Greek Street, W1D

Road in/near Soho, existing between 1677 and now

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Road · Soho · W1D ·
JUNE
10
2018

Greek Street leads south from Soho Square to Shaftesbury Avenue.


It is thought to take its name from a Greek church that was built in 1677 in adjacent Crown Street, now part of the west side of Charing Cross Road. The church is depicted in William Hogarth’s ’Noon’ from Four Times of the Day.

Although the street has several houses from the 18th century and earlier, it is mainly 19th-century in appearance. The street crosses Manette Street, Bateman Street, Old Compton Street and Romilly Street.

1 Greek Street is the House of St Barnabas, built in 1746. It became the offices of the Westminster Commissioner for Works for Sewers in 1811. This is where Chief Engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette started to work on the construction of the London sewerage system. By 1862 the house had been taken over by The House of Charity, which was established in 1846 to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people. Charles Dickens used the house and gardens as a model for the London lodgings of Dr Manette and Lucy in A Tale of Two Cities.

There has been a public house known as Pillars of Hercules at no. 7 since 1733. The current pub building sports some artwork by Invader and was long favoured by many figures in the London literary scene, including Martin Amis, Ian Hamilton, Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan. Indeed, Clive James named his second book of literary criticism (At the Pillars of Hercules) after it.

In the mid-eighteenth century, no. 9 was the location of the Turk’s Head Tavern, where a well-known lodge of Freemasons met. The Ancient Grand Lodge of England was organized there on 17 July 1751.

The Coach and Horses pub (also known as Norman’s), famous for the rudeness of its former landlord Norman Balon, is at no. 29, at the corner with Romilly Street. The fortnightly editorial lunch of Private Eye is held in the Coach and Horses. There has been a public house of that name on the site since the 1720s.

The street is the setting for the 1930 film Greek Street, directed by Sinclair Hill and starring Sari Maritza and William Freshman.

In the 1971 film Villain, the crime lord Vic Dakin (Richard Burton) recommends Greek Street as a venue of prostitution. "Try the Manhattan Club in Greek Street... lot of ’sunburnt’ girls there... for twenty quid they’ll do anything... enjoy yourself!"

Greek Street is now known for its selection of restaurants and cafes.


Main source: Greek Street - Wikipedia
Further citations and sources


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Soho

Soho is a world-famous area of the City of Westminster and part of the West End of London.

The name "Soho" first appears in the 17th century. Most authorities believe that the name derives from a former hunting cry. James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, used "soho" as a rallying call for his men at the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685, half a century after the name was first used for this area of London. The Soho name has been imitated by other entertainment and restaurant districts such as Soho, Hong Kong; Soho, Málaga; SOHO, Beijing; SoHo (South of Horton), London, Ontario, Canada; and Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. SoHo, Manhattan, gets its name from its location SOuth of HOuston Street, but is also a reference to London’s Soho.

Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation as a base for the sex industry in addition to its night life and its location for the headquarters of leading film companies. Since the 1980s, the area has undergone considerable gentrification. It is now predominantly a fashionable district of upmarket restaurants and media offices, with only a small remnant of sex industry venues.

Soho is a small, multicultural area of central London; a home to industry, commerce, culture and entertainment, as well as a residential area for both rich and poor. It has clubs, including the former Chinawhite nightclub; public houses; bars; restaurants; a few sex shops scattered amongst them; and late-night coffee shops that give the streets an "open-all-night" feel at the weekends. Record shops cluster in the area around Berwick Street, with shops such as Phonica, Sister Ray and Reckless Records.
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