Moxon Street once went by the name of Paradise Street, at odds with its appearance.
At the end of the eighteenth century, Paradise Street (now Moxon Street) provided ideal conditions for housing developments of the ’lowest class’. At that time, the area of Paradise Street had become a maze of courts, alleys and narrow streets, boxed in the small area in the angle of Paddington Street
and Marylebone High Street
This area became almost the worst concentration of bad housing, overcrowding and poverty in the parish. It was said, were some 120 houses whose inhabitants were sunk ‘in the lowest stages of moral and physical degradation’. The worst developments were courts shut off from the street by a wall with a common entrance door, lined with one-room deep houses without back yards or back windows, or any sanitation beyond shared privies with cesspits, and perhaps shared wash-houses and dust-holes for ash.
Much of the layout survives, although none of the original houses. The western boundary, alongside the graveyard, was Burying Ground Passage, renamed Ashland Place
in 1886 when the burial ground was opened as a public garden - running through the middle was Grotto Passage
. Along Grotto Passage
was a series of impoverished courts. Harrison’s Place comprised seven two-room houses containing 47 people, who shared a couple of privies draining into another belonging to Grotto Place, a row of cottages to the north. In the ten houses comprising Eccleston’s (otherwise Eagleton’s) Buildings, 129 people occupied the 24 (out of 26) inhabited rooms, which relied on a single cesspit.
Only the little alley forming the north end of Grotto Passage
has kept the name. The rest became known as Paradise Place, originally the name of a row of cottages behind gardens on the west side, with access from Paradise Street.