Euston Road and Hampstead Road

Old and New London: Volume 5. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Euston Road and Hampstead Road', in Old and New London: Volume 5, (London, 1878) pp. 301-309. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

In this section




"Not many weeks ago it was not so,
But Pleasures had their passage to and fro,
Which way soever from our Gates I went.
I lately did behold with much content,
The Fields bestrew'd with people all about;
Some paceing homeward and some passing out;
Some by the Bancks of Thame their pleasure taking,
Some Sulli-bibs among the milk-maids making;
With musique some upon the waters rowing;
Some to the adjoining Hamlets going.
And Hogsdone, Islington, and Tothnam (sic) Court,
For Cakes and Cream had then no small resort."—Britain's Remembrancer.

Pastoral Character of the Locality in the Last Century—The Euston Road—Statuary-yards—The "Adam and Eve" Tavern—Its Tea-gardens and its Cakes and Creams—A "Strange and Wonderful Fruit"—Hogarth's Picture of the "March of the Guards to Finchley"—The "Paddington Drag"—A Miniature Menagerie—A Spring-water Bath—Eden Street—Hampstead Road—The "Sol's Arms" Tavern—David Wilkies's Residence—Granby Street—Mornington Crescent—Charles Dickens' School-days—Clarkson Stanfield—George Cruikshank—The "Old King's Head" Tavern—Tolmer— Square—Drummond Street—St.James's Episcopal Chapel—St. Pancras Female Charity School—The Original Distillery of "Old Tom"—Bedford New Town—Ampthill Square—The "Infant Roscius"—Harrington Square.

There was, till the reign of William IV., a rustic character which invested the outskirts of London between King's Cross and St. John's Wood. But, thanks to the progress of the demon of bricks and mortar, the once rural tea-gardens have been made in every suburb of London to give way to the modern gin-palace with its flaring gas and its other attractions. Chambers draws out this "change for the worse" in his "Book of Days:"—"Readers of our old dramatic literature may be amused with the rustic character which invests the (then) residents of the outskirts of Old London comprehended between King's Cross and St. John's Wood, as they are depicted by Swift in the Tale of a Tub. The action of the drama takes place in St. Pancras Fields, the country near Kentish Town, Tottenham Court, and Marylebone. The dramatis personæ," continues Mr. Chambers, "seem as innocent of London as if they were inhabitants of Berkshire, and talk a broad country dialect. This northern side of London preserved its pastoral character until a comparatively recent time, it not being very long since some of the marks used by the Finsbury archers of the days of Charles II. remained in the Shepherd and Shepherdess Fields between the Regent's Canal and Islington. . . . The præ torium of a Roman camp was visible where now stands Barnsbury Terrace; the remains of another, as described by Stukely, were situated opposite old St. Pancras Church, and herds of cows grazed near where now stands the Euston Square Terminus of our North-Western Railway, but which then was Rhode's Farm. At the commencement of the present century the country was open from the back of the British Museum to Kentish Town; the New Road from Battle Bridge to Tottenham (Court Road) was considered unsafe after dark; and parties used to collect at stated points to take the chance of the escort of the watchman in his half-hourly round." In 1707 there were no streets west of Tottenham Court Road; and one cluster of houses only, besides the "Spring Water House" nearly half a century later, at which time what is now the Euston Road was part of an expanse of verdant fields.

In the reign of George IV., as Mr. Samuel Palmer writes in his "History of St. Pancras," "the rural lanes, hedgeside roads, and lovely fields made Camden Town the constant resort of those who, busily engaged during the day in the bustle of . . . London, sought its quietude and fresh air to re-invigorate their spirits. Then the old 'Mother Red Cap' was the evening resort of worn-out Londoners, and many a happy evening was spent in the green fields round about the old wayside house by the children of the poorer classes. At that time the Dairy, at the junction of the Hampstead and Kentish Town Roads, was a rural cottage, furnished with forms and benches for the pedestrians to rest upon the road-side, whilst its master and mistress served out milk fresh from the cow to all who came." In fact, as we have already noticed in our account of Bloomsbury Square and other places, down to the close of the last or even the beginning of the present century, all this neighbourhood was open country; so that, after all, Thackeray was not far wide of the mark when he put these words into the mouth of Mr. St. John in "Esmond:"—"'Why, Bloomsbury is the very height of the mode! 'Tis rus in urbe; you have gardens all the way to Hampstead, and palaces round about you—Southampton House and Montagu House.' 'Where you wretches go and fight duels,' cries Mrs. Steele."

