A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11, Stepney, Bethnal Green. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1998.
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THE WEST: SHOREDITCH SIDE, SPITALFIELDS, AND THE NICHOL.
Waste alongside Collier's (Crabtree) Lane had been granted out by 1518 (fn. 1) and was inhabited by 1597. (fn. 2) A reference in 1603 to 'late builded houses' on the waste, originally a laystall, 'beyond Shoreditch church towards Hackney' (fn. 3) was possibly the first mention of Collier's Row, the name given to houses fronting Hackney Road south and north of Collier's Lane. Collier's Row was a recognized locality in 1625. (fn. 4) Houses south of the lane were mortgaged with demesne land in 1629. (fn. 5) The row housed weavers, brickmakers, a glover, a cooper, a mariner, a sawyer, and a labourer in the 1640s (fn. 6) and in 1652 consisted of 23 mostly dilapidated cottages on waste near Shoreditch church, running north-eastward from the Half Moon next to Shoreditch High Street. (fn. 7) There were only 19 houses in Collier's Row in 1663. (fn. 8) About that time land north of Collier's Lane was leased to brickmakers and six houses, including a farm on the corner, had been built in the northward extension of Collier's Row by 1674. (fn. 9) By 1703 building in Collier's Row lined the eastern side of Hackney Road from Shoreditch church to beyond Crabtree Lane. (fn. 10)
Stepney Rents, which housed artisans and servants in the early 1640s, (fn. 11) lay behind Collier's Row, (fn. 12) being probably named from its position within Stepney before the boundary with Shoreditch changed between 1682 and 1703. (fn. 13) In the 1670s c. 30-50 houses were assessed for a district called Shoreditch Side and 47-54 for another entitled Shoreditch Church, which in 1674 was called Collier Row. (fn. 14)
Spitalfields, officially the parish of Christ Church created out of Stepney in 1729, was often taken by contemporaries, particularly in connexion with silkweaving, to include the adjoining built up area to the north in what after 1743 was Bethnal Green parish. Clay was being dug for bricks in Brick Lane in 1550 (fn. 15) and a century later streets were being laid out on the Wheler estate as building advanced northward to Bethnal Green along Brick Lane and Wheler Street. (fn. 16) The freehold, former demesne, estate of Hare Marsh was acquired by the Carter family in 1653 and John Carter (d. 1687), who inherited it in 1661, (fn. 17) claimed to have designed and managed building there. (fn. 18) The estate thrust deep into Spitalfields and presumably was developed from the south, until in 1669 Carter leased parcels in Hare Street, at the northern end, to a London carpenter, Josias Hill, who had built houses there by 1671. (fn. 19) Carter in 1671 stated that most houses in Hare Marsh had existed long before a proclamation of 1667 for restraining new buildings. Christopher Wren, then surveyor to the Crown, supported Carter's petition for a licence to finish the building and pave the roads, then impassable in winter. (fn. 20)
Carter leased plots, usually for 70 years, both to builders such as John Welsh, a Shoreditch bricklayer, in 1677 and to London merchants, including Joshua Green in 1670 and John Williams in 1676, who presumably sub-contracted. (fn. 21) The houses were narrow, on a 17-ft. frontage, and tall, one at least consisting of a single room on each of five storeys, including cellar and attic. (fn. 22) Most of the streets were built up by 1682. (fn. 23) Ram Alley, where Carter himself had a house, existed by 1687, as possibly did Fleet Street, (fn. 24) which was certainly there two years later. (fn. 25) The western part of Spicer Street, named after Richard Spicer, a local carpenter (fn. 26) to whom Carter left £100 (fn. 27) and who was involved in leasing and presumably building on the estate, (fn. 28) existed in 1682 as George Street. (fn. 29)
The south-west corner of Bethnal Green, into which Wheeler Street ran, belonged to the Byde family and in the 1640s and 1650s was known as Preston's garden. (fn. 30) In 1669 Sir Thomas Byde leased to Edward Adams a house, possibly assessed in the 1670s for six hearths, (fn. 31) and 3 a., where 119 houses stood by 1713. Bounded north by Cock Lane, west by York Street, and east by Club Row, they included Anchor Street and Patience Street (Ass Park) and several courts (fn. 32) and probably existed by the 1680s. (fn. 33)
