Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1949.

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'Introduction', in Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood, ed. J R Howard Roberts, Walter H Godfrey( London, 1949), British History Online [accessed 25 July 2024].

'Introduction', in Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood. Edited by J R Howard Roberts, Walter H Godfrey( London, 1949), British History Online, accessed July 25, 2024,

"Introduction". Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood. Ed. J R Howard Roberts, Walter H Godfrey(London, 1949), , British History Online. Web. 25 July 2024.

In this section


The greater part of the area dealt with in this, the third volume of the Survey of the parish of St. Pancras, comprising the southwestern portion of the parish, lay within the manor of Tottenhall. A brief account of the descent of this manor is given in the introduction to Part II of the Survey and its boundaries are indicated in the historical sketch map of St. Pancras which is included in that volume.

At its southern end the parish of St. Pancras extends in a tongue of land on the west side of Tottenham Court Road to within 150 feet of Oxford Street. The south boundary crossed a meadow, which was sold by James Blount, Lord Mountjoy, in 1569, (fn. 1) to Edward Kyngeston of St. Martinin-the-Fields, brickmaker, and was described as a little field containing 2½ acres, partly in the parish of St. Marylebone and partly in St. Pancras, in the occupation of Nicholas Holden. It was further described as adjoining a great watering pond called St. Giles' Pond and abutting on the Queen's highway from St. Giles towards Hampstead [Tottenham Court Road] on the east, and the Queen's highway from St. Giles to Uxbridge [Oxford Street] on the south. This land, formerly belonging to the Hospital of St. Giles, became the site of Hanway Street, Pettys Court, John's Court and Hanway Place. The street and place get their name from Thomas Hanway, a Commissioner of the Royal Navy. From a transaction relating to part of the property, it appears that Thomas Hanway left the estate by will to his nephew the Rev. James Altham, sometime of Harlow in Essex and that the latter's eldest son James Hanway Altham of Epsom was in possession in 1796. (fn. 2) In the 19th century Hanway Street (partly in the two parishes) became a busy thoroughfare leading from Oxford Street to Tottenham Court Road and a shopping centre to which there are many references by writers on the neighbourhood. (fn. 3)

In the early part of the 18th-century the land between Tottenham Court Road and the boundary of St. Marylebone lay in four fields (apart from the small area mentioned above), viz. Crab Tree Field, Walnut Tree Field, Culver Close and Home Field

Crab Tree Field and Walnut Tree Field (Hassell & Goodge Estates)

These two meadows which extended north as far as the present Chitty Street (formerly North Street) were bounded east and west by the parish boundary and were copyhold of the manor of Tottenhall, being held at the beginning of the 18th century by Abraham Dudley of Gray's Inn, a quaker, who died in 1703. His son John Dudley, of the Six Clerks' Office, leased the southern part of 4 acres, in 1717, to John Hassell, (fn. 4) a brewer of St. Giles and at the same time the northern part of 16 acres to William Beresford, both leases being for 111 years.

At that time only two houses stood on the four acres, occupied by Widow Bluck and Widow Sarah Smith under two leases. The frontage extended from Hanway Street to the back of the ground attached to the houses that were afterwards built on Percy Street. Mr. Hassell was to lay out £1,000 on building within three years. The vestry of the adjoining parish of St. Giles then proposed to lease some of the property for a burial ground at £15 a year and an agreement was drawn up, but this was never ratified by the vestry because they discovered that the burial fees would go to the vicar of St. Pancras, so depriving the incumbent of St. Giles of this source of income. Claiming that his plans had been modified to meet the proposal and that he had lost money through its not being carried out, Mr. Hassell went to the Court of Chancery for redress but lost his case. (fn. 5) The planning of Gresse Street, Stephen Street and Tudor Place suggests that it was not developed uniformly with the Tottenham Court Road frontage.

