St Giles

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Suburb · St Giles · WC2H · Contributed by The Underground Map
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2014
Beer Street and Gin Lane are two prints issued in 1751 by English artist William Hogarth in support of what would become the Gin Act. They depicted scenes from St Giles - near present day Holborn in London.
Credit: William Hogarth

St Giles is a district of London, at the southern tip of the London Borough of Camden.

There has been a church at St Giles since Saxon times, located beside a major highway. The hospital of St Giles, recorded c. 1120 as Hospitali Sancti Egidii extra Londonium was founded, together with a monastery and a chapel, by Queen Matilda, wife of Henry I. St Giles (c. 650 – c. 710) was the patron saint of lepers and the hospital was home to a leper colony, the site chosen for its surrounding fields and marshes separating contagion from nearby London.

A village grew up to cater to the brethren and patients. The crossroads which is now St Giles Circus, where Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road, Tottenham Court Road and New Oxford St meet, was the site of a gallows until the fifteenth century. Grape Street, in the heart of the St Giles district, runs beside the site of the hospital's vineyard.

The monastery was dissolved during the Reformation and a parish church created from the chapel. The hospital continued to care for lepers until the mid sixteenth century, when the disease abated and the hospital instead began to care for indigents. The parish was known as St Giles in the Fields and it is recorded in 1563 as Seynt Gyles in the Field.

The first post-Catholic parish church was built in 1631 and from the mid-seventeenth century church wardens note "a great influx of poor people into this parish".

The 1665 Great Plague started in St Giles and the first victims were buried in the St Giles churchyard. By September 1665, 8000 people were dying a week in London. By the end of the plague year there were 3216 listed plague deaths in St Giles parish, which had fewer than 2000 households. After the Restoration, the area was populated by Huguenot refugees who had fled persecution and established themselves as tradesmen and artisans, particularly in weaving and the silk trade.

The southern area of the parish, around present day Shaftesbury Avenue, was a wasteland named Cock and Pye Fields. Houses were not built there until 1666, after the Great Fire, and not fully developed until 1693, becoming known as Seven Dials. Thomas Neale built much of the area, giving his name to Neal Street and Neal's Yard. St Giles and Seven Dials became known for their astrologers and alchemists, an association which lasts to this day. The village of St Giles stood on the main road from Holborn to Tyburn, a place of local execution. Convicted criminals were often allowed, in tradition, to stop at St Giles en route to Tyburn for a final drink - a St Giles Bowl - before hanging.

The ancient parish of St Giles in the Fields formed part of the Ossulstone hundred of Middlesex. The parish of St George Bloomsbury was split off in 1731, but the parishes were combined for civil purposes in 1774 and used for the administration of the Poor Law after the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834.

As London grew in the 18th and 19th centuries, so did the parish's population, rising to 30 000 by 1831. The Rookery stood between the church and Great Russell Street, and Seven Dials near where Centre Point stands today, now home to the Centrepoint homeless charity. It was of one of the worst slums within Britain, a site of overcrowding and squalor, a semi-derelict warren. From Georgian affluence in the 18th century, the area declined rapidly, as houses were divided up, many families sharing a single room. Irish Catholic immigrants seeking to escape desperate poverty took up residence and the slum was nicknamed 'Little Ireland' or 'The Holy Land'. The expression "a St Giles cellar" passed into common parlance, describing the worst conditions of poverty. Open sewers often ran through rooms and cesspits were left untended. Residents complained to the Times in 1849 : "We live in muck and filth. We aint got no priviz, no dust bins, no drains, no water-splies, and no drain or suer in the hole place." The rookery was a maze of gin shops, prostitutes' hovels and secret alleyways that police had little of hope navigating. William Hogarth, Thomas Rowlandson and Gustav Dore, among others, have drawn the area, novelists Henry Fielding and Charles Dickens have written about it extensively. Peter Ackroyd writes "The Rookeries embodied the worst living conditions in all of London's history; this was the lowest point which human beings could reach".

