The Wood-Michell estate: Wilkes Street south of Hanbury Street

Pages 193-198

Survey of London: Volume 27, Spitalfields and Mile End New Town. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1957.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.


In this section

Wilkes Street South of Hanbury Street

In November 1718 the future line of the street was described as ’the cross street intended to be built’, but building was not begun until February 1721/2. The houses are generally three storeys high, some having cellar-basements and most having roof garrets. The east side, whose southern end consisted of four of the largest houses in the street, begins with the front of No. 13/15 Fournier Street, three storeys high and five windows wide, with an altered and stucco-faced ground storey.

No. 2 Wilkes Street

Formerly No. 2 Wood Street

This house, like Nos. 13–21 (odd) Fournier Street to its south, was built by William Tayler, citizen and joiner of London, under a lease from Wood and Michell in March 1725, being then lately erected; the lease was witnessed by Marmaduke Smith of Princelet Street, carpenter. (fn. 148) The site had been vacant in August 1723. (fn. 149) A lead rainwater-head on the front of the house bears Tayler's initials.

It is a double-fronted house, one room deep, its front elevation consistent with the altered front of No. 13/15 Fournier Street, but not itself altered, though now in poor repair. Paint conceals the colour of the brick, which is probably yellow with red dressings to the segmental-arched windows. These are grouped in pairs on each side of the doorway and the blind window in the middle of each upper storey. The wooden doorcase, with fluted Doric pilasters and a cornice-hood projecting on carved trusses, is similar to those at Nos. 17 and 16/18 Fournier Street. Inside the house is a dog-leg staircase, with moulded closed strings, turned balusters alternately with plain and twisted shafts, and column-newels supporting moulded straight handrails. The rooms generally retain some of their original plain rebated panelling in two heights.

No. 4 Wilkes Street

Formerly No. 3 Wood Street; sometime the Wood Street Protestant Dissenting School, afterwards British and Foreign School


This house was described as ’now begun to be built’ in the ninety-nine-and-three-quarter-year building lease granted by Wood and Michell in August 1723 to John Roundeau of Shoreditch, weaver, (fn. 149) probably the John Rondeau of Spital fields who undertook in 1745 to raise a body of fifty-seven of his workmen to resist the Young Pretender. (fn. 39) The house was in existence in January 1723/4. (fn. 150) It was a double-fronted house and generally similar to No. 2 except that its floor levels were lower. An engraving of the front, made when it was used as a school and before it received an elaborate Victorian dress of stucco, shows a stock brick face, five windows wide and bounded by plain pilasters. The centrally placed door had a doorcase of wood, similar to those at Nos. 8, 10, 20, 31, 33 and 35 Fournier Street. The flush-framed windows had high segmental arches, presumably of red brick, with triple keystones. The middle window of the third storey was concealed by a large segmental-headed panel bearing the following inscription: ’The—Protestant Difsenting-Charity School—Founded in the year 1717—for ye Instruction & Annual Cloathg—of 50 Boys and 50 Girls—supported by voluntary Contributions—and open to all Denominations.’ The mansard roof had a weather-boarded front with five three-light casements.

After its Victorian transformation, the front had a decided Baroque flavour (Plate 47c). The ground storey was faced with coursed stucco, the windows having raised keyblocks rising to the deep bandcourse at first-floor level. The pompous doorcase had an open segmental pediment resting on pilasters with vermiculated blocks, and a vermiculated keystone supported a cartouche in the pediment tympanum. Above the doorway was a large rectangular tablet, probably inscribed, and framed by strapwork. The windows of both upper storeys were given eared and shouldered architraves, plain but broken by keyblocks and finished with segmental-curving cornices. A moulded stringcourse underlined the third-storey windows and the front was finished with a bold cornice, surmounted by a high parapet with open strapwork panels in front of the five garret windows.