But it is time for us to be again on our perambulation. Leaving Trinity Church, we now make our way eastward along the Euston Road, as far as the junction of the Tottenham Court and the Hampstead Roads. The Euston Road—formerly called the New Road—was at the time of its formation, about the middle of the last century, the boundaryline for limiting the "ruinous rage for building" on the north side of the town. It was made by virtue of an Act of Parliament passed in the reign of George II. (1756), after a most violent contest with the Duke of Bedford, who opposed its construction on the ground of its approaching too near to Bedford House, the duke's town mansion. The Duke of Grafton, on the other hand, strenuously supported it, and after a fierce legal battle it was ultimately decided that the road should be formed.

In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1755 there is a "ground plan" of the New Road, from Islington to Edgware Road, showing the then state of the ground (and the names of the proprietors thereof) between Oxford Street and the New Road. The Act of Parliament for the formation of this great thoroughfare, as we have already had occasion to observe, directs that no building should be erected "within fifty feet of the New Road." In Gwynn's "London Improved," published about the beginning of this century, it is stated that "the present mean appearance of the backs of the houses and hovels have rendered this approach to the capital a scene of confusion and deformity, extremely unbecoming the character of a great and opulent city." Down to a comparatively recent date, Mr. Gwynn's remarks would have applied very aptly to that quarter of a mile of the New Road which lies between Gower Street North, where the old Westgate Turnpike formerly stood, and the eastern entrance to the Regent's Park. Here the road was narrow, and perpetually obstructed by wagons, &c., that might be unloading at the various timber and stone yards, which occupied the ground that an Act of Parliament had ordered should be "used only for gardens." "The intention of this judicious clause," says the author of a work on London about half a century ago, "was, no doubt, to preserve light, air, and cheerfulness, so highly necessary to a great leading thoroughfare. Such it has hitherto been, and with increasing respectability, excepting at the point I am about to mention—many great improvements have taken place, such as the Regent's Park and Crescent, the new Pancras Church and Euston Square, &c. With these useful and even splendid works upon the same line of road, it becomes a matter of surprise that the distance between Westgate Turnpike, at the crossing of Gower Street North, up to the Regent's Park, should not only remain without any reformation, but that buildings, workmens' huts, sheds, smoky chimneys, and all manner of nuisances, should be allowed not only to continue, but to increase daily close to the road.