The rest of the area bordering Shoreditch, between Collier's Row and Stepney Rents in the north and the Byde estate in the south, belonged in the mid 17th century to the copyhold estates of the Austen and Snow families (fn. 34) or the freehold estate of the Nichols. In 1675 36 houses had recently replaced a three-storeyed brick farmhouse containing a great hall, a fourbayed cowhouse, two other tenements, and a barn, all near Shoreditch church on the Austen estate. (fn. 35) By 1703 Austin and Castle streets contained (fn. 36) 81 tenements and 17 cottages, most of which had been built by 1682. (fn. 37) Castle Street was named by 1685 after a fortification erected in the Civil War. (fn. 38) Some early 18th-century brick and tiled houses, with two storeys and attics, survived at nos. 15-33 Austin Street in 1930. (fn. 39)
Most of the ground south of Castle Street served as gardens in 1680 when John Nichol (or Nicoll) of Gray's Inn leased 4¾ a. bounded west and south by Cock Lane to Jon Richardson, a London mason, for 180 years, with permission to dig for bricks. (fn. 40) Nichol, member of a family associated with Bethnal Green by 1659, (fn. 41) had already built seven houses. (fn. 42) Richardson subleased, usually in plots giving a frontage of 16-20 ft. with a depth of 60 ft. for each house. Sublessees included Thomas Clarke, a London salter (1680), who built a house fronting Cock Lane, (fn. 43) Joseph Devonshire, a London carpenter (1682), who built one in Nichol Street, (fn. 44) and Thomas Hartshorne, a Stepney brickmaker (1685), who built houses on the north side of Nichol Street. (fn. 45) Henry Sleymaker (d. 1693), a London mason, who was a sublessee from 1682 (fn. 46) and had built at least one house in Nichol Street in 1684, was probably related to Edward Sleymaker, who was building in Brick Lane in 1671. (fn. 47) Robert Tregoult, sublessee from 1683, (fn. 48) paid a lot 'for his houses' in the assessment of 1694. (fn. 49) Joseph Hayward, tiler of London, built a 'good brick house' on a plot between Cock Lane and Nichol Street which he took in 1688. In 1706 and 1708 he took three plots with a total frontage of 360 ft. (enough for 20 houses) from Richardson's son Thomas, a London clothworker. One large plot was at the eastern end of the estate, next to Turville's lands. (fn. 50) All the roads on John Nichol's estate were named after him, although he was directly responsible for only a few houses. Nichol (by 1723 Old Nichol) (fn. 51) Street existed by 1683, (fn. 52) New Nichol Street was 'new intended' in 1708, (fn. 53) and Nichol Row, existing by 1703, and Half Nichol Street were listed in 1732. (fn. 54)
The freehold former demesne lands later called Fitches, north and east of the Austen, Snow, and Nichol estates, (fn. 55) were conveyed in a chain of six subleases, several holders of which carried out small-scale building. In 1685 the third in the chain built 9 houses and the fifth laid out £500 in new building. The fourth, who claimed a lease dating from 1673 and who had been to Virginia with Sir John Berry, (fn. 56) may have given the name 'Virginia Row'. First recorded in 1694, (fn. 57) the road, an eastward extension of Castle Street, had houses by 1682. (fn. 58) Where the estate thrust southward to New Cock Lane (later Church Street and subsequently Bethnal Green Road), Rose (later Mount) Street was built by 1725. (fn. 59)
To the east, fronting New Cock Lane (Church Street), was a long but narrow estate connected with the Tyssens. (fn. 60) The Satchwell (Satchell) family, which leased nearby demesne in 1654 (fn. 61) and was assessed under Shoreditch Side, (fn. 62) leased the eastern part of the estate by 1657 (fn. 63) and was presumably responsible for Satchwell's garden and the buildings called Satchwell Rents at the eastern end of the estate by 1689. (fn. 64)
Except on the Snow estate, where two houses in Cock Lane disappeared between 1666 and 1693, (fn. 65) building took place on all estates bordering Spitalfields and Shoreditch southward from Crabtree Lane during the later 17th century. It spread steadily eastward and northward during the early 18th.
