Garrick Yard

Address in/near Charing Cross, existing between 1779 and now

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Address · Charing Cross · WC2N ·

Garrick Yard, together with the more familiar Garrick Street to the northeast of here, both took their names from the Garrick Club which commemorates the famous 18th century actor, David Garrick.

As a young man of 18 years of age, David Garrick left his native town of Lichfield on the 2 March 1737 and set out for London sharing a horse with his tutor, Samuel Johnson. Whilst Johnson had high hopes of winning fame in the world of literature, Garrick came to complete his education in law, a profession he was very soon diverted from in preference for the stage.

The two arrived in the capital with only four pence between them and were forced into pleading with a bookseller friend of the Garrick family to lend them five pounds. After spending a short period at a college in Rochester, David Garrick’s sentiment for the theatre compelled him to terminate his studies, and with his elder brother, Peter, went into the business of selling wine as a stop-gap while awaiting the opportunity to present himself as an actor.

It was in March 1741 when Garrick got his big break and until his death on 20 January 1779 he enjoyed the fame and popularity attributed to the greatest of actors in his time. Boswell said of him: ‘the undisputed monarch of the British stage; is probably in fact the greatest actor who has ever lived.’ He further went on in praise of his achievements: ‘A clever playwright, occasional poet, and adapter; manager of Drury Lane Theatre. Has accumulated a fortune; owns a splendid house with a fine library.’ In applause of his artistry Boswell enthused in these words: ‘A small man whose behaviour on the stage is so natural that one forgets that he is acting’.

Samuel Johnson, who had remained a friend of Garrick throughout his life, commented on the death of the actor: ‘Garrick’s death is a striking event; not that we should be surprised with the death of any man who has lived sixty-two years; but because there was a vivacity in our late celebrated friend, which drove away the thoughts of death from any association with him. I am sure you

Charing Cross

Charing 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.

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.

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