Figure 1:

Gresse Street, drawing by Dennis Flanders

The progress of building along Tottenham Court Road is indicated by the petition to the Commissioners of Sewers from John Hassell and others in 1720, (fn. 6) that the common sewer being choked by mud and filth, might be cleared. In 1722 (fn. 7) he applied for leave to enlarge the sewer on the west side of Tottenham Court Road before several houses belonging to him, the sewer being too small. The surveyor reported that the frontage was 410 feet, upon which there were then erected or intended to be erected 15 houses next the road, with a stable yard backwards (Black Horse Yard, alias Tudor Place). The frontage of 410 feet extended from the Black Horse to the corner of Percy Street. In 1732, (fn. 8) again, Hassell and his tenants complained that the common sewer was choked and that the rainwater overflowed the kitchens and cellars of their houses.

In 1752 the Hassell estate was sold in lots, (fn. 9) subject to ground rents and the original lease, the southern portion of Gresse Street having then been built, while the area between Gresse Street and the houses in Tottenham Court Road was occupied by Black Horse Yard (Tudor Place), with extensive stabling. A house lately tenanted by the Hon. Charlotte Hassell, with a large garden, occupied two acres, or half the estate and this was bought by Peter Gaspard Gresse. (fn. 10) He does not appear to have built on it until the year 1768, when he laid out the northern part of Gresse Street (fn. n1) and Stephen Street. His son was John Alexander Gresse, painter and drawing master. (fn. 11)

Talbot, Bishop of Durha

The sale of 1752 was made two years after Anne, the only child of Thomas Hassell, had married Charles Henry Talbot, grandson of William Talbot, Bishop of Durham, at the Temple Church. He was created a baronet in 1790 and died 10th January, 1798, in his 78th year, being buried in Old St. Pancras Churchyard. He bequeathed his property in Gresse Street, Gresse Street Mews, Black Horse Yard, Rathbone Place and Little Mortimer Street to Dame Anne, (fn. 12) who died in 1810 aged 80 years and was buried with him. The Gresse Estate was partitioned in 1817 (fn. 13) among the daughters of Anne, Lady Talbot.

As stated above, the Hassell Estate was held by lease expiring in 1818, leaving the copyhold title to the reversion in the hands of John Dudley's successors. In the absence of the court rolls for this period it is difficult to trace the copyholders until the year 1751 when Catherine the wife of James Whitehead of Newport, Isle of Wight, was admitted. (fn. 13) She died in 1800 leaving three daughters, one of whom, Fanny, married John Jones of Covent Garden, who died in 1819, leaving his third share (106 messuages, 22 cottages, etc.) to his daughter Elizabeth Mary, (fn. 15) who married, firstly George Tudor, M.P. for Barnstable, and secondly, in 1861, John Prendergast (Vereker), 3rd Viscount Gort, who died 1865. She died 11th October, 1880, in her 90th year. Under a private Act of Parliament, 42 George III, a partition was made of the copyhold estate of the three daughters of Catherine Whitehead.

We have already mentioned that the larger portion of Crab Tree and Walnut Tree Fields, comprising (fn. 16) acres, was leased for 111 years in 1717 by John Dudley to William Beresford, (fn. 16) yeoman. With it went 5 messuages, one being called the Crab Tree Alehouse, occupied by James Kendrick. The plan attached to this lease shows the "Crab Tree" near the southern end, with four cottages adjoining. This must have been a little north of Percy Street. The only other house on the land was one occupied by Charles Badger farther northward. £400 was to be spent in building within three years. The northern boundary of the estate ran westward from Tottenham Court Road just north of Whitfield's Tabernacle, through Chitty Street, formerly North Street to Cleveland Street on the south side of the old Workhouse belonging to the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden.

William Beresford died in 1718, leaving his property to his wife Ann, who married John Goodge, carpenter, and the latter proceeded to carry out the building development. The leasehold interest remained in the possession of his family until the 19th-century. John Goodge died in 1748 (fn. 17) in his 58th year, and was buried in Old St. Pancras Churchyard where his wife had been buried in 1741, aged 68. He left his estate to his two nephews, Francis Goodge and William Goodge.

An indication of the extent of building in 1758 (fn. 18) is shown in an application then made by Francis and William Goodge to the Commissioners of Sewers to make a sewer for their houses on the west side of Tottenham Court Road and in Windmill Street for 10 acres intended for building, when the surveyor reported that there were five houses on the west side of Tottenham Court Road and five in Windmill Street. They were allowed to extend the sewer from the northern end of Mr. Hassell's sewer 430 feet to Windmill Street, etc.

