Queen Square and Great Ormond Street

Pages 553-564

Old and New London: Volume 4. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.

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In this section



A "Colony" of French Refugees—Attack on Dr. Challoner's House during the Gordon Riots—Queen Square—The Church of St. George the Martyr—The Parish Burial-ground—Inadequate Accommodation for the Poor—Jonathan Richardson, the Artist—Dr. John Campbell and Dr. Johnson—The Poet Churchill—Dr. Stukeley, the Antiquary—The Alexandra Institution for the Blind—Hospital for Hip Diseases in Childhood—The Ladies' Charity School—National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic—The College for Men and Women—The Aged Poor Society—The Society of St. Vincent de Paul—College of Preceptors—Government District School of Art for Ladies—Great Ormond Street—Noted Residents—Powis House—The Residence of Lord Chancellor Thurlow, and Anecdotes of his Lordship—The Working Men's College—The Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth—Provident Surgical Appliance Society—The Residence of Dr. Mead, now the Hospital for Sick Children—The Home for Friendless Girls—The Homoeopathic Hospital—The Residence of Zachary Macaulay—The United Kingdom Benefit Society—The Workhouse Visiting Society—Guilford Street—Brunswick and Mecklenburgh Squares.

The district between Southampton Row and Lamb's Conduit Street was largely inhabited towards the middle and close of the last century by French refugees, who supported themselves by industrial pursuits of a somewhat higher kind than those of Clerkenwell and Soho. Among these were many Roman Catholics, who frequented the only chapel which up to that time existed in Central London, that of the Sardinian Embassy in Lincoln's Inn Fields, which we have already described briefly. (fn. 1) The saintly and learned bishop, Dr. Challoner, was living amongst his people, first in Gloucester Street, Queen Square, and subsequently in Lamb's Conduit Street, at the time of the Gordon Riots. His abode being known, his rooms were invaded by the mob; but the good old man was safe in a retreat a few miles from town, and he escaped with the loss of some of his books and papers.

"Queen Square," writes the fastidious author of a "New Critical Review of the Public Buildings, &c." "is an area of a particular kind, being left open on one side for the sake of the beautiful landscape, which is formed by the hills of Hampstead and Highgate, together with the adjacent fields"—an arrangement which the writer highly approves, on account alike of the inhabitants and of the square as well. "The square," observes the writer of the "Beauties of England and Wales," "forms a parallelogram, and the houses on three of the sides were erected at the commencement of the last century. It was named Queen Square out of compliment to Queen Anne, in whose reign it was built, and whose statue is placed in the midst of the garden at the north side."

At the south-west angle of the square stands the church of St. George the Martyr, erected in 1706 by private subscriptions, as a chapel of ease to the parish of St. Andrew's, Holborn. Northouck tells us that "the persons who built it intended to reimburse themselves by the sale of the pews; but the commissioners for erecting fifty new churches, resolving to make this one of the number, purchased it, assigned to it a district, and had it consecrated in 1723. It was dedicated to St. George in compliment to one of its founders, Sir Streynsham Master, who had been Governor of Fort St. George;" and it is called St. George the Martyr to distinguish it from the other church of the same name in Hart Street.

The parish burial-ground is in the rear of the Foundling Hospital. Speaking of this particular churchyard, Mr. John Timbs, in his "Curiosities," observes—"A strong prejudice formerly existed against new churchyards, and no person was interred here till the ground was broken for Robert Nelson, author of "Fasts and Festivals," whose character for piety reconciled others to the spot: people liked to be buried in company, and in good company." Nancy Dawson, the celebrated hornpipe dancer of Covent Garden and Drury Lane Theatres, lies here, Here also are buried the good judge, Sir John Richardson, and Zachary Macaulay.

Even in the parish of St. George the Martyr, if a judgment may be formed from Dr. Stallard's work on "London Pauperism," the accommodation in the dwellings of some of the poor is most disgracefully inadequate. It is to be hoped that our children, or, at all events, our grandchildren, will refuse to believe that in the year of grace 1874 a pauper widow, her sister, and six young children were existing—we purposely do not write "living"—in a room seven feet by eight, and eight feet high, a space not more than sufficient for one person.

Queen Square, like the rest of the once fashionable neighbourhood, has had its quota of celebrities among its residents. Here, for instance, lived the worthy Jonathan Richardson, the artist, and friend of Pope, who painted Pope's mother and Lord Bolingbroke. More than one of Pope's letters are addressed to him here. He rests in the burialground mentioned above. Sir Godfrey Kneller would often come across from his lodgings in Great Queen Street to spend a quiet evening at Richardson's house.

