Streets of St Giles

Streets of St Giles

Subtitled 'A survey of streets, buildings and former residents in a part of Camden', edited by Steven Denford and David Hayes

Published by the Camden History Society, 136 pages. Rectangular paperback - c.20cm by 14cm (N7254)

From the inside front cover: This book is one of a series... that survey the history of all parts of the London Borough of Camden. The present volume is a fully revised edition of one that first appeared in 2000 and deals with the extreme south-western part of the borough, including most of the pre-1900 civil parish of St Giles-in-the-Fields. Excluded are the old parish's north-western extremity alongside Tottenham Court Road, which is dealt with in Streets of Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia; and the High Holborn frontage east of Kingsway, for which see Streets of Old Holborn.

The area covered is amongst the oldest in Camden and formerly amongst the most degraded. Yet alongside the notorious St Giles Rookery and the poverty of Seven Dials the area boasted the grandeur of houses around Lincoln's Inn Fields and lining Great Queen Street; besides the moral laxity associated with Drury Lane in the 17th and 18th centuries, the sober earnestness of the City Literary Institute; and, close by the middle-class self-indulgence of the grand Holborn Restaurant, the headquarters of the Pankhursts' militant suffragette movement and of a less violent suffragist
group. Another feminist link was the Endell Street Military Hospital, the only British army hospital to have been entirely staffed by women. Today St Giles is on an upward trend, with a strong tourist presence in 'Covent Garden's hidden village', as Seven Dials is marketed, and regeneration projects in the High Street.

The story is rich and varied. As we tread the narrow pavement of Drury Lane we are walking where Boswell pursued his amatory adventures, but also along Aldewychstrate, which in the 7th century led to the Saxon port of Lundenwic. And as we walk along the Victorian thoroughfare of Shaftesbury Avenue, we are skirting the grounds of a medieval leper hospital, founded by a granddaughter of the Scottish king murdered by Macbeth.

Famous people who have lived or worked locally include the scientist politician Benjamin Franklin; the painters John Zoffany, John Linnell and Samuel Palmer; engineers and inventors such as Henry Maudslay and John Logie Baird; food-store founder John Sainsbury and celebrity chefs Antonio Carluccio and Jamie Oliver; as well as highwayman Dick Turpin and Thief-taker General' Jonathan Wild; and many musicians linked to Tin Pan Alley (Denmark Street). We have arranged this survey as a series of six walks, but the book can also be studied at home. However, as we illustrate only vanished buildings or those not open to the public, you would then miss out on what is currently visible to the naked eye.
Contents include:

Diagram of the walks
Present Street names and their origins
List of illustrations
Historical overview
Route 1 The domain of the Leper Hospital Circular walk from St Giles Circus
Route 2 Seven Dials and Endell Street Circular walk from St Giles Circus 2
Route 3 London's spinal cord Linear walk from St Giles High Street to Kingsway
Route 4 Tributaries of Drury Lane Circular walk from Holborn Station
Route 5 Kingsway and Great Queen Street Circular walk from Holborn Station
Route 6 Lincoln's Inn Fields Circular walk from Holborn station

The condition of the book is generally very good. The covers are clean and bright, the spine is tight and intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. There is a small price sticker on the rear side cover.