For some hundred years or more the building was occupied as a school-house, first as a Protestant Dissenting Charity School, then as a British and Foreign Society School and finally by the London School Board. The first of these had been founded in 1717 by a group of Noncon formists and was open to all, irrespective of creed. (fn. 161) In January 1747/8 the school was described as being of Fashion Street but ’now kept in Keate Street’ (fn. 152) (the present Thrawl Street). The school is said to have been associated with Dr. Isaac Watts, (fn. 153) but if so this was presumably before it moved to Wood (Wilkes) Street as Watts died in 1748. In March 1796 the trustees purchased the house in Wood Street: (fn. 154) from the deed it appears that the school was then already established on the site, but the house had probably still been in private occupation in 1783. (fn. 43) The conveyance was made in 1796, for £140, from James Collins (a solicitor of No. 33 Spital Square, who in 1808 was treasurer of the school) to Peter Guillebaud (a weaver of No. 25 Spital Square) and six other of the managers of and subscribers to the school.

The school in Wood Street is said first to have provided for thirty boys. In 1808 it apparently contained fifty boys and fifty girls but in 1827 these numbers were reduced (fn. 153) and in 1830 it contained forty-five boys and forty-five girls, who were clothed as well as educated. (fn. 151) In 1840 the premises were occupied, together with the school, by ’Susan Back, teacher of French’. (fn. 155)

In 1840–1 the school was enlarged to accommodate two hundred boys and two hundred girls by the addition of a building at the back, on what had been the playground. (fn. 156) The Privy Council Committee on Education contributed £250 towards the £1,400 needed for the work, and thereafter paid the salaries of the master and mistress and pupil teachers. The school was henceforward a public elementary school conducted on the principles of the British and Foreign Society, a small weekly sum being paid for the children. (fn. 157) The clothing of the children was discontinued. (fn. 153)

In 1846 the buildings were rated to ’William Beck’ as a ’School of Science’. (fn. 43)

In 1873 the premises were leased to the London School Board, the managers of the school reserving the right to use it on Sundays and certain evenings. (fn. 158) A Sunday-school was run in connexion with Trinity Congregational Church, Mile End New Town.

In c. 1873 the girls and infants were accommodated in the house on the street while the boys’ class-room occupied the newer building at the back. (fn. 159) The schoolmaster also lived in the house. (fn. 157)

The school continued to be run by the London School Board until 1884: (fn. 153) the Board's lease of the property ended in 1887 and it reverted to the trustees who sold it in 1892 to the rector of Christ Church, Spitalfields, for use as a Youth Labour Home of the Church Army, the school funds being united with those of the school in Orchard Street, Hackney. (fn. 156) By the early twentieth century the building was used as commercial and industrial premises. It was destroyed during the 1939–45 war by enemy action and has been rebuilt.

No. 6 Wilkes Street

Formerly No. 4 Wood Street

See Nos. 2 and 4 Princelet Street (page 185).

A double-fronted house (Plate 71b), one room deep, No. 6 Wilkes Street has a three-storeyed front generally similar to that of No. 4 in its original state. The floor levels are again lower than those of the neighbouring house on the south side (No. 4), and the segmental window-arches are struck from smaller radii. The front, now crudely painted, is of yellow brick with red brick dressings to the windows, which have flush frames containing sashes with slender glazing bars. The ground storey, altered to serve for a shop, probably around 1790, has two original windows on the right of the door, and an altered pair on the left, all with shutters. A wooden entablature extends across the front, breaking into a shallow bow over the door, which is flanked by narrow pilasters. This five-windows-wide front has in addition a blind half window against the party wall with No. 2 Princelet Street, which has a return front to Wilkes Street, and was originally uniform with No. 6 Wilkes Street and No. 4 Princelet Street.

Nos. 8–12 (even) Wilkes Street

Formerly Nos. 5–7 (consec.) Wood Street No. 12 rebuilt

See Nos. 1–5 (odd) Princelet Street (page 187).

The building leases for these houses and those granted on the same day to William Tayler for the building of Nos. 1–7 (odd) on the west side were the first granted in the ’new street called or intended to be called Wood Street’. (fn. 160)

No. 8 was occupied in 1743 and 1750 by Abraham Deheul who in 1745 undertook to raise a body of forty-seven of his workmen to resist the Young Pretender. (fn. 94)

The northern corner of Wilkes and Princelet Streets is occupied by the return front of the refronted exterior of No. 1 Princelet Street. There are four storeys, the first three faced with stucco and finishing with a moulded cornice, whereas the fourth is of yellow brick.

