Argyle Square, WC1H

Road in/near Bloomsbury, existing between 1832 and now

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Road · Bloomsbury · WC1H ·

Argyle Square is one of the streets of the Battle Bridge Estate.

Argyle Square is situated between St. Chad’s Street (formerly Derby Street) and Argyle Street (formerly Manchester Street) which bounds the estate on the south.

The Battle Bridge field originally laid both sides of Gray’s Inn Road, sharing its name with the name usually applied to this part of London prior to the erection here of the memorial to King George IV in 1830, when the area became known as King’s Cross.

The development of the New Road (Euston Road) in the middle of the eighteenth century cut across the 18-acre part of the field west of Gray’s Inn Road, leaving most of it south of the new road.

This field was owned by a William Brock in 1800 and continued to be used for gardens and meadows.

In the early 1820s, when a remaining 16½ acres was purchased by Thomas Dunstan, William Robinson, and William Flanders. 15¼ acres were south of Euston Road and the remainder on the north side was eventually sold to become St Pancras station. An Act of Parliament was obtained in 1824 to develop the land - at the same time the neighbouring Skinners’, Cromer, and Harrison estates were being developed.

Development was delayed in part by the failure of the Panarmion scheme - a large entertainment complex with a theatre, galleries, and reading rooms as well as gardens and pleasure grounds which opened in 1830 but had failed by 1832 and was then demolished.

Argyle Square - also known as Argyll Square - was laid out in 1832. The first houses appeared by 1840 and it was fully built by 1849. It may have been named after the Dukes of Argyll or Argyle, along with the other streets nearby which share this name.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, it was a respectable place to live - the New Jerusalem Church (Swedenborgian) was opened in 1844.

The main part of the Battle Bridge Estate comprised Liverpool Street, Manchester Street, Derby Street, and Belgrave Street. The whole area was subsequenly reported to be overcrowded and squalid in 1848, especially so after King’s Cross and St Pancras were built.

The Square was bombed during the Second World War, The New Jerusalem church was damaged and later demolished

Main source: UCL Bloomsbury Project
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Bloomsbury is an area of the London Borough of Camden, in central London, between Euston Road and Holborn, developed by the Russell family in the 17th and 18th centuries into a fashionable residential area.

The earliest record of what would become Bloomsbury is the 1086 Domesday Book, which records that the area had vineyards and 'wood for 100 pigs'. But it is not until 1201 that the name Bloomsbury is first noted, when William de Blemond, a Norman landowner, acquired the land.

The name Bloomsbury is a development from Blemondisberi – the bury, or manor, of Blemond. An 1878 publication, Old and New London: Volume 4, mentions the idea that the area was named after a village called Lomesbury which formerly stood where Bloomsbury Square is now, though this piece of folk etymology is now discredited.

At the end of the 14th century Edward III acquired Blemond's manor, and passed it on to the Carthusian monks of the London Charterhouse, who kept the area mostly rural.

In the 16th century, with the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Henry VIII took the land back into the possession of the Crown, and granted it to Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton.

In the early 1660s, the Earl of Southampton constructed what eventually became Bloomsbury Square. The area was laid out mainly in the 18th century, largely by landowners such as Wriothesley Russell, 3rd Duke of Bedford, who built Bloomsbury Market, which opened in 1730. The major development of the squares that we see today started in about 1800 when Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford removed Bedford House and developed the land to the north with Russell Square as its centrepiece.

Historically, Bloomsbury is associated with the arts, education, and medicine. The area gives its name to the Bloomsbury Group of artists, the most famous of whom was Virginia Woolf, who met in private homes in the area in the early 1900s, and to the lesser known Bloomsbury Gang of Whigs formed in 1765 by John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford.

The publisher Faber & Faber used to be located in Queen Square, though at the time T. S. Eliot was editor the offices were in Tavistock Square. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in John Millais's parents' house on Gower Street in 1848.

The Bloomsbury Festival was launched in 2006 when local resident Roma Backhouse was commissioned to mark the re-opening of the Brunswick Centre, a residential and shopping area. The free festival is a celebration of the local area, partnering with galleries, libraries and museums, and achieved charitable status at the end of 2012.
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