those of the East End.
Many foreign embassies are located within the parish boundaries. But the most striking characteristic is the great number of hospitals. There are hospitals for special diseases everywhere, besides large institutions which have acquired more than Metropolitan fame.
The ancient Tyburn stream ran right through this district. It rose not far from Swiss Cottage, and ran for a few hundred yards through Regent's Park, across the road at Sussex Place, between Gloucester Place and Baker Street, across the Marylebone Road, then, turning westward under Madame Tussaud's, by South Street to the foot of High Street, passing along close to Mandeville Place, it crossed Wigmore Street and so reached Oxford Street.
The manor of Tyburn is mentioned in Domesday Book among the possessions of the Abbess and Convent of Barking. Early in the thirteenth century it was held by Robert de Vere, whose daughter married William de Insula, Earl of Warren and Surrey, from whom the manor passed to their heirs, the Fitzalans, Earls of Arundel. The Berkeleys, Nevilles and Howards divided[Pg 58] three-quarters of it later, and one quarter went to Henry V. as heir of the Earls of Derby.
About the end of the fifteenth century Thomas Hobson bought up the greater part of the manor, and in 1544 his son Thomas exchanged it with Henry VIII. in consideration of lands elsewhere.
The manor remained with the Crown until James I. sold it to one Edward Forset, who had previously held it at a fixed rental under Elizabeth. James reserved to the Crown the tract of land then known as Marylebone, now Regent's, Park. Sir John Austen, Forset's grandson, sold the estate to John Holles, Duke of Newcastle, for £17,500. The Duke of Newcastle's only child, Henrietta, married Edward Harley, who succeeded his father as Earl of Oxford and Mortimer. He carried on his father's collection of books and MSS., and formed what was afterwards known as the Harleian Collection, which was bought by the trustees of the British Museum for £10,000. Henrietta's only daughter, Margaret, married William Bentinck, second Earl of Portland, and thus the estates passed to the Portland family.
In the west was another manor, that of Lyllestone, a name still preserved in the corruption, "Lisson" Grove. This manor is mentioned in Domesday Book among the lands in the hundred of Ossulston. In 1338 it was in the hands of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Sir William de[Pg 59] Clyf held it from the knights. In 1512 the then Lord Prior granted a parcel of land out of the manor to John and Johan Blennerhasset on a fifty years' lease. On their decease Chief Justice Portman acquired their interest, afterwards obtaining the land in fee simple, and thus creating the Portman estate. This estate comprised 270 acres. The remainder of Lyllestone Manor included several estates of importance. The St. John's Wood estate was granted by Charles II. to Lord Wotton in discharge of a debt. In 1732 it was bought by Samuel Eyre, after whom it was known as the Eyre Estate.
Another estate lying along the Edgware Road was bequeathed to Harrow School by John Lyon. A third was known as City Conduit Estate. The borough at present embraces the Eyre estate at St. John's Wood, the Baker estate, comprising the poor district to the west of Lisson Grove, the Portman estate, the Portland estate, and other land, including the park held by the Crown.
Beginning our ramble at St. John's Wood Station in the heart of the borough, we find ourselves near the well-known Lord's Cricket Ground. Thomas Lord first made a cricket-ground in what is now Dorset Square, and in 1814 it was succeeded by the present one, which is the headquarters of the Marylebone Cricket Club, the club that gives laws to the cricketing world. Among[Pg 60] the most popular matches which take place here are the annual contests between Oxford and Cambridge, Eton and Harrow, when the resources of space are taxed to the utmost. Besides these, during the season, the M.C.C. matches, the Middlesex Club matches, and Gentlemen v. Players are played here. Lord's has been increased many times since its inauguration; most recently by a piece of ground, about two acres, which was formerly part of the site of the Clergy Orphanage. This was presented by the Great Central Railway Company in return for the privilege of being permitted to tunnel a corner of the cricket ground.
The extension of the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway, now known as the Great Central Railway, has completely altered the face of Marylebone. The demolition caused by it extends up the west side of the Wellington and Finchley Roads; but it is further south that the greatest changes have taken place. St. John's Wood Road is itself untouched, the line passing under it.
The part of the parish lying to the west and north contains nothing of any exceptional interest. There are wide roads and well-built terraces, and an air of prosperity that speaks well for the neighbourhood. A Home for Incurable Children, founded in 1873, is near the Maida Vale end of[Pg 61] St. John's Wood Road, and in Hamilton Terrace is St. Mark's Church, in modern Gothic style; a Presbyterian church and several chapels are also to be found in this neighbourhood.
Returning to the point from whence we set out, we find St. John's Wood Chapel, which is in the classical style, designed by Hardwicke in 1814. The chapel stands well at the junction of four important roads; its Ionic portico is dignified and suitable to the position. The body of the chapel is covered with ivy, and the windows look down on a large burial-ground, now open as a public garden, which is peculiarly bright and well kept. In it are many fine trees, chiefly willows, which overhang the seats placed for public comfort. The gravestones, which are many, have not been removed, and with few exceptions are of the regular round-topped pattern. In the vault beneath the chapel lies the wife of Benjamin West, P.R.A. In 1833 there had been about 40,000 persons buried in this ground, and it is probable this number was greatly exceeded before the burials ceased. Joanna Southcott was buried here in 1814.
Further north in the Finchley Road All Saints' Church stands up conspicuously. This is a fine church in the Perpendicular style, built in 1846. The chancel was added in 1866, and the tower and spire in 1889. It is really the church of the Eyre estate, and was largely built by the Eyre[Pg 62] family. There is in it a beautiful marble font of uncommon pattern, and a pulpit to match.
This part of Marylebone, to the north of Regent's Park, has a High Street of its own—a wide street with comparatively low buildings. The vista, on looking back from the top to the trees of the burial-ground and Regent's Park, is not unattractive. The shops which line either side of the road, though small, are clean and bright. St. John's Wood Terrace is a very wide thoroughfare. In it stands St. John's Wood Church, chiefly distinguished by a very heavy portico. The church is at present used by the Congregationalists, and was formerly known as Connaught Chapel. Just beyond the chapel we come to the St. Marylebone Almshouses. They are built round three sides of a square, and enclose a quadrangle of green grass. The blue slate roofs and drab stuccoed walls form a gentle contrast. The central house, occupied by the superintendent, is fronted by a clock over the Royal Arms.