From the 1830s to the 1870s plans were developed to demolish the slum as part of London wide clearances for improved transport routes, sanitation and the expansion of the railways. New Oxford Street was driven through the area to join the areas of Oxford Street and Holborn. The Rookery dwellers were not re-housed by the authorities. 5000 were evicted and many just moved into near by slums, such Devil's Acre and Church Lane making those more overcrowded still. The unchanging character of the area, failing investment schemes and inability to sell new properties ensured that plans for wholesale clearance were stymied until the end of the century.

Upon the creation of the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1855 the combined parishes became the St Giles District and were transferred to the County of London in 1889.

The local government of London was reorganised in 1900 and St Giles became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Holborn.

The Central London Railway opened Tottenham Court Tube Station, between the Church of St Giles in the Fields and St Giles Circus on 30 July 1900. Tottenham Court Road underwent improvements in the early 1930s to replace lifts with escalators.

In 2009, Transport for London began a major reconstruction of large parts of the station. Much of the St Giles area alongside St Giles High Street was cleared to make way for the new development including Crossrail expansion.

Since 1965. St Giles has been part of the London Borough of Camden.

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VIEW THE ST GILES 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 ST GILES 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 ST GILES 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 ST GILES 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 ST GILES AREA IN THE 1900s
The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.

 

 
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The Underground Map

The Underground Map is a website dedicated to some of the more obscure pieces of London Town (as well as some of the more well-known places).

The Underground Map project is creating a decade-by-decade series of historical maps of the area which lies within London's M25 ring.

From the 1800s until the 1950s, you can see how London grew from a city which only reached as far as Park Lane into the post war megapolis we know today.

Find the streets of London by clicking STREETS above or explore the maps by clicking MAP.

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LOCATIONS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
British Museum:   Founded in 1753, the British Museum’s remarkable collection spans over two million years of human history.
Covent Garden:   From fruit and veg to Froo Tan Vetch
Garrick Yard:   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.
Leicester Square:   Leicester Square is a pedestrianised square in the West End of London.
Royal Opera House:   The foundation of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden lies in the letters patent awarded by Charles II to Sir William Davenant in 1660, allowing Davenant to operate one of only two patent theatre companies (The Duke's Company) in London.
Tottenham Court Road:   Tottenham Court Road runs from St Giles' Circus (the junction of Oxford Street and Charing Cross Road) north to Euston Road.
Wyld’s Great Globe:   Wyld’s Great Globe was an attraction situated in Leicester Square between 1851 and 1862.


PHOTOS OF THE AREA
Tottenham Court Road (1927):   The area through which Tottenham Court Road was built is mentioned in the Domesday Book as belonging to the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral.