In Hawkins' "Life of Johnson" we read that Dr. John Campbell's residence for some years before his death was the large new-built house situated at the north-west corner of the square; "whither," adds the author, "particularly on a Sunday evening, great numbers of persons of the first eminence for science and literature were accustomed to resort for the enjoyment of conversation." Boswell has this note on these assemblies:—"Johnson: I used to go pretty often to Campbell's on a Sunday evening, till I began to consider that the shoals of Scotchmen who flocked about him might probably say, when anything of mine was well done, 'Ay, ay, he has learnt this of Cawmell.'" Dr. Campbell was a celebrated biographical and political writer, a friend of Dr. Johnson, and the author of "Hermippus Redivivus," and of other curious works. He was also editor of the "Biographia Britannica." He was, in fact, a voluminous writer, and made a considerable fortune by his pen.

It was in this square that the poet, Charles Churchill, was employed in teaching the belles lettres in a lady's school whilst holding the curacy of St. John's, Westminster, and
"Passing rich on forty pounds a year."

In Queen Square, in March, 1765, died the celebrated antiquary, Dr. William Stukeley, whose labours in British archæology obtained for him the name of "the arch-druid." Returning from his house at Kentish Town, he complained that he felt a stroke of palsy, and died a week afterwards. He was buried at East Ham, in Essex. Dr. Stukeley was for many years rector of the parish of St. George the Martyr.

Here were shops of sundry booksellers and printsellers; for at the "Golden Head" in this square, in 1762, the portrait of Cunneshote, one of the Cherokee chiefs then on a visit to this country, was on sale; it was engraved after a painting by Francis Parsons.

Queen Square, as well as Great Ormond Street, into which we shall shortly pass, seems to be a favourite centre of charitable institutions. No. 6 is the Alexandra Institution for the Blind. It was established in 1865 for the purpose of training and employing the blind, and for providing a home for the aged who are thus afflicted. At the corner of Brunswick Row is the Hospital for Hip Diseases in Childhood, which was founded in 1867. No. 22 is the oldest of Ladies' Charity Schools. This institution—for, although called a school, it is in reality one of our oldest charitable institutions—was established in 1702, for "educating, clothing, and maintaining the daughters of respectable parents in reduced and necessitous circumstances." One large building, originally three houses, is the National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic, instituted in the year 1859. The number of persons annually benefited at this hospital amount to about 3,000, of whom a large number of the incurable patients have pensions awarded to them ranging from £10 to £22 each. In 1875–6 a new wing was added to the hospital, founded in memory of the late Johanna Chandler, for the reception of gentlewomen of limited means, governesses, the wives and children of business men, clerks, and other persons of the middle class of society, sufferers from paralysis and other diseases of the nervous system, who are unable to pay the ordinary expenses of medical treatment in their own homes, but are able and willing to pay a portion of their maintenance while in the hospital. In this "memorial wing" hospital life is divested as far as possible of its wearisome monotony by the provision of cheerfully furnished day-rooms, regulated occupation, and such home comforts as the exigencies of the mode of life permits.

At No. 29 is the "College for Men and Women," with which is incorporated the "Working Women's College," both being offshoots of the "Working Men's College," of which we shall speak presently. It was established in 1874, with the object "of supplying to men and women occupied during the day a higher education than had been hitherto within their reach. The classes are taught, for the most part, gratuitously, and the design is that mutual help and fellowship may be promoted between all members of the college, teachers and students, by the educational work in the classes and the social life in the coffee-room." The classes, which are held every evening (except Saturday), comprise teaching in the following subjects:—Arithmetic, book-keeping, English grammar and language, history, literature, geography, physiology, Latin, French, German, drawing, singing, &c., and the fees range from 2s. to 4s. per class per term. These colleges for the joint education of men and women, though new in England, have long been carried on with much success in America, and it is found by experience that the combination of the two sexes in the work of self-culture and improvement works satisfactorily.

No. 31 forms the head-quarters of several Roman Catholic charitable institutions, among which are the Aged Poor Society, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, for visiting and relieving distress among the labouring classes. This society is widely spread over all the large cities of the Continent, both in Catholic and in Protestant countries.