The freehold, former demesne, Red Cow estate lay south of Church Street, between Bydes to the west and Hare Marsh and Willetts. (fn. 66) In 1652 a house called the Red Cow and farm buildings stood at the north-east corner of Brick Lane and Church Street (then called Rogue Lane) and a new brick house to the south. (fn. 67) The Red Cow disappeared between 1682 and 1703 when the estate, then called Slaughter's (Sclater's) land, contained a few isolated buildings at the northwest corner of Brick and Cock lanes, on the east side of Brick Lane and Club Row, on the north side of Hare Street, and as the beginning of Sclater Lane. (fn. 68) Sclater Lane, linking Anchor Street on Byde's estate with Hare Street on Carter's, had apparently been completed by 1711 (fn. 69) and paved by 1723. (fn. 70) Three houses were built in 1717 in Club Row. (fn. 71)
From 1718 Thomas Bacon (formerly Sclater) developed the Red Cow estate, leasing out usually small parcels for 61 years to carpenters of London (fn. 72) and others. (fn. 73) The estate consisted of Swanfield to the west and Harefield (or Crossfield) to the east of Brick Lane. Building began in Swanfield with Sclater Street in the south, (fn. 74) reaching Swan and Bacon streets by 1720. (fn. 75) Portions of Harefield were leased out from 1723 and laid out with James Street in 1723, (fn. 76) Thomas Street in 1724, (fn. 77) Fuller Street in 1725, (fn. 78) and Edward and Oakey streets by 1732. (fn. 79) Most building took place in the south and west parts bordering Brick Lane and Hare Street, leaving a large area of pasture in the north-east in 1746. (fn. 80) By 1751 there were c. 295 houses on the estate. (fn. 81) Numbers 3-9 (odd) Hare Street and 1-4 Hare Court, all near Brick Lane, survived in 1930 as three- or four-storeyed brick and tiled houses with some exposed ceiling beams. (fn. 82)
East of Harefield, bricks were being made in the 6-acre Wood Close in 1652 by Abraham Carnell. (fn. 83) In 1670 Thomas Willett leased the land to Carnell (d. c. 1679), with two houses which were pulled down after c. 1681. By 1703 building covered the whole of the frontage on the north side of Hare Street; Silver or Willett Street and Wood Street, with houses at their southern end, led north from Hare Street, and there were at least two houses and three cottages at the northern end of the field fronting Bethnal Green Road (Rogue Lane). Damage was reported c. 1705 from a great storm, presumably that of 1703. (fn. 84) By 1741 there were 56 houses on the estate, some of them probably built by William Farmer, a Brick Lane carpenter. (fn. 85) The building of the church in the centre of the field blocked further development north except on the west side of Silver Street (later Church Row). (fn. 86)
On Hare Marsh to the south building spread eastward to Weaver Street and Fleet Street Hill (Little Fleet Street in 1732) in the 1720s and 1730s. (fn. 87) One of the builders was Anthony Natt. (fn. 88) By 1751 there were c. 400 houses in Hare Marsh and 157 on the neighbouring Byde estate. (fn. 89) In addition parts of Hare Marsh east of Brick Lane were acquired before 1749 by Truman's brewery. (fn. 90)
On the north side of Bethnal Green Road (New Cock Lane) building leases on the divided Snow estate, (fn. 91) usually for 61 years, were granted by George Turville to Edward Yates, carpenter, (fn. 92) and to Robert Howard, joiner, both of London, (fn. 93) and others from 1723. (fn. 94) Bordering the Nichol estate, they built Turville Street north from Bethnal Green Road and New Turville Street east from New Cock Lane. (fn. 95) Turville's estate was said to contain 43 houses by 1736. (fn. 96)
On the neighbouring Fitch's estate David Dobbins (fn. 97) and John Wells (fn. 98) took leases to build brick houses with frontages of 16ft. They were built in Virginia Row and its southward extension, called New Virginia Row in 1732, (fn. 99) Virginia Street c. 1780, (fn. 100) and Turk Street by the 1790s. (fn. 101) Public houses included the Virginia Planter and Two Loggerheads in Virginia Row in 1722 (fn. 102) and the Turk's Head from 1750. (fn. 103) Virginia Row ran westward into Castle Street, part of the Austen estate which by 1740 had 112 cottages and tenements. (fn. 104)