"In proceeding from the City westward," continues the writer, "a fine line of road, and noble footpaths on each side, are found until, on arriving near Tottenham Court Road, both appear to terminate abruptly, and the road is faced and its regularity destroyed by the projection of a range of low buildings and hovels, converted, or now converting, into small houses, close to the highway, which, strange to say, is much narrowed, at a point where, from the increased traffic caused by the crossing of the road to Hampstead, a considerable increase of width is doubly requisite. But here the houses project about ten feet, and nearly close up the footpath; and this being one of the stations for the Paddington coaches to stop at, it becomes a service of no small danger to drive through the very small opening that is left for the public to pass through. A few yards further, on both sides of the road, are ranges of stone-yards, with the incessant music of sawing, chipping, and hacking stone, grinding chisels, and sharpening of saws; cow-yards, picturesque stacks of timber, building materials, and dead walls. Another angle turned, and the traveller emerges again from the region of smoke, stone-dust, and mud, and traversing some hazardous passages, pounces at once into the magnificent Crescent of Regent's Park, wondering at the utter lack of public taste, which could allow such a combination of nuisances to exist, and even increase, in the immediate neighbourhood of this great public improvement, and along the only road leading to it from the city of London." In course of time, the desired improvement was effected, and that part of the road to which we have specially referred was widened by the removal of some of the obtruding houses, and the thoroughfare made as nearly as possible of one uniform width all along, with the exception of the hundred yards immediately to the west and east of the "Adam and Eve," where the Euston Road is crossed by the junction of the Hampstead and Tottenham Court Roads. Just as Piccadilly was a hundred years ago, so the 200 or 250 yards of roadway lying between Park Crescent and the Hampstead Road is, or was down to a comparatively recent date, one of the dullest and dreariest of thoroughfares. It is just possible, however, that more lions' and stags' heads, and other heraldic devices for decorating the park-gates of noble lords and "county families" in the country, have proceeded of late years from the various statuaryyards which adorn the southern side of the Euston Road than from all the rest of the metropolis put together. These statuary-yards are really the backs of houses in Warren Street, which we have already described in a previous volume. (fn. 1) It may be added here that the houses in Euston Road, opposite the sculptors' yards, were till recently known as "Quickset Row," thus preserving some trace of the former rurality of the place.

As we have stated in a previous chapter, the Metropolitan Railway Company have laid their railway entirely under the Euston Road from end to end. To carry out that great undertaking, the road was, at great expense, torn completely up. After constructing the railway at a considerable depth, the company re-made the roadway, and now it is one of the finest roads in London.

At the corner of the Euston Road and the Hampstead Road stands a public-house which perpetuates the sign of an older tavern of some repute, yclept "The Adam and Eve," which was once noted for its tea-gardens. Of this house we have already given an illustration. (fn. 2)

Hone, in his "Year Book," identifies this tavern with the site of the old Manor of Toten Hall, a lordship belonging to the deans of St. Paul's as far back as the time of the Norman Conquest. Under the earlier Stuarts it passed into the hands of the Crown, and was leased to the Fitzroys, Lords Southampton, in the early part of the reign of George III. Near it was another ancient house called King John's Palace. "Whether that monarch ever really resided there," remarks Mr. Palmer, in his "History of St. Pancras," "it is now impossible to ascertain, but tradition states that it was known as the Palace, and the houses on the site being called 'Palace Row' supports the tradition." Opposite to it, nearly on the site of what now is Tolmer's Square, was a reservoir of the New River Company, surrounded with a grove of trees; this was not removed till about 1860. The "Adam and Eve," even as late as 1832, was quite a rural inn, only one storey in height; and Mr. Hone tells us that he remembered it when it stood quite alone, "with spacious gardens at the side and in the rear, a fore-court with large timber trees, and tables and benches for out-door customers. In the gardens were fruit-trees," he adds, "and bowers and arbours for tea-drinking parties. In the rear there were no houses at all; now there is a town." At that time the "Adam and Eve" tea-gardens were resorted to by thousands, as the end of a short walk into the country; and the trees were allowed to grow and expand naturally, unrestricted by art or fashion. Richardson, in 1819, said that the place had long been celebrated as a tea-garden; there was an organ in the longroom, and the company was generally respectable, till the end of the last century, "when," as Mr. Larwood tells us in his "History of Sign-boards," "highwaymen, footpads, pickpockets, and low women beginning to take a fancy to it, the magistrates interfered. The organ was banished, and the gardens were dug up for the foundation of Eden Street." In these gardens Lunardi came down after his unsuccessful balloon ascent from the Artillery Ground, in May, 1783.

