The Polygon
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.

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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