BOOK V. Containing the several Parishes and Liberties in the county of Middlesex, which compose the Suburbs of London and Westminster.
CHAP. I. The out parishes, &c. of Westminster.
The remaining parts of the metropolis to be mentioned are the out
parishes, which composing neither city nor corporation are like so many
separate country villages in respect of government: these shall be traced in the order
in which they lie, beginning in the west, and travelling round the town eastward.
The village called Marybone may now be esteemed a part of this vast town,
though it is not yet included in the bills of mortality; as the connection by new
buildings is forming very fast. It is not often that the popular corruption of a
local name approaches to a meaning, but the name of this parish has been
formed into St. Mary la bonne, to resolve it into St. Mary the good: the distinction created is however an odd one by inference, as it seems to refer to some
sainted Mary who deserved a different character. The history of this village
will be the best guide to its original appellation. It owed its rise to the decay
of that of Tyborne (fn. 1) ; the church belonging to which being left alone by the
side of the highway, was robbed of its books, vestments, bells, images, and
other decorations. On this the parishioners petitioned the bishop of London
for leave to take down their old, and erect a new church elsewhere, which being
readily granted, they in the year 1400, erected a new church where they had some
time before built a chapel, and that structure being dedicated to the Virgin Mary,
received the additional epithet of Borne, from its vicinity to the neighbouring
brook or bourn.
The old church, which was an inconsiderable building, was taken down, and
a new one erected in the year 1741, of brick in as plain a manner as possible.
It has two series of small arched windows on each side, and the only ornaments
are a vase at each corner, and a turret at the west end. The advowson of this
living is in private hands.
There is a small public garden here known by the name of Marybone-garden,
where the evening entertainments during the summer season resemble those at
St. Giles's in the fields.
At the south west end of the street called Broad St. Giles's, stands the parish
church of St. Giles in the fields; so named to distinguish it from St. Giles's Cripplegate. The place in which it stands was formerly a village of the same name,
so early as the year 1222, though it was not made parochial till 1547. The
little edifice there for divine worship being taken down in the year 1623, a
church of brick was erected in its room; but the ground in its neighbourhood
being gradually raised eight feet higher than the floor, it became very damp and
unwholesome. Upon this the inhabitants, by consent of parliament, had it
rebuilt, the sum of 8000l. being granted for that purpose (fn. 2) . The old fabric
was taken down in 1730, and the present one finished in three years after. The
living is a rectory in the gift of the crown.
This church and steeple are built with Portland stone. The area of the
church within the walls is 60 feet wide, and 75 feet in length, exclusive of the
recess for the altar. The roof is supported with Ionic pillars of Portland stone,
on stone piers, and is vaulted underneath. The outside of the church has a
rustic basement, and the windows of the galleries have semicircular heads, over
which is a modillion cornice. The steeple is 165 feet high, and consists of a
rustic pedestal, supporting a Doric order of pilasters, and over the clock is an
octangular tower with three quarter Ionic columns supporting a balustrade
with vases, on which stands the spire, which is also octangular and belted.
This church has been characterized as "one of the most simple and elegant
of the modern structures: it is raised at a very little expence, has very few
ornaments, and little beside the propriety of its parts, and the harmony of the
whole, to excite attention, and challenge applause; yet still it pleases, and
justly too: the east end is both plain and majestic, and there is nothing in the
west to object to, but the smallness of the doors, and the poverty of appearance that must necessarily follow. The steeple is light, airy, and genteel,
argues a good deal of genius in the architect, and looks very well both in
comparison with the body of the church, and when it is considered as a building by itself, in a distant prospect. Yet after all I have confessed in favour of
this edifice, I cannot help arraigning the superstition of situating churches due
east and west; for in complaisance to this custom, the building before us has
lost a great advantage it might have otherwise enjoyed; I mean, the making
the east end the front, and placing it in such a manner as to have ended the
vista of what is called Broad St. Giles's; whereas now it is no where to be
seen with ease to the eye, or so as justly to comprehend the symmetry and connection of the whole (fn. 3) ."
