St Giles

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Suburb · St Giles · WC2H ·
September
9
2021

St Giles is a district of central London, at the southern tip of the London Borough of Camden.

There has been a church at St Giles since Saxon times, located beside a major highway. The hospital of St Giles, recorded c. 1120 as Hospitali Sancti Egidii extra Londonium was founded, together with a monastery and a chapel, by Queen Matilda, wife of Henry I. St Giles (c. 650 – c. 710) was the patron saint of lepers and the hospital was home to a leper colony, the site chosen for its surrounding fields and marshes separating contagion from nearby London.

A village grew up to cater to the brethren and patients. The crossroads which is now St Giles Circus, where Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road, Tottenham Court Road and New Oxford St meet, was the site of a gallows until the fifteenth century. Grape Street, in the heart of the St Giles district, runs beside the site of the hospital’s vineyard.

The monastery was dissolved during the Reformation and a parish church created from the chapel. The hospital continued to care for lepers until the mid sixteenth century, when the disease abated and the hospital instead began to care for indigents. The parish was known as St Giles in the Fields and it is recorded in 1563 as Seynt Gyles in the Field.

The first post-Catholic parish church was built in 1631 and from the mid-seventeenth century church wardens note "a great influx of poor people into this parish".

The 1665 Great Plague started in St Giles and the first victims were buried in the St Giles churchyard. By September 1665, 8000 people were dying a week in London. By the end of the plague year there were 3216 listed plague deaths in St Giles parish, which had fewer than 2000 households. After the Restoration, the area was populated by Huguenot refugees who had fled persecution and established themselves as tradesmen and artisans, particularly in weaving and the silk trade.

The southern area of the parish, around present day Shaftesbury Avenue, was a wasteland named Cock and Pye Fields. Houses were not built there until 1666, after the Great Fire, and not fully developed until 1693, becoming known as Seven Dials. Thomas Neale built much of the area, giving his name to Neal Street and Neal’s Yard. St Giles and Seven Dials became known for their astrologers and alchemists, an association which lasts to this day. The village of St Giles stood on the main road from Holborn to Tyburn, a place of local execution. Convicted criminals were often allowed, in tradition, to stop at St Giles en route to Tyburn for a final drink - a St Giles Bowl - before hanging.


St Giles-in-the-Fields (built 1734)
(click image to enlarge)

The ancient parish of St Giles in the Fields formed part of the Ossulstone hundred of Middlesex. The parish of St George Bloomsbury was split off in 1731, but the parishes were combined for civil purposes in 1774 and used for the administration of the Poor Law after the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834.

As London grew in the 18th and 19th centuries, so did the parish’s population, rising to 30 000 by 1831. The Rookery stood between the church and Great Russell Street, and Seven Dials near where Centre Point stands today, now home to the Centrepoint homeless charity. It was of one of the worst slums within Britain, a site of overcrowding and squalor, a semi-derelict warren. From Georgian affluence in the 18th century, the area declined rapidly, as houses were divided up, many families sharing a single room. Irish Catholic immigrants seeking to escape desperate poverty took up residence and the slum was nicknamed ’Little Ireland’ or ’The Holy Land’. The expression "a St Giles cellar" passed into common parlance, describing the worst conditions of poverty. Open sewers often ran through rooms and cesspits were left untended. Residents complained to the Times in 1849 : "We live in muck and filth. We aint got no priviz, no dust bins, no drains, no water-splies, and no drain or suer in the hole place." The rookery was a maze of gin shops, prostitutes’ hovels and secret alleyways that police had little of hope navigating. William Hogarth, Thomas Rowlandson and Gustav Dore, among others, have drawn the area, novelists Henry Fielding and Charles Dickens have written about it extensively. Peter Ackroyd writes "The Rookeries embodied the worst living conditions in all of London’s history; this was the lowest point which human beings could reach".

From the 1830s to the 1870s plans were developed to demolish the slum as part of London wide clearances for improved transport routes, sanitation and the expansion of the railways. New Oxford Street was driven through the area to join the areas of Oxford Street and Holborn. The Rookery dwellers were not re-housed by the authorities. 5000 were evicted and many just moved into near by slums, such Devil’s Acre and Church Lane making those more overcrowded still. The unchanging character of the area, failing investment schemes and inability to sell new properties ensured that plans for wholesale clearance were stymied until the end of the century.

