Old Compton Street Area: Portland Estate
Moor Street

Sponsor

English Heritage

Publication

Author

F. H. W. Sheppard (General Editor)

Year published

1966

Supporting documents

Pages

201-202

Citation Show another format:

'Old Compton Street Area: Portland Estate: Moor Street', Survey of London: volumes 33 and 34: St Anne Soho (1966), pp. 201-202. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=41081 Date accessed: 02 October 2014.


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Moor Street

In the surviving ratebooks of St. Martin in the Fields Moor Street first appears by name in 1683, the ratebook for the previous year being missing. The street was then probably complete. The origin of the name is not known.

The diagonal line of this short street was probably determined by the existence of West Street, affording access to St. Martin's Lane. The maps of 1585 and 1676 (Plates 1a, 8b) suggest that there may have been a field-opening approximately at this south-eastern end of Moor Street before the streets in Soho Fields were laid out.

A building tradesman's name occurring in an early ratebook is that of Augustine Beare, glazier, in 1684.

In 1734 all of the south side was rebuilt by William Dunn of St. James's, carpenter, and William Lloyd of St. Anne's, bricklayer, who together took sixty-five-year building leases from the Portland family. A year or two later they rebuilt three houses on the north side under a similar lease. (ref. 41) Their mortgagees included Francis Jackman of St. James's, timber merchant, and William Mantle of St. George's, Hanover Square, plasterer. (ref. 45) In 1738 two more houses on that side were rebuilt, probably by William Bignell of St. Anne's, although his lien on the sites does not seem to have been a building lease. (ref. 41)

Of the present buildings in the street No. 13 is one of those probably built by William Bignell in 1738. Nos. 10, 11, 14 and 16 are probably in carcase those built by Dunn and Lloyd.

It may be noted that the Swiss Chapel, listed in directories in Moor Street in the early nineteenth century, was outside the parish of St. Anne. It stood back from the north side of that part of Moor Street which formed, physically, the southern end of Crown Street, in the parish of St. Giles in the Fields. Its site now lies in the northern angle of Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue.

The surviving original houses in Moor Street have plain fronts varying in height from three to four storeys, and two to three windows in width, and little of interest survives either in exteriors or interiors. The only exception to this generalization is No. 13, which is noteworthy for the well-restored shop front that projects from the ground storey of its plain, stock-brick front (Plate 134b). Simple and elegant in design, and of early nineteenth-century character, this shop front is divided by slender, plain pilasters into three bays, narrow between wide. Each side bay contains a small-paned display window with a segmental fanlight of radial pattern above the reeded transom, and the narrow doorway was originally similar. The fascia extending across the shop front is shaped to a concave profile at each end, to allow the mutule cornice to be returned against the front wall of the house. The house entrance, on the right of the shop front, has a six-panelled door of early eighteenth-century character, flanked by slender pilasters with panelled shafts that support a recessed continuation of the shop-front entablature. The stallboards below the shop windows, with lattice grilles set in segmental arches, are modern replacements.

No. 12 Moor Street

This building was erected, like Nos. 1–3 Old Compton Street and No. 99A Charing Cross Road, to a design of 1904 by Charles H. Worley, (ref. 46) and was first assessed for rates in 1910. It is one of the livelier features in an architecturally unexciting area. Designed in a Baroque manner, it has nevertheless something of the lightness and fantasy of the Art Nouveau. It contains three storeys and a garret, and has fronts to Moor Street and Old Compton Street faced with stone and dark green glazed brick. The ground storey is conventional enough with wide display windows flanked by rusticated pilasters, these supporting an entablature with tall frieze and moulded cornice. In the second storey, however, are great semi-circular windows with rusticated architraves, the alternate voussoirs emphasized and those at the top fantastically lengthened to touch the window sills of the storey above. The third storey has the more conventional oblong windows, but with architraves similar to those in the second storey and with very deep, continued sills. The fronts are finished with a modillioned cornice and a parapet in which the coping is dropped at intervals in a deep, semi-circular curve. The awkward triangular shape of the site provides the opportunity for a dramatic feature at its flattened apex, looking west down Old Compton Street. There the second and third storeys are emphasized by rusticated flanking pilasters set at an angle, and above the main cornice is a dormer gable with rusticated columns, also angled, at either side, and finished with a segmental pediment.

The very similar building by the same architect, Nos. 1–3 Old Compton Street and No. 99A Charing Cross Road, is at the other end of the block but there is no evidence that it was ever intended to link the two in a single scheme.

References

41. Nottingham University, Portland MSS., Soho lease book; R.B.
45. M.L.R. 1735/2/132; 1738/5/350.
46. Archives of Stevens Properties Limited.