|NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF QUEEN SQUARE
Although Queen Square, Bloomsbury, lies just behind the busy junction of Southampton Row and Theobalds Road, it retains a quiet dignity preserved since the time of its creation during the reigns of Queen Anne and Queen Charlotte.
The Square today is mainly occupied by Hospitals and various Educational Institutions and Societies. The Church of St. George the Martyr, near the Mary Ward Centre, was one of the earliest buildings in the original Square.
In Georgian times the Square was the home of many distinguished and fashionable citizens: musicians, writers, painters and printers among them.
Queen Anne’s sickly son, the Duke of Gloucester, was sent to stay in a house on the south side of the Square (the side where the Mary Ward Centre now stands), so that he could benefit from the fresh air of The Bloomsbury Neighbourhood, then on the extreme outskirts of London.
Dr Charles Burney, musician, author and friend of Dr Johnson, also lives on the south end of the Square; his daughter Fanny wrote her reminiscences “A beautiful prospect of the hills ever verdant of Hamptstead and Highgate”, at the time an unobstructed view, faced the Doctors dwelling in Queen Square.
A celebrated school for girls, sometimes called the “Ladies Eton”, flourished in the middle of the 18th Century at No. 31. When the pupils attended St John’s Chapel, Bedford Row, (since pulled down) they went in relays in a stately old coach. The coach was later installed in an upper room at the school so that they could practice the art of getting in and out in a becoming manner.
Queen Square became a less fashionable and wealthy area during the 19th Century.
William Morris, socialist, craftsman and poet, regretfully left the Red House, Upton, Kent in 1865 and established his home and workshops at No. 26 Queen Square.
Esther Maynell in her book ‘Portrait of William Morris’ writes “A large ballroom had once been built at the end of the yard and it made an admirable workshop. In the long corridor that led to the ballroom, the glass painters worked, and there was a kiln. Above dwelt the family, in rooms made as bright and gay as possible with white-wash and white paint, lovely embroidered hangings and cushions, and painted furniture. Queen Square had undoubted attractions. There was a fine garden with immense plane trees, where the two little Morris girls spent much of their time. Needless to say, they also haunted the workshops to watch what was going on there whenever there was a chance.”
Williams Morris’s interest in reviewing the Crafts resulted in the formation of the Art Workers Guilds which was established and still exists at No 6 (the house is typical of the original houses built in the Square in the early 18th Century). A friend of William Morris, the Rev. F D Maurice, who lived at No. 21 was the founder of the Working Men’s College.
Immediately opposite the Mary Ward Centre, is on the site of the original pump. It was a sight to see the procession of jug-carrying servants from the great houses, and the children from the poorer houses, making their way to the pump.
The square is governed by a Board of Trustees drawn from the buildings from the buildings with frontages onto the square. On the first Saturday in July every year local residents and community groups supported by the Mary Ward Centre, hold a fair in the square. All welcome!
History of 42 and 43 Queen Square
The first leases of Nos. 42-43 Queen Square were granted on 19th June 1703 by Sire Nathaniel Curzon to William Hawkins.
Nos. 42-43 Queen Square have been extensively altered, but the surviving patches of early brickwork on the front and side walls show that they have never been entirely rebuilt. They were obviously considerably remodeled towards the end of the 18th Century, when the front elevation took its present form, and a number of interior features were inserted.
The houses were intended to be, and remained for over a century, private residences. But towards the middle of the 19th Century Queen Square was taken over by a number of institutions.
By 1856 the College of Preceptors was based at No. 42 and by 1861 the School of Art for Ladies was at No. 43. Both these institutions continued there until 1887 when the College of Preceptors moved to its premises in Bloomsbury Square.
The Ladies or Royal Female School of Art then seems to have taken over No. 42 as well, and to have continued in both houses until 1908. For all of its existence the school appears to have been headed by a Miss Lorrisa Gann.
From 1910 Nos. 42-43 were the L.C.C. Day Trade School for Girls, transformed some time during the 1930’s into a Technical College for women, in existence until the late 1950’s. The buildings were for a short time a secondary school before becoming part of the Stanhope Institute.
The Stanhope Institute disappeared in 1981 following a re-organisation of adult education in Camden and the building became surplus to the ILEA’s requirements.
At the same time the Mary Ward Centre had to move from its premises in Tavistock Place and seized the opportunity of acquiring a new home in 1982. And what a new home it is. Its character and scale have made it an ideal setting for adult learning and the Centre has flourished within its walls.
The two houses, both listed Grade 2, are owned by the Royal Female School of Art, a charitable trust which hands out interest on the rent it receives from Mary Ward Centre as grants to organisations supporting female art students.
Residents of Nos. 42 – 43 Queen Square as extracted from the ratebooks.
No. 42 No. 43
1729 John Baker Sigismund Trafford
1734 “ ”
1739 “ ”
1750 Hugh Campbell Elizabeth Trafford
1754 “ Sire John Morgan, Bt.
1760 Dr. Turner “
1774 Dr. Burney -. Gifford
1780 - Alten “
1785 Capt. Todd J H Warne
1791 John Fryar “
1795 John Taylor “
1800 Baron Chambre Edward Dickinson
1805 (Judge) Chambre “
1810 Edward Issacs Thomas Morris
1815 “ Benjamin Burchell
1820 Elizabeth Willan “
18 25 L.S. Baxendal J. C. Pike
1830 “ “
1835 H N Soloman Empty
1840 William Newton William Hayes
1845 “ “
1851 “ Miss Hayes
The Warden and the staff of the Mary Ward Centre welcome you.
Drop in any weekday or Saturday in term time for a prospectus or to use the café.
The Mary Ward Centre
42 Queen Square
London WC1N 3AQ
020 7269 5000