The "Adam and Eve" was celebrated for its cakes and cream, which were esteemed a very luxury by the rural excursionists; and George Wither, in his "Britain's Remembrancer," published in 1628, doubtless refers to the tea-gardens attached to this tavern, when he speaks of the cakes and cream at "Tothnam Court," in the lines quoted as a motto to this chapter. Gay thus poetically, but scarcely with exaggeration at the time, alludes to this, addressing his friend and patron, Pulteney:—
"When the sweet-breathing spring unfolds the buds,
Love flies the dusty town for shady woods?
Then Tottenham Fields with roving beauty swarm."
Broome, another poet of the seventeenth century, in his "New Academy," published in 1658, thus writes:—"When shall we walk to Tottenham Court, or crosse o'er the water; or take a coach to Kensington, or Paddington, or to some one or other of the City outleaps, for an afternoon?"

An advertisement in the public journals in September, 1718, tells us how that "there is a strange and wonderful fruit growing at the 'Adam and Eve,' at Tottenham Court, called a Calabath (? calabash), which is five feet and a half round, where any person may see the same gratis."

The "Adam and Eve," as Mr. Larwood tells us, in his work quoted above, "is a very common sign of old, as well as at the present time. Our first parents were constant dramatis personæ in the mediæval mysteries and pageants, on which occasions, with the naïveté of those times, Eve used to come on the stage exactly in the same costume as she appeared to Adam before the Fall. (fn. 3) "Hogarth has represented the "Adam and Eve" in his wellknown picture of "The March of the Guards to Finchley." Upon the sign-board of the house is inscribed "Tottenham Court Nursery," in allusion to Broughton's Amphitheatre for Boxing erected in this place. The pugilistic encounters were carried out upon an uncovered stage in a yard open to the high road. The great professor's advertisement, announcing the attractions of his "Nursery," is somewhat amusing:—
From the Gymnasium at Tottenham Court, on Thursday next, at Twelve o'clock, will begin:
A Lecture on Manhood, or Gymnastic Physiology, wherein the whole Theory and Practice of the Art of Boxing will be fully explained by various Operators on the Animal Œconomy and the Principles of Championism, illustrated by proper Experiments on the Solids and Fluids of the Body; together with the True Method of investigating the Nature of the Blows, Stops, Cross-buttocks, &c., incident to Combatants. The whole leading to the most successful Method of beating a Man deaf, dumb, lame, and blind.
By Thomas Smallwood, A.M., Gymnasiast of St. Giles's,
Thomas Dimmock, A.M.,
Athleta of Southwark
(Both Fellows of the Athletic Society).
* The Syllabus or Compendium for the use of Students in Athleticks, referring to Matters explained in this Lecture, may be had of Mr. Professor Broughton, at the "Crown," in Market Lane, where proper instructions in the Art and Practice of Boxing are delivered without Loss of Eye or Limb to the Student.

The "Adam and Eve" was, we need hardly add, a favourite resort for the Londoner of the last century; and its arbours and alcoves, commanding the open road to the north, became the snug quarters for a friendly pipe and glass. The reader, therefore, will "not be surprised" to read that such a hero as "George Barnwell," in the "Rejected Addresses" of the Brothers Smith—
"Determined to be quite the crack, O!
Would lounge at the 'Adam and Eve,'
And call for his gin and tobacco."

We learn something of the rural appearance of the neighbourhood of the "Adam and Eve," at the beginning of the last century, from the following advertisement, which appeared in the Postman, Dec. 30, 1708:—"At Tottenham Court, near St. Giles's, and within less than a mile of London, a very good Farm House, with outhouses and above seventy acres of extraordinary good pastures and meadows, with all conveniences proper for a cowman, are to be let, together or in parcels, and there is dung ready to lay on. Enquire further at Mr. Bolton's, at the sign of the 'Crown,' in Tottenham Court aforesaid, or at 'Landon's Coffee House,' over against Somerset House, Strand."

