Rupert Street, W1D

Road in/near Soho, existing between 1676 and now

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Road · Soho · W1D ·
November
29
2016

Rupert Street – after Prince Rupert of the Rhine, noted 17th century general and son of Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of King James I.


Cutting across Shaftesbury Avenue from Chinatown up into Soho, Rupert Street was named in 1676 after Prince Rupert of the Rhine: the nephew of King Charles I. Rupert was a charismatic figure who rode into battle with his pet poodle.

Between the site of Panton Square and Colman Hedge Lane (now Wardour Street) lay a plot of ground bounded on the south by the lane leading from the Military Yard to Piccadilly (now Coventry Street), and on the north by Knaves’ Acre. A map of 1664 marks the whole plot as ’parish Land’.

After the Restoration the whole of the Bailiwick of St. James, of which this ground formed a part, was leased by Queen Henrietta Maria and her trustees to the trustees of Henry Jermyn, Earl of St. Albans. In 1676 Charles II granted the freehold of the plot to St. Albans in exchange for the surrender by the latter of his leasehold interest in Nell Gwynne’s house in Pall Mall. The ground was then described as a long slip of three and a half acres divided into three parts called ’the lay soyle veseys garden and Watts Close’.

The Earl of St. Albans appears to have immediately disposed of the ground for building, for ’some grant or conveyance’ was made to John Duckett, John Rowley and Dr. Nicholas Barbon. The layout consisted of a straight street, now Rupert Street, which was connected to Colman Hedge Lane by two narrow side streets.

Ogilby and Morgan’s map indicates that the development of the estate was finished by 1681–2. By this time Duckett, Rowley and Barbon had sold the freehold of some of the houses to Sir Anthony Deane for £3600. By 1687 the latter had sold this property to Richard Bourne, by whose family much of it was rebuilt in the 1720s and 1730s.

In 1720 Strype described Rupert Street as ’a pretty handsome, well built Street’, but both the ratebooks and a number of enrolments in the Middlesex Land Register indicate that much rebuilding took place in the 1720s and 1730s. The White Horse public house at the corner of Archer Street has existed under that name since at least 1739.

As originally laid out Rupert Street came to an end at the northern boundary of the Earl’s estate. Its extension (as a footway only) to Brewer Street took place in 1873–4 at the instigation of the St. James’s vestry, assisted by the Metropolitan Board of Works. The formation of Shaftesbury Avenue a few years later involved the demolition of a number of buildings in the central part of the street. None of the present buildings in Rupert Street to the north of Shaftesbury Avenue dates from before 1880, but to the south there are traces of early eighteenth-century residential buildings, early nineteenth-century shops and late nineteenth-century hotels and restaurants.

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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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