St. Giles's parish contains some of the worst and most ill-built parts of London, so as to become proverbial for the vulgarity of its inhabitants: but as this
character belongs only to particular parts, so, by the extension of improvement,
it gradually wears away. If some of the worst parts of the town belong to St.
Giles's parish, the finest square for extent in all the metropolis is to be found in
it, which is called Lincoln's-inn-square, or fields.
Lincoln's inn fields.
This square lies between the south side of High Holborn, and the north side
of Portugal-street: it is encompassed on three sides by handsome houses; and
on the east by the wall of the terrace in Lincoln's-inn garden. The north side is
called Newman's-row, the west side Arch-row, the south side Portugal-row, and
the east side Lincoln's-inn wall. This square was originally laid out by
the masterly hand of Inigo Jones, and it is said that the sides of it are the exact
measure of the base of the greatest Pyramid of Egypt. It was intended to have
been built all in a regular stile; but there were not a sufficient number of people
of taste, to accomplish so great a work. The house, which was late the duke of
Ancaster's, is built on this model; but elevated and improved so as to make it
more suitable to the quality of the owner. It has that simple grandeur which
characterises all the designs of the celebrated architect.
Some of the houses however in this square are grand and noble, but they are
far from having that beauty which arises from uniformity: two in particular on
the south side seem to strain at a proud exaltation above all the buildings in the
neighbourhood; and are by no means calculated for asthmatic or gouty inhabitants. The square is now adorned with a fine bason in the middle, well supplied
with water; and with grass plats and gravel walks, encompassed with an iron
pallisade fixed upon a stone plinth, at a proper distance from the buildings.
As noble a square as this is, it has no suitable carriage way into it on any side;
and has no direct street leading into it either from Holborn or the Strand:
though two streets into Holborn are half prepared at Great and Little Turnstile,
for compleating; and though one might so easily be made in the center between
them. The same may be said of the street at the south east corner, where there
are no buildings of any consideration to obstruct continuing it from Carey-street
into the Strand. The situation of Convent-garden market, with the indifferent
state of the buildings between, furnishes a hint for conducting Great Russel
street uniformly to the south west corner of Lincoln's-inn fields; instead of the
narrow, irregular, dirty avenue through Little Russel-street, Prince's-street,
Lying inn hospital Brownlow street. St. George's Bloomsbury.
In Brownlow-street Long Acre, is a Lying-in hospital for married women
which has been supported by voluntary subscriptions since the year 1749.
On the north side of Hart-street Bloomsbury square, stands the parish church
of St. George Bloomsbury; one of the fifty new churches appointed to be built
within the bills of mortality. The name of St. George was conferred on it in
honour of his late majesty; and it is distinguished from other churches of the
same name by the addition of Bloomsbury. It was erected at the public expence
and consecrated in January 1731 (fn. 4) , its parish being taken out of that of St.
Giles's. The rectory is in the king's gift.
This is an irregular oddly constructed church; the portico stands on the south
side, of the Corinthian order, and makes a good figure in the street, but has no
affinity to the church; which is very heavy, and would be better suited with a
Tuscan portico. The steeple at the west is a very extraordinary structure.
On a round pedestal at the top of a pyramid, is placed a colossal statue of the
late king; and at the corners near the base are alternately placed the lion and
unicorn the British supporters, with festoons between: these animals being very
large, are injudiciously placed over columns very small, which make them appear
Bloomsbury square.; Bedford house.
Eastward from the church is situated Bloomsbury-square, on the north side
of High Holborn; from which Southampton-street, a spacious street leads into
the center of the south side of the square. This square is embellished with many
good houses, and the grass plats in the middle are surrounded with neat iron
rails. The north side is entirely taken up with Bedford House, which is elegant
though low, having but one story, and was the design of Inigo Jones. Beside
the body of the house, are two wings, and on each side the proper offices. The
square forms a magnificent area before it, and the grand street in front throws
the prospect of it open to Holborn. Behind, it has the advantage of most
agreeable gardens commanding a full view of the rising hills of Hampstead and
Highgate: so that it is hardly possible to conceive a finer situation than Bedfordhouse.
At the south west corner of Bloomsbury-square, is Bloomsbury market built
by the late duke of Bedford for the accommodation of that part of the town.