NEARBY STREETS AND BUILDINGS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
Adeline Place, WC1B · Bainbridge Street, WC1A · Bainbridge Street, WC1B · Barter Street, WC1A · Bateman Street, W1D · Batemans Buildings, W1D · Bayley Street, WC1B · Bear Street, WC2H · Bedforbury, WC2N · Bedford Avenue, WC1B · Bedford Chambers, WC2E · Bedford Square, WC1B · Bedford Street, WC2E · Bedford Street, WC2R · Bedfordbury, WC2N · Betterton Street, WC2H · Bloomsbury Place, WC1A · Bloomsbury Place, WC1B · Bloomsbury Square, WC1A · Bloomsbury Square, WC1B · Bloomsbury Street, WC1A · Bloomsbury Street, WC1B · Bloomsbury Way, WC1A · Bow Street, WC2E · British Museum, WC1B · Broad Court, WC2B · Bucknall Street, WC2H · Bury Place, WC1A · Cambridge Circus, WC2H · Carriage Hall, WC2E · Castlewood House, WC1A · Cecil Court, WC2N · Central Arcade, WC2E · Centre Point House, WC2H · Charing Cross Mansions, WC2H · Charing Cross Road, WC2H · Ching Court, WC2H · Clare Market, WC2E · Coptic Street, WC1A · Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E · Covent Garden, WC2E · Covent Garden, WC2H · Coventry Street, W1D · Cranbourn Street, WC2H · Dansey Place, W1D · Denmark Place, WC2H · Denmark Street, WC2H · Dryden Street, WC2E · Dudley Court, WC2H · Dyott Street, WC1A · Earlham Street, WC2H · Endell Street, WC2H · Excel Court, WC2H · Falconberg Court, W1D · Flichcroft Street, WC2H · Flitcroft Street, WC2H · Floral Street, WC2E · Frith Street, W1D · Galen Place, WC1A · Garrick Street, WC2E · Gerrard Place, W1D · Gerrard Street, W1D · Gilbert Place, WC1A · Goslett Yard, W1D · Goslett Yard, WC2H · Grape Street, WC2H · Great Court, WC1B · Great Newport Street, WC2H · Great Russell Street, W1T · Great Russell Street, WC1A · Great Russell Street, WC1B · Greek Court, WC2H · Greek Street, W1D · Hanover Place, WC2E · Heathcock Court, WC2R · Henrietta Street, WC2E · High Holborn, WC2A · High Holborn, WC2B · Hop Gardens, WC2N · Horse and Dolphin Yard, W1D · James Street, WC2E · Jubilee Hall Jubilee Market, WC2E · Jubilee Market, WC2E · King Street, WC2E · Langley Court, WC2E · Langley Street, WC2H · Leicester Place, WC2H · Leicester Square, WC2H · Leicester Street, WC2H · Lisle Street, WC2H · Litchfield Street, WC2H · Little Newport Street, WC2H · Little Russel Street, WC1A · Little Russell Street, WC1A · Long Acre, WC2E · Macclesfield Street, W1D · Macklin Street, WC2B · Maiden Lane, WC2E · Manette Street, W1D · Maple Leaf Walk, SW11 · May’s Court, WC2N · Mercer Street, WC2H · Monmouth Street, WC2H · Montague Street, WC1B · Moor Street, W1D · Morwell Street, WC1B · Museum Street, WC1A · Neal Street, WC2H · Neals Yard, WC2H · New Compton Street, WC2H · New Oxford Street, WC1A · New Oxford Street, WC2H · New Row, WC2N · Newport Court, WC2H · Newport Place, WC2H · Nottingham Court, WC2H · Oblique Museum Mansions, WC1B · Odhams Walk, WC2H · Old Compton Street, W1D · Old Copton Street, W1D · Parker Mews, WC2B · Phoenix Street, WC2H · Pied Bull Court, WC1A · Pied Bull Yard, WC1A · Romilly Street, W1D · Rose Street, WC2E · Russell Chambers, WC2E · Saint Giles High Street, WC2H · Saint Martin’s Lane, WC2N · Saint Martin’s Court, WC2H · Seven Dials Court, WC2H · Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D · Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H · Shaftsbury Avenue, W1D · Shelton Street, WC2B · Shelton Street, WC2H · Shorts Gardens, WC2H · Slingsby Place, WC2E · Soho Square, WC1A · Sounding Alley, E3 · Southampton Street, WC2E · Southampton Street, WC2R · St Giles High Street, WC2H · St Martins Court, WC2N · St Martins Lane, WC2H · St Martins Lane, WC2N · Stacey Street, WC2H · Stedham Place, WC1A · Store Street, WC1E · Streatham Street, WC1A · Stukeley Street, WC2B · Sutton Row, W1D · The Boardwalk, SE5 · The Market Piazza, WC2E · The Market The Piazza, WC2E · The Market, WC2E · The Piazza, WC2E · Thomas Neal Centre, WC2H · Thomas Neal’s shopping centre, WC2H · Tower Court, WC2H · Tower Street, WC2H · Trafalgar Square, SW1Y · Upper Saint Martin’s Lane, WC2H · Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H · Upper St Martins Lane, WC2H · Victoria House, WC1A · Wedgewood Mews, W1D · Wedgwood Mews, W1D · West Central Street, WC1A · West Street, WC2H · Willoughby Street, WC1B ·

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Hidden London
Histor­ically inclined look at the capital’s obscure attractions

Maps


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.
G. F. Cruchley

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.
John Cary

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.
John Rocque, The Strand, London

Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1843) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured.
Chapman and Hall, London

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."
Chapman and Hall, London

Environs of London (1832) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured. Relief shown by hachures. A circle shows "Extent of the twopenny post delivery."
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.
London Transport

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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