Tottenham Street

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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'Tottenham Street', in Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood, (London, 1949) pp. 38-39. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]

In this section


(East end of street formerly Chapel Street)

The name Tottenham Street has remained unchanged except for the eastern portion, between Whitfield Street and Tottenham Court Road, which was formerly known as Chapel Street. The numbering is from east to west, the even numbers being on the north and the odd on the south.

There is nothing of architectural importance left in this street. The whole frontage on the south between Whitfield Street and Charlotte Street is occupied by the Scala Theatre (see below). Between Charlotte Street and Goodge Place there are six old houses left. West of Goodge Place, the corner house and its neighbour No. 43 appear to have been refronted in the 19th-century. Nos. 45 and 47 are in their original condition, the latter having an arched door with alternate brick and cement quoins and voussoirs. No. 49 is of four storeys and its ground floor is rendered in cement to imitate masonry.

On the north side, between Whitfield Street and Charlotte Street the only original house is No. 28, of four storeys with a 19th-century shop below. Nos. 20–26 have some original brickwork in the upper storeys. West of Charlotte Street is a vacant site and then three two-storey buildings with shops (Nos. 34, 36 and 38). No. 40 is rendered in cement and No. 42 rebuilt. To the latter house, then occupied by John Dixon, copper-plate engraver, Richard Parker Bonington, the well-known painter, was brought to die in 1828. Nos. 44 and 46 are of four storeys and retain their old brick fronts; Nos. 48–52 have been re-faced and are three storeys high.

The old parish boundary crosses the street at the back of the houses fronting Cleveland Street.

The Theatre, Tottenham Street

The little theatre in Tottenham Street which preceded the present SCALA had a varied history and was known by a surprising number of different names. It was built by Francis Pasquali as a concert room in 1772, (fn. 39) apparently with the support of the Earl of Sandwich and others. In 1786 Pasquali and Michael Novosielski, architect of His Majesty's Theatre in the Haymarket, leased the building to Lord Sandwich and his friends for the "concerts of ancient music" which had been inaugurated elsewhere in 1776. (fn. n1)

The building was enlarged and fitted under the direction of James Wyatt with a royal box for George III and Queen Charlotte, who were constant patrons, and became known, as The King's Concert Rooms. In 1794 the concerts were removed to the King's Theatre, Haymarket, and thence to the Hanover Rooms. In the meantime the Tottenham Street building was re-opened in 1800 by a trumpeter, John Hyde, and became known as Hyde's Rooms for Concerts. On his failure the Pic-Nic Society, a dramatic club founded by Colonel Greville took the place in 1802 and occasioned the Gillray cartoon: "Blowing up the Picnics." (Plate 12.) Six years later it was opened by Master Saunders, the equestrain, who named it The Amphitheatre and gave performances of horsemanship, etc. It returned to drama under a Mr. S. Paul (licence dated 23rd April, 1810) who improved the building, added a portico and restored its old name, calling it The King's Ancient Concert Rooms. He produced "The Village Fete" with his wife taking the part of Rosetta but the venture was a failure. His successors, Penley, Cobham (who altered the name to The Regency) and Brierly (who called it The Theatre of Variety) had no better success until, in 1821, Brunton secured the lease and opened his season on 9th September, 1822, with his daughter, Elizabeth (later Mrs. Frederick Henry Yates) in the principal parts. William Roxby Beverley (fn. n2) followed Brunton as manager and Frederick Lemaitre made his debut here, the theatre being then known as The Regency. In 1829, Brunton again opened it as The West London Theatre. (fn. n3) The next year (1830) it was called The Queen's Theatre, in compliment to Queen Adelaide, under the management of Messrs. Chapman and Melrose. In 1831, George Macfarren attempted its conversion into an English Opera House but in spite of a notable performance of "Acis and Galatea" the project failed. While he was manager, Madame Celeste performed from 7th March, 1831, to 16th May of that year. In December, 1833, members of the Mayhew family began the production of burlesques and French plays, calling it The Fitzroy Theatre, and the following year (1834), Mrs. L.C. Nisbett opened it as The Queen's Theatre. It retained this name under Colonel Addison, George Wild and Charles James, the management of the last named continuing from 1839 to 1865. On 11th April, 1865, was inaugurated its most famous period under the management of Marie Wilton, first in partnership with H. J. Byron and later (from 1867 to 1880) with her husband (Sir) Squire Bancroft. The theatre, now named The Prince of Wales, was remodelled and transformed from dismal murkiness to tasteful charm and cheerfulness. During their tenure the Bancrofts did much to reform the whole production of plays on the English stage and the series of plays by Tom Robertson: "Society," "Ours," "Caste," "School" and "M.P.," won the theatre a deserved popularity. It was in an otherwise unsuccessful performance here of "The Merchant of Venice" in 1875 that Ellen Terry met with her first great success as Portia. From 1880 to 1882 the theatre was under the management of Mr. Edgar Bruce and in the latter year it was closed. It was occupied by the Salvation Army for a time and was sold for demolition in 1902. (fn. 40) The Scala Theatre, from the designs of Francis T. Verity, was built on the site in 1904.


  • n1. An abstract of the lease is given in St. Pancras Notes and Queries, No. 262.
  • n2. His name was William Roxby to which he added Beverley (1765–1842). His son of the same name was a well known scene painter. (see D.N.B.) Another son Henry, the actor, appeared first at this theatre.
  • n3. In the Court Rolls of the Manor of Tottenhall (12 May, 1825) there is the surrender by John Perry of the Royal West London Theatre on the 23rd September of the preceding year.
  • 39. Ibid., 1772/1/133, 149.
  • 40. See Allardyce Nicoll, The English Theatre (1936), pp. 219–20; Clement Scott, The Drama of Yesterday and To-day (1899), pp. 479, 482–3, 596; E. Beresford Chancellor, London's Old Latin Quarter, pp. 108–16; also St. Pancras Notes and Queries and the Heal Collection, St. Pancras Public Library.