Cecil Court, WC2H

Road in/near Leicester Square, existing between 1670 and now

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Road · Leicester Square · WC2H ·

Cecil Court is a pedestrian street with Victorian shop-frontages.

Cecil Court after heavy rain
Credit: Christian Cross

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.

Cecil Court 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.

Main source: Cecil Court - Wikipedia
Further citations and sources


Cecil Court after heavy rain
Christian Cross


Leicester Square

Leicester Square, while indeed a square, is also the name for a tube station.

Leicester Square tube station, on the Northern and Piccadilly lines, is located on Charing Cross Road, a short distance to the east of Leicester Square itself.

On early Tube plans, the station was listed as Cranbourn Street, but the present name was used when the station was first opened by the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway on 15 December 1906. Offices above the red terracotta station building on the east side of Charing Cross Road - designed by Leslie Green - was in its early years also occupied by the publishers of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and an image of cricket stumps appears above a doorway. On all four platforms, film sprockets are painted down the entire length and on the top and bottom of the display area (blue on the Piccadilly line platforms, and black on the Northern line platforms), due to the four premiere cinemas in Leicester Square. The station is featured briefly during the introductory video sequence of the sixth Harry Potter film.
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