The St. John and Tillard estate: Blossom Street and Fleur-de-Lis Street

Pages 87-89

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

Blossom Street

The southern end of Blossom Street is adumbrated on Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1677 and appears in slightly more developed form on the ’New Church’ plans of 1711–12 where it is called Sott's or Sote's Hole. The line of the street is there proposed as an approach road to a burial ground to be situated where Commercial Street now crosses the railway line. On some of the plans, not later than March 1712/13, the southern end of the east side, including the site of the present Nos. 1–6 (consec), is occupied by stables with a stable-yard behind: on others perhaps of March 1716/17 it is occupied by a terrace of six houses with a seventh at the back, presumably then newly built. The western side of the street is not regularly built-up on these plans. A wide passageway then approached the later line of the street from Norton Folgate High Street, its southern side corresponding to the nineteenth century liberty boundary.

In April 1720 Isaac Tillard leased the site of Nos. 7–9 (consec.) on the east side of the street with a fifty-eight-foot frontage for sixty-one years to Daniel Marlin, citizen and clothworker, (fn. 176) who in 1731 was described as ’Daniel Malyn’, bricklayer. (fn. 177) Marlin evidently assigned the lease to Thomas Bunce who in 1732 assigned it, together with houses built on the site, to a butcher. (fn. 178)

In May 1724 Tillard granted Bunce a sixty one-year lease of a site including Nos. 14–18 (even) Elder Street, the south side of Fleur-de-lis Street, and a frontage of eighteen feet on the east side of Blossom Street. On the same day he granted Bunce a separate building lease of a part of the site, including the Blossom Street frontage and a frontage of 100 feet on Fleur-de-lis Street. (fn. 178) By June 1726 four houses had been built by Bunce on the latter site. (fn. 179)

In May 1731 William Tillard granted to Bunce and Joseph Heath, citizen and glazier, a lease apparently for thirty years, of the seven houses shown on some of the ’New Church’ plans. In April 1732 Bunce assigned his moiety to John Winn of Folgate Street. (fn. 177)

It is not known when the southern end of the east side was rebuilt.

The west side of the street was apparently rebuilt for the first time later than the east side. Two brick houses at the west end of the later Blossom Place were built by John Sparklin of Shoreditch, carpenter, under a lease from William Tillard in January 1741/2. (fn. 180) But in July 1748 ’four old messuages’ still stood on a frontage of ninety-six feet at the southern end of the street, as shown in the 1711–12 plans. The site was traversed by a cartway leading to a cooper's premises, later forming Blossom Place. The site was in that month leased by William Tillard to John Brown of Norton Folgate, bricklayer, and perhaps then rebuilt. (fn. 181)

In July 1769, however, James Tillard of St. George's Bloomsbury, esquire, granted a sixty one-year building lease to James Wood of Shore ditch, carpenter, of six houses having a frontage of ninety-five feet on Blossom Street in the Liberty of Norton Folgate, with leave to pull them down and rebuild them in alignment with other Tillard houses in the street. The description of the property is self-contradictory but if it was on the west side of the street it must have included all or part of the site leased to John Brown in 1748, and if on the east side all or part of the site leased to Bunce and Heath in 1731. (fn. 182) Wood had previously built houses in Norton Folgate High Street for James Tillard.

Nos. 1–9 (consec.) Blossom Street

Owing to rebuilding the numbering is obscure

The only houses of any interest surviving in the street are Nos. 7–9 (consec.) (Plate 73d). No. 7 apparently existed in something like its present form in 1812 (fn. 28) and was probably built in the very late eighteenth century. Nos. 8 and 9 were probably built in 1883 by Kiddle and Son, builders, of 24 Elder Street. (fn. 183)

Most of the surviving houses on the east side of Blossom Street, between Folgate and Fleur-de-lis Streets, date from the 1880's except the premises over the entrance to the timber-yard, part of No. 3, and the house No. 7. This last has a three storeyed front, obviously altered, built of yellow brick with red dressings to the windows, which have stone sills, gauged flat arches, and plastered reveals framing double-hung sashes with slender glazing bars. The ground storey has one window on the right of the arch-headed doorway, and each upper storey has two, off-centre, with evidence of a third on the first floor. The build ings of c. 1880 are four-storeyed tenement houses, perhaps for weavers. Nos. 1 and 4 appear as double-fronted houses, with a front and a back room on each side of the staircase; Nos. 8–9 are similar but the entrance also serves Loom Court, and No. 3 is single-fronted. The fronts are of yellow brick, red brick being used for the sill bands of each storey and the segmental arches of the window openings. The double houses have three windows in each upper storey, a sash of normal proportion in the centre, and wide three-light sashes on each side. The fronts are finished with a corbelled parapet.

Figure 25:

Backs of houses in Loom Court and Fleur-de-lis Street

Nothing of interest survives on the west side of Blossom Street.

