Old and New London, A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places. Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources. vol 4

Thornbury, Walter

Red Lion Square, and its Neighbourhood.

Red Lion Square, and its Neighbourhood.


Where the Red Lion frowns upon the way.--Crabbe.


To the south-east of , surrounded by a nest of narrow alleys between it and , is , described by Northouck as a

neat, small square, much longer than it is broad,

and having


streets entering it on sides, with foot-passages at the corners. It had at that time () not only in the centre a plain obelisk, but a stone watch-house at each corner, all of which have long been swept away. Although respectable, the square has a very dull appearance, which is thus whimsically portrayed by the author of

Critical Observations on the Buildings, &c., of London,

published about the middle of the last century :--

I never go into it without thinking of my latter end. The rough sod that

heaves with many a mouldering heap,

the dreary length of its sides, with the


watchhouses like so many family vaults at the corners, and the naked obelisk that springs from amid the rank grass, like the sad monument of a disconsolate widow for the loss of her


husband, all form together a

memento mori

; more powerful to me than a death's head and cross marrow-bones; and were but a parson's bull to be seen bellowing at the gate, the idea of a country churchyard, in my mind, would be complete.

Hatton, in , describes it as

a pleasant square of good buildings, between

High Holborn

south and the fields north;

and Pennant, writing in , says that in the centre was

a clumsy obelisk, lately vanished.


Red Lyon

Inn was in olden times the most important hostelry in , and accordingly had the honour of giving its name to and to the adjoining square. If we may draw an inference from the entries in the register of St. Andrew's, , the inn had behind it a fine row of trees, for we find notices of foundlings being exposed under the

Red Lion

Elmes in




Red Lyon

is mentioned in the following


of a quack doctor, at the beginning of the last century :--

Cornelius Tilbury, sworn Chirurgeon in ordinary to K. Charles II., to his late Sovereign K. William, as also to her present Majesty Queen Anne,

gives his address as

at the Blue Flower Pot, in Great

Lincoln's Inn Fields

, at Holbourn Row (where you see at night a light over the door). . . . And for the convenience of those that desire privacy, they may come through the Red Lyon Inn, in Holbourn, between the


Turnstiles, which is directly against my back door, where you will see the sign of the Blue Ball hang over the door. I dispose of my famous Orvietan, either liquid or in powder, what quantity or price you please.... This is that Orvietan that expelled that vast quantity of poyson I took before K. Charles II., for which his Majesty presented me with a gold medal and chain.

The story that some of the regicides were buried in has been extensively believed; it is told by Mr. Peter Cunningham, with a little variety, as follows :--

The bodies of Oliver Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw were carried from

Westminster Abbey

to the

Red Lion

Inn, in


, and the next day dragged on sledges thence to Tyburn.

In support of this story he quotes Wood's

Athenae Oxonienses,

and the additional MSS. in the , where those who are curious in such matters will find the narrative.



On the fate of Cromwell's head we have already quoted at some length in the preceding volume. It is the opinion of a writer in the , that if the body of Cromwell was removed from the Abbey and buried in , it is not probable that another embalmed body could have been procured for the purpose of being sent as its substitute to Tyburn, as has been suggested.

Pennant, as we have observed, speaks of the

clumsy obelisk

in , and mentions that it was inscribed with the following lines:--

Obtusum obtusioris ingenii monumentum. Quid me respicis, viator? Vade.

Could this quaint inscription,

asks Mr. Jesse, in his


have any hidden reference to the bones of Cromwell lying beneath it? We think not; but they are meant to mystify; and what, therefore,


they mean?

Mr. Jesse is inclined, however, in spite of his scepticism as to the inscription, to agree with those who believe in the tradition that the body of Cromwell was buried beneath this obelisk, and that upon this spot not improbably moulder, not only the bones of the great Protector, but also
those of Ireton and Bradshaw, whose remains were disinterred at the same time from , and exposed on the same gallows. He strengthens this supposition by observing that the contemporary accounts of the last resting-place of these remarkable men simply inform us, that on the anniversary of the death of Charles I. their bodies were borne on sledges to , and after hanging till sunset they were cut down and beheaded . that their bodies were then flung into a hole at the foot of the gallows, and. their heads fixed upon poles on the roof of Hall.