By the will of Simon, Count Woronzow, dated September 19, 1827, the sum of £500 was left for the poor of the parish of Marylebone, and this sum was given by the Vestry, under certain conditions, to the committee for the proposed erection of almshouses in 1836, to be by them applied to building purposes. Various charitable subscriptions and donations have been added from time[Pg 63] to time, until at present the almshouses afford an asylum to about fifty-two single women and eight married couples. The recipients must be of good character, and must have paid rates in the parish of Marylebone for at least ten years, and never received parochial relief. They must be over the age of sixty years. They must have a small weekly sum of their own or guaranteed by a friend. They receive shelter and free firing; the single inmates receive in addition 7s. a week, and the married couples 10s. 6d. The corner houses, in which the rooms are larger, are occupied by the married couples. The central building contains the board-room, lined by the names of generous donors. On the staircase is a bust of Count Woronzow, whose name is also commemorated in the road which runs on the east side of the houses.
The parish extends to within about fifty yards of the summit of Primrose Hill on the south side. At this spot three stones, erect, standing together, mark the point where the three boroughs of Hampstead, St. Pancras, and Marylebone meet. Not far below is a covered reservoir. This spot was formerly known as Barrow Hill, a name supposed to be derived from burials which anciently took place here. St. Stephen the Martyr's Church stands just within the parish boundaries of Marylebone. It is a pretty little Gothic church with a[Pg 64] square battlemented tower and triple-gabled east end. It was built in 1849, and restored thirty years ago. The interior of the church is not equal to the exterior. All the roads lying to the north-west are in uniform style, with comfortable modern villa houses.
When the Manor of Tyburn was let to Edward Forset, King James reserved Marylebone Park for the Crown, and it remained in the same keeping until 1646. In that year King Charles I. granted it to two faithful adherents, Sir G. Strode and J. Wandesford, in payment for arms and ammunition which they had supplied to him. In the time of the Commonwealth the park was seized and was sold on behalf of the opposite cause, the proceeds being devoted to the payment of one of Cromwell's regiments of dragoons. At the Restoration it was restored to its former holders, who retained it until the debt due to them was discharged. The park was then let to various leaseholders, the last of whom was the Duke of Portland, whose lease ended in 1811, when the land reverted to the Crown.
The ground was laid out by Nash in 1812, and was named Regent's Park in honour of the then Regent (George IV.), for whom it was proposed to build a palace in the centre of the park, in the spot now occupied by the Botanical Gardens.
Regent Street was designed to form a con[Pg 65]tinuous line between the Palace and Carlton House, near St. James's Park. Nash built all the terraces in the park except Cornwall Terrace, which was the work of Decimus Burton. By a clause in the lease the lessees of the houses in these terraces have to repaint the exteriors in August every fourth year. The broad walk and adjacent flower-beds were laid out and opened to the public in 1838.
The park is about 400 acres in extent. The ornamental water is in shape something like the three legs on a Manx halfpenny. A terrible accident happened here in 1867, when the ice gave way and forty skaters lost their lives; since then the pond has been reduced to a uniform depth of 4 feet. The water for this is supplied by the ancient Tyburn Brook.
South Villa was built about 1836, and an observatory was erected here by Mr. Bishop; this was frequently used by Dawes and Hinde, who here discovered many asteroids and variable stars.
St. Dunstan's Villa was formerly occupied by the Marquis of Hertford, and is of considerable size. It is in the Italian style, and was designed by Decimus Burton, whose name is almost as closely associated with the park as Nash's own. The name of St. Dunstan's arose from the two gigantic wooden figures of Gog and Magog, which[Pg 66] the Marquis brought from St. Dunstan's, Fleet Street, where they had been since 1671.
A panorama was formerly exhibited in Regent's Park, in a great building called the Colosseum. This was opened in 1829, and attracted crowds of people. It stood on the east side of Regent's Park near Park Square.
Regent's Park Baptist College is established in an old house known as Holford House, from its first owner Mr. Holford.
The building is of great size and stuccoed; within, the central hall, used for prayers, has an ornamental gallery. The domed skylight is of coloured glass, and a huge bronze statue of Bunyan, by Sir E. Boehm, stands on the south side.
The former ballroom, now used for lectures, debates, etc., is a magnificent room, with richly mounted ceiling and walls decorated with plaster work painted to resemble wood. The dining-room is also of great size. The students' studies are at the east and west ends of the building, and the common rooms in the centre. The extreme west wing is let privately, as the whole house is too large for the college requirements.
Regent's Canal was begun in 1812, and was opened August 1, 1820, with a procession of boats, barges, etc. It is in total length 8 miles 6 furlongs, and descends about 84 feet from the beginning to the end.[Pg 67]
In Regent's Park there are various enclosed gardens and grounds—namely, the Zoological Gardens, the Botanical Gardens, and the grounds of the Toxophilite Society. The first of these is too well known to need much description. The Zoological Society originated in 1826, and was incorporated three years later. Sir Humphrey Davy and Sir Stamford Raffles are the two names most closely connected with its foundation. The Gardens were opened in 1828, and contain the finest collection of animals in the world. They are open to the public on payment of 1s. daily and 6d. on Mondays. On Sundays admittance is obtained only by an order from a Fellow.
The Botanical Gardens belong to the Botanical Society, incorporated in 1839 by a Royal Charter. The Gardens fill nearly the whole of what is known as the inner circle in Regent's Park, a space of ground comprising nearly 20 acres in extent, held on a lease from the Crown. These gardens are tastefully laid out, and include a hot-house (covering about 20,000 feet of ground), winter garden, conservatory, special tropical houses, museum and lecture-room, tennis court, and an ornamental piece of water. Entrance is obtained by an order from a Fellow. Exhibitions of plants, flowers, and fruit take place during the spring and summer. The Duke of Teck is the President.[Pg 68]
The Toxophilite Society was founded by Sir Assheton Lever in 1781. He had previously formed a museum of curiosities in Leicester Square on the site of the present Empire Music Hall. It was in the grounds of this house that targets were first shot by the Society. When the museum was sold in 1784 the ground was no longer available. It was in this year that an Archers division of the Honourable Artillery Company was formed. In 1791 an archery ground was rented on the east side of Gower Street, on part of which site Torrington Square now stands. In 1805 this ground was required for building purposes. From this date to 1810 there are no authentic records of the Society, and from then until 1821 the records are intermittent. It is probable the Society shot at Highbury. In 1821 Mr. Lord allowed the members to shoot on his cricket ground on payment of three guineas a day. Mr. Waring, who had been Sir Assheton's coadjutor in founding the Society, owned ground in Bayswater to the east of Westbourne Street. He had previously offered this site to the Society, and his offer was eventually accepted. In 1833 the present ground in Regent's Park was obtained. This is about 6 acres in extent and well laid out. It includes a hall with accommodation for members.
The shooting season is divided into two parts:[Pg 69] one from the first Thursday in April to the last Thursday in July, and the other from the last Thursday in September to the first Thursday in November. Ladies' days are a feature of the club, and every Thursday between the above-mentioned dates has some fixture or competition. The only rival to the Royal Toxophilite Society is the Grand National Archery Society.