The building developments which followed led to an Act of Parliament in 1768 (12 George III, cap. 69) under which 17 Commissioners were appointed to provide for paving, lighting, etc. and they were directed to hold their first meeting at the Two Blue Posts, Tottenham Court Road. The preamble states that "the pavements of the streets westward of Tottenham Court Road are in a very bad state and in a continual want of repair, and the parish is not duly lighted, cleansed and watched." They were empowered to levy rates and directed to put up the names of streets, number the houses, regulate stands for hackney coaches, put up lamps and erect watch houses.

Francis Goodge died in 1771, (fn. 19) leaving his estate to his brother William, who died in 1778 (fn. 20) and devised the residue of his estate to his nephew Samuel Foyster. This comprised 573 messuages, two chapels and 178 coachhouses and stables. Samuel Foyster died in 1805, (fn. 21) leaving two sons and five daughters, among whom the estate was partitioned in 1805 under a private Act of Parliament. It appears that the Goodge family had acquired the copyhold estate in addition to the long leasehold, but when this was done is not known.

A considerable number of houses were sold by auction in 1827, (fn. 22) by the trustee for the estate of Felix Vaughan, who died in 1799.

Culver Meadow

This Field of 12 acres belonged to the Bedford Estate and lay immediately north of Crab Tree and Walnut Tree Fields, its northern boundary lying just south of Maple (formerly London) Street. On the south it included the site of the Workhouse of St. Paul, Covent Garden (now the Middlesex Hospital Annexe) and the north side of Chitty (formerly North) Street, but east of this the boundary turned north outside the site of Whitefield's Chapel where there is a break in the alignment of the west frontage of Tottenham Court Road.

Culver Meadow was part of the Bloomsbury Estate which had originally contributed to the endowment of the pre-Reformation Charterhouse and it came to the Russell family through the marriage in 1669 of William, Lord Russell with Lady Rachel, daughter of Thomas Wriothesley, fourth Earl of Southampton. That it had formed part of the demesne land of the manor of Tottenhall is proved by the Commonwealth survey of 1649 (fn. 23) which shows the Earl of Southampton paying to the prebendary 2s. annual rent for "12 acres called culverclose." Moreover the court rolls of the manor record that Robert Palmer was admitted on the lord's grant, in 1776, to a parcel of the waste in Tottenham Court Road adjoining Culver Meadow. This strip of land had a frontage of 306 feet and a depth at the north of 30 feet 9 inches and on the south 22 feet. From a recital in 1825 we find that it accommodated 13 houses, 10 to the south and 3 to the north of Howland Street, now numbered 85 to 94 and 95 to 97 in Tottenham Court Road. Robert Palmer was for many years the agent to the Duke of Bedford, who then owned the whole field. The formality of admission was repeated when Richard Palmer his son was admitted at his father's death in 1796 and surrendered to Henry Jones of Bloomsbury in 1800. At his death in 1801 his son Henry Thomas Jones succeeded and when the latter died in 1810 the land went to his daughter Mary Ann Jones who married William Cartwright of Aynho, M.P. for Northants from 1754–1768.

The grant to Robert Palmer in 1776 evidently formed part of the arrangements for the development of this property for in 1777 the Duchess of Bedford granted to William Gowing, builder, a lease of 99 years, of the site held in Palmer's name, and building then proceeded over the whole area, to be completed by 1791.

Home Field (Southampton Estate)

North of Culver Meadow (the Bedford Estate) lay Home Field which extended from the present Maple Street (formerly London Street) on the south to Euston Road on the north. This was all part of the demesne land of the manor of Tottenhall which reached from Chitty Street (North Street) as far north as Park Street, Camden Town, and from the parish boundary in Cleveland Street, etc. on the west to Tottenham Court Road and originally no doubt farther to the east. As already noticed it included Culver Meadow.

In the time of Charles II the manor was held by Henry Benet, Earl of Arlington, of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's. It had for some time previously been in the hands of the crown and the King granted Arlington his reversionary interest. (fn. 24) Lord Arlington's daughter and heir Isabella was married to the King's natural son Henry Fitzroy, first Duke of Grafton, when she was five years old. She was Countess of Arlington, in her own right, and is referred to under this title in the earlier volumes of this Survey. She brought the St. Pancras property to the Fitzroy family and it was eventually settled on her great-grandson Charles Fitzroy who was created Lord Southampton (fn. n2) in 1780. He lived at Fitzroy Farm near Highgate and married Anne, daughter of Sir Peter Warren, vice-admiral of the red, after whom Warren Street was named.

