Stamford Street

Pages 122-124

Survey of London: Volume 22, Bankside (The Parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark). Originally published by London County Council, London, 1950.

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Stamford Street is built on part of the demesne land of the manor of Paris Garden. At the eastern end it roughly follows the line of an earlier road, called Holland's Leaguer, from the notorious house of that name (see p. 96). The eastern end from Blackfriars Bridge Road to No. 40 (i.e. as far as the old alley known as Boddy's Bridge, which still opens into Upper Ground) was built circa 1790. On the first edition of Horwood's map (1794–99) the ground westward of Boddy's Bridge is, except on the river frontage, shown as open gardens or fields. Upper Stamford Street, the continuation of Stamford Street westward to Broad Wall, was added circa 1803. The extension to Waterloo Road was made in 1815.

Only a few of the original houses of Stamford Street now remain.

Architectural Description

Nos. 16, 18 and 20 Stamford Street were demolished in 1923. They comprised four storeys and basement. They were, like all the other original houses in the street, constructed in stock brickwork. Their generally plain exteriors were relieved by a modillion cornice between the second and third floors, while a plain stone band marked the level of the first floor, and the window sills at this level were also carried through to form a string course. The entrance doors had wooden pedimented hoods supported on shaped brackets over a semicircular headed opening. The top storey of the flank wall of No. 16 Stamford Street fronting on to Bennett Street was ramped down and continued as a parapet above the modillion cornice, with dormer windows in the roof.

Figure 48:

No. 32 Stamford Street

The interiors contained some interesting deal mantelpieces and various types of cast-iron fire grates typical of the last quarter of the 18th century. The staircases were plain.

Nos. 28–40 Stamford Street were built at about the same time as Nos. 16–20 and are of similar design, but comprise three storeys and basement, with dormers in a slated mansard roof. The fronts have been repaired in recent years and the ground floor of No. 38 has been faced with stucco. The ground floor openings are arched and the majority of the windows have their original glazing bars. Nos. 34, 38 and 40 retain their original simple pattern fanlights and at No. 30 is a bowed oriel shop-window which was probably inserted soon after the premises were built.

Nos. 42–48 were built circa 1803. They are four storeys high with parapet. All the windows have gauged flat arches and most of the sashes retain their glazing bars. Nos. 46 and 48 have original wood door cases of simple design with open pedimented heads, flat pilasters and panelled reveals, No. 48 having also a patterned fanlight. There is a later shop front to No. 42, the side entrance door of which is framed as two wood panels, each heavily studded and having a single raised panel in the centre.

Figure 49:

No. 32 –48 Stamford Street. Elevations. Drawn by R. G. Absolson

No. 18 (Plate 89b), formerly 27 and afterwards 52, was the residence of John Rennie from 1794 until his death there in 1821. This period covered the most important part of his career. Among other works, he was responsible for the design and construction of Waterloo Bridge and Southwark Bridge, the formation of London Docks and the East India Docks and the design and erection of new machinery for the Royal Mint. His son, Sir John Rennie, who also rose to eminence in the engineering profession and who completed his father's plans for the new London Bridge, was born at 18, Stamford Street in 1794. This house and those round the corner in Bennett Street, including 28 Bennett Street, the birth place of John Leech, caricaturist, were pulled down in 1923. The London County Council has erected a tablet on the new building recording that John Rennie and John Leech formerly resided in houses on the site. (fn. 255)

Joseph Gwilt is entered in the rate books for a house on the south side of Stamford Street in 1810–12, and at the house next to John Rennie's in Bennett Street in 1812–17.

No. 44, formerly 39, was occupied in 1865 by the Rev. Robert Spears, minister of Stamford Street Unitarian Chapel.

At No. 35, formerly 18, on the south side, lived Thomas Love Peacock and his mother in 1832–43. The house is now demolished.

No. 57, formerly 29, was occupied by Walter Cooper Dendy, surgeon, in 1826–39. He was a student at Guy's and St. Thomas's Hospitals and had a private practice in Stamford Street. He was the author of several medical and speculative works. (fn. 65)

Stamford Street Unitarian Chapel

The erection of this chapel was begun in 1821 on a piece of open ground fronting the newly made Upper Stamford Street (now part of Stamford Street). The ground was purchased from Mr. David Bickerton for £400 and the contractors, Messrs. Bennett and Hunt, were paid £3,572 for the building. The cost was defrayed out of the proceeds of the sale to the Westminster Improvement Commissioners of the Unitarian Chapel in Princes Street, Westminster. The new chapel united the two congregations of Princes Street Chapel and St. Thomas's Street Chapel, Southwark, whose lease had run out. (fn. 252)

By 1859, the congregation had dwindled so much that it was proposed to close the chapel, but the advent of the Rev. Robert Spears in 1861 brought new life and a few years later the gallery was built across the back to increase the seating capacity.

In 1882, the congregation was flourishing and the need for more accommodation was felt. The roof was removed and a hall "capable of holding about 500 children" was built over the chapel for the use of the Sunday School. The organ, which came from Little Portland Street Chapel in the 1860's and which had been installed under the gallery, was moved to the recess between the columns at the opposite end of the building and the pulpit was advanced in front of it. At the same time, the vestry was enlarged and the original central entrance under the portico was replaced by two side doors.

In 1897, the congregation was joined by that of the Blackfriars Mission from the New Cut, and the accommodation of the chapel was further increased by the excavation of rooms below ground level. The present pulpit was also installed at that time.

Architectural Description

The building has some pretensions to architectural merit. A writer at the time of its erection described the design as "chaste and grand." (fn. 232) The front projects slightly from the adjacent houses and consists of a hexastyle portico of the Doric order crowned by a pediment, the shafts of the columns standing directly on the pavement.

The interior is dignified and simple in treatment, reflecting the Greek character of the front. It has a flat ceiling with massive beams and is lit by three plain round-arched windows on each side. Over the entrance lobby is a shallow stepped gallery with an iron grille front of anthemion design. Behind the rostrum is a shallow recess containing the organ and partially screened by two fluted Doric columns.

List of Ministers
1823 Dr. Thomas Rees
1831 Edwin Chapman
1834 Thomas Wood
1839 William Hincks
1852 J. T. Cooper
1855 Hugh Hutton
1858 T. L. Marshall
1861 Robert Spears
1874 Thomas Dunkerley
1880 W. Copeland Bowie
1890 William Jellie
1898 Frederick Allen
1904 William Lyddon Tucker
1907 John C. Ballantyne
1913 W. J. Piggott
1918 H. W. Stephenson
1921 J. H. Short
1923 W.G.Topping
1930 A. J. Heale
1932 L. D. Badman
1935 E. W. Smith
1939 F. M. Ryde
1945 A. J. Long


  • 65. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 232. History and Antiquities of London, by Thomas Allen, 1827–9, vol. IV.
  • 252. P.R.O., C 54/6729.
  • 255. L.C.C., Indication of houses of historical interest in London, vol. VI.