The Polygon

Residential/commercial block in/near Somers Town, existed between 1784 and 1894

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MAPPING YEAR:1750180018301860190019302017Fullscreen map
Residential/commercial block · Somers Town · NW1 · Contributed by The Underground Map
July
2
2017
The Polygon, Somers Town in 1850.

The Polygon was a housing estate, a Georgian building with 15 sides and three storeys that contained 32 houses.

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In 1784, the first housing was built at the Polygon, Clarendon Square, amid fields, brick works and market gardens on the northern fringes of London. The area appears to have initially appealed to middle-class people fleeing the French Revolution.

Clarendon Square occupied the site formerly covered by the barracks of the Life Guards.

Two of the most famous residents of the Polygon were William Godwin and his wife Mary Wollstonecraft, who died giving birth to Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Another former Polygoner was Charles Dickens, who lived at No 17 in the 1820s shortly after his father, John Dickens, was released from debtors prison. Dickens later made the Polygon a home for his ’Bleak House’ character Harold Skimpole, and he in turn may well have been modelled on Godwin. As late as 1832, Somers Town was full of artists

The Polygon deteriorated socially as the surrounding land was subsequently sold off in smaller lots for cheaper housing, especially after the start of construction in the 1830s of the railway lines into Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross. In this period the area housed a large transient population of labourers and the population density of the area soared. By the late 19th century most of the houses were in multiple occupation, and overcrowding was severe with whole families sometimes living in one room, as confirmed by the social surveys of Charles Booth and Irene Barclay.

It was demolished in the 1890s, by which time Somers Town had become a cheap and run-down neighbourhood, almost entirely because of its location next to Euston station - built in the 1830s.

The site of the Polygon is now occupied by a block of council flats called Oakshott Court, which features a commemorative plaque for Wollstonecraft.

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VIEW THE SOMERS TOWN AREA IN THE 1750s
The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1750 map does not display.

VIEW THE SOMERS TOWN AREA IN THE 1800s
The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1800 map does not display.

VIEW THE SOMERS TOWN AREA IN THE 1830s
The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1830 map does not display.

VIEW THE SOMERS TOWN AREA IN THE 1860s
The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1860 map does not display.

VIEW THE SOMERS TOWN AREA IN THE 1900s
The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.

 

 
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Somers Town

Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.

Historically, the name Somers Town was used for the larger triangular area between the Pancras, Hampstead, and Euston Roads, but it is now taken to mean the rough rectangle bounded by Pancras Road, Euston Road and Eversholt Street.

Somers Town was named after Charles Cocks, 1st Baron Somers (1725–1806). The area was originally granted by William III to John Somers (1651–1716), Lord Chancellor and Baron Somers of Evesham.

In the mid 1750s the New Road was established to bypass the congestion of London; Somers Town lay immediately north of this east-west toll road. In 1784, the first housing was built at the Polygon amid fields, brick works and market gardens on the northern fringes of London. The site of the Polygon is now occupied by a block of council flats called Oakshott Court.

The Polygon deteriorated socially as the surrounding land was subsequently sold off in smaller lots for cheaper housing, especially after the start of construction in the 1830s of the railway lines into Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross. In this period the area housed a large transient population of labourers and the population density of the area soared. By the late 19th century most of the houses were in multiple occupation, and overcrowding was severe with whole families sometimes living in one room, as confirmed by the social surveys of Charles Booth and Irene Barclay.

When St Luke’s Church, near King’s Cross, was demolished to make way for the construction of the Midland Railway St Pancras Station and its Midland Grand Hotel, the estimated twelve thousand inhabitants of Somers Town at that time were deprived of that place of worship, as the church building was re-erected in Kentish Town. In 1868 the lace merchant and philanthropist George Moore funded a new church, known as Christ Church, and an associated school in Chalton Street with an entrance in Ossulston Street. The school accommodated about six hundred children. Christ Church and the adjacent school were destroyed in a World War II bombing raid and no trace remains today, the site being occupied by a children’s play area and sports court.

Improvement of the slum housing conditions, amongst the worst in the capital, was first undertaken by St Pancras Council in 1906 at Goldington Buildings, at the junction of Pancras Road and Royal College Street, and continued on a larger scale by the St Pancras House Improvement Society (subsequently the St Pancras & Humanist Housing Association, the present owner of Goldington Buildings) which was established in 1924. Further social housing was built by the London County Council, which began construction of the Ossulston Estate in 1927. There remains a small number of older Grade 2 listed properties, mostly Georgian terraced houses.

During the early 1970s the neighbourhood comprising GLC-owned housing in Charrington, Penryn, Platt and Medburn Streets was a centre for the squatting movement.

