Spring GardensCharing Cross denotes the junction of the Strand, Whitehall and Cockspur Street, just south of Trafalgar Square in central London. It gives its name to several local landmarks, including Charing Cross railway station, one of the main London rail termini.
derives its name from the Spring Garden, formed in the 16th century as an addition to the pleasure grounds of Whitehall
The word ’Spring’ in this sense meant a plantation of young trees, especially one used for rearing game. The Spring Garden was shown on the Agas map as a little copse enclosed with a fence, and there are later references to pheasants and other "wild fowl" being preserved there.
In 1580 the garden was extended with a bowling green, a birdhouse, a bathing pool and the planting of orange trees. Before the end of James I’s reign, the garden had become a semi-public pleasure ground.
In 1631 a Simon Osbaldeston was appointed to keep "the Springe Garden and of the Bowling Greene there."
There was at least one house in Spring Garden as early as 1635 and more house building occurred over the next forty years. Towards the close of the 17th century, part of the Spring Garden had become a refuge for debtors. One of the most notorious was Sir Edward Hungerford and the Board of Greencloth finally to allow creditors to serve processes on persons living there.
In 1669, a house was let to Sir Robert Southwell who had returned from a diplomatic mission to Portugal. In 1702, his title passed to his son Sir Edward Southwell.
In time, the younger Southwell was in possession of most of the Spring Garden and begun to plan for its redevelopment. Development was for a time delayed on account of the strip of ground in the possession of the descendants of Sir Edward Nicholas but in 1752 the Southwells bought up the lease of this ground from a nephew. New Street was then extended westward to the park. Plots on New Street were granted to builder John Lambert, who was also responsible about this time for the development of Northumberland Street
, Charing Cross
New Street became Spring Gardens
and it became a fashionable quarter for politicians and civil servants.
By the middle of the 19th century the Admiralty Office needed to expand. From 1853 onward more of the Spring Garden houses were acquired for Admiralty purposes.
The Public Offices Site Act of 1882 authorised the acquisition of practically the whole Spring Garden site by the Commissioners of Works for the purpose of erecting new Admiralty Offices. Most of the site was cleared in 1885. The Admiralty new building was completed in 1891, and a further block, which included the Admiralty Arch
, was opened in 1910.
The site of Spring Gardens on the Agas map (1561)
User unknown/public domain
Charing Cross is named after the now demolished Eleanor cross that stood there, in what was once the hamlet of Charing. It was where King Edward I placed a memorial to his wife, Eleanor of Castile.
It was one of twelve places where Eleanor's coffin rested overnight during the funeral procession from Lincolnshire to her final resting-place at Westminster. At each of these, Edward erected an Eleanor cross
, of which only three now remain.
The original site of the cross has been occupied since 1675 by an equestrian statue of King Charles I. A Victorian replacement, in different style from the original, was later erected a short distance to the east outside the railway station.
Formerly, until 1931, Charing Cross also referred to the part of what is now Whitehall lying between Great Scotland Yard and Trafalgar Square. At least one property retains a Charing Cross postal address: Drummonds Bank, on the corner of Whitehall and The Mall, which is designated 49 Charing Cross
(not to be confused with the separate Charing Cross Road).
Since the second half of the 18th century, Charing Cross has been seen by some as the exact centre of London, being the main point used for measuring distances from London.
The railway station opened in 1864, fronted on the Strand with the Charing Cross Hotel. The original station building was built on the site of the Hungerford Market by the South Eastern Railway, designed by Sir John Hawkshaw, with a single span wrought iron roof arching over the six platforms on its relatively cramped site.
Charing Cross tube station has entrances located in Trafalgar Square and The Strand. The station is served by the Northern and Bakerloo lines, originally separate tube stations called Strand
and Trafalgar Square
, and provides an interchange with the National Rail network. The station was served by the Jubilee Line between 1979 and 1999, acting as the southern terminus of the line during that period.