Upon the creation of the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1855 the combined parishes became the St Giles District and were transferred to the County of London in 1889. The local government of London was reorganised in 1900 and St Giles became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Holborn.

The Central London Railway opened Tottenham Court underground station, between the Church of St Giles in the Fields and St Giles Circus on 30 July 1900. Tottenham Court Road underwent improvements in the early 1930s to replace lifts with escalators and more recently was rebuilt to cater for the Elizabeth Line.

Since 1965, St Giles has been part of the London Borough of Camden.




Main source: Wikipedia
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CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE LOCALITY



The Underground Map   
Added: 8 Dec 2020 00:24 GMT   

Othello takes a bow
On 1 November 1604, William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello was presented for the first time, at The Palace of Whitehall. The palace was the main residence of the English monarchs in London from 1530 until 1698. Seven years to the day, Shakespeare’s romantic comedy The Tempest was also presented for the first time, and also at the Palace of Whitehall.

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Linda Webb   
Added: 27 Sep 2021 05:51 GMT   

Hungerford Stairs
In 1794 my ancestor, George Webb, Clay Pipe Maker, lived in Hungerford Stairs, Strand. Source: Wakefields Merchant & Tradesmens General Directory London Westminster 1794

Source: Hungerford Stairs

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Roy Batham   
Added: 7 Jan 2022 07:17 GMT   

Smithy in Longacre
John Burris 1802-1848 Listed 1841 census as Burroughs was a blacksmith, address just given as Longacre.

Source: Batham/Wiseman - Family Tree

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Reg Carr   
Added: 10 Feb 2021 12:11 GMT   

Campbellite Meeting
In 1848 the Campbellites (Disciples of Christ) met in Elstree Street, where their congregation was presided over by a pastor named John Black. Their appointed evangelist at the time was called David King, who later became the Editor of the British Millennial Harbinger. The meeting room was visited in July 1848 by Dr John Thomas, who spoke there twice on his two-year ’mission’ to Britain.

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Scott Hatton   
Added: 11 Sep 2020 19:47 GMT   

Millions Of Rats In Busy London
The Daily Mail on 14 April 1903 reported "MILLIONS OF RATS IN BUSY LONDON"

A rat plague, unprecedented in the annals of London, has broken out on the north side of the Strand. The streets principally infested are Catherine street, Drury lane, Blackmore street, Clare Market and Russell street. Something akin to a reign of terror prevails among the inhabitants after nightfall. Women refuse to pass along Blackmore street and the lower parts of Stanhope street after dusk, for droves of rats perambulate the roadways and pavements, and may be seen running along the window ledges of the empty houses awaiting demolition by the County Council in the Strand to Holborn improvement scheme.

The rats, indeed, have appeared in almost-incredible numbers. "There are millions of them," said one shopkeeper, and his statement was supported by other residents. The unwelcome visitors have been evicted from their old haunts by the County Council housebreakers, and are now busily in search of new homes. The Gaiety Restaurant has been the greatest sufferer. Rats have invaded the premises in such force that the managers have had to close the large dining room on the first floor and the grill rooms on the ground floor and in the basement. Those three spacious halls which have witnessed many as semblages of theatre-goers are now qui:e deserted. Behind the wainscot of the bandstand in the grillroom is a large mound of linen shreds. This represents 1728 serviettes carried theee by the rats.

In the bar the removal of a panel disclosed the astonishing fact that the rats have dragged for a distance of seven or eight yards some thirty or forty beer and wine bottles and stacked them in such a fashion as to make comfortable sleeping places. Mr Williams. the manager of the restaurant, estimates that the rats have destroyed L200 worth of linen. Formerly the Gaiety Restaurant dined 2000 persons daily; no business whatever is now done in this direction.

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Bruce McTavish   
Added: 11 Mar 2021 11:37 GMT   

Kennington Road
Lambeth North station was opened as Kennington Road and then Westminster Bridge Road before settling on its final name. It has a wonderful Leslie Green design.

