Soho Square Area: Portland Estate, Oxford Street

Pages 126-127

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

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Oxford Street

In the parish of St. Anne, Nos. 1–103 (odd) Oxford Street lay within the Portland estate. Nos. 105–125 (odd) lay within the Pulteney estate and this section is described on page 290.

The part of Oxford Street discussed here probably remained undeveloped until the 1670's. (fn. 2) A few names of ratepayers for houses here can probably be first identified in the ratebooks in 1674. This part of the street was perhaps half built by 1685, and in 1691 (the intervening ratebooks being missing) was fully occupied by houses. The early ratepayers included Joseph Girle, for four or six houses, 1676–8, Doctor [Nicholas] Barbon in 1677, and John Meard from 1679. The tax assessments of the residents in the street in 1693 were at rather low figures. (fn. 3)

As in many parts of Soho Fields, the rebuilding which took place in Oxford Street in the 1720's and 1730's was only partial: it included, however, the construction of a new court, Goodwin or Godwin Court. (fn. 4) The building tradesmen who were active about this time included the bricklayers, Thomas Davis of St. James's, Westminster, (fn. 5) and Thomas Lucas of St. Giles in the Fields; (fn. 6) the carpenters, Samuel Cotterell of St. Anne's, (fn. 7) Francis Hatt of St. Mary's, Newington Butts, (fn. 8) John Hoff of St. Anne's, (fn. 9) John Jackson of St. Anne's, (fn. 10) Richard Richardson of St. Andrew's, Holborn, (fn. 11) John Saville of St. Anne's (fn. 12) and Francis Tredgold of St. Marylebone; (fn. 13) and the glazier, William Bignell of St. Anne's. (fn. 14) Of these, Hoff, Jackson and Tredgold took building leases (for sixty-five years) from the Portland family in 1733–4, (fn. 15) while the others had sub-leases or assignments from other lessees of the Portlands. Other building tradesmen and builders' merchants occur as parties to leases or mortgages and were probably involved in the rebuildings. (fn. 1)

Rocque's map published in 1746 (Plate 4) shows five courts or yards opening off this part of Oxford Street, and Allen's Court on the Pulteney estate: unlike the courts west of Wardour Street, in St. James's, none of these in St. Anne's parish now survives.

Tallis's street view of 1838–40 shows this part of the street lined with modest buildings, mostly single-fronted houses of three or four storeys, generally two windows wide. All had shop fronts. In the latter half of the nineteenth century the businesses carried on here were very diversified, without any predominant trade. All but a few of the houses shown by Tallis have now been replaced, some by single-fronted buildings of midVictorian date, and others by larger premises of later date combining several sites.

No. 43 is shown by Tallis as a three-storeyed house, but a floor has been added. The front, two windows wide, is plainly finished in stucco, with a storey bandcourse and a narrow cornice at second-floor level.

Nos. 45–49 (odd) are three mid-Victorian houses of uniform design, each four storeys high and three windows wide. The brick and stonedressed fronts combine Gothic and Renaissance motifs, such as the stilted segmental arches of the first-floor windows, and the pedimented dormers of the middle house, which projects from its neighbours.

No. 51 has a stucco-faced front, four storeys high and two windows wide, the openings being dressed with architraves and cornices, as shown by Tallis.

No. 53, formerly the Shamrock and before that the Primrose public house, has a four-storeyed front of red brick and stone, floridly detailed and crowned with a gable. It was probably built c. 1890 (despite the date 1900 on the front) to a design by the architect Edward Clark. (fn. 16)

No. 61, formerly the Old Queen's Head public house, is a stone-faced building dated 1880, eclectic Renaissance in style, its chief feature being the curious truncated cupola above the angle turret.


  • 1. Bricklayers: Thomas Jones of St. James's, Westminster; Robert Lovick of Hampstead. Carpenters: William Galloway of St. Martin in the Fields; Robert Lowder of St. Marylebone. Joiners: Edward Carter of St. Anne's; John Sawell of St. Marylebone; Thomas Webster of St. Pancras. Plasterers: George Cryton of St. Giles in the Fields; John Shepherd of St. George's, Hanover Square (brother of Edward Shepherd, the architect, who owned a site in this part of Oxford Street). The builders' merchants were John Nichalls of St. Anne's, Anthony Smith of St. Marylebone and Thomas Wadsworth of St. Andrew's, Holborn (all timber merchants) and Henry Whitaker of St. George's, Hanover Square, brickmaker.
  • 2. R.B.; P.R.O., E317/Midd. 38; Faithorne and Newcourt's map of 1658.
  • 3. Corporation of London Record Office, assessments box 83.2.
  • 4. R.B.
  • 5. M.L.R. 1725/6/296–7.
  • 6. Ibid., 1722/2/78–81; 1722/6/61.
  • 7. Ibid., 1726/3/247–50.
  • 8. Ibid., 1732/3/295.
  • 9. Ibid., 1736/3/390.
  • 10. Ibid., 1735/2/121.
  • 11. Ibid., 1735/1/183.
  • 12. Ibid., 1725/1/242–3; 1725/2/285; 1725/3/269; 1725/6/296–7.
  • 13. Ibid., 1735/3/301.
  • 14. Ibid., 1725/2/285; 1725/3/269; 1725/6/296–7.
  • 15. Nottingham University, Portland MSS., Soho lease book.
  • 16. The Builder, 21 June 1890, p. 459.
  • 17. Ibid., 1725/3/269.
  • 18. Ibid., 1735/4/65.
  • 19. Ibid., 1746/2/716.
  • 20. Ibid., 1736/3/390.
  • 21. Ibid., 1743/1/157.
  • 22. Ibid., 1740/4/215.
  • 23. Ibid., 1739/4/405.
  • 24. Ibid., 1739/3/405; Colvin.
  • 25. M.L.R. 1735/2/31.
  • 26. Ibid., 1732/3/190.
  • 27. Ibid., 1724/1/325.
  • 28. Ibid., 1739/3/405.