From the word


being so distinctly laid down,

Mr. Jesse adds,

it has usually been taken for granted that it was intended to designate the well-known place for executing criminals, nearly at the north end of

Park Lane

, or, as it was anciently styled, Tyburn Lane. However, when we read of a criminal in old times having been executed at


, we are not necessarily to presume that it was at this particular spot, the gallows having unquestionably been shifted at times from place to place, and the word


having been given indiscriminately, for the time being, to each spot. For instance,


years before the death of Crom-

Red Lion Square In 1800.

well the gallows were frequently erected at the extremity of

St. Giles's

parish, near the end of the present

Tottenham Court Road

; while for nearly


centuries the


end of

Fetter Lane

, within a short distance of

Red Lion Square

, was no less frequently the place of execution. Indeed, in


, only a few years before the exhumation and gibbeting of Cromwell, we find Nathaniel Tomkins executed at this spot for his share in Waller's plot to surprise the City. In addition, however, to these surmises is the curious fact of the bodies of Cromwell and Ireton having been brought in carts, on the night previous to their exposure on the gibbet, to the

Red Lion Inn,


, from which

Red Lion Square

derives its name, where they rested during the night. In taking this step, it is surely not unreasonable to presume that the Government had in view the selection of a house in the immediate vicinity of the scaffold, in order that the bodies might be in readiness for the disgusting exhibition of the following morning. Supposing this to have been the case, the place of their exposure and interment could scarcely have been the end of Tyburn Lane, inasmuch as the distance thither from


is actually shorter than the distance from



Red Lion Square

. The object of the Government could hardly have been to create a sensation by parading the bodies along a populous thoroughfare, inasmuch as the ground between

St. Giles's

Pound and Tyburn, a distance of a mile and a half, was at this period almost entirely open country.

This story of the disposal of Cromwell's body, if true, negatives the well-known lines of Dryden:--

His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest.

In Rede's

Anecdotes and Biography,

published. just before the close of the last century, it is stated that the obelisk was thought to be a memorial erected to Cromwell by an apothecary who was attached to his principles, and had so much influence in the building of the square as to manage the marking out of the ground, thus further contriving to pay this tribute to his favourite. Curiously enough, it has been discovered that an apothecary named Ebenezer Heathcote, who had married the daughter of of Ireton's subcom- missaries, was living at the King's-gate, , soon after the Restoration.

Leigh Hunt has left a curious reminiscence of an

old lady of quality,

who lived in this square,

a quarter in different estimation from what it is now.

She astounded him day by letting her false teeth slip out, and clapping them in again. i It was at her house, he adds, that his father evening met John Wilkes. Not knowing him by sight, and happening to fall into conversation with him, while the latter sat looking down, he said something in Wilkes's disparagement, on which the jovial demagogue looked up in his face, and burst out laughing. In this square lived, in the last century, Lord Raymond, the Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench. Here too, says Mr. Peter Cunningham, lived, and here, in I, died the benevolent Mr. Jonas Hanway, the eccentric traveller, remarkable as



person who ventured to walk in the streets of London with an umbrella over his head.

We have already spoken at some length of this celebrity in dealing with . The principal rooms in Hanway's house were decorated with paintings and emblematical devices,

in a style,

says his biographer,

peculiar to himself. I found,

he used to say, when speaking of these ornaments,

that my countrymen and women were not

au fait

in the art of conversation; and that instead of recurring to their cards when the discourse began to flag, the minutes between the time of assembling and the placing of the card-tables are spent in an irksome suspense. To relieve this vacuum in social intercourse, and prevent cards from engrossing the whole of my visitors' minds, I have presented them with objects the most attractive I could imagine; and when that fails there are the cards.

At No. in this square, the house at the corner of , lived, for many years in the present century, Sharon Turner, the author of

The Sacred History of the World.