From Bedford house on the same line westward, is Great Russel street
Bloomsbury, which is distinguished by that noble building known by the name
of Montague house. This palace was built by John duke of Montague, keeper
of the wardrobe to king Charles II. and who was in high favour afterward with
king William and queen Anne. It is justly esteemed one of the most
magnificent buildings in the metropolis; the front is extensive, two large wings
for offices join it at right angles, and include a handsome court, inclosed from
the street by a high brick wall, in the center of which is a spacious gate under a
dome: the inside of this wall is formed into a grand colonade reaching to the
wings on either side. The house is adorned with curious paintings of La Fosse,
Baptiste, and Rousseau; and has an extensive garden containing near eight acres
In pursuance of Sir Hans Sloane's will, who died in 1752, and directed that
his collection of natural and artificial curiosities, medals, books, and manuscripts,
should become the property of the public in consideration of 20,000l. to be
paid to his executors; the government immediately raised 100,000l. by lottery
for the purchase and establishment of it: and appointed the archbishop of Canterbury, lord Chancellor, the great officers of the crown, secretaries of state,
speaker of the house of commons, with others to be chosen by them; trustees
for the public (fn. 6) . To these were added lord Cadogan, and Hans Stanley,
Esq; who married Sir Hans Sloane's daughters; and after their decease, two
others to be chosen in their stead by themselves, or the Sloanean family from
time to time, to be their perpetual representatives in the trust.
To extend this noble foundation, the late king George II. with the parliament, directed that the royal library of curious manuscripts and very rare printed
books, together with the famous Cotton Library (fn. 7) , and its appendix, the late
major Edwards's fine collection of books, and 7000l. in reversion which he
bequeathed to it; should become a part of the proposed Museum: and that
Samuel Burrows, and Thomas Hart, Esqrs; the then trustees of it, and their
successors, to be nominated by the Cotton family, should be its perpetual representatives in the same manner as those of Sir Hans Sloane.
Nor was this all; the heiress of the late lord Oxford generously offered his
grand collection of manuscripts, which is said to have cost above 100,000l. for
a tenth part of that sum: the act therefore impowered the abovementioned
trustees to purchase and place it in the same repository with the Cotton library;
appointing the duke of Portland, and earl of Oxford, and their successors, to be
chosen by themselves, or the Portland family, perpetual trustees for it, as before.
All these trustees were incorporated by the name of trustees of the British
Museum, as a body politic, to provide a plan for its reception, appoint officers,
servants, and their several salaries, and make all other necessary statutes, and
rules for its order, government, and preservation (fn. 8) .
Just as this was done, and while the trustees were at a loss where to purchase or
build a proper repository; another kind and generous offer was made by the two
noble heiresses of the Montague family, of the house of that name, and gardens
in Great Russel-street, Bloomsbury: for this they gave no more than 10,000l. and
laid out between 20 and 30,000l. on necessary repairs, alterations, and conveniences,
for the reception of all the collections united. The remaining sum, much
lessened since by additional buildings, and unavoidable losses through the fall of
stocks, being all that was left to pay salaries, taxes, and other current expences
of the house; the trustees were obliged to apply to parliament for assistance,
which it is to be wished may be continued for the support of such an honour and
advantage not only to the English nation, but to all foreigners that please to
make use of it. For by this public repository, opportunity is given to
the learned of every country to consult and copy whatever may be for their
purpose, out of the books, manuscripts, rolls, deeds, and charters, preserved
there: by which means a great deal of property has been, and may be ascertained by their being produced and admitted as authentic evidence in the courts
of record. The lovers of natural history are also permitted to draw or make
models of any subject they desire without fee or reward. Such is the utility of
this grand magazine of universal learning; but this is not all, for it is designed also for the entertainment of all proper persons by inspection, and that also
gratis: the rules for describing the persons and obtaining leave for seeing it are
given to all that ask for them by the porter at the gate.
To accommodate the company that come to view the museum, six officers
are appointed, two to each of the three departments, into which the whole is
divided; viz. an under librarian, and his assistant librarian: whose business is,
beside what relates to the department it self, such as putting and keeping every
article of it in order, making catalogues, &c. to shew and explain it to all proper inquirers. Over these there is a principal librarian whose office is to superintend the whole.