Apart from Satchwell Rents at its eastern end, the Tyssen estate contained only Jamaica House, near the watchhouse at the top of Brick lane, until Samuel Tyssen leased plots from 1724. Leases, usually for 80 years, were made to Samuel Vevers (fn. 105) and John Rippin, both Spitalfields bricklayers, and Samuel Cohell, (fn. 106) William Breedon, (fn. 107) and William Farmer, (fn. 108) all carpenters, the last an inhabitant of Brick Lane who built on other Bethnal Green estates. Breedon's houses, and perhaps others', were of brick and timber, mostly with 16- or 17-ft. frontages on Church Street or a new 30-ft. wide street (Tyssen Street), which ran northward from Jamaica House to Virginia Row, its southern end existing by 1728. (fn. 109) By 1732 it was crossed by Shacklewell Street, (fn. 110) named after the Tyssens' seat in Hackney. Along Bethnal Green Road building proceeded from the west, with plots being leased to Farmer in 1732 and 1734, (fn. 111) to Matthew Wright, 'gentleman', (fn. 112) and to John Wolveridge, a plasterer, both local men in 1735. (fn. 113) The Gibraltar public house, named in 1750, (fn. 114) probably existed much earlier 'in the fields' at the northern edge of the estate. (fn. 115) By 1751 there were c. 524 houses in the area to the north of Bethnal Green Road and 931 to the south. (fn. 116)
The opening of the church and reconstruction of Bethnal Green Road (Church Street and New Cock Lane) in the 1740s led to more building, notably on the remaining farmland or garden ground. Fresh activity started on the Red Cow estate in 1769 when Thomas Sclater King granted leases to Thomas Green, a Petticoat Lane baker, of land fronting Church Street and the northern part of Edward Street and other plots on James Street and the new Granby Street. (fn. 117) Green applied for building licences in 'New' James Street, presumably at the northern end, in 1770. (fn. 118) Henry Busby, who acquired an interest in the estate in 1770, granted leases to John Price, a Petticoat Lane builder, in 1770 (fn. 119) and to Jonathan Gee, a Bethnal Green carpenter, in 1771. (fn. 120) Price was building in James and Granby streets in 1771-2 (fn. 121) and Gee had built at least five 'good brick houses' in Oakey Street by 1773. (fn. 122) Work continued into the 1790s under several other builders, including John May Evans and William Timmins, (fn. 123) until by 1799 the built-up area had advanced eastward to James Street. (fn. 124) By 1809 there were 467 houses on the estate, 274 of them east of Brick Lane. (fn. 125) The remaining spaces were soon filled (fn. 126) and by 1826 there were some 725 houses on the estate. (fn. 127)
Except in the south-east of Hare Marsh, streets already covered all the other estates south of Bethnal Green Road. Development, which continued patchily, was either rebuilding or the cramming of new courts into gardens of existing houses. Such, for example, were four houses built in Fleet Street by Samuel Ward in 1767, (fn. 128) Cheeseman Court by 1775, (fn. 129) Carter's Rents by Kilner in 1791, (fn. 130) all in Hare Marsh, and two houses built in Ass Park by William Ellington in 1770 (fn. 131) and six in Anchor Street by Vine in 1775, (fn. 132) both on Bydes. Truman's brewery built a vat house fronting Carter Street c. 1805 and an engineer's house and stables fronting Brick Lane in 1831-6. (fn. 133) By 1836 there were 1,606 houses on all the estates south of Bethnal Green Road. (fn. 134)
Most building in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, however, was on the northern side of Bethnal Green Road. The Tyssens granted leases to Samuel Coombes, a Spitalfields carpenter, for an 'intended street', (fn. 135) probably 'Coomb' or Prince's Street, in 1766 (fn. 136) and a similar lease to John Wilcox for a plot on the west side of Virginia Street in 1768. (fn. 137) Truman's brewery had built storehouses between Tyssen and Shacklewell streets by 1775. (fn. 138) In 1792 leases were granted to Henry Vine, an Islington builder, of ground in Gibraltar Field near Shacklewell Street (fn. 139) and to Edward Clark, broker of Spitalfields, of ground together with the Gibraltar and 23 houses in Satchwell Rents. (fn. 140) By 1813 there were 49 houses on the plot. (fn. 141)