A large double house on the south side of the square is the College of Preceptors, founded in 1846, and enjoying a royal charter. Its object is to afford to commercial and other public and private schools those tests of results which were afforded to other schools by the university local examinations. In 1860 and 1870 the number of pupils examined by the college were respectively 1,442 and 2,413, showing an increase of nearly a thousand, and at the same time affording conclusive evidence of the practical use of the examinations, many of the persons who submit to these tests of fitness being teachers themselves. In the adjoining house is another educational institution—the Government District School of Art for Ladies, under the patronage of Her Majesty. At the commencement of the present reign the square was inhabited almost entirely by private families of the upper classes; but gradually these mansions have been turned into hospitals and other institutions, for which the quiet of the place fits it admirably. Among the other charities which find a home here are the Hospital for Children suffering under the Diseases of the Hip, the National Hospital for Paralysed and Epileptic Persons, and a Hospital under the charge of the Anglican Sisterhood of East Grinstead. It may be mentioned here that Sir John Karslake, the late Attorney-General, was born and brought up in this square, of which his father was an old and respected inhabitant.

Great Ormond Street, which we now enter, and which runs from Queen Square eastward into Lamb's Conduit Street, dates its erection from the commencement of the last century. Hatton, in 1708, speaks of it as "a street of fine new buildings;" and it is described by the author of a "New Critical Review of the Public Buildings, &c.," in the reign of George II., as a "place of pleasure;" he adds that "the side of it next the fields is, beyond question, one of the finest situations about town." Many of the large red-brickbuilt houses have in their time been the residences of some of the great men of the age. Dr. Hickes, the author of the "Thesaurus," at one time lived here; as also did Robert Nelson, the author of "Fasts and Festivals."

Dr. Stukeley, the antiquary, whom we have already mentioned, lived at one time "next door to the Duke of Powis;" his "Itinerarium Curiosum" (1724) is dated from thence. In 1773 Dr. Hawkesworth was living in this street. The celebrated writer, politician, poet, and convert from infidelity, Soame Jenyns, many years M.P. for Cambridge, was a native of this street.

In this street, as Cradock tells us, in his "Miscellaneous Memoirs," lived Mr. Bankes, the great conveyancer, of Lincoln's Inn, and friend of Lord Mansfield. He was Chancellor of York, and a Commissioner of Customs, and had a country house at Mortlake, where he kept a pack of hounds. He "gave up the law for hunting, and was more convivial than studious." He laid the foundations of the fortune of the Bankeses of Dorsetshire, which was cemented by an alliance, in the next generation, with Lord Eldon.

Powis House stood near the north-west end of the street, on the site now occupied by Powis Place. Mr. Peter Cunningham tells us that it was built in the latter part of the reign of William III., by William Herbert, Marquis of Powis, son of the first marquis, who was outlawed for his adherence to James II. It was mysteriously burnt down in January, 1714, while the Duc d'Aumont, its then tenant, was entertaining the ambassador of Venice and the envoys of Sweden and Tuscany at dinner, about three o'clock in the afternoon. The alarm of fire was raised in one of the upper rooms, and in less than two hours the whole place was burnt to the ground, the plate and a few of the most valuable pictures alone being saved. "How the fire began," writes Northouck, "was then and still is a mystery. Many reports were circulated on the occasion, one of which was that the house was designedly burnt, to afford a pretence for removing the ambassador to Somerset House (where he was afterwards accommodated), which lying on the banks of the Thames, any person might have more private access to him by water. Others said that the Pretender came over with the ambassador, and had private interviews with the queen and some of her ministers; but that his residence here being suspected, the house was fired to favour his escape in the confusion."

The house was insured; but the French king's dignity would not permit him, it is said, to suffer a fire-office to pay for the neglect of the domestics of his representatives, (fn. 2) and it was accordingly afterwards rebuilt magnificently, at his majesty's cost. Northouck describes it, in 1773, as having long been tenanted first by Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, and then occupied by the Spanish ambassador. He adds: "It stands back from the street, is fronted with stone in a majestic style; eight lofty Corinthian pilasters reach to the entablature over the first storey, which supports the attic storey, which has been censured as out of proportion; and the house stands greatly in need of wings, to render it complete." The same is the opinion of the author of the "New Critical Review of the Public Buildings," already quoted. The following additional details of Powis House we glean from Mr. P. Cunningham's "Handbook:"—"The front was surmounted on the coping by urns and statues. Over the street door was a phœnix, still standing (but without the head) in the tympanum of the pediment of the house, No. 51. The ornament above the capitals of the pilasters was the Gallic cock. The staircase was painted by Giacomo Amiconi, a Venetian painter of some reputation in this country. He chose the story of Holofernes, and painted the personages of his story in Roman dresses. On the top was a great reservoir, used as a fishpond and a resource against fire. The house was taken down in 1777." There is a large engraving of the mansion by Thomas Bowles, dated 1714, the year after the destruction of the first building by fire.

