No. 211, High Holborn

Survey of London: Volume 5, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1914.

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'No. 211, High Holborn', in Survey of London: Volume 5, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt II, (London, 1914) pp. 16-17. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

In this section

XXVI.—No. 211, HIGH HOLBORN (Demolished).

General description and date of structure.

It is very difficult to say when the south side of High Holborn, between the sites of Kingsway and the Holborn Public Library, was first built upon. Perhaps, even in Elizabeth's reign, there were some scattered buildings here, but certainly nothing like a continuous line of houses. There seem to have been no building operations on a large scale, until after the acquisition of the lease of Purse Field by Sir Charles Cornwallis, in 1613. (fn. 1) Cornwallis sub-leased certain portions of the Holborn frontage, extending south to the site of Parker Street, and on these portions houses had been erected before 1650. No records of the sub-leases have been found, but a part at least of the frontage to Holborn had been sub-leased before 1634. Two years previously Charles I. had confirmed a grant, made by his father to Trinity College, of six markets and twelve fairs for the building of their hall. The college sold to Henry Darell two markets and three fairs, and in August, 1634, the latter petitioned to be allowed to set these up in St. Giles on His Majesty's inheritance. (fn. 2) This was granted on 15th December, 1634, a writ of Ad Quod Damnum issued, and on 10th March, 1634–5, an inquisition by a jury was held, from which it appears that the proposal was to hold the markets and fairs "in locis vocatis le pightells et Pursfeild." (fn. 3) The project aroused keen opposition on the part of the Corporation of the City of London, (fn. 4) and in spite of its revival in 1637, (fn. 5) was eventually abandoned.

It is possible to identify the site of the proposed market, inasmuch as in 1650 the frontage to Holborn between Little Queen Street and Newton Street consisted of two "ranges" of buildings known as Shenton's tenements and Dayrell's buildings, and it is clear that the latter represent Henry Darell's proposed market. Darell no doubt had already obtained his lease before applying for a grant for a market, but no houses would have been erected until after the failure of his scheme. It is known (fn. 6) that one of his plots were let on a building lease on 23rd November, 1639. The erection of buildings on this part of the Holborn frontage may therefore be assigned provisionally to the year 1640.

Shenton's tenements consisted of six houses in High Holborn and five in Little Queen Street, extending 100 feet along the former and 115½ feet along the latter thoroughfare. Their site is therefore wholly covered by the Holborn Restaurant.

The largest house, then in occupation of Mrs. Shenton herself, was the next but one to the corner, and is described in the survey of 1650 as "all that tenement built as aforesaid (fn. 7) … consistinge of one kitchen, one hall, and one small larder, and adjoyninge one backside and one garden, with severall necessary houses therein built and standinge. And above stayres in the first story, one dyneinge roome with a balcony there, and one chamber and a closett there. And above stayres in the second story, two chambers with a closett there and two handsome garret roomes over the same."

Dayrell's buildings consisted of twelve houses in High Holborn, and five in Newton Street, and covered an area of 186 feet by 122 feet. They were, on the whole, much superior to Shenton's tenements. The westernmost and largest house is described as "All yt spacious brick buildinge … built with brick in a comely shape and very reguler, and consistinge of 5 stepps in ascent leadinge into an entry leadinge into a faire hall and parlour wth sellers underneath the same, divided very comodiously into a kitchen, a buttery and a larder. And above staires in the first story a very faire dyneinge roome well floored, seeled and lighted wth a belcony there on the streete side alsoe, wch said roome is very well adorned and set fourth wth a faire chimney peice and frames all of black marble, and on the same floore backwards one other faire chamber. And in the second story two faire chambers and a closett in one of them. And in the 3rd story two more faire chambers and a closett there, and over the same two faire garretes. Alsoe adjoyninge to the same one garden."

The houses appear to have been of different sizes, for their rentals varied greatly, and this, combined with the fact that in subsequent rebuilding nine houses took the place of the original twelve in High Holborn, makes it impossible to identify the house which originally occupied the site of No. 211.

The house was perhaps rebuilt in the latter part of the 17th century. (fn. 8) A further rebuilding (perhaps the third) seems to have taken place in 1815, when the premises were re-leased by the Crown. (fn. 9)

Plate 8 shows an interesting shop front. The ornamental iron guards to the first floor windows are good specimens of wrought iron work.

The house was demolished in 1910.

In the Council's collection is:—

(fn. 10) Shop front (photograph).


  • 1. Survey of London, Vol. III. (St. Giles-in-the-Fields, Part I.), p. 7.
  • 2. Privy Council Register, vol. 47, p. 410.
  • 3. Inquisitio Ad Quod Damnum—Brevia Regia, Petty Bag Office, No. 17.
  • 4. Petition of the Lord Mayor, etc., dated 10th April, 1635. (Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, 1635–6, p. 17).
  • 5. Privy Council Register, Vol. 47, p. 370.
  • 6. Close Roll, 16 Chas. I. (3232)—Indenture between Henry Darrell and Mary Blague.
  • 7. I.e., "very well with brick and covered with tyle."
  • 8. In the case of Shenton's tenements, built probably at about the same time, it is known that rebuilding was carried out before October. 1682. (Chancery Proceedings, Bridges, 271–13. Suit of Elizabeth Stratton).
  • 9. 3rd Report of H.M. Commissioners of Woods and Forests (1819), App. 2, pp. 38–9.
  • 10. Reproduced here.