Greek Street Area: Portland Estate, Crown Street, West side

Page 192

Survey of London: Volumes 33 and 34, St Anne Soho. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1966.

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Crown Street, West side

Hog Lane (later Crown Street) was a highway of immemorial antiquity which extended (in terms of the modern street layout) from Oxford Street to Cambridge Circus and then curved south-east to join the northern end of Upper St. Martin's Lane. Its course is marked on the plan of 1585 (Plate 1a). It formed the boundary between the parishes of St. Martin in the Fields (and after 1686 of St. Anne) on the west and St. Giles in the Fields on the east. In the eighteenth century the northern part of the lane gradually became known as Crown Street (probably so named from the Crown public house which stood at its north-eastern extremity) and the southern part, to the south-east of Cambridge Circus, as West Street, In the 1880's the Metropolitan Board of Works formed the northern part of Charing Cross Road by widening Crown Street on its east side. The line of frontage of the west side of Crown Street remained substantially unaltered, and a few decrepit buildings still survive on this side of Charing Cross Road to proclaim that, to the north of Cambridge Circus, this Victorian thoroughfare marks the course of a much older highway.

Building on the west side of Hog Lane appears to have begun in the second half of the seventeenth century, and to have been completed in the 1690's. (fn. 1) By 1690 Jaques Wiseman and Samuel Fortrey had built a sewer in Hog Lane, and John Meard and Isaac Symball were both building houses here at this time. (fn. 2)

In 1720 Strype described Hog Lane as 'very ordinary' and 'a Place not over well built or inhabited'. (fn. 3) The large number of inns in the street demonstrates the importance of Crown Street as a line of communication between Tottenham Court Road and the areas of the Strand and Covent Garden. On the west side there were the King's Arms (now the Cambridge, at the corner of Moor Street), the Coach and Horses (which still exists at the north corner of Old Compton Street), the Bull's Head (formerly at No. 103 Charing Cross Road), the Plough (formerly on the site of No. 111), the Rose and Crown (formerly at the south corner of Rose, now Manette, Street), the George (which still exists as the Royal George at the south corner of Goslett Yard) and the King's Head (now the Excelsior at No. 167), as well as the Crown at the corner of Crown Street and St. Giles's High Street.

For the Greek Church (later St. Mary's, Crown Street) and the almshouses of the parish of St. Martin in the Fields see Chapter XI.


  • 1. Faithorne and Newcourt's, Ogilby and Morgan's, and Blome's maps.
  • 2. G.L.R.O., WCS43, pp. 99, 101–2, 150, 352; ibid., 44, p. 97.
  • 3. John Strype, A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, 1720, vol. II, bk. IV, p. 76; vol. II, bk. VI, p. 87.