The first department is in the lower story, into which you enter, through the
hall; where, at the bottom of the great stair case, are a great many antiques,
and some modern curiosities. This class consists of twelve rooms, of printed
books; the first receives the donations; among which is to be distinguished a
valuable gift of his present majesty, being above 30,000 treatises bound in
2000 volumes, printed in the last century, between 1640 and 1680.—The
second is the late Major Edwards's library mentioned before—and in the third
is the late Dr. Birch's library, which he bequeathed to the house.
The six adjoining apartments contain Sir Hans Sloane's library, where the
books are classed according to their subjects—e.g.—physic and surgery—travels and natural history—arts and philosophy in all their branches—history ancient and modern—philology—divinity in all its parts—law and
politics. Out of this you go into the Royal Library which takes up the three
last rooms, and consists of most rare books collected by the kings of England
from Henry VII. and other eminent and learned men. The number of books
in this department amounts to above 90,000.
The second department is on the grand floor above stairs: it contains more
than a million of articles of natural history, in five rooms; viz.—Fish, reptiles,—quadrupeds, birds—corals, sponges, insects, trees, fruits, 300
volumes of dried plants in folio, beside others of a less size—shells fossil and
recent, all forts of uncommon, common, and precious stones, of agate, jasper,
&c. minerals and ores, with a great number of miscellanies. This department
has been enriched by the curious collection of fossils presented by Gustavus
Btander, Esq; and of polypuses by Mr. Ellis.
The third department contains the manuscripts of the Royal, Cotton, Harleian, and Sloanean libraries, in number, including the late Dr. Birch's, bequeathed by him, very near 15,000 volumes, beside above 15,000 ancient charters
and rolls in one room; 25,000 coins and medals in another, and in a third, a
great many cameos, intaglios, Egyptian and Etruscan antiquities, most of
which were presented by Thomas Hollis, Smart Lethuillier, and Wortley Montague, Esqrs. In this room also are many curious articles from all parts of the
world, including those brought home by Commodore Biron, Mr. Banks, Dr.
Solander, &c. from the lately discovered southern countries. To these the parliament has lately added the superb collection of Sir William Hamilton, consisting
of antiques buried in the Sepulchres in Magna Græcia at least 3000 years ago;
amongst which are great numbers of vases, urns, lamps, armour, lares, bronzes,
instruments, utensils, locks, keys, &c. precious stones, marbles, cameos,
gold ornaments, superstitious gems, &c. in number more than 3300, beside
6000 medals, for which the government gave 8000l.
Such are the contents of the British Museum, the wonder of all that behold
it; and confessed, all things considered, to be superior to any other Museum in
the world (fn. 9) .
St. George the martyr. Queen's square.
On the west side of Queen's-square near Great Ormond-street, stands the
church of St. George Queen's-square, which was erected in 1706, by private
subscription, as a chapel of ease to St. Andrew's Holborn. The persons who
built it intended to reimburse themselves by the sale of pews; but the commissioners for erecting fifty new churches resolving to make this one of them, purchased it, caused a certain district to be appointed for its parish, and had it consecrated in the year 1723: it was dedicated to St. George, in compliment to Sir
Streynsham Master, one of the founders of it, who had been governor of Fort
St. George in the East-Indies.
This church is a plain common brick building, void of all elegance; it is
however convenient and well enlightened. The rectory, like that of St. Andrew's, is in the duke of Montague's gift.
The square this church stands in has been observed to be an area of a peculiar
kind, being left open on the north side for the sake of the beautiful landscape
before it, terminated by the hills of Hampstead and Highgate: this open exposure renders the square remarkably airy and agreeable to the inhabitants of the
other three sides; and though the distant beauties have occasioned the decoration
of the area to be overlooked, a walk round it is as pleasant as any of the public
gardens, none of which can boast so fine a prospect.
Red Lyon square.
On the west side of Red Lyon-street is a neat small square of the same name;
which is much longer than it is broad, and has convenient streets entering it in
the middle of the north, east, and south sides, with other streets and foot passages
at the corners. This square is well built round; the area is inclosed with iron
rails having a stone watch house at each corner, and a plain obelisk in the center.
