The Piazza: Nos. 1-3 (consec.) Tavistock Row

Page 94

Survey of London: Volume 36, Covent Garden. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1970.

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Nos. 1–3 (consec.) Tavistock Row

Site of Flower Market extension on south side of Piazza

Although most of the south side of the Piazza was originally open to the raised terrace walk of Bedford House garden, room was found for two houses between the east side of the garden and the south-east corner (see fig. 45). The more easterly site, later known as No. 1 Tavistock Row, was let in January 1633/4 to Robert Scawen, gentleman, servant to the fourth Earl of Bedford, as part of a large plot in Charles Street. Scawen covenanted to build three houses there, two facing Charles Street and one fronting the Piazza. The latter house was to be two storeys high with cellars and garrets. (fn. 1)

On the north side of the site was a passage leading into Charles Street which the tenants of No.1 Tavistock Row had the right to use during the daytime. (fn. 2) By 1714 privies had been built on the south side of this passage, apparently for the tenants of houses in Charles Street. (fn. 3) Although no building lease had been granted it is clear from Plate 31a that the house must have been rebuilt or refaced in the early eighteenth century; probably at about the same time as No. 2–3 (see below).

At some time prior to February 1730/1 No. 1 Tavistock Row was converted into a tavern, called the Bedford Arms. (fn. 4) The premises were damaged by the fire which destroyed the Little Piazza in 1769, but were reconstructed by the lessee and continued under the name of the Bedford Arms. The passage into Charles Street was from 1769 closed at both ends by doors, which were kept locked between midnight and eight o'clock in the morning. (fn. 5)

In c. 1800 the lessee, John Stacie, converted the tavern into a hotel called the Imperial which survived until 1859–60 when the building was demolished to make room for a temporary flower market (see page 137). (fn. 6)

The site of Nos. 2 and 3 Tavistock Row, on which there was originally only one house, was let to Robert Hope, tailor, of St. Giles in the Fields, at some time before 14 January 1633/4. (fn. 7) The house built by Hope abutted westwards upon the wall of Bedford House garden and on one of the banqueting houses in the garden, and, after the demolition of Bedford House in 1705–6, upon a footway from Tavistock Street into the Piazza called Tavistock Court.

In 1715 the site of Hope's house was let to William Sudbury, carpenter, who built two houses there—a tall narrow one, two bays wide with a long return front to Tavistock Court, called No. 3 Tavistock Row, and another house, three bays wide, No. 2. (fn. 8) Both houses continued to be let separately until their demolition in 1859–60, although from 1805 to 1839, No. 2 was leased together with the Imperial Hotel at No. 1. (fn. 9)

Nos. 1–3 Tavistock Row are all depicted on a watercolour of 1837 reproduced on Plate 47b. Here and in another watercolour reproduced on Plate 32b No. 1 is shown with a front of c. 1769 in the style of James Paine, its second and third storeys each containing a Venetian window set in an arched recess: the use of comparable features in houses now or formerly occupying similar positions in Soho Square may be noted. (fn. 10) Nos. 2 and 3 had segmentally arched windows, no storey-bands, and a moulded cornice below the top storey.

Nos. 4–6 And 8–14 (consec.) Tavistock Row, 20 Southampton Street and 1–3 (consec.) Henrietta Street

See pages 222, 232.


  • 1. Ibid., Piazza, lease of 14 Jan. 1633/4 to R. Scawen.
  • 2. E/BER, Piazza, lease of 20 July 1693 to E. Rigby.
  • 3. Ibid., Piazza, leases of 8 March 1714/15 and 20 March 1749/50 to W. Dale and J. Bradley respectively.
  • 4. Ibid., Piazza, lease of 20 March 1749/50 to J. Bradley; H.M.C., Earl of Egmont MSS., 1920, vol. I, p. 128.
  • 5. E/BER, Piazza, lease of 27 Nov. 1769 to J. Stacie.
  • 6. Ibid., Piazza, lease of 9 March 1802 to J. Stacie; B.O.L., Annual Report, 1860, p. 4.
  • 7. E/BER, Rental, 1637; Charles Street, lease of 24 Feb. 1634/5 to R. Hope; Piazza, lease of 14 Jan. 1633/4 to R. Scawen.
  • 8. Ibid., Tavistock Row, lease of 18 Nov. 1715 to W. Sudbury.
  • 9. Ibid., Tavistock Row, lease of 8 April 1839 to E. Stephens; B.O.L., Annual Report, 1860, p. 4.
  • 10. Survey of London, vol. XXXIV, 1966, Plates 70, 94. 95.