The part of the borough lying to the west of the park has been immensely altered by the new railway. In fact, the greater part of the buildings have been demolished, and the amount of compensation paid to dispossessed owners and leaseholders is said to be unprecedented.
In Blandford Square there is a convent which has survived the general wreck. It was first established near Queen's Square, Bloomsbury, in 1844, and was opened on its present site in 1851.
The House of Mercy is for servants out of work, who do laundry and other work, and so contribute to their own support. There are thirty Sisters, who, besides attending to the home, do much charitable work in teaching and the visitation of the sick.
Dorset Square was built on the site of the original Lord's Cricket Ground. It was made by one Thomas Lord at the end of the eighteenth century, and, as stated above, in 1814 the present ground was substituted, so Dorset Square can claim only[Pg 70] a small connection with the famous game. The streets leading northward from Dorset Square are of little interest. In Hill Street is a small Baptist place of worship. In Park Street is St. Cyprian's little church, opened in 1866.
The last house on the east side of Upper Baker Street bears one of the Society of Arts memorial tablets to the memory of Mrs. Siddons, who lived here intermittently for many years. She used to give readings from Shakespeare to her friends in this house, and here in 1831 she died. The house is now called "Siddons House Private Hotel."
In the Marylebone Road, close to the underground station, stands Madame Tussaud's famous waxwork exhibition, the delight of children and visitors from the country. The waxworks were begun in Paris in 1780, and brought to London in 1802 to the place where the Lyceum Theatre now stands, and afterwards were removed to Hanover Square rooms.
On the west side of Park Road are the terraces abutting on Regent's Park. Some of these terraces show fine design, though in the solid, cumbrous style of the Georgian period. Hanover Terrace was designed by Nash, and also Sussex Place, which was named after the Duke of Sussex. The latter is laid out in a semicircle, and is crowned by cupolas and minarets. The houses are very[Pg 71] large, and, in spite of fashion having deserted the district, can still show a goodly list of inhabitants.
The district lying to the west of Sussex Grove and Grove Road is the poorest and most miserable in the borough. In Grove Road is a Home for Female Orphans, a large gabled building. The girls are received here at six years of age, and pass on to service when about sixteen. The little village of Lisson Green stood out in the country not far from the great Roman Road, the present Edgware Road (see p. 58), and it formed the nucleus round which houses and streets sprang up. From the Marylebone Road to St. John's Wood Road the streets are poor and squalid, abounding in low courts and alleys. Several great Board Schools in the neighbourhood of Great James Street rise up prominently, and round about them neat lines of workmen's houses are gradually replacing the wretched tenements. The district is still miserable, but it has bettered its notoriously bad reputation of ten or twenty years ago.
St. Barnabas Church, near Bell Street, was built by Blomfield, and is in a kind of French Gothic. Christ Church, in Stafford Street, not far off, is surmounted by a cupola, and built in the classical style. It was the work of P. Hardwick in 1825.
Earl Street is a long, dreary, but fairly respectable thoroughfare. The Marylebone Theatre or Music Hall is in Church Street. This was opened[Pg 72] in 1842 as a penny theatre, and enlarged in 1854. In Church Street there is also a Baptist chapel.
Salisbury and Carlisle Streets are indescribably dingy. In the latter is St. Matthew's Church, which has the (perhaps) unique distinction of having been built for a theatre. It was consecrated in 1853, and restored forty years later. Close by the church, between the two streets mentioned above, is the Portman Market. This was opened as a hay-market in 1830, and the year following was dedicated to general uses. The market is still held on Friday every week. Smith speaks of it as bidding "fair to become a formidable rival to Covent Garden," a prophecy which has not been fulfilled. There is another Board School of great size between two miserable little streets on the east, and another a little further north between Grove Road and Capland Street.
Infant, National, and Catholic Schools lie near North and Richmond Streets. One or two of the houses to the north of the latter have still retained a certain cottage-like appearance, a memory of the bygone village. Lyon's Place, a straggling mews, preserves the name of the benefactor who left the estate he had bought here to found Harrow School; and the names Aberdeen, Cunningham, Northwick, etc., are associated with the school.
The Regent's Canal runs under Aberdeen Place. Emanuel Church, a curious little square building[Pg 73] with an Ionic portico, was formerly known as Christ's Chapel. It was largely remodelled in 1891, and seats over 1,000 persons. On the interior walls are several memorial tablets.
Edgware Road forms the western boundary of the parish. It is a very ancient road. In the 1722 edition of Camden's "Britannia" we read: "Towards the Northern boundary of Middlesex a military way of the Romans commonly called Watling Street enters this country, coming straight along from the older Verulam to London over Hampstead Heath; not the road which now lies through Highgate, for that, as is before observed, was opened only about 400 [marginal note, 300] years ago by permission of the Bishop of London, but that more ancient way (as appears by the old charters of Edward the Confessor) which ran along near Edgeworth, a place of no great antiquity."
The difficulty of accounting for the entrance of the road at this particular point has been solved in various ways. It has been suggested that a circuit had been made to avoid the great Middlesex forests, but a more likely theory is that it followed this route to avoid the Hampstead and Highgate hills. Edgware was the name of the first town it passed through after the forests of Middlesex.
We have only to deal with the east side of the road at present. This is lined with shops, vary[Pg 74]ing in quality and increasing in size towards the Marble Arch. There are no buildings of importance. The road ends in Oxford Street, the ancient Tyburn Road, a name associated with the direful history of the gallows.
The Tyburn gallows were originally a huge tripod, subsequently two uprights and a cross beam. The site was frequently changed, so that both Marylebone and Paddington can claim the dreadful association. Timbs says that the gallows were erected on the morning of execution right across the Edgware Road, opposite the house at the corner of Upper Bryanston Street. This house has iron galleries from which the Sheriffs watched the execution, and in it after the ceremony the gallows were deposited. Galleries were erected for spectators as at a gladiatorial show, and special prices were charged for special exhibitions. Among the people who suffered at Tyburn, the best known are: Roger de Mortimer, for treason, 1330; Perkin Warbeck, 1449; the Holy Maid of Kent and her confederates, 1534; Robert Southwell, the Elizabethan poet, 1595; Mrs. Turner, murderess of Sir T. Overbury, 1615.
In 1660-61, on the anniversary of Charles I.'s execution, Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw were dragged from their graves and hanged at Tyburn, after which their heads were cut off and exposed[Pg 75] on Westminster Hall, and their bodies buried beneath the gallows.
Jack Sheppard was hanged here in 1724, and the last person to suffer at Tyburn was John Austin, in 1783. The turnpike gate across the road near the gallows remained until 1825. It was a double turnpike, with gates on both the Edgware and Uxbridge Roads.
