Gordon Square

Pages 93-95

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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The rectangular area comprising Gordon Square and Tavistock Square with the streets lying between them and Euston Road, was originally part of Tottenhall Manor. The major part of it was a field called Oatfield (Otefield), of 16¾ acres, which in 1411 was in the occupation of John Askewyth who also held Bromfield (later Brickfields, between Otefield and Tottenham Court Road). The account of this adjoining field in the Survey of St. Pancras, Part II (fn. 89), throws some light on the history of Oatfield. Already by the year 1709 it was in the possession of the Russell family who owned the property to the south of it and its southern limit reached the old parish boundary of St. Pancras and St. Giles. On the west it adjoined not only Bromfield, but also a strip of the Southampton Estate and part of Cantlowes Close, on which Francis Street and Torrington Place are built. Its eastern boundary divided it from the Charterhouse property (the Lay Manor of St. Pancras). To the north it went as far as the brook which flowed a little distance south of the future Euston Road and divided it from the demesne lands of Tottenhall, which later became part of the Southampton Estate. (fn. n1) When Euston Road was made, the strip of land between it and the brook was acquired for the completion of the general scheme.

The development of this area by the Duke of Bedford followed what had already been built to the south in Russell Square and its neighbourhood. The latter had been designed and carried out by James Burton who, as we shall see later, built on the east side of Tavistock Square and Woburn Place and in the area still farther east of these. Apart from Burton's contribution, Gordon Square and Tavistock Square and the streets to the north were the work of Thomas Cubitt, whose enterprise and novel business organisation were responsible for the success of this piece of town planning. His introduction to this locality was through Mr. Benjamin Oakley who, in 1820, commissioned him to build the south side of Tavistock Square, which, like the south side of Gordon Square, lies outside the parish of St. Pancras. In the next five years he acquired the lease of the remaining land and carried out the larger part of his scheme. Mr. John Summerson (fn. 90) suggests that the houses may have been designed by his younger brother, Lewis Cubitt, who designed King's Cross Station.

The north side of Gordon Square has retained its original houses (Nos. 29 to 35), which form one block, four storeys high, in addition to the basements (Plate 43). Built of stock brick, the façade has a rusticated stucco ground floor and quoins to the slight centre projection and side wings. A bold cornice and balustraded parapet surmounts the façade which is not entirely symmetrical, since the east wing has only two windows on each floor against three in the west wing. The houses have large square porches carried on columns and a balustraded balcony at first-floor level is brought forward over the porches. The first-floor windows have entablatures, with pediments, in addition to those in the centre and wings. All the windows have broad moulded architraves in stucco.

The northern part of the east side of the square (Nos. 36 to 46) differs considerably from the north side, being altogether lighter in treatment (Plate 44). These houses follow the design which is described on the west side of Tavistock Square (see p. 97) and which is used with variations in Upper Woburn Place and the area between the squares and Euston Road. The only difference of moment between the designs for Gordon and Tavistock Squares is that in the former the pilasters have Corinthian capitals and the entrance doors are square-headed.

No part of the west side of Gordon Square appears to have survived in its original form, and the south side now lies outside the parish. University Hall (Dr. Williams's Library) is noticed in the next section. For Gordon Place, see Section LXXI.