In the year 1800 the road from Whitefield's Chapel hither was lined on either side with the hawthorn hedge, and then the "Adam and Eve" tea-gardens were the constant resort of thousands of Londoners; particularly at the time of Tottenham Fair, of which we have spoken in a previous volume; (fn. 4) and when, after its suppression, it was followed by its more innocent one called "Gooseberry Fair." At that period there was only one conveyance between Paddington and the City, which was called the "Paddington Drag," and which stopped at this tavern door as it passed to take up passengers. It performed the journey, as the notice-paper said, "in two hours and a half quick time. "The same distance is now accomplished under this road by the Metropolitan Railway in about a quarter of an hour.

At one time (long before the establishment of the Zoological Gardens), the "Adam and Eve" owned a sort of miniature menagerie, "when it could boast of a monkey, a heron, some wild fowl, some parrots, with a small pond for gold-fish." As late as July, 1796, the general Court-Baron of the Lord of the Manor of Tatenhall was held at this tavern by order of William Birch, who was at that time steward, dating his notice from Dean Street, Soho. There were also near to this tavern some celebrated baths, of which we find in an old paper of 1785 the following advertisement:—

"Cold Bath, in the New Road, Tottenham Court Road, near the 'Adam and Eve' Tea Gardens, is now in fine order for the reception of ladies and gentlemen. This bath is supplied from as fine a spring as any in the kingdom, which runs continually through it, and is replete with every accommodation for bathing, situate in the midst of a pleasant garden. This water hath been remarkably serviceable to people subject to lowness of spirits and nervous disorders. For purity of air and water, with an agreeable walk to it, an exercise so much recommended by the faculty, this Bath is second to none."

It is worth noticing, perhaps, as an appendage to the "Adam and Eve," that the first street to the north of that tavern, in the Hampstead Road, is called Eden Street, though it bears at present—whatever it may have done heretofore—few signs or marks of Paradise.

The Hampstead Road is a broad thoroughfare, which runs hence northwards in a direct line with Tottenham Court Road, connecting it with High Street, Camden Town, and so with both Hampstead and Kentish Town and Highgate. The road is traversed by tramways, and has altogether a business-like aspect.

The streets on the west side (with the exception of the first—Eden Street—which occupies part of the site of the old "Adam and Eve" tea-gardens) are mostly named after Christian names in the family of the owner of the land, such as Henry, Charles, Frederick, William, Robert, and Edward Streets. At the corner of Charles Street (formerly Sol's Row) is the "Sol's Arms," which is immortalised by Dickens in "Bleak House." It derives its name from the Sol's Society, an institution which was conducted somewhat upon the principles of freemasonry. They used to hold their meetings at the "Queen of Bohemia's Head," in Drury Lane; but on the pulling down of that house the society was dissolved. In Sol's Row, David Wilkie, the artist, resided for some time, and there painted his "Blind Fiddler." We found him afterwards in the more fashionable suburb of Kensington, (fn. 5) Each of the above-mentioned streets cross at right angles a broader and more important thoroughfare, called Stanhope Street, which runs parallel with the Hampstead Road.

The remaining streets on this side of the Hampstead Road bear more ambitious designations: one is called Rutland Street, the next is Granby Street, and the thoroughfare is terminated by Mornington Crescent, which connects the road with High Street, Camden Town. Granby Street commemorates the most popular of English generals, the "Marquis" of that name; and the name Mornington, no doubt, was given to the crescent out of compliment to the Earl of Mornington, GovernorGeneral of India, the brother of the Duke of Wellington, and afterwards better known as the Marquis of Wellesley. At the corner of Granby Street is a Congregational Chapel, which, however, does not require further notice.