A large house on the north side, No. 45, now the Working Men's College, was during the last century the residence of Lord Chancellor Thurlow. The house is chiefly noticeable for its deep baywindows, and its old-fashioned iron railings on each side of the steps leading to the doorway. Within, most of the rooms are large and lofty, and the principal staircase is broad and spacious. Under an arched recess upon the staircase there stood formerly a bust of Lord Thurlow. It was from this house, on the night of the 24th of March, 1784, the day before the dissolution of Parliament, that the Great Seal of England, one of the emblems of the supreme authority of the occupant of the woolsack, was stolen. The story of the theft is thus told by Mr. Cunningham:—"The thieves got in by scaling the garden-wall and forcing two iron bars out of the kitchen window. They then made their way up to the chancellor's study, broke open the drawers of his lordship's writing-table, ransacked the room, and carried away the Great Seal, rejecting the pouch as of little value, and the mace as too unwieldy. The thieves were discovered, but the seal, being of silver, had got into circulation through the melting-pot, and patents and other important public documents were delayed until a new one was made." In another version of the tale it was stated that the thieves effected their escape without having been heard by any of the family; and though a reward was offered for their discovery they could never be traced, nor was the Great Seal ever recovered. A Cabinet Council was immediately called, and a new seal was ordered to be made, and such expedition was used, that by noon the next day the new Great Seal was finished in a rough fashion, and was used as a makeshift until another was prepared, which it took the artist a whole year to complete. An accident similar to the above befell Lord Nottingham, Lord Chancellor in the year 1577, when the official mace was stolen. The story of its recovery, quite a romance of its kind, is told by Hone, in his "Year Book."

Many good stories are told about the haughty and eccentric Lord Thurlow, a few of which we offer to our readers.

When, by the death of his publisher, Mr. Payne, of Pall Mall, George Crabbe found himself poor and unknown in London, reduced to the necessity of asking assistance, he applied, among other great men, to Lord Thurlow, to whom he wrote more than once. "To the first letter, which enclosed a copy of verses," writes the poet's son, "Lord Thurlow returned for answer a cold and polite note, regretting that his avocations did not leave him leisure to read verses. The great talents and discriminating judgment of Lord Thurlow made Crabbe feel this repulse with double bitterness; and he addressed to his lordship some strong but not disrespectful lines, intimating that in ormer times the encouragement of literature had been considered as a duty appertaining to the illustrious station which he held. Of this effusion the lord chancellor," adds the filial biographer, "took no notice whatever." It is satisfactory to learn from the same source that a year later—not, however, till he had found a friend in Edmund Burke—Crabbe received from Lord Thurlow an invitation to breakfast at his house in Great Ormond Street, when the latter apologised to the poet for his neglect, and placed in his hands on leaving a sealed letter containing a bank-note for £100, with a promise of further aid of another kind as soon as he should enter holy orders.

Lord Thurlow's personal appearance was often the subject of amusing and laughable remarks. It is asserted that he was singularly ugly; so ugly that when his portrait was shown to Lavater, the physiognomist, he observed—"Whether that man is on earth or in another place that should be nameless, I know not; but wherever he is, he is a born tyrant, and will rule if he can." The Duke of Norfolk had, at Arundel Castle, a fine breed of owls, one of whom, from its excessive ugliness, he named Lord Thurlow; and it is said that great fun was caused by a messenger coming to the duke in a lobby of the House of Peers with the news that "Lord Thurlow had just laid an egg."

For the following anecdote, relative to Lord Chancellor Thurlow, whilst living in Great Ormond Street, we are indebted to Mr. Cradock's amusing "Memoirs:"—

"Soon after Mr. Thurlow was made Lord Chancellor, he addressed his brother, the Bishop of Durham, in the following words:—'Tom, there is to be a drawing-room on Thursday, where I am obliged to attend; and as I have purchased Lord Bathurst's coach, but have no leisure to give orders about the necessary alterations, do you see and get all ready for me.' The bishop, always anxious to obey the sic volo, sic jubeo, of his brother, immediately bestirred himself, and everything was considered as completed in due time; but when the carriage came to the door, the bishop found that Lord Bathurst's arms had never been altered. Knowing his brother's hasty temper, he happily hit immediately on the only expedient to prevent a storm: the door was held open till the Lord Chancellor arrived, and as soon as he was seated and had fully examined the interior, he stretched out his hand, and most kindly exclaimed, 'Brother, the whole is finished entirely to my satisfaction, and I thank you.' The same expedient, as to the door, was resorted to again at his return from St. James's, and of course no time was lost to remedy all defects." Doubtless, the very next day the arms and crest of the Bathursts were superseded by those which Garter King of Arms had assigned to Lord Thurlow; for, being the first gentleman of his race, he probably inherited none.