No. 8 Wilkes Street is a double-fronted house, one room deep, its five-windows-wide front having been rebuilt, probably around 1870, with a fourth storey in place of the original garret. Inside the house is an original dog-leg staircase, similar to many others in the locality, and the ground- and first-floor rooms are lined with plain rebated panelling. Marble chimneypieces of early eighteenth-century pattern, and later ones of wood and composition, embellish the rooms.

No. 10 is a single-fronted house, two rooms deep, containing a cellar-basement, three storeys, and a roof garret. The front, above the ground storey, is of yellow brick with red brick dressings to the three windows evenly spaced in each storey. The first-floor windows have gauged flat arches but those above are segmental-headed, due, perhaps, to partial rebuilding. All have flush frames with modern sashes. The stucco-faced ground storey has two windows with recessed sashes, and the doorway is on the left. This has an original door with six fielded panels, over which is a simple radial fanlight of metal. The doorway is flanked by reeded pilaster-strips of wood, and there is a similar pilaster-strip on the extreme right of the front. They support a simple entablature, no doubt intended for a shop fascia. The garret storey has a recessed front with a four-light casement

No. 12 is a single-fronted house with a rebuilt front of no interest.

Nos. 14 and 16 Wilkes Street and 18 Han bury Street

Formerly Nos. 8–10 (consec.) Wood Street No. 14 rebuilt

See Nos. 20 and 22 Hanbury Street (page 190), and Plate 72a.

In 1750 and 1773 No. 14 was occupied by John Freemount and Company, weavers, who in 1745 undertook to raise a body of twenty of their workmen. (fn. 161)

No. 14 is a single-fronted house with a rebuilt front of no interest although it probably preserves the pattern of the original fenestration and has a re-used front door.

No. 16, a single-fronted house, has the least altered front in this terrace of houses between Princelet and Hanbury Streets which, when first built, were probably uniform in their external appearance. A general similarity to No. 10 will be noticed, but here at No. 16 all the upper windows have gauged flat arches. Again, the ground storey is stuccoed and finished with a simple entablature of wood. The doorway, with an original six-panelled door, is flanked by reeded pilaster-strips with pannelled stops. The recessed front of the garret storey has three casements.

No. 18 is double-fronted and one room deep, having a return front to Hanbury Street, two windows wide. The exterior, at least, appears to have been rebuilt about 1800 and the very plain front to Wilkes Street now has three windows, the left one blind, widely spaced in each of the two upper storeys. The fronts are faced with yellow brick, now stained, with gauged flat arches to the windows, which have stone sills and recessed sashes with slender glazing bars.

Nos. 1–7 (odd) Wilkes Street

Formerly Nos. 26–23 (consec.) Wood Street

These houses (Plate 70d), together with Nos. 5–11 (odd) Fournier Street, were built by William Tayler, citizen and joiner, under ninety-nine year building leases from Wood and Michell of February 1721/2, the houses having then been built by him. (fn. 162) The corner house was the Three Tun Tavern. (fn. 163) These houses are dissimilar to No. 14 Fournier Street which was probably built and occupied by the same William Tayler.

No. 1 was let in tenements in 1812 and 1818. (fn. 43)

No. 3 was occupied in 1750 and 1759 by Peter Duthoit, a black-silk weaver who was a captain in the Trained Bands from 1746 to 1762. (fn. 164)

No. 1, the south-west corner house, has a front to Wilkes Street, four windows wide, and a return to Fournier Street, two windows wide. Both fronts were rebuilt, apparently about 1800, in a very utilitarian style, yellow brick being used for the general facing and for the segmental arches of the windows, which have stone sills and cemented reveals. On the Wilkes Street front the second window of each storey is blind, the rest having double-hung sashes with slender glazing bars. The doorway, with a six-panelled door and plain fanlight set in a simple arch-headed opening, is flanked by a window on the right and a modern shop-front on the left.