The Marylebone Road was at first called the New Road, when it was cut in 1757. The Bill for its making had met with strong opposition in Parliament from the Duke of Bedford. In consequence of his opposition a clause was introduced prohibiting the erection of any building within 50 feet of the road, and the effect of this prohibition is to be seen in the gardens which front the houses.
The new road was later subdivided into the Marylebone and Euston Roads. Beginning at the Edgware Road, the first building on the south side to attract attention is St. Mark's Church, designed by Blomfield. This church is of red brick, and is prettily built and surmounted by a high steeple. The schools form a part of the same building. The consecration ceremony took place on June 29, 1872. A few doors further on are the Christian Union Almshouses, founded in John Street, 1832, and extended to Marylebone Road in 1868. These are supported by voluntary con[Pg 76]tributions, and are for the benefit of old women or married couples of the parishes of Marylebone, Paddington, or part of St. Pancras. The inmates receive sundry gratuities, coal and lodging, but the eligible must possess not less than 4s. 6d. per week.
A neatly built Roman Catholic church with high-pitched roof stands at the corner of Homer Row. This was built about 1860, and is called the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. The northern side of the Marylebone Road, for the distance traversed, consists of huge red brick flats in the most modern style.
Standing back a little from the road, again on the south side, near Harcourt Street, is Paddington Chapel, for Congregationalists.
Queen Charlotte's Lying-in Hospital and Midwifery Training School comes soon after. This was founded in 1752, and was the third of its kind to be established in London. It was at first situated in Bayswater, and moved to the present site in 1813. In 1809 the Duke of Sussex was elected president for life, and it was he who induced Queen Charlotte to give the hospital her patronage, and to allow it to be called by her name. The Duke was the guiding spirit of the institution until his death in 1843. In 1857 the present building was erected on the site of the older one.[Pg 77]
No. 183 is the Yorkshire Stingo public-house, which preserves the name of a celebrated tavern and place of entertainment. From here the first pair of omnibuses in the Metropolis were started on July 4, 1829. They ran to the Bank and back, and were drawn by three horses abreast. The return fare was a shilling, which included the use of a newspaper. A fair was held at the Yorkshire Stingo on May 1 for many years. Close by are the St. Marylebone Public Baths and Wash-houses, which claim the honour of having been the first of the kind in the Metropolis.
The St. Marylebone County Court adjoins. This was erected in 1874-75, when the need for further accommodation than that afforded by the old Court House was felt.
Seymour Street was cut through a nest of slums about 1872-73; it partly replaced the old Stingo Lane, which extended from Marylebone Road to Crawford Street, and was a most disreputable thoroughfare. The Samaritan Free Hospital, for diseases peculiar to women, occupies the place of ten numbers, 161 to 171. This is a fine modern building with fluted pilasters running up the frontage to an ornamental pediment. The memorial stone was laid on July 24, 1889, by the King, then Prince of Wales. The hospital was first established by Dr. Savage in Orchard Street in 1847. The celebrated engineer James Nasmyth,[Pg 78] after whom a ward is named, left a bequest of £18,000. There is a well staircase in the building which separates the hospital into two parts, one devoted to medical, the other to surgical cases. The benefits of the hospital are extended free to patients from all parts of the world, not even a subscriber's letter being required. The only requisites are that the applicant must be poor and respectable and a suitable case, then she is taken in directly a vacancy occurs.
Almost opposite the hospital is the Great Central Hotel, and behind it the railway-station, in an elaborate style that forms a contrast to some of the dismal termini in London. The Western Ophthalmic Hospital, a gloomy-looking stuccoed building, is near at hand. This was founded in 1856.
The small streets leading from the Marylebone Road into York and Crawford Streets are poor in character. In the north of Seymour Place is a small Primitive Methodist chapel, erected in 1875. York Street, in spite of being a little wider, is not much better than its neighbours. In Wyndham Place is the Church of St. Mary's, Bryanston Square, in the style of Grecian architecture so much affected in this parish. The architect was R. Smirke. Dibdin, the bibliographer, was the first incumbent of this church, and the poetess L. E. Landon was married here June 7, 1838.[Pg 79]
Bryanston and Montagu Squares are almost duplicates. They are built on ground known as Ward's Field, where there was formerly a large pond, which was the cause of many fatal accidents. Near this spot was a little cluster of cottages called Apple Village. The squares were built about the beginning of the present century. They are lined by large houses in a uniform style, and are as fashionable now as in 1833. The Turkish Embassy is at No. 1, Bryanston Square, at the south-east corner.
Horace Street was once known as Cato Street, and was the scene of the infamous conspiracy which originated with Thistlewood in 1820. The conspiracy was to murder the Cabinet Ministers, burst open the prisons, set fire to the Metropolis, and organize a revolution. Thistlewood and his fellow-conspirators were caught in a hay-loft in this street, where they used to hold their meetings, and the five of them, including the ringleader, suffered the extreme penalty of the law, while the rest were transported. It is now a poor and squalid thoroughfare, occupied by general shops, and reached only by a covered entry at each end.
In Nutford Place is St. Luke's Church, built in the Early English style in 1854. It stands on the site of a cholera hospital, which was not used during the great epidemic of 1849, as there was[Pg 80] not a single case in the parish. The church was built in memory of this great deliverance.
The Marylebone Presbyterian church stands between Upper George Street and Little Queen Street.
Upper Berkeley Street contains a Jewish Synagogue, built in 1870 for Jewish dissenters. Brunswick Chapel was built in 1684 by Evelyn Cosway for Lady Berkeley.
In Bryanston Street there is a synagogue which was built for the Spanish and Portuguese Jews resident at the West End. This has been recently superseded by a much larger building in Lauderdale Road, Sutherland Avenue. Quebec Chapel was built in 1788, and is now called the Church of the Annunciation. It has numbered among its incumbents Dr. Alford and Dr. Goulburn, later Deans of Canterbury and Norwich respectively, and Dr. Magee. The number of chapels of every denomination thus shown to cluster in this district is curious.
Great Cumberland Place is fashionable still. This was formerly Great Cumberland Street, and was called after the Duke whose name is associated with Culloden. It leads us out nearly opposite to the Marble Arch.
Oxford Street.—Lysons says the north side of the street was completed in 1729, and then called Oxford Street. But against this statement there[Pg 81] is the fact that a stone built into a house at the corner of Rathbone Place was dated "Rathbone Place in Oxford Street, 1718." Pennant remembers Oxford Street "a deep hollow road and full of sloughs, with here and there a ragged house, the lurking place of cut-throats."
Its chief association will always be that of the many dismal processions going to Tyburn, when some poor wretch, tied upright in a jolting cart with his coffin in front of him, was taken in face of all the world from Newgate to the gallows to "make a public holiday." The slow grinding of the wheels, the jeers and shouts, the scuffling of those who would be foremost not to miss one tremor of agony, must have combined to form a torture felt even by the most hardened criminal. The scene must have been more degrading still when the punishment was that the victim should be flogged at the cart-tail.