He was a solicitor in practice, as well as an historian; he died here in . Besides his

Sacred History,

he was the author of the

History of England from the Earliest Period to the Death of Elizabeth,

consisting of several works, each published separately and independently-namely, the

History of the Anglo-Saxons,

History of England in the Middle Ages,

History of the Reign of Henry VIII.,


History of the Reigns of Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth.

Besides the ordinary Superior Courts, so well known by name to every reader, there is in existence in , at the house at the north-east corner, an ancient Baronial Court, held under the authority of the Sheriffs of Middlesex.

It is held monthly

(says the in I)

before the Sheriff or his deputy. Its power in judgment is as great as that of the present Courts at


. It is more expeditious and less

expensive; persons seeking to recover debts may do so to any amount at the trifling expense of only



seven pounds

. Nor is it confined to actions of account; it extends to detenue, trover, scandal, &c., and personal service of process is unnecessary. This Court was instituted,

adds the writer,

by King Alfred on dividing the kingdom into shires, and subsequently continued and sanctioned by Canute the Dane, by William the Conqueror, and various statutes, including Magna Charta; and is treated upon by several eminent legal authorities, as Judge Hale, Judge Lambert, and many others.

The author of

A Tour through Great Britain


This present year,


, an Act was passed for beautifying Red Lyon Square, which had run much to decay.

Though the square has at this time a decayed aspect, there is a picturesqueness and a touch of sentiment about it not to be found in squares of a higher grade through which we have passed. The variety of the houses, dilapidated and disfigured as some of them are, is more interesting than the even respectability of continuous brick walls and unbroken roofs. Besides the old Sheriff's Court, mentioned above, several other houses in this square are, or have been, devoted to public and charitable purposes. Here, for instance, is the London Infirmary for Diseases of the Legs, Ulcers, &c., which was instituted in , under the auspices of Miss Florence Nightingale. It is said to be the only infirmary of the kind in the United Kingdom where patients suffering from these painful and tedious maladies are received, and it is dependent entirely on voluntary support. The value and importance of this institution is shown by the increased number of patients not only from London and the suburbs, but likewise from various parts of England; the average attendance throughout the year amounting to upwards of .

The whole of the square, having long since been deserted by the families who used to inhabit it, has become quite a warren, so to speak, of charitable societies, which we have no room to enumerate in detail.

Milton at different periods of his life was a resident in this immediate neighbourhood, and on both occasions he occupied houses looking upon the green fields. The time that he resided here was in , when his house

opened backwards into

Lincoln's Inn Fields


where it was that he principally employed himself in writing his virulent tirades against monarchy and Charles I. The occasion of his residing here was after the Restoration, when we are told the front of his humble dwelling looked into Fields, the site of the present .

To the south of , and parallel to it, half way between the square and , and separating Dean and Leigh Streets, is . Here was born Martin Van Butchell, the eccentric quack doctor and dentist, of whom we have already spoken in our account of , .

At the south-west corner of the square is , leading into Kingsgate Street, which opens into . Hatton, in , says that Kingsgate Street was

so called because the king used to go this way to

New Market


He adds,

Some call the easterly end of this street

Theobald's Road


This street would seem to have Witnessed royal misadventure at the least; for under date -, Pepys writes in his





, from whence the King and the Duke of York went by


in the morning, and had the misfortune to be overset with the Duke of York, the Duke of Monmouth, and the Prince [Rupert], at the King's Gate, in Holborne; and the king all dirt, but no hurt. How it came to pass I know not, but only it was dark, and the torches did not, they say, light the coach as they should.

Between Kingsgate and Dean Streets, extending back into , and with their principal entrance facing , are the extensive premises of [extra_illustrations.4.549.1] . Mr. Charles Day, the founder of this establishment, died in , having made a huge fortune. He had for many years before his death been totally blind, and-apparently touched by that



makes us wondrous kind

--in his will he directed that should be devoted to the establishment of a charity, to be called the

Poor Blind Man's Friend.

This institution, as we have already seen, has its offices in Savile Row.