A private Act of Parliament was passed in 1768 which vested the fee-simple of the manor (that is, the demesne lands and manorial dues) in Charles Fitzroy and his wife subject to a perpetual rent-charge to Dr. Richard Browne, the holder of the Tottenhall prebend in St. Paul's and his successors. This gave the prebendal stall a firm income of £300 a year, in place of some £46 (fn. n3) which had hitherto been derived from the property, but at the same time it enabled Lord Southampton to develop a valuable estate for his own profit. This development depended to some extent on the project for what was at first known as the New Road from Paddington to Islington, now the Euston Road, the formation of which was strongly opposed by the Duke of Bedford. Eventually an agreement was reached by which building between Bedford House and the New Road was prohibited and this condition was included in the Act of 1768. After the removal of Bedford House in 1800 the open land was built over. (fn. n4)


  • n1. A plan of part of Gresse Street (with plans of its houses) is in the Middlesex Land Register. 1817. 6. 101.
  • n2. The Southampton peerage had formerly been held by the family of Wriothesley, Earls of Southampton, the last of whom, Thomas the fourth Earl, left a daughter, Rachel, who married William, Lord Russell, in 1669. In 1670, Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine, was made Countess of Southampton and her son, Charles (by Charles II), was first Earl, and then (in 1675), Duke of Southampton. In 1710 he took the title of Duke of Cleveland and died in 1730. The title was revived, as noted above, in 1780, when Charles Fitzroy, son of Lord Augustus Fitzroy, and great-grandson of Henry, Duke of Grafton (another son of Barbara Villiers), became Baron Southampton. The Southampton (Wriothesley) property became the Bedford Estate; the demesne and copyhold lands of Tottenhall that came to the Fitzroys through the Countess of Arlington are known as the Southampton Estate.
  • n3. There were in addition to this considerable sums due at the death of each holder of the property, enfranchisement fees, etc.
  • n4. The dispute can be studied in the House of Commons Journal, 1754–57, p. 473, St. Pancras Notes and Queries, reprinted from the St. Pancras Guardian, 1897, Nos. 47, 268, 270, 290, 291, etc. Also London Topographical Record, Vol. 17 (Miss. E. Jeffries Davis).
  • 1. P.R.O., C 54/797/12d.
  • 2. M.L.R. 1796/6/102.
  • 3. Walford, Old and New London, iv, p. 470.
  • 4. P.R.O., C.P. 43/678 (m. 36).
  • 5. P.R.O., C. 78/1901.
  • 6. L.C.C., Westminster Commission of Sewers, Proceedings, 1 Dec., 1720.
  • 7. Ibid., 19 July, 1722, and 2 Aug., 1722.
  • 8. Ibid., 13 Dec., 1732.
  • 9. M.L.R., 1753/1/174; 1754/2/501, etc.
  • 10. Ibid., 1753/1/333; 1767/7/454; 1817/ 6/101, with plan.
  • 11. D.N.B.
  • 12. P.C.C., Walpole, 445.
  • 13. M.L.R. 1817/6/101.
  • 14. Tottenhall Court Rolls, 2 Feb., 1801.
  • 15. P.C.C., Ellenbro, 382.
  • 16. P.R.O., C.P. 43/914 (61).
  • 17. F.T. Cansick, Epitaphs of Middlesex, I.; P.C.C., Liste, 42.
  • 18. L.C.C. Westminster Commission of Sewers, Proceedings, Vol. 18, pp. 487, 490.
  • 19. P.C.C., Trevor, 405.
  • 20. P.C.C., Warburton, 245.
  • 21. Gent. Mag., 1805, p. 190.
  • 22. Tottenhall Court Rolls, 1 Nov., 1827; P.C.C., Howe, 464.
  • 23. Survey of London, St. Pancras, Part II, p. 141.
  • 24. Ibid., Part I, p. 3; Part II, p. 14.