No. 3, a single-fronted house, appears to have been entirely rebuilt in the late nineteenth century. The stock brick front is four storeys high and two windows wide, the ground storey being faced with coursed stucco and the windows above having Victorian Baroque architraves with cornice-hoods.

Nos. 5 and 7 are single-fronted houses, the former having three windows in each upper storey and the latter only two, placed left and centre. The ground storey of both houses is stucco-faced up to the first-floor sill level, No. 5 having a rectangular doorway on the left of two windows, and No. 7 having two arch-headed windows of different size. The upper face of both houses is of yellow brick with red brick jambs and gauged flat arches to the windows, which have stone sills and exposed flush frames containing sashes with slender glazing bars. No. 7 has a rebuilt and featureless return to Puma Court.

Nos. 9–15 (odd) Wilkes Street and No. 10 Puma Court

Formerly Nos. 22–19 (consec.) Wood Street, and No. 10 Red Lion Court

Nos. 9–15 (odd) Wilkes Street rebuilt

These houses were also built by William Tayler under leases from Wood and Michell of March 1723/4, the houses being then lately built by him. (fn. 165) Nos. 9 and 11 were originally one house. They were possibly rebuilt between 1850 and 1855 (fn. 43)

No. 10 Puma Court has a front to Wilkes Street, with an early nineteenth-century shop-front in the ground storey. The upper face is of yellow brick with red brick jambs and segmental arches to the three windows of each upper storey. These windows have recessed box-frames containing modern sashes.

Nos. 9 and 11 are single-fronted houses, apparently rebuilt, with stucco-faced fronts three storeys high and two windows wide. The arch-headed doorways and the rectangular window openings are dressed with moulded stucco architraves.

Nos. 13 and 15 are single-fronted houses, evidently rebuilt about 1790. Each house has a plain front, three storeys high, built of yellow and pink brick. There are two windows in each storey, with gauged flat arches, stone sills, and recessed sashes with slender glazing bars. No. 13 has, on the left of the two ground-floor windows, a charming doorcase of wood with compo enrichments. The arch-headed opening, containing the six-panelled door and a cobweb fanlight, is flanked by narrow pilasters with moulded panels containing lion masks and flower pendants. Flattened consoles, each adorned with a scallop and an acanthus leaf, support the dentilled cornice. It is evident, from the enriched transom surviving, that No. 15 also had a decorative doorcase of late eighteenth-century design, but the arched opening is now framed by a coarse stucco architrave. A shop-front of poor design replaces the original ground-storey windows.

Nos. 17–27 (odd) Wilkes Street

Formerly Nos. 18–13 (consec.) Wood Street No. 27 demolished

Nos. 17–25 (Plates 71a, 72a) were built by Marmaduke Smith, described as citizen and blacksmith of London, under ninety-nine-year leases from Wood and Michell of January 1723/4, the houses being said then to have been built by him. (fn. 166) They are, however, more similar in style to others on the estate for which Samuel Worrall took the building lease than to No. 10 opposite built by Smith.

No. 27 was architecturally uniform with Nos. 17–25 and was doubtless built at the same time. It was said to be lately erected in January 1723/4. (fn. 167) It was leased by Wood and Michell to the latter's son and heir in June 1725, (fn. 168) and in October 1732 the lease was assigned to Marmaduke Smith, described as a carpenter. (fn. 169)

No. 21 was probably occupied in 1773 by the Rev. J. R. Bouillier, a minister of Threadneedle Street (and probably of the Fournier Street) French Church. (fn. 170)

No. 23 was occupied in 1750 and 1759 by Stephen Paris and Company, (fn. 43) probably the firm for whom silk designs in the Victoria and Albert Museum were made. (fn. 135) In 1856 it was apparently occupied as a ladies' school. (fn. 171)

