The King's Road and Agar Town

Pages 60-62

Survey of London: Volume 19, the Parish of St Pancras Part 2: Old St Pancras and Kentish Town. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1938.

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Mr. King's description of the King's Road: This is called the Back Road leading to the City and Grays Inn Lane into Holborn.

The first block of four houses is given no description. There follows:

No. 33. Here stood an Old Farm dairy kept by Mr. Tew to which was attached several acres of meadow land, after his death it was conducted by his widow who possessed thereby a good property.

No. 34. This house begins the entra[n]ce of Kentish Town, on the line with Old St. Pancras Church half a Mile distant.

No. 35 meadow land all covered over with houses and various Streets leading into Maiden Lane, direct to Kings Cross Battle Bridge on the right and to Highgate on the left.

The fields depicted were part of the northern portion of the demesne lands of the manor of Cantlowes and the houses referred to by Mr. King stand in Camden Road, St. Paul's Road, etc.

No. 36 the ruins of Old St. Pancras Work House, in 1790 transferred to a plot of Ground the corner of the Hampstead Road and Kentish Town Road (see No. 1, West Side).

The year 1790 should be 1778 (see above). Moreover, the Old St. Pancras Workhouse mentioned is said by W. E. Brown to have stood on the opposite side of King's Road.

No. 37 the seat of Councillor Agar [Plates 9b and 115], whose property extended as far as Cook's Row. On the road side an immence number of poplar trees were planted, which grew so high as completely to shade the Road, and in summer rendered it most pleasant and picturesque when in full foliage. On the lawn a few friends are enjoying a rural pic-nic, quite in character with his usual hospitality.

"Counsellor Agar" was William Agar of Lincolns Inn, who purchased the lease of the mansion house belonging to the Prebend of St. Pancras in the Fields near London called Kentish Town, from the executors of Henry Newcombe, in 1810, together with the coachhouse, stable, yard and large garden, pleasure grounds, plantation, the Lawn, East Field and Near Field. The freehold of the manor of St. Pancras belonged to the Prebendary of St. Pancras in St. Paul's Cathedral, it was leased by the Prebendary from time to time. It was leased on 8th January, 1549, by John Weston, clerk, Residentiary of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul and Penitentiary thereof and Prebendary of St. Pancras, To Richard Wylkes, citizen and merchant taylor of London for 40 years, and after his death this lease passed to Henry Spence, citizen and innholder of London, who obtained an extension of the lease for a further period of 31 years from the Prebendary (Rev. James Calfhill) on 24th July, 1564. (fn. 143) Henry Kinge, D.D., Prebendary, leased it on 12th October, 1641, to John Kinge of the Inner Temple, gentleman, for 21 years, the area of the manor then amounting to 75 acres. In 1734 it was in the possession of Lady Millington (Ann Millington of St. George the Martyr) whose brother, William Bourchier of Salisbury, Doctor of Physic, assigned the lease to Henry Newcome of Hackney, LL.D., on 5th April, 1755. (fn. 144) The lease to Henry Newcome was renewed in 1757, by the Prebendary (Rev. Fifield Allen, D.D.) to his son Henry Newcome, (fn. 145) and again leased 26th March, 1798, to Henry Newcome of Devonshire Place, for 21 years. His executors obtained a fresh lease for 21 years on 3rd April, 1805, and, on 2nd March, 1816, (fn. 146) it was leased by the Prebendary (the Rev. William Beloe) to William Agar, the son of William Agar of Dunnington Hall, York. He was born in 1767, called to the Bar in 1791 and died 1838. The last lessee was his son William Talbot Agar of Milford House, Lymington, (fn. 147) born 1814, died 1907. When occupied by the Agar family this house was known as Elm Lodge. Practically the whole of the Prebendal Manor of St. Pancras has since been occupied by the Midland and Great Northern Railway Companies, now the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the London and North Eastern Railway.

No. 37. When the canal leading from Paddington (the Regent's Canal) was formed it meandered thro the grounds of Councellor Agar's property, since then all the fine poplars have been cut down and 2 and 4 roomed Cottages have been built by Working Men at a ground rent, on the road side, payable weekly or monthly. The Leases terminate at the end of 21 years, which have brought together such a variety of Poor of every description known as Agar Town (Plates 10 and 11), extending to the Gas Works in Maiden Lane [York Road] beyond contemplation, as to make it a Second St. Giles, it being very hazardous for any respectable dressed person to pass or repass without insult or annoyance, as this locallity receives most of the refuse which the forming of New Oxford Street swept away to improve that previous impure district, so long the Pest of the parish of St. Giles.

Mr. King's comments refer, of course, to the period preceding the appropriation of the land by the railway companies and reflect the general condemnation of this poorly built and congested district which Charles Dickens described under the name "Hagar Town" in Household Words. The Regent's Canal Company obtained from the Prebendary the freehold of 5 acres 2 roods of land then leased to William Agar in 1819. (fn. 148) In 1841 Mrs. Louisa Agar, widow of William Agar (who died in 1838) leased land to the Imperial Gas Works. (fn. 149)

No. 38. These houses were built by Captain Cook of Hampstead, from 1 to 17 is called Cooks Row. Adjoining No. 1 was a plot of ground belonging to the Adam and Eve Tavern Tea Gardens, attached to the Old Tavern which formed a noted place of attraction for Holiday folks; and on Sundays especially, the Gardens being thronged by Tea parties, and was then considered "Out of Town." No. 39 is a Building belonging to the Parish of St. Giles, the back of which, a portion of the Tea Gardens, is converted into a Burial Ground usually filled by Catholics. On the other side of "Tea Gardens" four houses are built, which leaves but a very small portion of the ground belonging to the Adam and Eve Tavern, but is all sufficient for its present purposes. The building belonging to St. Giles's Parish was Erected in the year 1824. The old Adam and Eve has since been pulled down and rebuilt, when the old wooden railing of the Church Yard was substituted for a Brickwall boundary with Iron rails thereon.

No. 40. St. Pancras Church. This excellent view of the old church concludes Mr. King's panorama. It is not necessary to print his notes on it as the history is dealt with separately in this volume. The freeholders of Cook's Row were the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, as rectors of the parish.

Figure 2:



  • 143. P.R.O., S.P. 12, 34, No. 12.
  • 144. Middx. Reg. 1755/2/85.
  • 145. Ibid., 1759/3/143.
  • 146. Ibid., 1816/2/387.
  • 147. Middx. Reg. 1858/6/83.
  • 148. Ibid., 1819/1/400.
  • 149. Ibid., 1858/6/83.