The terrible procession is familiar to all from Hogarth's illustration "On the way to Tyburn," one of the series of Idle and Industrious Apprentices. Here he shows people among the crowd sinking up to their knees in mire, thus proclaiming the state of the principal highways in the eighteenth century.
The present Oxford Street is a wide and handsome thoroughfare, with many splendid shops lining either side. There are no buildings of[Pg 82] any public importance. The Princess's Theatre occupies the site of a large bazaar known as Queen's Bazaar. It has been many times remodelled and rebuilt. The latest rebuilding was in 1879. Its chief claim to notice is that here took place Kean's famous Shakespearian revivals.
The part of the borough lying to the north of Oxford Street includes both the oldest and the most aristocratic quarters. Bryanston and Montagu Squares have been already noticed.
Portman Square was begun about 1764, but not completed for nearly twenty years. The centre was at first a shrubbery or wilderness, and here the Turkish Ambassador placed a summer-house or kiosk, where he used to sit when the Turkish Embassy was in this Square. Thornbury says he was then occupying Montagu House, but Smith says the Embassy was in No. 78, and Montagu House is now numbered 22. However, it is possible that the numbers have been altered. The list of the names of the present inhabitants reads like a page from the Court Guide. Among the most important are those of the Duke and Duchess of Fife at No. 15, and Viscount Portman at Montagu House.
This house was built for Mrs. Montagu, a celebrated blue-stocking of the eighteenth century. She was born at York in 1720, and came to Montagu[Pg 83] House in 1781. Here she founded the "Blue-Stocking" Club, and gathered round her many famous men and women. On May 1 every year she gave a feast to all the chimney-sweeps of London, "so that they might enjoy one happy day in the year," an expression hardly appreciated now when the lot of chimney-sweeps is so very different from what it was then. Timbs remarks of the house: "Here Miss Burney was welcomed and Dr. Johnson grew tame." The lease reverted to the Portman family in 1874.
York Place, Baker Street, and Orchard Street form a long line cutting straight through from Marylebone Road to Oxford Street. Baker Street was named after a friend of W. H. Portman's. The combined thoroughfare is uniformly ugly, with stiff, flat houses and some shops. Nos. 8 and 9, York Place were once occupied by Cardinal Wiseman, and later by Cardinal Manning. They are now Bedford College for Ladies. The Baker Street Bazaar was originally designed for the sale of horses, and behind it, until 1861, was held the Smithfield Cattle Club Show. Later, the bazaar was the scene of Madame Tussaud's well-known waxworks.
Portman Chapel, near Adam Street, was built in 1779. Between King and George Streets is Little George Street, in which is a French chapel, built in the reign of George III. by emigrés from the[Pg 84] French Revolution. It is a Catholic chapel, and is called "Chapelle de St. Louis de France."
Orchard Street was named after W. H. Portman, of Orchard Portman in Somerset, who bought the estate of the manor. St. Thomas's Church is the only object of note in the street; it was built by Hardwick, and consecrated July 1, 1858.
In Lower Seymour Street is the Steinway Hall, used for concerts and various entertainments. In Nos. 9, 11, 13 is the home of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul. Two of these houses were formerly occupied by the Samaritan Eye Hospital. A statue of our Lord stands over the central doorway, and at His feet an inscription on stone announces that a night-home for girls of good character was originally started here, and was founded by public subscription in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and in memory of the pilgrimage made to Paray-le-Monial on September 4, 1873, by the Catholics of Great Britain and Ireland. The Home is now for destitute children, and is on the same lines as the sister institution at Westminster. The noticeable feature of the Home is that girls who have been placed out as dressmakers, teachers, etc., and are earning their own living, may still return every evening. The Sisters are also engaged in many other charitable works.
Manchester Square was begun in 1776 by the[Pg 85] building of Manchester House on the north side, but the house was not finished until 1788. It was built for the Duke of Manchester, but was afterwards the residence of the Spanish Ambassador. The Roman Catholic chapel in Spanish Place was built during the Embassy from designs by Bonomi. It was restored in 1832, but has been replaced by a large church in the next street, and its site is now covered by high red-brick flats. The French Embassy succeeded the Spanish, but was withdrawn at the time of the last Revolution. The Marquis of Hertford afterwards occupied the house, and called it after himself. He was succeeded by Sir Richard Wallace, who built immense picture galleries round the garden at the back, enclosing it in a quadrangle. He almost rebuilt the house, and at his death left his famous collection of pictures and curios, which were brought here from the Bethnal Green Museum, to be eventually bequeathed to the nation, which was done on the death of Lady Wallace.
North Street leads us into a network of small slums, and Paradise Street opens into a public recreation ground, laid out with trees and shrubs, where the children play among sombre altar-tombs of a past generation. This was formerly a cemetery, consecrated in 1733, and the Marylebone historian, Smith, says that more than 80,000 persons have been interred in it. Of the names he gives[Pg 86]—country gentlemen, baronets, captains, etc.—none are now remembered. George III.'s master-cook and Princess Amelia's bedchamber woman are of little interest to us of the twentieth century. The only men here buried who can claim a faint degree of posthumous fame are Canning, father of the great statesman, and Bonomi the architect.
The cemetery on the north side of Paddington Street was consecrated much later, in 1772. In this also there is little of present interest. Stephen Riou, one of Nelson's captains, killed in action at Copenhagen, deserves mention, but the others have no public memory. The Mortuary and Coroner's Court stand near the ground, of which the greater part is attached to the workhouse for the benefit of the inmates.
Paddington Street was built about the time of the consecration of the northern graveyard. It is in the centre of a poor district, and has nothing to commend it. There is a mission-house and an Industrial Home for Destitute Boys.
In Northumberland Street stands the workhouse, built about 1775, and adjoining is a solid, well-built stone edifice containing the offices of the Guardians of the Poor. At the north-east corner of the street is the Cripples' Home and Industrial School for Girls. The inmates are taught sewing, basket-making, and are educated, clothed, and boarded.[Pg 87]
Marylebone Church.—William de Sancta Maria, who was Bishop of London in the reign of King John, appropriated the church at Tybourn to the Priory of St. Lawrence de Blakemore in Essex, but with the reservation of a maintenance for a vicar. In 1525 the Priory suffered the fate of its fellows, and the King seized the control of Tybourn Church. He passed it on to Wolsey, with license to appropriate it to the Dean and Canons of Christ Church. At Wolsey's request they granted it to the master and scholars of his old college at Ipswich. When the Cardinal was disgraced the King resumed the Rectory, and in 1552 granted it to Thomas Reve and George Cotton. Before 1650 it came into the possession of the Forset family, from which time its history has been identified with that of the manor.
