Survey of London: Volume 5, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1914.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
XXV.—HIGH HOLBORN, BETWEEN LITTLE TURNSTILE AND KINGSWAY.
In 1592 a Commission on Incroached Lands reported (fn. 1) the existence of certain property in St. Giles, held without any grant, state, or demise from the sovereign. On 29th August, 1609, James I. granted the whole of this to Robert Angell and John Walker. As the point is of importance, the description of the premises included in the grant is here given in some detail. (fn. 2)
"All that one messuage of ours with appurtenances in the tenure of Thomas Greene, and one cottage with appurtenances, with garden, in the tenure of Thomas Roberts, situated in the parish of St. Giles in-theFields … and all those four cottages with appurtenances lying and being on the south side of the public way leading from the said town called St. Giles-in-the-Fields towards Holborne … and all those small cottages built within the small pightell called Pale Pingle, lying and being within the parish of St. Giles opposite the aforesaid cottages, namely, on the north side of the royal way between the town of St. Giles aforesaid … and Holborne."
In 1650 a survey (fn. 3) was made of certain property "late belonginge to Charles Stuart, late king of England," and included therein were a number of premises, which extended along the south side of High Holborn for a distance of 234½ feet eastwards from Little Queen Street, and the easternmost house of which was The Falcon.
To the reversion in fee farm of this property a Mr. Gibbert laid claim, basing his pretensions on the identification of the property with certain of that included in the grant of James I. above referred to, and the surveyors reviewed at length his title, annexing a "plott of ye ground" (Plate 2). The conclusion to which they came was, that it was "clere and aparent" that Green's messuage and Roberts' cottage and garden, together with the four cottages opposite the Pale Pingle, were the tenements granted to Gibbert, and that these were "at the least 40tie pole" distant from the houses which he claimed. "Soe yt his clayme in those aforesaid houses is very unreasonable, false, imperfect and untrue. And wee, whose names are heerunto subscribed, shall (if Gibbert should bee so uncivell or shameles heereafter to lay clayme to them before yor honors) make it clerely appeare to the contrary if at any tyme required."
In spite of this emphatic condemnation of the unfortunate Mr. Gibbert, there can be no doubt that the surveyors were wrong. They seem entirely to have overlooked the possibility that the houses of Green and Roberts were not adjacent to the four cottages opposite the Pale Pingle; in fact, a perusal of the royal grant is sufficient to make it reasonably certain that they were quite distinct. The matter is, however, capable of definite proof.
A fortnight after the grant by James I., Angell and Walker conveyed the whole of the property to Richard Reade and Henry Huddleston, (fn. 4) and they in turn, on 23rd November, 1610, sold it to John Lee. (fn. 5) In the indenture accompanying this sale the two first mentioned houses are described as "all that messuage or tenement with appurtenances, late in the tenure of one Thomas Greene … now called the signe of The Falcon, also one messuage or tenement or cottage there late in the tenure of one Thomas Roberts."
It is quite clear therefore that Gibbert was right in his contention, and that the premises extending from Little Queen Street up to and including The Falcon had had their origin in the house of Green and the cottage of Roberts, which had first been officially noticed in 1592. There is also evidence (see below) that the land included in the grant reached as far east as Little Turnstile.
With the above information it is possible to date the interesting plan (Plate 2) appended by the surveyors to their report. It will be apparent that this has almost exclusive reference to the property granted to Angell and Walker in 1609. Thus, there are shown the four cottages by the White Hart, opposite the Pale Pingle, the Pale Pingle itself, and the land extending from Little Turnstile to Little Queen Street, including Green's premises, the only building which in the royal grant is dignified with the name of "house." It is therefore suggested with confidence that the plan in question is a copy of the one appended to the grant of 1609. With this assumption the title "Queene streete," given to the still unformed thoroughfare entering Purse Field is in entire accord. (fn. 6)
Immediately after or shortly before Lee's purchase, additional buildings were erected, for on 11th December, 1610, he and Nicholas Hawley sold The Falcon to William Woodward, (fn. 7) "with all yards, wayes, waste groundes, stables and appurtenances," excepting, however, from the sale "four little houses, cottages or tenements latelie builded on the west side of the Falcon yarde." Moreover, in 1612–13, the same vendors sold to William Lane, junior, one messuage, two cottages, two gardens, and a rood of land with appurtenances in the parish of St. Giles. (fn. 8) As in 1661 the property immediately to the west of Little Turnstile is described as "now or late" in the possession of Mistress Lane, (fn. 9) it is practically certain that the land sold in 1612 was identical therewith, and Hollar's plan of 1658 (Plate 3), which shows the area fully built on, indicates the development which had taken place in the course of the half century.
Building on the remaining portion of the land had also greatly increased. (fn. 10) The survey of 1650 contains a detailed description of the property, giving much interesting information as to the building materials, arrangement of the rooms, outhouses, etc. The following is a list of the premises. In most cases there were garrets in addition to the storeys mentioned.
The Falcon (2 storeys), and a house (3 storeys) in the rear. Frontage 15 feet. (Present No. 233.)
A house of three storeys. Frontage 33 feet. (Present No. 232 and site of New Turnstile.)
The King's Head Inn (3 storeys), with an addition (2 storeys), a gateway, a smith's shop with room, stables, sadler's house, tenement of 2 storeys, shed and coach-houses, houses of office. Frontage 54 feet. (Present Nos. 229–231.)
Two small tenements lying in front of The King's Head (3 storeys), a house (3 storeys), with small back addition. Frontage 19 feet.
A house (3 storeys), a garden with coach-house and stable. Frontage 26 feet. (The site of these last two houses is now occupied by the Holborn Station of the Piccadilly tube railway.)
The Gate Tavern (3 storeys.) Special mention is made of the "very faire and spacious dyneinge room, 38 feet in length," on the first floor. A bowling alley and gardens were in the rear. Frontage 38 feet. The site is occupied partly by the Holborn station and partly by Kingsway.
A house of 3 storeys, with a garden containing a small tenement of 2 storeys. Frontage 16 feet.
A similar house, with a garden containing a "small decayed tenement." Frontage 16 feet.
A tenement of 2 storeys, with a shop on the ground floor, a back addition of 2 storeys. In the garden behind were two small tenements of 2 storeys. Frontage 17½ feet. The site of the three last mentioned houses is now covered by Kingsway.
It will be seen from the above that New Turnstile was not included in the original scheme for building. It is not shown in Morden and Lea's Map of 1682, nor in the map accompanying Hatton's New Guide to London of 1708, but appears in the sewer rate book for 1723.