Lord Thurlow, it is well known, was rough and plain-spoken to a degree, not to say occasionally wanting in common courtesy; and yet sometimes, when the fit took him, he could unbend, much like Dr. Johnson, who, by the way, was himself an occasional guest here with his lordship. Mr. Cradock, in his "Memoirs," for instance, records a slight incident which shows him in an amiable light. Though there never was a Lady Thurlow, yet he had two daughters, of whom he was fond and proud. One evening, as they were coming away from the Assembly Rooms at Hampstead, there was a slight riot in Well Walk among the servants in waiting. The young ladies being alarmed, a young officer stepped forward and offered his assistance and protection, which they were glad to accept. He handed them to their carriage, and saw them safely to their lodgings in what was then the fashionable street of Church Row. The circumstance being related to Lord Thurlow, the Lord Chancellor took an early opportunity of calling on the young man, to thank him in person, and finding him at breakfast, sat down and joined him at his morning meal, where he made himself particularly agreeable. It was not till after his lordship was gone that the young man found out that he had been entertaining a lord chancellor unawares.


Notwithstanding his eccentricity, Lord Thurlow will ever be looked upon as a great lawyer and magistrate. When he last offered in the House of Lords to deliver a judgment in a divorce case, the whole house rose in honour to his years and learning. Dr. Johnson said he was a splendid fellow; and Sheridan declared that "no man was half so wise as Thurlow looked."


The Working Men's College, of which we now proceed to speak, had its origin in a very humble manner. In 1848, a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, Mr. John Malcolm Ludlow, proposed to the then newly-appointed chaplain of Lincoln's Inn, the Rev. F. D. Maurice, that some district near should be taken in hand by the lawyers whom Mr. Ludlow could get together, for the purpose of holding educational classes, Bible readings, &c., among the working classes. This was in a building in Little Ormond Yard, not far from the present college. In course of time this party of gentlemen, with some others, formed "The Society for Promoting Working Men's Associations," and built the Hall of Association, under the workshops of the Tailors' Association, in Castle Street. Here were begun classes and lectures, to both of which women were admitted. In 1854 Mr. Maurice drew up a lengthy plan for the formation of a College for Working Men, in which it was agreed "that the education should be regular and organic, not taking the form of mere miscellaneous lectures, or even of classes not related to each other." It was also agreed that the teachers, and, by degrees, the pupils, should form an organic body, so that the name of "college" should be at least as applicable to the institution as to University College or King's College. And it was also determined that the college should, in some sense or other, immediately or ultimately be self-governed and self-supported. Mr. Maurice's plan having been duly discussed, a circular was distributed, setting forth the nature and objects of the college. In the meantime a house—No. 31, Red Lion Square—had been taken; and the infant establishment consisted of a principal, a council of teachers, and students. The first "term" opened on October 31, 1854, the candidates for admission as members numbering upwards of 100, Mr. Maurice filling the presidential chair. Many other names of men of note have since been added to the lists. In 1856 the college became "affiliated" to the London University. In the following year—the lease of the house in Red Lion Square having expired—the College took up its quarters in Great Ormond Street. In course of time, owing to the increase in the number of students, and for other reasons, the adjoining house, No. 44, was purchased, and added to the College property; and in 1870, partly out of funds contributed by friends, and partly by money advanced on loan, some large additional buildings were erected at the end of the grounds in the rear of the house, to serve as class-rooms, lecture-hall, museum, &c. There is also an excellent library, and a room set apart for general sociable conversation among the members. In 1874 the college was incorporated, under the name of the "Working Men's College Corporation," under the provisions of an Act of Parliament, and thus permanently settled its status; and the debt which arose from taking the present house, and also by the erection of the additional buildings, was nearly extinguished by the "Maurice Memorial Fund" having been placed at the disposal of the council as a Domus-fund. Professor Maurice, the founder, continued to be the Principal of the College till his death, in 1872, when he was succeeded by Mr. Thomas Hughes, M.P.

One or two doors westward is the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth. This is a Roman Catholic charity for the relief of the sick poor of the metropolis. The church connected with the institution is a large and handsome building, and was erected by Sir George Bowyer, as a knight of the Order of St. John. The hospital was founded in 1856, and was for some time under the direction of the late Cardinal Wiseman. Considerable alteration was subsequently made in the building, and it was re-opened in 1868.

Another very useful charitable institution in this street is the Provident Surgical Appliance Society, which provides the working classes and persons of small means with trusses, elastic stockings, &c.