Nos. 17–25 are terrace-houses of uniform design, single-fronted and two rooms deep, with cellar-basements, three storeys, and roof garrets. The plan, which is a standard one of its day, has the narrow hall on the left of the front room, with a full-width room over, and the dog-leg staircase on the left of the back room, which is smaller than the front and has an angle fireplace against the back and party walls. The fronts are akin to many others in the locality and are built of yellow brick, with red brick jambs and segmental arches to the window openings, three in each upper storey and two in the ground storey with the doorway on the left. Each house has, or had, a wooden doorcase of Doric design, with pilaster shafts of chamfered edged blocks, and a triglyphed entablature finished with a cornice-hood. The windows have moulded flush frames which, with the top sashes, are segmental-headed. Glazing bars, where existing, are of slender section. Each house has a hipped roof with its ridge at a right angle to the front, and the weather-boarded garret fronts contain weavers’ windows. The interiors are finished in a simple style, the rooms being lined with rebated panelling in two heights. The dog-leg staircases have closed strings, turned balusters of simple profile, column-newels, and moulded straight handrails.

No. 27 (demolished) was a double-fronted house, one room deep, with a five-windows-wide front continuing the design of Nos. 17–25.

Nos. 29 and 31 Wilkes Street

Formerly Nos. 12 and 11 Wood Street Demolished

In June 1719 Wood and Michell leased for forty-one years to George Cole, dyer, and Andrew Cole a house, divided into two dwellings, on the south side of Hanbury Street, with a distilhouse or dyehouse on its east side, and a ’shop’ and yard or garden on its south side. The dye-house, which occupied the site of Nos. 29 and 31, was probably a timber structure, and was presumably rebuilt at the time of this lease. The buildings which survived until the war of 1939 1945 were of brick in a style suggestive of a rather earlier date of construction than Nos. 17–27. By January 1723/4 No. 27 had been built on the yard or garden. (fn. 172)

In December 1728 the premises were occupied by John King, dyer. (fn. 173)

Nos. 29 and 31 were single-fronted houses, two rooms deep, containing a cellar-basement, three storeys, and roof garrets. The fronts were uniformly designed and built of stock brick with gauged flat arches of red brick to the windows, of which the upper storeys of each house had three. The ground storey of No. 29 had two windows and, on the left, a doorway with a wooden door-case finished with a cornice-hood on consoles. No. 31 had a similar doorway, but the rest of the ground-storey front had been replaced by an early nineteenth-century shop-front with a corner entrance flanked by slender columns. The windows generally had flush frames containing sashes with slender glazing bars.


  • 39. The London Gazette, 5 Oct. 1745.
  • 43. R.B.
  • 94. The London Gazette, 5 Oct. 1745; R-B.
  • 135. Spitalfields Silks of the 18th and 19th Centuries, Introd. J. F. Flanagan, 1954, pp. 14–15.
  • 148. Ibid., 1725/5/376.
  • 149. Ibid., 1723/6/215.
  • 150. Ibid., 1723/3/371.
  • 151. Endowed Charities, London, vol. i, 1897, p. 123.
  • 152. P.C.C. 186 Strahan, will of Peter Motteux.
  • 153. J. H. Scott, A Short History of Spitalfields, 1197–1894, N.D., pp. 44–50.
  • 154. P.R.O., C54/7288 m. 7 No. 18.
  • 155. Pigot's Directory
  • 156. Scott, loc. cit., and Endowed Charities, op. cit., p. 124.
  • 157. Ibid., and S.C.L.L.C, Vestry Minutes, 29 Dec. 1859.
  • 158. L.S.B. Minutes, 11 June, 26 Nov. 1873.
  • 159. O.S. map.
  • 160. M.L.R. 1721/4/273.
  • 161. Kent's Directory; The London Gazette, 5 Oct. 1745; R.B.
  • 162. M.L.R. 1721/4/267–8.
  • 163. Ibid., 1722/6/231.
  • 164. The Universal Director … by Mr. Mortimer; Procs. Hug. Soc, vol. xv, 1937, p. 307.
  • 165. M.L.R. 1723/1/431–5.
  • 166. Ibid., 1723/4/423–7.
  • 167. Ibid., 1723/4/423.
  • 168. Ibid., 1725/3/129.
  • 169. Ibid., 1732/4/257.
  • 170. Procs. Hug. Soc, vol. xi, 1917, p. 270.
  • 171. P.O.D.
  • 172. M.L.R. 1725/3/115; 1723/1/383.
  • 173. Ibid., 1728/4/359.