No. 18. 1880–1885. Sir Frederick Treves, Bt. (1853–1923), surgeon. He held appointments at the London Hospital until 1898, and built up a reputation in the practice of surgery and in its demonstration. He made a special study of the abdomen and first gave appendicitis its name. His successful operation on King Edward VII gave him world-wide fame. He wrote many technical and other books.
No. 20. 1873–1883, Rev. William Josiah Irons (1812–1883), theological writer. He was vicar of Brompton, 1840–1870, and rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London, 1872–1883.
No. 22. 1898–1900, Rev. Henry Wace (1836–1924), dean of Canterbury. He was a frequent contributor to The Times. Appointed principal of King's College London, in 1883 and remained until 1897. He succeeded Dr. Farrar as dean of Canterbury in 1903.
No. 26. 1852, Rev. Christopher Heath (1802–1876). He was brought up in the Church of England but became a member of Edward Irving's Congregation in 1832. After Irving's death he was appointed minister of the congregation at Newman Street Hall and was responsible for the erection of the church in Gordon Square. He died at 3 Byng Place on 1st November, 1876. (See also Nos. 28 and 38.) 1865, Sir William Thomas Chesley (1833–1904), lawyer. He became Queen's Counsel 1880 and was an active conservative politician. Author of Offences against the Persons Act, 1875.
No. 28. 1853–1863, Rev. Christopher Heath (see Nos. 26 and 38). 1860, Christopher Heath, surgeon. He was son of the Rev. Christopher Heath and had a high reputation. He held appointments at King's College, Westminster Hospital, St. George and St. James's Dispensary, West London Hospital and University College. 1864–1868. Lewis Pocock (1808–1882), F.S.A., art amateur. Prominent in founding the Art Union of London, director of Argus Life Assurance office and wrote a work and bibliography on life assurance. He patented a scheme for electric lighting and collected Johnsoniana. He died at 126 Gower Street (q.v.). 1869–1889, Sir Henry Alfred Pitman (1808–1908), physician. He was registrar of the Royal College of Physicians, 1858–1889 and to his gift for administration is owing the part he took in revising the regulations and curriculum of the College. 1890–1891, Sir Alexander Edward Miller, Q.C.
No. 31. (St. Pancras Vicarage). 1852–1860, Rev. Thomas Dale (1797–1870), dean of Rochester. He was professor of English Literature and Language at University College, 1828–30; vicar of St. Pancras, 1846–1860, and published several literary and theological works. 1860–1869, Rev. William Weldon Champneys (1807–1875), dean of Lichfield. He did much to provide schools for poor children. He was rector of St. Mary's Whitechapel, 1837–60 and in the latter year became vicar of St. Pancras, a benefice held formerly by his grandfather. 1869–1877, Rev. Anthony Wilson Thorold (1825–1895), bishop of Rochester and of Winchester. He was the incumbent of St. Giles-in-the-Fields and followed Champneys as vicar of St. Pancras in 1869, leaving in 1877 to become bishop of Rochester. He was bishop of Winchester, 1890–95; 1878–1886, Rev. Canon Henry Donald Maurice Spence, vicar of St. Pancras. 1888–1906, Rev. Henry Luke Paget, vicar of St. Pancras.
No. 32. 1844–1852, John Romilly, first Baron Romilly (1802–1874). Master of the Rolls, 1851–1873. Second son of Sir Samuel Romilly, law-reformer. Liberal M.P. for Bridport and Devonport. Served as Solicitor-General and Attorney-General. He was the first master of the rolls to allow students access to the public records free of charge. He was raised to the peerage in 1865.
No. 35. 1843–1864, Peregrine Bingham, the younger (1788–1864), legal writer, son of the biographer and poet of the same name. A principal contributor to the Westminster Review and author of legal works. Was one of the police magistrates at Great Marlborough Street. 1881–1900. James Martineau (1805–1900), unitarian divine. Professor of mental and moral philosophy at Manchester New College from 1840–1869, and in the latter year became principal of the College, (which was at University Hall, Gordon Square from 1853 to 1890, q.v.). He was a trustee of Dr. Williams' Library, 1858–1868. He died at this house in 1900.
No. 36. 1878–1881. Charles Darling, barrister (1849–1936), created Lord Darling.
No. 37. 1839–1842, M. Pedro de la Quintana, Mexican Vice-Consul.
No. 38. 1844–1849, Rev. Christopher Heath, (see Nos. 26 and 28).
No. 39. 1847–1859, Charles Phillips (1787?–1859), barrister and author. Called to the Irish bar 1812 and the English bar 1821. Known for his florid style. Was leader at the Old Bailey and in 1846 became Commissioner of the insolvent debtors' court.
No. 42. 1840–1841, Thomas Gordon Hake (1809–1895), physician and poet. His poems won the admiration of Dante Gabriel Rossetti whom he attended in his illness. 1871–1872, James Maden Holt, M.P.
No. 47. 1896–1899, Henry Duff Traill (1842–1900), author and journalist. He wrote for the Yorkshire Post, Pall Mall Gazette, Saturday Review and Daily Telegraph. He published various works on historical, literary and political subjects and contributed to the English Men of Letters series.
No. 49. 1859–1865, Admiral Robert Gambier.
No. 51. 1858–1862, Rev. Samuel Minton.
No. 52. 1860–1885, Sir Charles Whetham (d. 1885), Alderman of the City of London, 1871–1885. Chairman of the London and Blackwall Railway Company.




  • n1. map opposite p. 1 in Survey of St. Pancras, II, and for the Southampton strip see plan of the Duke of Bedford's Estate (1795), published by the London Topographical Society, and the notes on the plan by Miss E. Jeffries Davis in London Topographical Record, XVII, pp. 137–139.
  • 89. Pp. 16 and 17.
  • 90. J. Summerson, Georgian London, pp. 174–6, where the development of the Bloomsbury Estates is given in detail.