Dean Street Area: Portland Estate, Great Chapel Street

Pages 149-150

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

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Great Chapel Street

The first buildings in this street appear in the parish ratebooks in 1694, with only two ratepayers. It was then called Chapel Court. It is called Chapel Street in 1695 when six ratepayers are listed. Eleven appear in 1696, thirteen or fourteen in 1697 and 1703, and twenty in 1710.

In c. 1695–6 the house at the northern corner of Great and Little Chapel Streets was held on lease by Richard and John Parker (fn. 1) and in 1693 a house in this neighbourhood was described as being 'in Parkers Lane'. (fn. 2) Whether a lane had existed hereabouts before the streets were laid out is not known, but the plan attached to Joseph Girle's licence to build in 1676 (Plate 8b) suggests the existence of a path or passageway between properties on the south side of Oxford Street, approximately on the line of Great Chapel Street.

The street was made on the part of Soho Fields which by the early 1690's had come into the possession of Philip Harman (the son-in-law and executor of the original lessee, Girle), no doubt as part of the larger property which had passed through the hands of the building tradesmen, Bickerton, Webb and Roydon (see page 32). It was laid out and first built up contemporaneously with Diadem (formerly Crown) Court, on the same property, which linked it with Dean Street.

It is worth noting that its layout was also contemporary and integral with the development of Sheraton Street (formerly Little Chapel Street) on the separate Pulteney estate. The easternmost end of that street was built on Soho Fields and the junction of the two streets perhaps afforded the Pulteney estate in Soho its first clear access eastward (fig. 2 on page 28).

The essential feature of the development would seem to have been the French chapel built in 1694 in that part of Sheraton Street on the Pulteney estate which was immediately adjacent to the Soho Fields property (see page 294). The reason for thinking this is that as early as 1691 the line of Great Chapel Street in Soho Fields was determined and, as the recitals of title-deeds indicate, (fn. 3) it was already intended that it should be called 'Chappell Street'. It would therefore seem that whoever was essentially responsible for the alignment of the two streets, Great and Little Chapel Streets, conceived them as giving access to a chapel, as yet unbuilt, at the junction of the two estates.

Nothing is known of the workmen responsible for the building of the street: Edward Kitchener of St. Giles in the Fields, joiner, who built in Crown Court, was, however, building a house c. 1695 on a site leased from Harman round the corner from Great Chapel Street, in Little Chapel Street. (fn. 1)

Because of the proximity of the French chapel many of the early occupants were French. Ten of the fifteen ratepayers had French names in 1707. In the 1720's this element became much less noticeable among the ratepayers and by about 1740 the street, unlike those nearby, had only one or two French-seeming ratepayers.

The first houses to be built in the street had been mostly on the west side. Part of the east side remained undeveloped in the early eighteenth century (fn. 4) and the unfinished character of the street in 1720 is indicated by Strype who describes how the passage northward out of Carlisle Street led 'into waste Ground betwixt Wardour-street and the Backside of Dean-street: Which Ground is designed to be built upon, there being a Street laid out, and some Houses built.' (fn. 5)

Rebuilding in the eighteenth century was probably very partial and piecemeal. In the later 1730's the vacant ground on the east side was built upon, following the construction of Titchfield (now Fareham) Street and the rebuilding of Crown (now Diadem) Court. The builders were those active there: John Jackson and Joseph Wayte who worked in Titchfield Street, and John Winter and William Franklin (together) and Henry Peat, who worked in Crown Court (fn. 6) (see pages 148–9).

Horwood's map of 1792 shows part of the street occupied by industrial or business premises. The only site now of interest is that of St. Patrick's School, which has been located there since 1888.


  • 1. P.R.O., C7/605/64.
  • 2. Corporation of London Record Office, assessments box 83.2.
  • 3. Ibid., C10/517/38; C108/409, deed of 24 May 1699.
  • 4. R.B.
  • 5. John Strype, A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, 1720, vol. ii, bk. vi, pp. 86–7.
  • 6. Nottingham University, Portland MSS., Soho lease book.