Loom Court, Blossom Street

Formerly Regent's Court

Nos. 8 and 9 Blossom Street contain the entrance to Loom Court (Plate 74c, fig. 25), a squalid appendage to Blossom Street consisting of five small two-storeyed cottages grouped round a paved area, representative of early nineteenth century housing at its worst. A passageway existed here in the eighteenth century. In January 1785 the passageway and a plot of ground at its eastern end were leased by William Tillard of Bloomsbury for thirty-one years to John Fellows of Blossom Street, bricklayer, together with the house newly built and occupied by him. (fn. 184) This is shown on Horwood's map of 1799. Early in the nineteenth century the site of this house was converted into the court surrounded by five small houses with weavers' windows, and doubtless occupied by weavers. In 1817 it was known as Regent's Court, suggesting that it was not built before 1811: it occurs unnamed in 1812 in the earliest surviving rate book for the street.

Norton Folgate Girls' Charity School, Blossom Street


The Norton Folgate Girls' Charity School at No. 14 Blossom Street was established in 1703 to educate twenty-five girls and to provide them with new clothes twice yearly. (fn. 185) When the school was closed in 1893 it was believed to have always occupied this house. (fn. 186) Ellis states that the lease of the building was given to the school trustees in 1730 by William Tillard, who was then the treasurer; (fn. 185) the building was later leased to them by the Tillards at a nominal rent. (fn. 186) The school was connected with Sir George Wheler's Chapel, the girls attending service there on Sundays, and an annual sermon being preached there on its behalf. (fn. 185)

The school was closed in 1893, when the lease of the building was terminated by the sale of part of the Tillard estate. The pupils were transferred to St. Mary Spital Square National School. (fn. 186)

Fleur-de-lis Street

This street was constructed by the Tillards as a thirty-foot roadway running from Blossom Street on the west to the liberty boundary on the east. On Rocque's map of 1746 it is joined to Norton Folgate High Street by a narrow alley called Shoreditch Alley and to Wheler Street by Flower-de-lis Alley.

The whole south side of the street between Blossom and Elder Streets, described as waste ground, was leased (not at a peppercorn rent) by Sir Isaac Tillard to Thomas Bunce for sixty-one years in May 1724. (fn. 187) The street was described as ’a Thirty Foot intended way or Passage between the said ground and Sir Isaac Tillard's Gardens’, which lay on the north side of the street. (fn. 188) In deeds of the same date the street is given its present name. By June 1726 four houses had been built by Bunce on a site including a frontage of 18 feet to Blossom Street and 100 feet to Fleur-de-lis Street. (fn. 179)

The south side between Elder Street and the liberty boundary was built under a sixty-one-year lease of the site, described as waste ground, granted in July 1725 by Sir Isaac Tillard to Bunce. (fn. 166) By July 1731 three houses, including the present Nos. 9 and 10 and the corner house, had been built on the south side of the street. (fn. 189)

The northern side was doubtless built at the same time as the southern side. In April 1730 Edward Grange, citizen and carpenter, who was active as a builder in Fournier Street (see page 184), assigned an unspecified lease from William Tillard of a frontage of forty-one feet on the northern side of the street immediately west of Elder Street, together with two houses built on it. These abutted west on ground leased by Tillard at the same time as the ground assigned by Grange. (fn. 190)

Nos. 9 and 10 Fleur-de-lis Street

Nos. 9 and 10, east of Elder Street, together with a house now part of No. 1 Elder Street, might well be the original buildings erected under Sir Isaac Tillard's lease of 1725 to Thomas Bunce, although their fronts have been entirely faced with stucco, probably around 1850. They are all three storeys high, but No. 9 has three windows in each upper storey, whereas the others have two, all being dressed with moulded architraves rising from sills supported by consoles.

Nos. 11–16 (consec.) Fleur-de-lis Street

The rebuilding of the south side of the street between Blossom and Elder Streets in its present form, with windows designed to light workrooms, probably took place about 1812 at approximately the same time as the building of Loom Court. (fn. 28)

Nos. 11 to 16 (consec.) (Plate 73c), together with the return front of No. 14 Elder Street, present a fairly uniform appearance, although minor differences occur in the individual fronts. All the houses are single-fronted, two rooms deep, and have basements and three storeys, but Nos. 12–13 and 14–15 are paired with mirrored plans. The three-storeyed fronts are built of yellow and pink stocks, the windows having stone sills, seg mental arches of red brick and plastered reveals. At Nos. 11,12 and 13 each storey contains one wide window with double-hung sashes, and a blind window of normal proportion centred over the arch-headed doorway. No. 14 has the wide sashed windows but not the blind ones, while Nos. 15 and 16 have two normal sashed windows to each upper storey.


  • 28. R.B.
  • 166. M.L.R. 1726/2/212.
  • 176. Ibid., 1732/4/224.
  • 177. Ibid., 1732/1/249.
  • 178. Ibid., 1724/5/67; 1726/6/55.
  • 179. Ibid., 1726/6/57.
  • 180. Ibid., 1741/4/105.
  • 181. Ibid., 1750/3/295.
  • 182. Ibid., 1769/4/473.
  • 183. Deeds in private possession.
  • 184. M.L.R. 1785/5/29.
  • 185. Ellis, p. 342.
  • 186. Endowed Charities, London, vol. i, 1897, pp. 299–300.
  • 187. M.L.R. 1724/5/67.
  • 188. Ibid., 1724/3/177.
  • 189. Ibid., 1731/2/317.
  • 190. Ibid., 1730/2/60.