In 1769 the Tyssens leased 6 a. at the eastern end of the estate to William Atkins, a Bethnal Green gardener who laid out £200 in building a house. (fn. 142) Atkins leased out a plot next Bethnal Green Road to Robert Gavill, bricklayer of Mile End New Town, in 1770, (fn. 143) when Richard Atkins, whose father had taken part of the 6 a. in 1769, subleased a plot with a frontage to the main road of 472 ft. (fn. 144) Norwell Place and Thorold Square had been built there by 1794. (fn. 145) The rest of the 6 a., east of Satchwell Rents and north of Thorold Square and Bethnal Green Road, was built up by John Gadenne, carpenter of Satchwell Rents, who subleased houses in the new streets: New Tyssen Street, Union Street (or Hope Town), and City Garden Place by 1808, (fn. 146) and Hart Street or Lane, George, Charlotte, and Tyrell streets by 1812. (fn. 147) By 1836 there were some 475 houses on the Tyssen estate. (fn. 148)
There was building to the north around Crabtree Row, where eleven brick houses stood on former garden ground by 1779 (fn. 149) and others were built in 1788, 1790, and 1807, by John Lealand, Eccles, and Watson respectively. (fn. 150) John Godfrey, a Bethnal Green carpenter, was building north of Castle Street in 1772; (fn. 151) New Castle Street to the south and Sweetapple Court to the south of (Old) Castle Street existed by 1775. (fn. 152) The court was probably named from Joseph Sweetapple (fl. 1770) (fn. 153) and the nearby Cooper's Gardens, although not recorded until later, (fn. 154) from Thomas Cooper, occupier of the 2 a. between Castle Street and Hackney Road in 1779. (fn. 155) By 1800 there were c. 235 houses on the Austen estate. (fn. 156)
The unbuilt part of Fitches, south of Virginia Row with a portion east of Crabtree Lane (Gascoigne Place), was offered for building, probably in the late 1770s; anyone who took a 61-year lease and put up six houses was offered ground for a seventh freehold. (fn. 157) Among builders who sought certificates from 1777 to 1789 for houses around Virginia Row and Street and near the Loggerheads were William Tayler, Warn, Hide, Chidgey, King, and Thomas Southcomb. (fn. 158) James Green, a Spitalfields bricklayer, may have built 34 houses leased from William Gascoigne in 1779. (fn. 159) Prince's and King streets existed by 1787, with houses recently built by Samuel Lazonby, licensee of the Virginia Planter. (fn. 160) William Rider, bricklayer of Brick Lane, had lately built two houses on the west side of Gibraltar Walk in 1790. (fn. 161) Houses extended southward along Turk Street and on the west side of Gibraltar or Lord's Walk (fn. 162) by 1800, when there were c. 145 on the estate. (fn. 163) Benjamin Wire, a former cowkeeper, took a lease from Peter Gascoigne in 1806 and built west of Prince's Street by 1808. (fn. 164) By 1812 the building line had reached Duke Street. (fn. 165)
The western part of Fitches, named Friar's Mount probably after James Fryer who farmed it in the 1720s, (fn. 166) was apparently sold to Sanderson Turner Sturtevant, a local tallow chandler, (fn. 167) who was leasing out ground on the west side of Turk Street by 1804. (fn. 168) John Gadenne was building on the west side of Mount Street in 1807. (fn. 169) Mount Street, from Rose Street to Virginia Row, existed by 1806, (fn. 170) Nelson and Collingwood streets running west from it by 1807, (fn. 171) and Peter Street and Lenham Court, at the southern end of the estate, by 1810, when there were 115 houses on Sturtevant's land. (fn. 172) Some of the summer houses in Weatherhead's Gardens south of Crabtree Row had been converted to dwellings by 1820. (fn. 173)
Kemp's Garden on the Snow estate was taken for building at about the same time. Mead built nine houses in Mead Street in 1806 (fn. 174) and others were under construction in Charlotte and Half Nichol streets in 1807 and 1808. (fn. 175) By 1810 'Kemps land', then including Trafalgar and Christopher streets, contained 83 houses. (fn. 176) Probably included with Mead Street, of which it was a western extension, was Vincent Street, where houses were going up in 1807. (fn. 177) At least 22 houses were built in Old Nichol Street in 1801-2, probably on the sites of 17th-century ones and mostly by Matravers. (fn. 178) By 1827 there were 237 houses on the 5-a. Nichol estate. (fn. 179) Between 1812 and 1826 Nelson and Collingwood streets extended westward across the remaining land, (fn. 180) and by 1836 the entire area was built up. There were over 2,000 houses north of Bethnal Green Road and 3,609 in the whole western district. (fn. 181)