The ancient church stood at what is now the Oxford Street end of Marylebone Lane, and on account of "its lonely situation" was repeatedly robbed and despoiled. In 1400 the inhabitants made a petition to the then Bishop of London, Robert Braybrooke, to remove it to a more advantageous situation. This was granted, and license given them to erect a new church of "stones or flints" at the place where they had recently built a chapel. The former church had been dedicated to St. John the Evangelist; the new one was dedicated to St. Mary. The spot on which it was[Pg 88] built is the same on which the old parish church now stands, near the top of High Street.
This church is described as having been a "mean edifice." It was the original of the church delineated by Hogarth in the marriage of the rake, in his famous "Rake's Progress." This series was published in 1735, and the church was then in a ruinous condition. It was subsequently pulled down and rebuilt (1741) in the form in which it now stands, with the exception of some slight alterations. In a curious diary in the Harleian MSS. collection it is stated that the Rev. Randolph Ford, curate of Marylebone between 1711 and 1724, on one Sunday "married six couples, then read the whole of the prayers and preached; after that churched six women; in the afternoon read prayers and preached; christened thirty-two children, six at home, the rest at the font; buried thirteen corpses, read the distinct service over each of them separately—and all this done by nine o'clock at night."
The only ancient charity connected with the church is a bread bequest left by Thomas Verley in 1692. He left £50, the interest to be spent in bread, twelve penny loaves to be given to the poor every Sunday. This ceremony is still observed, but the value of the money has increased, so that 5s. worth of bread is distributed every Sunday after service. The mural tablets[Pg 89] and monuments on the walls of the church are of some interest and of great variety. The earliest dates back to 1644. The Viscountess Ossington about ten or twelve years ago had them all restored at her own expense.
Among the entries in the register are: J. Michael Rysbach, buried January 11, 1770; Allan Ramsay, buried August 18, 1784; Rev. Charles Wesley, buried April 5, 1788. Horatia, daughter of Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton, was baptized here, and also Lord Byron.
About 1770 the necessity for providing increased church accommodation became apparent, and it was first proposed to erect the new building on the north side of Paddington Street, where Mr. Portman offered a site. This land was afterwards used for a burial-ground. The next suggestion was for a site to the north of Portland Place, but this was also abandoned. Finally, the present site to the north of the old church was secured after many delays. Mr. Thomas Hardwicke (a pupil of Sir W. Chambers) was the architect of the new church, which was designed at first to be merely a chapel of ease. The first stone was laid July 5, 1813; when the building was finished it was resolved to make it the parish church, and the old church the chapel of ease. Accordingly, this was done by Act of Parliament, and the new church consecrated on February 4, 1817. In[Pg 90] this church Robert Browning was married in 1846.
The building is of great size, seating over 1,400 people. The front is ornamented by an immense portico with six Corinthian columns, and the building is surmounted by a high belfry tower. In 1883-84 a thorough investigation of the church took place. The interior was restored in the Italian Renaissance style, the architect employed being T. Harris. An apse was added and other alterations made. The necessary funds were raised by a bazaar held in the Portman Rooms, Baker Street, in which all the features of the old Marylebone Gardens were reproduced. Close beside the church are the Central National Schools of St. Marylebone, with a higher grade Technical School for boys and girls opening on to the High Street. The latter building overlooks the graveyard filled with hoary tombstones.
At the top of High Street, in the Marylebone Road, formerly stood a turnpike, otherwise there is little to remark on in High Street. It has fallen from its former importance, and is a dingy, uninteresting thoroughfare with poor shops. This, being one of the older streets, follows a tortuous course, in contrast with more modern streets westward. We are now at the nucleus of the old village of Marylebone.
Nearly opposite to the old church was the[Pg 91] manor-house, and its site can be fixed accurately; it was at the end of the present Devonshire Place mews, and is incorrectly described in one or two books as having been on the site of Devonshire mews, which would take it out of the High Street altogether.
This manor-house was originally a royal palace, built by Henry VIII., doubtless as a kind of hunting-lodge for the adjacent Marylebone Park, as Regent's Park was then called.
It is said to have been visited by Mary and Elizabeth, and as there are authentic records of the latter Queen's entertainment of the Russian Ambassador here, the statement is probably true. The house was rebuilt and considerably altered when it became the manor-house at a later date, but after having borne this title for many years it was let as a school in 1703, and was pulled down in 1791.
Another house about 100 yards south of this in the High Street has often been confounded with it (the manor-house), but this was built by Edward Harley, second Earl of Oxford, for the reception of the famous Harleian collection of MSS., begun by his father and continued by himself. When this collection was purchased by the British Museum the house, known as Oxford House, became a boarding-school for girls. The grounds stretched out at the back, covering the space now[Pg 92] occupied by Beaumont Street, Devonshire Place, and part of Devonshire Street. Some time before the house became a school these grounds were detached, and a noted bowling-green was established here. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's sharp remark in reference to this, "Some Dukes at Marylebone bowl time away," has often been quoted. There was close to the green a noted tavern called the Rose of Normandy. This is supposed to have been built in the early half of the seventeenth century, and was a well-known resort of gamesters and idlers. Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, against whom Lady Mary's sally was principally directed, is said to have spent much of his time there. He used to give a dinner to his associates at the end of the season, and his parting toast was, "May as many of us as remain unhanged meet here again next spring." In a plan of the Duke of Portland's estate in 1708 two bowling-greens are shown, one in the gardens at the back of the manor-house, and one behind the tavern. Both of these bowling-greens were afterwards incorporated into the famous Marylebone Gardens.
These Gardens were entered through the tavern above mentioned, and were opened before 1737; up to that date the public had free access, but afterwards were admitted only on payment of one shilling, for which, however, they received an[Pg 93] equivalent of "tea before eight o'clock," or "half a pint of wine during the concert." There was a theatre in the Gardens, in which balls, concerts, and scenic displays took place. The musical department was for some time under the direction of Dr. Arne, and the fireworks under Signor Torre. An allegorical play was performed on June 4, 1772, in honour of the King's birthday.
In 1778 the Gardens were closed, complaints having been made by the inhabitants as to the danger of fire from the fireworks. Pepys mentions the Gardens as "a pretty place," and John Locke records "bowling at Marebone and Putney by persons of quality." These Gardens formed the scene of McHeath's debauchery in the "Beggars' Opera." Devonshire Place, built on the site, is a fine wide street.
Almost opposite to the church, on the north side of the Marylebone Road, is the Charity School for Girls, a large, well-built edifice, which stands back behind a high brick wall. An inscription on this wall proclaims "St. Marylebone Charity School for the maintenance and education of the daughters of poor inhabitants. Supported solely by voluntary contributions. Founded 1750. Moved to this date 1838."
