is a pedestrian street with Victorian shop-frontages.
It links Charing Cross
Road and St Martin’s Lane. The street is still owned by the Cecil family who first built it. The buildings there today were built around 1894 during the tenure of another Cecil - Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury.
was laid out in the late seventeenth-century on open land between St Martin’s Lane and Leicester Square
. Early maps identify a hedgerow running down the street’s course.
Landowner Robert Cecil had been created first Earl of Salisbury by James I after he smoothed over the transition from the house of Tudor to that of the Stuarts. The land on which Cecil Court
now stands was purchased in 1609. It had previously been St Martin’s Field
. Cecil Court
was built on a five acre tract formerly known as Beaumont’s lands
, probably in the 1670s.
A substantial part of Cecil Court
burned down in 1735. This was almost certainly arson by a Mrs Colloway who was running a combined brothel/brandy parlour and had suspiciously over-insured her stock. Since she was drinking elsewhere with friends at the time the fire took hold, she was acquitted.
In 1764, the street became the temporary home of eight-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart while he was touring Europe. For almost four months the Mozart family lodged with local barber John Couzin.
Booksellers William and Gilbert Foyle opened their first West End book shop at 16 Cecil Court
in 1904, before moving to Charing Cross
Road in 1906.
It for a time Cecil Court
had the nickname Flicker Alley from the concentration of pre-First World War film companies found there.
Since the 1930s, it has been known as Booksellers’ Row with nearly twenty antiquarian and second-hand independent book shops.