We are told by Mr. J. Forster, in his "Life of Charles Dickens," that after his release from the drudgery of the blacking warehouse at Hungerford Stairs, when about twelve years old, the boy who became afterwards "Boz" was sent to a school, kept by a Welshman named Jones, in the Hampstead Road, close to the corner of Mornington Place and Granby Street; but the schoolroom has long since disappeared, having been "sliced off" at a later date to make room for the London and Birmingham Railway. It was ambitiously styled Wellington House Academy, and there are many allusions to it to be found in his minor writings; there is also a paper among his pieces, reprinted from Household Words, of October 11, 1851, which purports to describe it in detail. The school is also of interest, as having supplied some of the lighter traits of Salem House in "David Copperfield." At this time "Boz" was living with his parents, in "a small street leading out of Seymour Street, north of Mr. Judkin's Chapel." Whilst here he would ramble, in childish sport and fun, over the "Field of the Forty Footsteps,"* scenes to which he would often allude with pleasure in after life. Even at this time he was a great devourer of the light magazine literature, and, along with his school-fellows, got up a miniature theatre, on the boards of which they would perform such pieces as The Miller and his Men. On another occasion they would act the part of mendicants, and go up as "poor boys" to ladies in the streets, and ask for coppers—laughing heartily when they got a refusal. Verily, even at that early age, in his case the child was father of the man.

H. W. BETTY. (The Infant Roscius.)

In the house close to Mornington Crescent the veteran artist, George Cruikshank, has resided for many years, having succeeded in it another artist, whose name stands even higher in the annals of art—namely, Mr. Clarkson Stanfield, R.A. Born at Sunderland, towards the close of the last century, Clarkson Stanfield "had the sea for his first art academy," and continued to make the sea the principal theme of his art studies through life. At an early age he determined to be a sailor, and, curiously enough, joined the same ship in which Douglas Jerrold was serving as a midshipman; and it is told that the officers having got up a play young Stanfield painted the scenery, while Jerrold acted as stage-manager. When he quitted the service he accepted an engagement as scenepainter at the old Royalty Theatre, near Wellclose Square, which was then noted as a sailors' theatre, and in course of time transferred his services to Drury Lane Theatre. In 1827 he exhibited, at the British Institution, his first large picture, "Wreckers off Fort Rouge;" and from that time he produced a large number of works. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1832, and became a Royal Academician three years later. He died in 1867, at Hampstead, where we shall have more to say about his later and more finished works.

Of George Cruikshank we may remark that his artistic productions have been principally confined to illustrating periodicals and other works of popular literature. The son of a water-colour draughtsman and caricaturist, he had an hereditary claim to some artistic gifts, the humorous turn of which he began to develop at a very early age. Among Mr. Cruikshank's best-known etchings are those in "Sketches by Boz," "Oliver Twist," "Jack Sheppard," "The Tower of London," "Windsor Castle," &c. In 1842 appeared the first number of "Cruikshank's Omnibus," the letterpress of which was edited by Leman Blanchard. From the first this artist had shown a strong vein of virtuous reproof in his treatment of intoxication and its accompanying vices: some instances of this tendency are to be found in his "Sunday in London," "The Gin Juggernaut," "The Gin Trap," and more especially in his series of eight prints entitled "The Bottle." These also brought the artist into direct personal connection with the leaders of the temperance movement. He has, moreover, himself become a convert to their doctrines, and has long been one of the ablest advocates of the temperance cause. Of late years he has turned his attention to oil-painting, and has contributed to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy and the British Institution; among his more recent productions in oil is a large picture called "The Worship of Bacchus," which was exhibited to the Queen at Windsor Castle in 1863. The whole of Mr. Cruikshank's etchings, extending over a period of more than seventy years, and illustrating the fashions, tastes, follies, and frivolities of four reigns, including the Regency, were purchased, in 1876, by the managers of the Royal Aquarium, at Westminster, and have been placed in their picture-gallery. Mr. Cruikshank's talents are not confined merely to painting or etching, but he possesses no little dramatic taste, and has often taken part in amateur performances at the public theatres for benevolent purposes.