In 1750 a few benevolent gentlemen inaugurated the scheme, and at first its benefits were open to boys and girls alike. In 1754 the[Pg 94] Dowager Countess of Oxford, having granted a piece of land in High Street for the term of 999 years at peppercorn rent, the school house was erected. The numbers of the children varied according to the income. In 1829 it was considered advisable to devote the charity exclusively to girls, and the boys were dispersed. In 1838 the present schoolhouse was built on ground leased from the Duke of Portland. P. Hardwicke was the architect, and the result is entirely satisfactory.
The girls enter at ten, or two years earlier if they are paying pupils, and remain till sixteen. They make everything for themselves at the school excepting hats and boots, and do all their own domestic work, the kitchen and laundry being under the superintendence of a cook and laundress. Large orders of needlework are executed, but the mornings are devoted to bookwork.
They still wear the picturesque dress of the time of the establishment of the foundation. On Sundays they are dressed in brown frocks with elbow sleeves and mittens, and wear white fichus and aprons and snowy Dutch caps, like the children of the Foundling Hospital. The building is on the site of Marylebone Park House, an old house, parts of which the architect has incorporated into its successor; a handsome oak floor and marble mantelpiece of the Queen Anne period are to be[Pg 95] seen in the board-room. At its southern end High Street bifurcates, becoming Thayer Street and Marylebone Lane.
In 1839 Charles Dickens came to a large house in Devonshire Terrace, facing York Gate. This was his home for eleven years, during which appeared "Martin Chuzzlewit," "Dombey and Son," "David Copperfield," and many minor works.
Marylebone Lane is a narrow, crooked street on the site of a real lane, which followed the windings of the Tyburn and overhung its left bank. At the south end stood the ancient parish church already referred to. The fact of the churchyard having surrounded the church was proved by the number of bones and human remains dug up at the foundation of the Court House. This Court House stands in a wedge-shaped block. It is now superseded by the larger Court House in Marylebone Road. The Vestry offices were in this block which was originally built in 1729, and rebuilt in 1804. It is a plain brick building, with a clock dial set in a triangular pediment. It adjoins the site of the old Watch House on ground where the parish pound stood formerly. A stone let into the adjacent building records "A.D. MDCCXXIX St. Marylebone Watch House," and is surmounted by a coat of arms. It is curious to reflect that not so very long ago, as men count time in history, the little lonely church stood here on the brink of a stream[Pg 96] and surrounded by fields. Marylebone Lane is now a very poor and squalid district.
In 1237 one, Gilbert Sandeford, obtained leave to convey water to the City from the Tyburn, and laid down leaden pipes, the first recorded instance of their use for this purpose in England. Once a year the Mayor and Corporation visited the head of their conduits, and afterwards held a banquet in the Banqueting House in Stratford Place. "The Lord Mayor and Aldermen and many worshipful persons rode to the conduit heads to see them, according to the old custom; and then they went and hunted a hare before dinner and killed her, and thence went to dinner at the Banqueting House at the head of the conduit, where a great number were handsomely entertained by their Chamberlain. After dinner they went to hunt the fox. There was a great cry for a mile, and at length the hounds killed him at the end of St. Giles with a great holloaing and blowing of horns at his death, and thence the Lord Mayor with all his company rode through London to his place in Lombard Street" (Strype). The Banqueting House was demolished in 1737, long after Sir Hugh Myddelton's scheme (1618) for supplying London with water from the New River had rendered the Marylebone conduits unnecessary.
Stratford Place is a cul-de-sac opening out of[Pg 97] Oxford Street. It was built about 1774 by Lord Stratford, the Earl of Aldborough, and others. It was Lord Stratford who built Aldborough House in this place, before which General Strode erected a column to commemorate the naval victories of England. The column, which was a Corinthian one surmounted by a statue of George III., fell in 1805, eight years after its erection. The house in Stratford Place was subsequently occupied by the Duke of St. Alban's, Prince Esterhazy, and others.
Vere Street was called after the Veres, Earls of Oxford. The western district post-office is situated here, and at the north end is the little Church of St. Peter's, formerly called Oxford Chapel. T. Smith says this was considered one of the most beautiful structures in the Metropolis; taste has altered considerably since those days. It is a small squat building erected in 1724 by Gibbs. In 1832 it was altered, redecorated internally, and named St. Peter's.
The marriage of the Duke of Portland with the heiress of the Newcastle and Oxford families took place here in 1734. The Rev. F. D. Maurice was a former incumbent.
Henrietta Street was named after Henrietta, heiress of the Duke of Newcastle; and Welbeck Street, after Welbeck, the Duke of Portland's seat in Nottinghamshire. It was one of the earliest built after Cavendish Square, and shares[Pg 98] in the prevailing medical element of the district. The West End Hospital is on the west side, next door to Welbeck Hall, used by the Plymouth Brethren. At the upper end of the street is the Russian Embassy and chapel.
Wigmore Street is wide and lined by good shops. It was called after Wigmore Castle, the ancient seat of the Harleys, Earls of Oxford. This was one of the first streets to be built after Cavendish Square; it was burned in 1729, but rebuilt.
Wimpole and Harley Streets are long, dreary arteries which give the impression of having been cut out of cardboard. At Nos. 43 to 45 is now Queen's College, and next door is the Governesses' Home and Registration Office. The College was first established in 1848. It owed its origin partly to the Governesses' Benevolent Institution, and partly to the exertions of the Rev. F. D. Maurice and the Rev. C. G. Nicolay. The first object was to assist governesses to obtain certificates of efficiency, but this is no longer the primary object. The College occupies two fine old houses thrown into one; but though the picturesque ceilings and staircases add to its interest, the narrow passages and turnings are inconvenient. The names of Kingsley, Maurice, Trench, of Sterndale Bennett and of Hullah, associated with its early development, are sufficient to give the foundation exceptional interest.[Pg 99]
South of Weymouth Street is a poor, squalid district. In this is Westmorland Street, where stands St. James's Chapel. This was built in 1774, and was first called Titchfield Chapel, and subsequently Welbeck Chapel, before it gained its present name. It was thoroughly restored in 1869-77. Externally, the chapel has no architectural beauty, but inside a richly-coloured Burne-Jones window, placed so low as to give the impression of an altar-piece, lights up the building.