A short distance eastward, between and , is a building which has undergone a variety of uses and vicissitudes. It was erected about the year as a horse and carriage repository, but the speculation was anything but successful, and in a short time collapsed. The building, which covers a large space of ground, and has an entrance in , was afterwards converted into a theatre-called the National, and afterwards the Amphitheatre-with stage for dramatic representations, and a circus for equestrian performances. Occasionally musical entertainments were given here; but, notwithstanding the attractions put forth, the theatre never


appeared to become popular, and in the course of a very few years its career as such came to an end.

, like the Square--as already stated--was so called after the

Red Lion


On the wall of the building at the south-west corner, a public-house called the

Red Lion


is a block of wood let in, with the date



This street-and, indeed, the whole neighbourhood of , if we may judge by stray allusions in the

London Spy

--would appear to have borne no very high reputation for morality in the reigns of the and Georges. Nor does it appear to have been very safe for pedestrians. For instance, in an apothecary was attacked in by ruffians with firearms, who carried him off by force to

Black Mary's Hole.

We gather from King's

Anecdotes of his own Times,

that this street was formerly noted for its modellers and dealers in plaster casts, many of whom still linger in the neighbourhood of and . Speaking of the Pretender's visit to London, the author says,

He came


evening to my lodgings and drank tea with me; my servant, after he was gone, said to me that he thought my new visitor very like Prince Charles.


said I,

have you ever seen Prince Charles?

No, sir,

replied the fellow;

but this gentleman, whoever he may be, exactly resembles the busts which are sold in Red Lion Street, and are said to be the busts of Prince Charles.

The truth is, these busts were taken in plaster of Paris from his face.

, which runs parallel with the north side of , and separates from , was so named, says Mr. Peter Cunningham,

because it led to Theobalds, in Hertfordshire, the favourite hunting-seat of King James I. The king,

he adds,

on leaving


, went through

the Strand

, up

Drury Lane

, and so on into


, Kingsgate Street, and

Theobald's Road


John Le Neve, author of

Monumenta Anglicana,

lived in this road at the time of the publication of that work (-), and here he advertised that his book might be bought.

A conduit, founded by William Lamb, a gentleman of the Chapel Royal under Henry VIII., gave its name to . Lamb, it is stated, here caused several springs to be so connected as to form a head of water, which was conveyed by a leaden pipe, about yards in length, to , where he rebuilt a conduit, which had long been in a ruinous state and disused. He is said to have expended a very large sum of money upon these structures, and thus, by his benevolent exertions, conferred an important advantage upon a very populous neighbourhood.


as we learn from Stow's


he gave to poor women, such as were willing to take pains,


pails therewith to carry and serve water.

His benefactions for other purposes were also numerous. He was buried in St. Faith's Church, and upon his tomb was inscribed an epitaph in the quaint punning language of the time.

Lamb's Conduit was rebuilt in from a design by Sir Christopher Wren, and at the expense of Sir Thomas Daws. It was taken down in . Most of the City conduits, it has been remarked, were destroyed by the Great Fire in , and the rest, it is darkly hinted, were swept quietly away in order to force the citizens to have the water of the laid on to their houses.

The fields around Lamb's Conduit, a century ago, formed a favourite promenade for the inhabitants of St. Andrew's, , and . An old English


speaking of winter rocket, or cresses, says:

It groweth of its own accord in gardens and fields, by the way-side in divers places, and particularly in

the next pasture to the Conduit Head

, behind

Gray's Inn

, that brings water to

Mr. Lamb's Conduit, in Holborn.

A correspondent in () says:



years since I was travelling from the West of England in


of the old stage-coaches of that day, and my fellow-travellers were an octogenarian clergyman and his daughter. In speaking of the then increasing size of London, the old gentleman said that, when he was a boy, and recovering from an attack of small-pox, he was sent into the country to a row of houses standing on the west side of the upper part of the present

Lamb's Conduit Street

; that all the space before him was open fields; that a streamlet of water ran under his window; and he saw a man snipeshoot- ing, who sprang a snipe near to the house, and shot it. He further said, that he once stated the fact to an old nobleman (whose name he mentioned, but I have forgotten it), and he replied:

Well! when I was a young man, I sprang a brace of partridges where Grosvenor House now stands, and bagged one of them.