The house at the corner of Powis Place (No. 49), now incorporated into the Hospital for Sick Children, was the last home of Dr. Richard Mead, the celebrated physician and "archiator" of King George II., who died there in 1754. Born at Stepney in the year 1673, Dr. Mead lived to become the friend of Drs. Radcliffe, Garth, and Arbuthnot, and he had sufficiently established his reputation as a physician as to be called in consultation to the sick room of Queen Anne, two days before her death. On the accession of George II. Dr. Mead was appointed Physician in Ordinary. He had in the meantime held several important positions, including the post of Physician to St. Thomas's Hospital. The doctor's last, and perhaps the most useful, of all his works is his "Medical Precepts and Cautions."

Dr. Mead, no less celebrated as a patron of artistic and literary genius than in his own walk of life, was one of the first collectors of a private gallery, which he threw open freely to art-students and to private amateurs. His house, indeed, may be said to have been the first academy of painting in London. At the bottom of the garden at the back of his house the doctor had constructed a museum, in which was brought together a large collection of pictures and antiquities, besides which he had an extensive and valuable library. His doors were always open to the poor and indigent for advice; men of intellect were sure of finding from Dr. Mead all help and aid. He kept continually in his pay a number of scholars and artists of all kinds, who were continually at work for him, or, rather, for the public. No foreigner of taste and learning came to London without being introduced to him, and being asked to dine at his table. His library was open to every one who wished to consult it, and he allowed his books to be borrowed by the studious. Dr. Mead's library, medals, and pictures were sold by auction and dispersed after his death, in 1754.

The Hospital for Sick Children was established in the year 1852 in the above-mentioned oldfashioned mansion, with its spacious garden behind. The retrospect, in looking back over the time during which the hospital has existed, shows a marvellous progress. At its first opening only one child—a little girl—came to be admitted as a patient, and at the end of a month only eight inpatients and twenty-four out-patients had applied. For some years there was a struggle, not only for funds, but for existence, on the part of the new institution. Happily, some influential people took up the children's cause. The Bishop of London, Lord Carlisle, and Lord Shaftesbury said many a good word for it. Charles Dickens, as brilliant as he was large-hearted, advocated it by tongue and pen. Who, having read "Our Mutual Friend," will have forgotten "Little Johnny's" removal to "a place where there are none but children; a place set up on purpose for children; where the good doctors and nurses pass their lives with children, talk to none but children, touch none but children, comfort and cure none but children?" Notwithstanding all that was said and written in its favour, little money at first seemed to be forthcoming, but much sympathy and kind encouragement also, the best impetus that can be given to a really good cause, aware of its own value—publicity. In course of time the first annual report appeared, announcing as patroness of the Children's Hospital the most exalted mother in the realm—the Queen, and then definitely stating the objects. These were—"1. The medical and surgical treatment of poor children. 2. The attainment and diffusion of knowledge regarding the diseases of children. 3. The training of nurses for children." It had above thirty beds, and in the first five years of its existence had given out-door and in-door relief to above 50,000 children, when want of funds threatened to arrest its merciful work. A public dinner was arranged at the Freemasons' Hall; Charles Dickens undertook to preside. From his speech on the occasion we get a picture of the hospital, drawn in his own masterly manner. After some preliminary remarks, he proceeded: "Within a quarter of a mile of this place where I speak stands a courtly old house where once, no doubt, blooming children were born, and grew up to be men and women, and married, and brought their own blooming children back to patter up the old oak staircase which stood but the other day, and to wonder at the old oak carvings on the chimney-pieces. In the airy wards into which the old state drawingrooms and family bed-chambers of that house are now converted are such little patients, that the attendant nurses look like reclaimed giantesses, and the kind medical practitioner like an amiable Christian ogre. Grouped about the little low tables in the centre of the rooms are such tiny convalescents, that they seem to be playing at having been ill. On the dolls' beds are such diminutive creatures, that each poor sufferer is supplied with its tray of toys; and, looking round, you may see how the little, tired, flushed cheek has toppled over half the brute creation on its way to the ark, or how one little dimpled arm has mowed down (as I saw myself) the whole tin soldiery of Europe. On the walls of these rooms are graceful, pleasant, bright childish pictures. At the beds' heads are pictures of the figure which is the universal embodiment of all mercy and compassion, the figure of Him who was once a child himself, and a poor one. Besides these little creatures on the beds, you may learn in that place that the number of small out-patients brought to that house for relief is no fewer than 10,000 in the compass of one single year. In the room in which these are received you may see against the wall a box on which it is written that it has been calculated that if every grateful mother who brings a child there will drop a penny into it, the hospital funds may possibly be increased in a year by so large a sum as forty pounds." That night added £3,000 to the resources of the hospital, and Dickens afterwards read publicly for the same charitable purpose his "Christmas Carol." Year by year the number of out-patients increase enormously, whilst the inpatients are still limited by the want of sufficient funds. Nevertheless, as the list of subscribers swells, and one or two legacies fall in, the number of tiny beds is added to by twos and threes. In an article in Dickens' All the Year Round (1863), we read:—"Steadily as it has advanced, generously and wisely as it has been supported, it is yet but the small beginning of a work of duty. In the first five of its ten years of existence, it received into its beds more than 1,100 children seriously and dangerously ill, and gave the best help of medicine to 30,000 who were nursed at home. In the second half of its life, nearly 2,000 sick children have been sedulously tended in the little beds of the hospital, and almost 50,000 have received, as out-patients, gratuitous advice and medicine. The help is gratuitous; need of help is the sole recommendation necessary."