Cavendish Square is the nucleus from which all the surrounding streets have radiated. The ground was laid out in 1717, when the circular garden in the centre was designed. For a time the name of the Square wavered between Oxford and Cavendish, and it was referred to indiscriminately as one or the other; but at length the present name gained favour. An equestrian statue of the Duke of Cumberland, presented by General Strode, formerly stood in the garden. At the southern end there is a bronze statue of Lord George Bentinck by Campbell. James Brydges, Duke of Chandos, formed a design for building in the Square a princely residence, and he took the whole of the north side for a site. He had amassed a large fortune as Paymaster in Queen Anne's reign, and he intended to purchase all the property between this spot and Edgware, so that he might ride from town to country over his own[Pg 100] domain. But only a part of his palace was ever completed. The two similar buildings still standing on each side of Dean's Mews were designed for lodges. One of the wings was occupied for a time by Princess Amelia, aunt to George III., and subsequently by the Earl of Hopetown. This has since been demolished. One of these is now a convent of the nuns of the Holy Child Jesus.
On the west side of the Square is Portland House, a heavy stone edifice of great size standing back behind a high brick wall. The stables and grounds connected with it stretch through to Wimpole Street. The house was first called Bingley, and later Harcourt House. It was designed by Inigo Jones for Lord Bingley in 1722-23, and purchased after his death by the Earl of Harcourt, and when it was bought by the Duke of Portland, it was for a second time renamed. This was the only house standing when the Duke of Chandos designed his palace. The ground was then worth 2s. 6d. a square foot. In 1833 a man then living remembered a fox being killed in the Square.
The streets leading from the Square are all of about the same date, and were built or laid out in the eighteenth century. At No. 24, Holles Street Lord Byron was born.
Chandos House in Chandos Street was a part of the original house designed by the Duke of[Pg 101] Chandos. A long, low, rough, stuccoed building, containing the Medical Society of London, is here also, besides numerous offices of other societies, mostly medical.
In Queen Anne Street, No. 23 contains the offices of the Portland estate. It is a quaintly-built house, quite modern, with a commemorative tablet to Turner, R.A., who lived here. At No. 72 Fuseli formerly lived. Portland Place was built about 1772, and measures 126 feet in width. It is one-third of a mile long, and was designed by the brothers Adam. It was Nash's fancy to make Regent Street run straight on into Portland Place to lead up to a palace to be built for the King in Regent's Park, but this design was subsequently abandoned. The Chinese Embassy is in No. 49.
On the site of the Langham Hotel originally stood Foley House, built by the Duke of Foley. In his lease with the Duke of Portland it was expressly stipulated that no other house should be built to block the view northward. Thus, when Portland Place was built, it was made of the present enormous width in consequence of this stipulation. Foley House was demolished in 1820, and part of the site was bought by Sir James Langham, whose name is preserved in the adjacent street. The well-known architect, Nash, was employed by him to build a house, but Sir[Pg 102] James was dissatisfied with the construction. It is said that Nash, then employed in carrying out Langham Place, made it curve, to spite his employer, instead of carrying it on in a continuous line to Portland Place, as was at first designed.
All Souls' Church is also Nash's work. This church was built 1822-24, and is of a curious design with a circular portico surrounding a circular tower surmounted by a spire. The altar-piece is by Westall, R.A. The church was restored in 1876. Dr. Thomson, late Archbishop of York, and Bishop Baring of Durham, were among the former incumbents.
Queen's Hall, close by, is used for concerts and entertainments.
The London Crystal Palace, erected in 1858, stood formerly on the site of a great drapery establishment at the north-east corner of Regent Circus.
Halfway down the part of Regent Street above the Circus is the Polytechnic Young Men's Christian Institute and Day Schools, also the Polytechnic School of Art, founded in 1838, and enlarged ten years later. It was originally intended for the exhibition of novelties in the Arts and practical Sciences, especially agriculture and other branches of industry. Exhibitions were held here and lectures and classes established, but in 1881 the building was sold, and is now used as above indicated.[Pg 103]
Margaret Street was named after Margaret, heiress of the Newcastle and Oxford families. In it is All Saints' Church, a decorative building which has been described as the most beautiful church in the Metropolis. It was built by W. Butterfield, and the first stone was laid by Dr. Pusey on All Saints' Day, November 1, 1850. The whole of the interior is covered by mural decorations. The frescoes in the chancel were executed by W. Dyce, R.A. The style is Early English, and the spire reaches a height of 227 feet.
The church stands on the site of a chapel which is said to have been the cradle of the High Church Movement in the Metropolis. It is curious to read that in the eighteenth century this chapel was an isolated building, and that a shady lovers' walk led from it to Manchester Square, and another walk through the fields to Paddington!
In No. 204, Great Portland Street is the London Throat Hospital. The Jews' Central Synagogue, a large and imposing building in the Byzantine style, is just to the north of New Cavendish Street. In Portland Place there was formerly a well-known tavern, the Jew's Harp, where Onslow, Speaker to the House in George II.'s reign, used to resort incognito. St. Paul's (episcopal) Chapel stands to the north of Langham Street. This was formerly Portland Chapel, and was erected 1766 on the[Pg 104] site of Marylebone Basin, which had for some time formed the reservoir of a water-supply. The chapel was not consecrated until 1831, when it received its present name. This name recalls a market begun here in 1721 by Edward, Earl of Oxford, but not opened till 1731, owing to the opposition of Lord Craven. The market had a central vane, with date of foundation and the initials of Lord Harley, Earl of Oxford, and his wife. He obtained a grant "authorizing himself, his lady, and their heirs to hold a market on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays for the sale of flesh, fish, fowl, herbs, and all other provisions." It does not seem, however, to have answered his expectations, for the central room was afterwards used as a pay-office for Chelsea out-pensioners. On the site of this Oxford Mansions now stands.
Titchfield Street was built about the end of the eighteenth century. Loutherbourg, R.A., lived here, and W. Collins, R.A., was born in this street in 1787.
All the rest of this district is very dreary. There are various chapels and charitable institutions scattered about in the streets; but it seems likely before long that land in such an advantageous position will be required for buildings of a better class, which will bring in more rent than the present ones.
Wells Street chiefly consists of large manufac[Pg 105]turing premises. St. Andrew's Church has been opened out by the demolition of adjoining houses. It is celebrated for its choir.
Nollekens the sculptor's studio was at No. 9 in Mortimer Street. The Middlesex Hospital stands back from the street, with two wings enclosing a cement courtyard. This hospital was instituted in 1745 for sick and lame patients. It was first situated in Windmill Street, Tottenham Court Road, but was removed to Marylebone Fields, as the present site was then called in 1755. The site was obtained from Charles Berners on lease for the term of 999 years, and the first stone of the building was laid by the Duke of Northumberland. The building of the wings was completed in 1775, and they were extended in 1834. Various additions were made to the hospital, and improvements carried out in the interior arrangements, but it was not until 1836 that a charter of incorporation was obtained.
At the end of the eighteenth century several of the wards not then required were opened for the reception of the French refugees as a temporary shelter.
And with this we bring our "Circuit Walk" to an end, having found therein many things interesting, and not a few curious, even in a district usually accounted by no means exceptional in these respects.[Pg 106]
BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD.
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