I have myself seen a pump reputed to be erected on the Conduit Head, and standing against the corner house of a small turning out of

Lamb's Conduit Street

, on the right-hand side as you go towards the Foundling, and nearly at the upper end of the street.

On the west side of are or short streets, which, from the -


substantial appearance of the houses, would seem to have been formerly the abode of some of the higher classes of society. of these is ; which runs in a line with , on the north side of . It was so named after Sir William Harpur, who was Lord Mayor of London in .

is crossed by Ormond Street, and terminated at its northern end by . On the east side of the street, and running parallel between it and , are Milman, Doughty, Great James, and John Streets, together with or others of little or no importance. In Milman Street, at the house of a friend, on the , died the [extra_illustrations.4.551.1] , some time equerry to Louis XV., and also Ambassador at the Court of St. James's. During his residence in England, doubts arose respecting his sex, and wagers to a large amount were laid thereon, of which terminated in a trial before Lord Mansfield. There the witnesses declared that the Chevalier was a woman concealed in man's clothes; and no attempt being made to contradict their evidence, a verdict was given for the plaintiff for the recovery of the wager. After the trial, D'Eon put on female attire, which he continued to wear till his decease, when all doubts regarding his sex were at once set at rest, an examination of the body being made in the presence of several distinguished personages. From the notice of his death in the we learn that in private life the Chevalier was always understood to have been extremely amiable; his natural abilities were great, and his acquirements most numerous. The story which mixed up the name of the Chevalier D'Eon in an intrigue with Queen Charlotte in the early part of her married life, is shown by Mr. W. J. Thoms to be a pure invention of a French scandal-monger, M. Gaillardet.

In Milman Street Bellingham was lodging when, in , he assassinated Mr. Perceval in the lobby of the .

In lived Charles Dickens in the earlier days of his achieved popularity, when as yet he was only


to the public. Whilst here he wrote, in a letter to a friend,

I always pay my taxes when they


wait any longer, in order to get a bad name in the parish, and so to escape all


Here was a touch of character; though Mr. Forster tells us that in after life, respectability following in the wake of success, he followed quite a different course, and paid his taxes not only regularly but punctually.

Extending from to , which forms the northern boundary of , is a broad and well-built thoroughfare, called . On the west side of the street is the Baptist chapel where the [extra_illustrations.4.551.2]  preached to crowded congregations, after his secession from the Established Church in . He had previously been for several years the minister of the Episcopal Chapel of St. John, which stood in , , at the north end of . The old chapel, which was pulled down soon after Mr. Noel left it, was a plain square brick building, and may be described as having been for half a century the head-quarters of fashionable Evangelicalism, for the string of carriages waiting at its doors about o'clock on Sundays sometimes extended the entire length of the street. In the early part of the present century the minister of Chapel was the Rev. Daniel Wilson, afterwards vicar of , and eventually Bishop of Calcutta.

In the rear of , as we learn from John Timbs, there was formerly a cockpit, which, doubtless, was frequented by the young law-students. The place is still kept in remembrance by Little , in the , close by .

The old

Black Bull,

in , of which we give a view on page , was a good specimen of the old-fashioned galleried yard.

, which lies between and , is a fine specimen of a broad thoroughfare of the early part of the eighteenth century, and must have been a pleasant residence when all to the north was open country as far as Hampstead and Highgate. It does not derive its name, as might be imagined, from the Russell family, but from the town of Bedford, to whichhis native place-Sir William Harper, Lord Mayor of London in , bequeathed the land on which it stands for the foundation of a school and other local charities.

The houses in are now nearly all cut up into chambers and occupied by solicitors. No. was for many years the head-quarters of the Entomological Society. This society was organised in , and the general meeting of its members was held in the following year, with the Rev. W. Kirby, the

father of British entomology,

as its president. Periodical meetings were at held, at which memoirs were received and read, experiments for the destruction of noxious insects suggested, communications made, and objects exhibited. A collection of insects was also formed, together with a library of books of reference. The valuable collections of Mr. Kirby were


presented to the society at its commencement. In , they removed to , . [extra_illustrations.4.552.1] 

