Holborn is both an area and also the name of the area's principal street, known as High Holborn between St. Giles's High Street and Gray's Inn Road and then Holborn Viaduct between Holborn Circus and Newgate Street.
A greengrocer’s on the corner of Houghton Street
and Clare Market
(behind The Strand
) in 1906 just before demolition.
The thoroughfare known as Clare Market
, leading eastwards into Lincoln’s Inn
Fields, was so called in honour of the Earl of Clare, who lived "in a princely mansion" adjacent. His name is inscribed as a parishioner of St. Clement Danes in the ratebooks of 1617. In Howell’s "Londinopolis" of 1657 we read: "Then is there, towards Drury Lane
, a new market, called Clare Market
; then is there a street and palace of the same name, built by the Earl of Clare, who lived there in a princely mansion, having a house, a street, and a market both for flesh and fish, all bearing his name." It is also mentioned by Strype:- "Clare Market
, very considerable and well served with provisions, both flesh and fish; for, besides the butchers in the shambles, it is much resorted unto by the country butchers and higglers. The market-days are Wednesdays and Saturdays."
"This market," says Nightingale, in the tenth volume of the Beauties of England and Wales
, "stands on what was originally called Clement’s Inn
Fields. In the year 1657 a Bill was passed for preventing the increase of buildings, in which was a clause permitting the Earl of Clare to erect the market, which bore his title, in these fields, to be held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The earl, it seems, also erected a chapel of ease to St. Clement’s, which is said to have been converted to dwelling-houses. That these lands were before in the possession of Holles we have already shown under Clement’s Inn
. Charles I
., in 1640, granted his license to Thomas York, his executors, &c., to erect as many buildings as they thought proper upon St. Clement’s Inn
Fields, the inheritance of the Earl of Clare, ’to be built on each side of the causeway, leading from Gibbon’s Bowlin
g Alley, at the coming-out of Lincoln’s Inn
Fields, to the Rein Deer Yard, that leadeth unto Drury Lane
, not to exceed, on either side, the number of 120 feet in length or front, and 60 feet in breadth, to be of stone or brick.’
issued another license in 1642, permitting Gervase Holles, Esq., to erect fifteen houses, a chapel, and to make several streets of the width of thirty, thirty-four, and forty feet. These streets still retain the names and titles of their founders, in Clare Street, Denzil Street, Holles Street, &c." Rein Deer Yard was, probably, what is now called Bear Yard, and Gibbon’s Bowlin
g Alley was covered by the first theatre erected by Sir William Davenant, whence he afterwards removed to Portugal Street
When Cromwell revived the prohibition of his predecessor against the erection of new buildings in and near London, imposing even a fine on its violation, an exception, we are told, was made in favour of the new buildings then scarcely finished, in Clare Market
. In consequence of this exemption, unfortunately for the healthiness of the locality, they were not made "of brick or stone," or "upright, and without projecting their upper storeys into the street."
’s retail area spread through a maze of narrow interconnecting streets lined by butchers’ shops and greengrocers. Butchers would slaughter sheep and cattle for sale. An area was set aside for Jews to slaughter kosher meat. The market mostly sold meat, although fish and vegetables were also sold. An early theatre was in Gibbon’s Tennis Court
, in the Clare Market
area. A club of artists, including William Hogarth, met at the Bull’s Head Tavern in the market.
The area was not affected by the Great Fire of London, and the decrepit buildings survived until the area, by then a slum, was redeveloped by the London County Council in around 1900 to create the Aldwych
Parts of the London School of Economics
now occupy the site, and the passageways of the campus preserve the layout and names of Clare Market
and Houghton Street
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence
A greengrocer’s on the corner of Houghton Street and Clare Market (behind The Strand) in 1906 just before demolition.
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The area's first mention is in a charter of Westminster Abbey, by King Edgar, dated to 959. This mentions 'the old wooden church of St Andrew' (St Andrew, Holborn
). The name Holborn
may be derived from the Middle English hol
for hollow, and bourne
, a brook, referring to the River Fleet as it ran through a steep valley to the east.
It was at first outside the City's jurisdiction and a part of Ossulstone Hundred in Middlesex. The original Bars were the boundary of the City of London from 1223, when the City's jurisdiction was extended beyond the Walls, at Newgate, into the suburb here, as far as the point where the Bars where erected, until 1994 when the border moved to the junction of Chancery Lane
. In 1394 the Ward of Farringdon Without was created, but only the south side of Holborn
was under its jurisdiction with some minor properties, such as parts of Furnival's Inn, on the northern side.
District was created in 1855, consisting of the civil parishes and extra-parochial places of Glasshouse Yard
, Saffron Hill
, Hatton Garden
, Ely Rents and Ely Place
, St Andrew Holborn
Above the Bars with St George the Martyr and St Sepulchre. The Metropolitan Borough of Holborn
was created in 1900, consisting of the former area of the Holborn
District and the St Giles District, excluding Glasshouse Yard
and St Sepulchre, which went to the Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury. The Metropolitan Borough of Holborn
was abolished in 1965 and its area now forms part of the London Borough of Camden.
In the 18th century, Holborn
was the location of the infamous Mother Clap's molly house but in the modern era High Holborn
has become a centre for entertainment venues to suit more general tastes: 22 inns or taverns were recorded in the 1860s and the Holborn
Empire, originally Weston's Music Hall, stood between 1857 and 1960, when it was pulled down after structural damage sustained in the Blitz. The theatre premièred the first full-length feature film in 1914, The World, the Flesh and the Devil
, a 50-minute melodrama filmed in Kinemacolour.
Charles Dickens took up residence in Furnival's Inn, on the site of the former Prudential building designed by Alfred Waterhouse now named Holborn Bars
. Dickens put his character Pip, in Great Expectations, in residence at Barnard's Inn opposite, now occupied by Gresham College. Staple Inn, notable as the promotional image for Old Holborn
tobacco, is nearby. The three of these were Inns of Chancery. The most northerly of the Inns of Court, Gray's Inn, is in Holborn
, as is Lincoln's Inn: the area has been associated with the legal professions since mediaeval times, and the name of the local militia (now Territorial Army unit, the Inns of Court & City Yeomanry) still reflects that. Subsequently the area diversified and become recognisable as the modern street.
A plaque stands at number 120 commemorating Thomas Earnshaw's invention of the Marine chronometer, which facilitated long-distance travel. At the corner of Hatton Garden
was the old family department store of Gamages. Until 1992, the London Weather Centre was located in the street. The Prudential insurance company relocated in 2002. The Daily Mirror offices used to be directly opposite it, but the site is now occupied by Sainsbury's head office.
, the centre of the diamond trade, was leased to a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Christopher Hatton at the insistence of the Queen to provide him with an income. Behind the Prudential Building lies the Anglo-Catholic church of St Alban the Martyr.
In the early 21st century, Holborn
has become the site of new offices and hotels: for example, the old neoclassical Pearl Assurance building near the junction with Kingsway
was converted into an hotel in 1999.
station is located at the junction of High Holborn
. Situated on the Piccadilly
and Central Lines, it is the only station common to the two lines, although the two lines also cross each other three times in West London.
The station was opened by the Great Northern, Piccadilly
and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR, now the Piccadilly
Line) on 15 December 1906 with the name Holborn (Kingsway)
was a new road, cutting south from High Holborn
through an area of cleared slums to Strand
. The suffix was dropped from tube maps in the 1960s.