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Lived here
Julian    
Added: 23 Mar 2021 10:11 GMT   

Dennis Potter
Author Dennis Potter lived in Collingwood House in the 1970’s

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Jessie Doring   
Added: 22 Feb 2021 04:33 GMT   

Tisbury Court Jazz Bar
Jazz Bar opened in Tisbury Court by 2 Australians. Situated in underground basement. Can not remember how long it opened for.

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Lived here
Richard Roques   
Added: 21 Jan 2021 16:53 GMT   

Buckingham Street residents
Here in Buckingham Street lived Samuel Pepys the diarist, Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling

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Jude Allen   
Added: 29 Jul 2021 07:53 GMT   

Bra top
I jave a jewelled item of clothong worn by a revie girl.
It is red with diamante straps. Inside it jas a label Bermans Revue 16 Orange Street but I cannot find any info online about the revue only that 16 Orange Street used to be a theatre. Does any one know about the revue. I would be intesrested to imagine the wearer of the article and her London life.

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Lena    
Added: 18 Mar 2021 13:08 GMT   

White Conduit Street, N1
My mum, Rosina Wade of the Wade and Hannam family in the area of Chapel Street and Parkfield Street, bought her first “costume” at S Cohen’s in White Conduit Street. Would have probably been about 1936 or thereabouts. She said that he was a small man but an expert tailor. I hope that Islington Council preserve the shop front as it’s a piece of history of the area. Mum used to get her high heel shoes from an Italian shoe shop in Chapel Street. She had size 2 feet and they would let her know when a new consignment of size 2 shoes were in. I think she was a very good customer. She worked at Killingbacks artificial flower maker in Northampton Square and later at the Halifax bombers factory north of Edgware where she was a riveter.

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Born here
sam   
Added: 31 Dec 2021 00:54 GMT   

Burdett Street, SE1
I was on 2nd July 1952, in Burdett chambers (which is also known as Burdett buildings)on Burdett street

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LATEST LONDON-WIDE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROJECT

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Watts   
Added: 17 May 2022 20:29 GMT   

Baeethoven St School, also an Annex for Paddington College of FE.
In the early 70’s I took a two year science course at Paddington CFE. The science classes were held on weekday evenings at Beethoven Street school, overseen by chemistry teacher, Mr Tattershall.

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Added: 25 Apr 2022 22:11 GMT   

Southover, N12
Everyone knows Central Woodside is the place to be. Ever since kdog moved from finchtown, Woodside has been thriving.

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Born here
Bernard Miller   
Added: 12 Apr 2022 17:36 GMT   

My mother and her sister were born at 9 Windsor Terrace
My mother, Millie Haring (later Miller) and her sister Yetta Haring (later Freedman) were born here in 1922 and 1923. With their parents and older brother and sister, they lived in two rooms until they moved to Stoke Newington in 1929. She always said there were six rooms, six families, a shared sink on the first floor landing and a toilet in the backyard.

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Brian Lynch   
Added: 10 Apr 2022 13:38 GMT   

Staples Mattress Factory
An architect’s design of the Staples Mattress Factory
An image found on the website of Dalzell’s Beds, in Armagh Northern Ireland.

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Lived here
   
Added: 19 Feb 2022 16:21 GMT   

Harmondsworth (1939 - 1965)
I lived in a house (Lostwithiel) on the Bath Road opposite the junction with Tythe Barn Lane, now a hotel site. Initially, aircraft used one of the diagonal runways directly in line with our house. I attended Sipson Primary School opposite the Three Magpies and celebrated my 21st birthday at The Peggy Bedford in 1959.

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Emma Seif   
Added: 25 Jan 2022 19:06 GMT   

Birth of the Bluestocking Society
In about 1750, Elizabeth Montagu began hosting literary breakfasts in her home at 23 (now 31) Hill Street. These are considered the first meetings of the Bluestocking society.

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Comment
   
Added: 14 Jan 2022 03:06 GMT   

Goldbourne Gardens W 10
I lived in Goldbourne Gardens in the 50,s very happy big bomb site

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Chris Nash   
Added: 10 Jan 2022 22:54 GMT   

Shortlands Close, DA17
Shortlands Close and the flats along it were constructed in the mid-1990s. Prior to this, the area was occupied by semi-detached houses with large gardens, which dated from the post-war period and were built on the site of Railway Farm. The farm and its buildings spanned the length of Abbey Road, on the south side of the North Kent Line railway tracks.