Since the above period the work of the hospital has become increasingly well known, and its borders have expanded along with its sphere of usefulness. First came the purchase of the house and garden adjoining that in which the hospital had been established; then came the addition of a room for convalescents; then the admission of women to be trained as nurses, and the institution of lectures on the diseases of children. The children who were recovering were sent to Brighton or to Mitcham for the fresh air they needed; and Cromwell House, at Highgate, has been occupied as a convalescent home for the children leaving the hospital.

In 1875, a further extension of the hospital was completed by the erection of a magnificent block of buildings in the rear of the old house, from the designs of Mr. E. M. Barry, R.A. It is an imposing brick-built structure, decorated with terracotta, and flanked by octagonal towers, which are made to play an important part in the fulfilment of the sanitary requirements of the place. Immediately facing the entrance—which is in Powis Place—is a beautifully decorated chapel, with walls of polished alabaster, and a roof supported by columns of alabaster and marble. This chapel was the gift of an anonymous donor, and it has been set apart, without actual consecration, for the religious services of the house, the services being conducted by the ladies who undertake the administration of the hospital, and the congregation consisting of the nurses and such of the little patients as are able to attend. On either side of the entrance, on the ground floor and on the first floor, is a spacious ward, each one being named, by special permission, after some member of the royal family. On the upper floor there are a number of smaller wards, to afford quiet to single patients after operations, or to admit of the separation of infectious disease (if it should accidentally break out) from the main body of the hospital. This new building affords space for 112 beds, and upon its construction the best architectural and sanitary knowledge has been brought to bear. It may be well to record here that the nurses are under the supervision of trained ladies, who are called "sisters," who reside in the hospital and are provided with board, but whose services are otherwise gratuitous. There is a "sister" to each ward, and one to the out-patient department, and under the sisters there are paid nurses, in the proportion of at least one to every ten patients. These nurses, however skilful in their calling, are engaged upon probation, and are not retained unless they are found to possess tact and aptitude in the management of children—a circumstance, it has been remarked, which renders it curious and interesting to observe that they are all little women.

There is in Powis Place another charitable institution to which we may briefly allude, namely, the Home for Friendless Girls. This was founded in 1836 for the purpose of assisting poor and destitute girls of good character, and of providing them with situations.

On the west side of Powis Place is a large and handsome stone building, called the Homœopathic Hospital. In what is now the east wing of the edifice (then No. 50) the family of the Macaulays were living in the early part of the present century. It was then occupied by Zachary Macaulay, and in it his celebrated son, the future essayist, orator, and historian, Lord Macaulay, spent some portion of his early manhood.

Mr. G. O. Trevelyan, in his "Life of Lord Macaulay," draws a most pleasant picture of the interior of this house, when the younger brothers and sisters of the future essayist were still in the school-room, the fun and mirth of the week days, however, being softened down by the regular visit on Sundays to St. John's Chapel, Bedford Row, to sit under the ministry of Daniel Wilson. "It was round the house in Great Ormond Street that the dearest associations of the family were gathered," writes Mr. Trevelyan, who tells us how his mother, Lord Macaulay's sister, drove thither when dying to look once more on its well-known walls. Here the family lived very quietly, Mr. Z. Macaulay having met with reverses in business; and here he was living when the "Essay on Milton," contributed by his son, the future Lord Macaulay, to the Edinburgh Review, made him at once the "talk of the town." "The family table in Bloomsbury," writes Mr. Trevelyan, "was at once covered with cards of invitation from every quarter of London."