In the 1980s, some council tenants took advantage of the ’right to buy’ scheme and bought their homes at a substantial discount. Later they moved away from the area. The consequence was an influx of young semi-professional people, resulting in a changing population.

Major construction work along the eastern side of Somers Town was completed in 2008, to allow for the Eurostar trains to arrive at the refurbished St Pancras Station. This involved the excavation of part of the St Pancras Old Churchyard, the human remains being re-interred at St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in East Finchley.

Land at Brill Place, previously earmarked for later phases of the British Library development, became available when the library expansion was cancelled and was used as site offices for the HS1 terminal development and partly to allow for excavation of a tunnel for the new Thameslink station. It was then acquired as the site for the Francis Crick Institute (formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation), a major medical research institute.


LOCATIONS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
Agar Town:   Agar Town was a short-lived area, built in the 1840s, of St Pancras.
Euston:   London Euston is the southern terminus of the West Coast Main Line - serving Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.
Somers Town:   Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.


NEARBY STREETS AND BUILDINGS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
Aldenham Street, NW1 · Barnby Street, NW1 · Bayham Place, NW1 · Bridgeway Street, NW1 · Burton Street, WC1H · Cardington Street, NW1 · Chalton Street, NW1 · Charrington Street, NW1 · Christopher Place, NW1 · Churchway, NW1 · Cobourg Street, NW1 · Crowndale Road, NW1 · Doric Way, NW1 · Drummond Street, NW1 · Dukes Road, WC1H · Endsleigh Gardens, WC1H · Euston Road, NW1 · Euston Street, NW1 · Eversholt Street, NW1 · Flaxman Terrace, WC1H · Godwin Court, NW1 · Goldington Crescent, NW1 · Goldington Street, NW1 · Hampden Close, NW1 · Lancing Street, NW1 · Lidlington Place, NW1 · Mayford, NW1 · Melton Street, NW1 · North Gower Street, NW1 · Oakley Square, NW1 · Ossulston Street, NW1 · Pancras Road, NW1 · Phoenix Road, NW1 · Polygon Road, NW1 · Seymour House, NW1 · Starcross Street, NW1 · Stephenson Way, NW1 · Tavistock House South, WC1H · Tavistock House, WC1H · Tiger House, WC1H · Upper Woborn Place, WC1H · Upper Woburn Place, WC1H · Werrington Street, NW1 · Woburn Walk, WC1H ·


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Central London, north west.
Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)

Cruchley's New Plan of London (1848) FREE DOWNLOAD
Cruchley's New Plan of London Shewing all the new and intended improvements to the Present Time. - Cruchley's Superior Map of London, with references to upwards of 500 Streets, Squares, Public Places & C. improved to 1848: with a compendium of all Place of Public Amusements also shewing the Railways & Stations.
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Cary's New And Accurate Plan of London and Westminster (1818) FREE DOWNLOAD
Cary's map provides a detailed view of London. With print date of 1 January 1818, Cary's map has 27 panels arranged in 3 rows of 9 panels, each measuring approximately 6 1/2 by 10 5/8 inches. The complete map measures 32 1/8 by 59 1/2 inches. Digitising this map has involved aligning the panels into one contiguous map.
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John Rocque Map of London (1762) FREE DOWNLOAD
John Rocque (c. 1709–1762) was a surveyor, cartographer, engraver, map-seller and the son of Huguenot émigrés. Roque is now mainly remembered for his maps of London. This map dates from the second edition produced in 1762. London and his other maps brought him an appointment as cartographer to the Prince of Wales in 1751. His widow continued the business after his death. The map covers central London at a reduced level of detail compared with his 1745-6 map.
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Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1836) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured. Insets: A view of the Tower from London Bridge -- A view of London from Copenhagen Fields. Includes views of facades of 25 structures "A comparison of the principal buildings of London."
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Environs of London (1832) FREE DOWNLOAD
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Chapman and Hall, London

London Underground Map (1921).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1921.
London Transport

The Environs of London (1865).  FREE DOWNLOAD
Prime meridian replaced with "Miles from the General Post Office." Relief shown by hachures. Map printed in black and white.
Published By J. H. Colton. No. 172 William St. New York

London Underground Map (1908).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1908.
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Ordnance Survey of the London region (1939) FREE DOWNLOAD
Ordnance Survey colour map of the environs of London 1:10,560 scale
Ordnance Survey. Crown Copyright 1939.

Outer London (1901) FREE DOWNLOAD
Outer London shown in red, City of London in yellow. Relief shown by hachures.
Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)
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