After all it has but a dull aspect, and a late writer is very severe in his censure of
it. "I never, says he, go into it without thinking of my latter end. The
rough sod that heaves with many a mouldering heap, the dreary length of the
sides, with the four watch-houses, like so many family vaults at the corners;
and the naked obelisk that springs from amidst the rank grass, like the sad
monument of a disconsolate widow for the loss of her first husband; form all
together a memento mori, more powerful to me than a death's head and cross
marrow-bones: and were but a parson's bull to be seen bellowing at the
gate, the idea of a country church-yard in my mind would be compleat (fn. 10) ."
Baltimore, or Bolton houses.
A little to the west of Queen's-square, at the end of Southampton Row, is a
fine large brick house built by the late lord Baltimore, but now in the possession
of the duke of Bolton. This house enjoys all the prospect above described; but
was either built without a plan, or has had very whimsical owners; for the door
has been shifted to different parts of the house until it is lost to all outward
appearance; being now carried into the stable yard.
Near the north west end of Great Ormond-street is situated Powis-house,
built at the French king's expence, as has been mentioned in its proper place (fn. 11) .
It obtained its name from having been the residence of the Powis family; it was
long inhabited by the lord chancellor Hardwicke, and is now in the occupation
of the Spanish ambassador. This house, which stands back from the street, is
fronted with stone in a majestic stile; eight lofty Corinthian pilasters reach to
the entablature over the first story, which supports the Attic story: in the
center between the two inner pilasters is a plain door. The Attic story has been
justly censured as out of proportion; and it is added that the house stands greatly
in need of wings to render it compleat (fn. 12) .
In Lamb's-conduit-fields fronting the north end of Red Lyon-street, Holborn,
stands the hospital for exposed and deserted children; commonly called the
Foundling-hospital (fn. 13) . This building consists of two large wings connected by
a chapel in the center; one wing being for the boys and the other for the girls.
They are directly opposite to each other, and are built in a plain but regular,
substantial, and convenient manner, of brick, with handsome piazzas. It is
well suited to the purpose, and as fine as hospitals should be. On the farthest
end is placed the chapel, which is joined to the wings by an arch on each side,
and is very elegant within. Before the hospital is a large piece of ground, on
each side whereof is a colonade of great length, which extends toward the gates,
that are double, with a massy pier between, so that coaches may pass and repass
at the same time. These colonades are now inclosed, and contain ranges of
workshops where the children are taught to spin, weave, and exercise other
handicrafts. The large area between the gates and the hospital is adorned with
grass plats, gravel walks, and lamps erected upon handsome posts: beside which
there are two convenient gardens.
In erecting these buildings, particular care was taken to render them neat and
substantial, without any costly decorations; but the first wing of the hospital
was scarcely inhabited, when several eminent masters in painting, carving, and
other of the polite arts, were pleased to contribute many elegant ornaments,
which are preserved as monuments of the abilities and charitable benefactions of
the respective artists.
The altar piece in the chapel has a painting over it, finely executed by an
Italian artist; representing the wise men making their offerings to the infant
Jesus. The organ originally presented by Mr. Handel was rendered subservient
to the institution by that gentleman performing a sacred oratorio on it at certain
times for the benefit of the charity. A new organ has lately been placed instead
of the old one; which is generally played on by one of the children, who, having
the misfortune to lose his sight, has been educated to music.
From three years old to six, the boys are taught to read; and at proper intervals employed in such a manner as may contribute to their health, and induce a
habit of activity, hardiness and labour; and from that time their work is to
be such bodily labour as is most suitable to their age and strength, and is most
likely to fit them for agriculture, or the sea service; many of them are employed
in the gardens belonging to the hospital, where by their labour they supply the
house with vegetables, and being instructed in gardening, are kept in readiness
for such persons as may be inclined to take them into their service.
From six years of age, the girls are employed in common needle-work, knitting and spinning, and in the kitchen, laundry, and houshold work, in order
to make them useful servants for such proper persons as may apply for them,
except so many as may be necessary to be employed in the hospital; it being
intended to have no other female servants in the house, but persons brought up in
it when they are of proper age (fn. 14) .