At No. 27, on the south side of the street, are the offices of the United Kingdom Benefit Society, one of the oldest and best conducted societies of the kind in the metropolis. It was instituted in 1839, and was originally located in Castle Street, Long Acre, but removed to Great Ormond Street about 1865. The society, which was formed for the purpose of affording relief to its members in case of sickness, and of an allowance to the family in case of death, is enrolled agreeably to Act of Parliament, and has upon its books a very large number of members.

Addison, in the Spectator (No. 9), lets us into the character of this street in his time. He writes in a tone half serious and half jesting:—"There are, at present, in several parts of this city, what are called street clubs, in which the chief inhabitants of the street converse together every night. I remember, upon my inquiring after lodgings in Great Ormond Street, the landlord, to recommend that quarter of the town, told me there was at that time a very good club in it. He also told me upon further discourse with him, that two or three noisy country squires, who were settled there the year before, had considerably sunk the price of houserent, and that the club (to prevent the like inconvenience for the future) had thoughts of taking every house that became vacant into their own hands, till they had found for it a tenant of a sociable nature and good conversation."

In New Ormond Street is an institution called the Workhouse Visiting Society. It was established to promote the moral and spiritual improvement of workhouse inmates (of whom there are upwards of 117,000 in England and Wales), and to provide a centre of communication and information for all persons interested in that object. The society is in connection with the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science. It was founded in 1858, and has already enlisted a large number of persons in its interests, who labour among the various classes which are to be met with in our workhouses. The objects of this society are being carried out in all parts of England, and the work has been extended to Ireland. Besides the work of visiting carried on by the members, a scheme has also been started by them for the formation of workhouse libraries. The society has also a Home for Young Women in Ormond Street, which was opened in 1861. The occupation of those in the home consists of housework, cooking, and laundrywork, for a month in turn, with needlework, and two hours of instruction in the evening: they also assist the nurse in attendance on the aged patients in the infirm ward. Two girls also, for a month at a time, are attached to the infant nursery of the Children's Hospital in Great Ormond Street. There is a considerable degree of liberty allowed to the girls in the Home, as it is desired to treat them and trust them as they will have to be trusted in situations.

Guilford Street, into which we now pass, runs parallel with Great and New Ormond Streets, and extends from Russell Square to Gray's Inn Road. "Its site," says Malcolm, "was formerly a path, which led from Gray's Inn Lane by the Foundling Hospital, the gardens of Great Ormond Street, and the back of Queen Square, to Baltimore House (afterwards inhabited by the Duke of Bolton and the Earl of Roslyn), and it was generally bounded by stagnant water at least twelve feet lower than the square." In the first half of the present century, however, the street had become the residence of a large number of the most successful barristers, and even of several members of the judicial bench. In it lived, long after he had attained the dignity of Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, the late Right Hon. Sir Frederick Pollock. Here, too, lived Sir Edward Sugden (afterwards Lord St. Leonard's, and Lord High Chancellor of England) whilst in the full tide of his professional success. At No. 71, two doors off, resided Mr. Serjeant Wilde, another Chancellor in embryo, the future Lord Truro.

A great part of the north side of Guilford Street—in fact, the whole space between Brunswick and Mecklenburgh Squares—is occupied by the grounds surrounding the Foundling Hospital, of which institution we shall speak in a future volume. We may, however, mention here that a small inn, named the "Boat," in the then open fields to the rear of the hospital, was the rendezvous of Lord George Gordon and the other ringleaders of the mob of "No Popery" zealots who, in the year 1780, set half London on fire, and caused a panic of a week's duration.

Both Brunswick and Mecklenburgh Squares are of comparatively modern growth, and are highly respectable, but not in any way fashionable. Macaulay more than once contrasts with Holland House and West-end society "the quiet folks who live in Mecklenburgh and Brunswick Squares." In Brunswick Square, as one of them tells us, the great historian would pace up and down with his sisters Margaret and Hannah for a couple of hours at a time, talking incessantly on politics and literature, or "deep in the mazes of the most subtle metaphysics." John Leech, the well-known artist, and contributor to Punch, was at one time living in this square; and Mecklenburgh Square has numbered among its residents such men as Lord Kingsdown. The house-fronts of Brunswick Square have been described as "brick walls with holes in them," as is the case with the majority of the squares in this neighbourhood; it is blocked up on the east side by the grounds of the Foundling Hospital, which form, on the other hand, the west boundary of Mecklenburgh Square. The east side of the latter is architecturally embellished, and the enclosure contains some very fine trees.



  • 1. See Vol. III., p. 47.
  • 2. European Magazine for June, 1804, p. 429.
  • 3. See Vol. II., p. 549.