We must now retrace our steps to the Euston Road, in order to deal with the east side of the Hampstead Road. The "Old King's Head," at the corner opposite to the "Adam and Eve," has long presented an awkward break in the uniform width of the Euston Road, by projecting some feet beyond its neighbours, and so narrowing the thoroughfare. At the time of the formation of the "Underground Railway" it was considered that there was at last a chance of its removal. Such, however, was not the case; for the owner not being satisfied with the amount of compensation which was offered by the railway company, who, by the way, offered to rebuild the house, but setting it at the same time further back, the latter got over the difficulty by running their tunnel under the house, which their engineer supported on huge posts of timber during the process, thus dispensing with its removal. To the north of this tavern much of the land facing Eden Street was not built upon down to about the year 1860. Here were large waterworks and a reservoir, sheltered by a grove of trees. The site is now covered by Tolmer's Square, a small square, the centre of which is occupied by a handsome Gothic Nonconformist chapel, with a tall spire.

Drummond Street, the next turning northward, extends along by the principal front of Euston Square Railway Terminus. This street crosses George Street, which forms a direct line of communication from Gower Street to the Hampstead Road. Between George Street and Cardington Street is St. James's Church, formerly a chapel of ease to the mother church of St. James's, Piccadilly. It is a large brick building, and has a large, dreary, and ill-kept burial-ground attached to it. Here lie George Morland, the painter, who died in 1804; John Hoppner, the portrait-painter, who died in 1810; Admiral Lord Gardner, the hero of Port l'Orient, and the friend of Howe, Bridport, and Nelson; and, without a memorial, Lord George Gordon, the mad leader of the AntiCatholic Riots in 1780, who died a prisoner in Newgate in 1793, having become a Jew before his death! One of the best-known vicars of this chapel was the Rev. Henry Stebbing, well known as the author of the "History of the Reformation," "History of the Christian Church," "History of Chivalry and the Crusades," and "Lives of the Italian Poets." Close by the chapel is the St. Pancras Female Charity School.

It may interest some of our readers who do not advocate strict temperance principles to hear that the celebrated article now called "Old Tom" or "Jackey" was originally distilled at Carre's Brewery (formerly Deady and Hanley's distillery), in the Hampstead Road.

We are now once more upon Russell property, as is testified by the names of several of the streets and squares round about; indeed, a considerable part of the district is called Bedford New Town.

Ampthill Square, which we have now reached, and which is in reality not a square, but a triangle, is so named after Ampthill Park, in Bedfordshire, formerly the seat of the Earls of Upper Ossory, but afterwards the property of the ducal house of Bedford, to whom the land about this part belongs. The south-west corner of the square is crossed by a deep cutting, through which passes the NorthWestern Railway, spanned by a level bridge. At his residence in this square, died, in September, 1874, at a good old age, Henry West Betty, better known as the "infant Roscius," more than seventy years after he had first appeared on the boards, under Rich, at Covent Garden, and had "taken the town by storm." He was born on the 13th of September, 1791, and having made his début before a provincial audience at Belfast, he first appeared as a "star" at Covent Garden, December 1, 1803, as "Selim," in Barbarossa. He is said to have cleared in his first season upwards of £17,000. When quite young he retired and left the stage, but afterwards, being induced to come back, he was unsuccessful, and found that the public taste is a fickle jade. He was a great favourite with many ladies of fashion and title, and the Duke of Clarence, it is said, used to show his partiality for the boy, by driving him home from the theatre in his own private royal carriage—a thing in itself enough to turn a boy's head. The mania for the "young Roscius" is one of the earlier "Reminiscences" of the veteran Mr. Planché and an account of him will be found in Timbs' "English Eccentrics."

Harrington Square—which, however, is a square in name alone, seeing that it faces only two sides of a triangular plot of ground, facing Mornington Crescent—adjoins Ampthill Square on the north, and ends close to the corner of the High Street, Camden Town. It is so called after the Earl of Harrington, one of whose daughters married the seventh Duke of Bedford.


  • 1. See Vol. IV., p. 476.
  • 2. See Vol. IV., p. 475.
  • 3. This statement is made on the authority of Hone, in his "Ancient Mysteries." Doubts, however, have been expressed as to the accuracy of his data upon this particular subject.
  • 4. See Vol. IV., p. 477.
  • 5. See ante, p. 134.