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NEARBY LOCATIONS OF NOTE
Admiral Duncan The Admiral Duncan is well-known as one of Soho’s oldest gay pubs.
British Museum British Museum was a station on the Central line, located in Holborn and taking its name from the nearby British Museum in Great Russell Street.
De Hems De Hems has become a base for London’s Dutch community, serving bitterballen and frikandellen.
Garrick Yard Garrick Yard, together with the more familiar Garrick Street to the northeast of here, both took their names from the Garrick Club which commemorates the famous 18th century actor, David Garrick.
L’Escargot L’Escargot is one of London’s oldest restaurants.
Queen’s Theatre The Queen’s Theatre is located in Shaftesbury Avenue on the corner of Wardour Street.
St Giles St Giles is a district of central London, at the southern tip of the London Borough of Camden.
Trident Studios Trident Studios was located at 17 St Anne’s Court between 1968 and 1981.

THE STREETS OF ST GILES
Bucknall Street, WC2H Bucknall Street is one of the streets of London in the WC2H postal area.
Castlewood House, WC1A Residential block
Centre Point, WC2H Centre Point is a controversial 1960s-built tower block.
Denmark Place, WC2H Denmark Place was an alleyway one block north of Denmark Street.
Denmark Street, WC2H Denmark Street is one of the streets of London in the WC2H postal area.
Dyott Street, WC1A Dyott Street is one of the streets of London in the WC1A postal area.
Earnshaw Street, WC2H Earnshaw Street was at first called Arthur Street.
Flichcroft Street, WC2H Flichcroft Street is a road in the WC2H postcode area
Flitcroft Street, WC2H Flitcroft Street is one of the streets of London in the WC2H postal area.
Goslett Yard, W1D Goslett Yard is one of the streets of London in the WC2H postal area.
Goslett Yard, W1D Goslett Yard is a road in the W1D postcode area
Hog Lane, WC2H Hog Lane was a lane that went from St Giles’ leper hospital (set up in the 12th century) to the monument to Eleanor at Charing Cross.
New Compton Street, WC2H New Compton Street is one of the streets of London in the WC2H postal area.
Norris Street, SW1Y Norris Street is one of the streets of London in the SW1Y postal area.
Sounding Alley, WC2H Sounding Alley is a road in the E3 postcode area
St Albans Street, SW1Y St Albans Street is one of the streets of London in the SW1Y postal area.
St Giles High Street, WC2H St Giles High Street is one of the streets of London in the WC2H postal area.
St Giles Square, WC2H St Giles Square is a modern piazza-style development.

THE PUBS OF ST GILES
Apartment 58 This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Salsa! This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
The Angel This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
The Crown This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
The London Cocktail Club This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Unknown as yet This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.




LOCAL PHOTOS
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Transmission
TUM image id: 1509553463
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Waterloo Bridge on an 1810 map.
TUM image id: 1556885410
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Hungerford Stairs circa 1828
TUM image id: 1557403389
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Tottenham Court Road (1927)
TUM image id: 1556973109
Licence: CC BY 2.0

In the neighbourhood...

Click an image below for a better view...
Transmission
Licence: CC BY 2.0


Buses outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Date of photo unknown
Credit: Stockholm Transport Museum
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Tottenham Court Road (1927)
Licence: CC BY 2.0


The Royal Opera House, Bow Street frontage, with the statue of Dame Ninette de Valois in the foreground
Credit: Russ London
Licence: CC BY 2.0


London Hippodrome in 2017
Credit: Ethan Doyle White
Licence: CC BY 2.0


Sectional view of Wyld's Great Globe, which stood in Leicester Square, London 1851–62
Credit: Illustrated London News
Licence: CC BY 2.0


De Hems, 11 Macclesfield Street and the entrance to Horse & Dolphin Yard.
Credit: Colonel Warden
Licence: CC BY 2.0


British Museum station
Credit: London Transport Museum
Licence: CC BY 2.0


The Queen’s Theatre in the West End (2011), then showing the musical "Les Misérables"
Credit: Andreas Praefcke
Licence: CC BY 2.0


Musicians waiting for work on Archer Street.
Credit: Musicians Union
Licence: CC BY 2.0


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