At the south end of is , which runs westward into , and is connected with by or narrow streets and courts. of these, , Mr. Cunningham tells us, was so called from Cuthbert Featherstone, Gentleman Usher and Crier of the King's Bench, who died in . A stone let into the wall is inscribed with the name of the passage, and the date is . The next, Hand Court, is so called from the


Tavern, which stands at the corner in . The


former days was not only a favourite public-house sign, but also of the usual signs of the marriagemongers in ; and it now figures as the name of of the London Fire Insurance Offices. was named after Sir John Brownlow, a parishioner of in the reign of Charles II. Eastward of this street is the Duke's Theatre, which occupies a plot of ground abutting on and the western boundary of , formerly used as a yard for mail-carts and post-office omnibuses. It was at opened about , as the Theatre, by Mr. Sefton Parry, and it has since undergone many changes in


style and management. Its name was subsequently altered to

The Mirror,

which in turn has been changed to the


, close by the above theatre, was probably so named after the old Earls of Warwick, whose mansion, Warwick House, already mentioned in our account of the neighbourhood of , stood at a short distance eastward of . Passing up this court, we find ourselves at the back gate of , where we stop our journeyings eastward, not wishing to enter upon ground already traversed.


[] See Vol. III., p. 539.

[] See p. 470, ante.

[] See p. 335, ante.

[extra_illustrations.4.549.1] Messrs. Day and. Martin, the well-known blacking manufacturers

[extra_illustrations.4.551.1] Chevalier D'Eon

[extra_illustrations.4.551.2] Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel

[extra_illustrations.4.552.1] Elgin Gallery

[] See Vol. III., p. 207.

[] See Vol. II., p. 549.

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 Title Page
 Chapter I: Westminster: A Survey of the City: Millbank, and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter II: Westminster.-Tothill Fields and Neighbourhood
 Chapter III: Westminster.-King Street, Great George Street, and the Broad Sanctuary
 Chapter IV: Modern Westminster
 Chapter V: St. James's Park
 Chapter VI: Buckingham Palace
 Chapter VII: The Mall and Spring Gardens
 Chapter VIII: Carlton House
 Chapter IX: St. James's Palace
 Chapter X: St. James's Palace (continued)
 Chapter XI: Pall Mall
 Chapter XII: Pall-Mall.-Club-Land
 Chapter XIII: St. James's Street.-Club-Land (continued)
 Chapter XIV: St. James's Street and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XV: St. James's Square and its Distinguished Residents
 Chapter XVI: The Neighbourhood of St. James's Square
 Chapter XVII: Waterloo Place and Her Majesty's Theatre
 Chapter XVIII: The Haymarket
 Chapter XIX: Pall Mall East, Suffolk Street, &c.
 Chapter XX: Golden Square and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XXI: Regent Street and Piccadilly
 Chapter XXII: Piccadilly.-Burlington House
 Chapter XXIII: Noble Mansions in Piccadilly
 Chapter XXIV: Piccadilly: Northern Tributaries
 Chapter XXV: Hanover Square and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XXVI: Berkeley Square, and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XXVII: Grosvenor Square, and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XXVIII: May Fair
 Chapter XXIX: Apsley House and Park Lane
 Chapter XXX: Hyde Park
 Chapter XXXI: Hyde Park (continued)
 Chapter XXXII: Oxford Street, and its Northern Tributaries
 Chapter XXXIII: Oxford Street.-Northern Tributaries (continued)
 Chapter XXXIV: Oxford Street, and its Northern Tributaries (continued)
 Chapter XXXV: Oxford Street East.-Northern Tributaries
 Chapter XXXVI: Oxford Street: Northern Tributaries.-Tottenham Court Road
 Chapter XXXVII: Bloomsbury.-General Remarks
 Chapter XXXVIII: The British Museum
 Chapter XXXIX: The British Museum (continued)
 Chapter XL: The British Museum (continued)
 Chapter XLI: Bloomsbury Square and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XLII: Red Lion Square, and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XLIII: Queen Square, Great Ormond Street, &c.
 Chapter XLIV: Russell and Bedford Squares, &c.
 Chapter XLV: Gordon and Tavistock Squares, &c.
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