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|Grosvenor Streeet v. Gracechurch Street
Written by JulieW
(5/17/2007 9:57 a.m.)
We now know that Mr and Mrs Hurst live in Grosvenor Street:
She then read the first sentence aloud, which comprised the information of their having just resolved to follow their brother to town directly, and of their meaning to dine that day in Grosvenor street, where Mr. Hurst had a house
and that Mr and Mrs Gardiner live in Gracechurch Street:
"Oh, yes! -- of that kind of love which I suppose him to have felt. Poor Jane! I am sorry for her, because, with her disposition, she may not get over it immediately. It had better have happened to you, Lizzy; you would have laughed yourself out of it sooner. But do you think she would be prevailed on to go back with us? Change of scene might be of service -- and perhaps a little relief from home, may be as useful as anything."
Elizabeth was exceedingly pleased with this proposal, and felt persuaded of her sister's ready acquiescence.
"I hope," added Mrs. Gardiner, "that no consideration with regard to this young man will influence her. We live in so different a part of town, all our connexions are so different, and, as you well know, we go out so little, that it is very improbable they should meet at all, unless he really comes to see her."
"And that is quite impossible; for he is now in the custody of his friend, and Mr. Darcy would no more suffer him to call on Jane in such a part of London! My dear aunt, how could you think of it? Mr. Darcy may, perhaps, have heard of such a place as Gracechurch Street, but he would hardly think a month's ablution enough to cleanse him from its impurities, were he once to enter it; and, depend upon it, Mr. Bingley never stirs without him."
Even without any knowledge of London in this era, from Elizabeth vision of how defiled a man would feel by actually visiting Gracechurch Street we can divine that they were two very different areas.
I thought it might be useful to have a look at the relative geographical position of the two streets and think a little about the two areas and what it might possibly indicate to us about the people who lived there.
Here is a “key” page from The Regency A-Z, published by the Topographical Society of London, and which is based on John Horwood’s Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster (3rd Edition 1813)
Grosvenor Street is found in the area marked number 12 on this Key.
Here is a close up of Grosvenor Street and its immediate surrounding area.
As you can see, it is to the right of Grosvenor Square, and runs parallel to Brook Street, towards Bond Street (famous then as now for its fabulous, luxurious shopping opportunities, firmly entrenched in the higher end of the market).
Grosvenor Street, as its name suggests, was part of the development of west London made by the Grosvenor family (now the Dukes of Westminster).
Here is an extract from The Survey of London, Volume 39 <(1977) edited by F H W Sheppard, which deals with the history of the estate:
For three hundred years the Grosvenor family has owned large estates in what are now some of the most valuable parts of Westminster. These estates were acquired in 1677 through the marriage of Sir Thomas Grosvenor with Mary Davies, the infant daughter and heiress of a scrivener in the City of London. In the process of time Mary Davies's inheritance was developed for building, and the Grosvenors became the richest urban landlords in the country, the lustre of their name—for long synonymous with wealth and fashion—being gilded by successive advancements in the peerage, culminating in the dukedom of Westminster in 1874. Today the bulk of that inheritance is still, despite the sale of some of the less select parts, enjoyed by her descendants, and is now administered by the Grosvenor Estate Trustees.
And here is a description of Grosvenor Street, which show just how very smart it was, again from the Survey Of London, as above, Volume 40:
Grosvenor Street was one of the earliest streets to be laid out as part of the Grosvenor family's development of their Mayfair lands. The very first building agreement, concluded with the estate surveyor, Thomas Barlow, in August 1720, was for a large parcel of land, which included the south-side frontage of the new street between Davies Street and the estate boundary.
The rest of the street was built under a number of agreements made between 1720 and 1725, some of them covering only single house plots. The leasehold terms offered to builders varied from one part of the street to another. On the north side to the east of Davies Street the term was eighty years with the one notable exception of No. 16, where the building lease was for ninety-nine years. Barlow was granted one lease of the south side between Davies Street and the estate boundary for ninety-nine years, but his sub-leases to other builders of the individual house plots here were usually for eighty years.
Between Davies Street and Grosvenor Square, however, on both sides of the street the leases were invariably for ninety-nine years and it was here that in general the grander houses were erected.
By 1729 most of the houses in the street had been built and occupied, the only exceptions being a group of four on the north side to the west of No. 36 (all now demolished), which were not completed until 1733–4, and the tiny one-bay house at No. 81, which does not appear in the ratebooks until 1736.
In 1735 Grosvenor Street was described as 'a spacious well built Street, inhabited chiefly by People of Distinction'. In the following year, of its 74 houses (not including the corner houses with Grosvenor Square), 22 were occupied by titled inhabitants including one duke, two future dukes and three earls. Of the other occupants five were army officers, two were ambassadors and three were churchmen (including the Bishop of Winchester and the Rector of St. George's, Hanover Square).
The London Encyclopedia edited by Ben Weinrebb and Christopher Hibbert in addition lists these notable inhabitants: James Stuart the architect, Samuel Whitbread the very wealthy brewer, the 3rd earl of Bute and Robert and James Adam, the architects.
Not many traders ,note;-)
From the beginning the Mount Coffee House stood at the eastern approaches where the street narrows as it crosses the estate boundary into the City of London's Conduit Mead territory, and the Red Lion (later the Lion and Goat) was almost opposite on the north side. The Three Tuns Tavern stood at the south-east corner with Davies Street, but no doubt had its sign and main entrance discreetly situated in the lesser street. Some of the houses at the eastern end were taken by tradesmen from an early date, and by 1790 some dozen houses were so occupied.
The eastern end of the street was near Bond Street so one may presume the traders taking those houses were rather successful ones!
Here is an architectural drawing of a house in Grosvenor Street, number 16 to be precise, to give you some idea of the grandeur of the situation where the Hursts lived. Some of the houses in the street were smaller, and some larger, but this gives you an idea of they type of houses amongst which the Hursts lived, and probably some idea of the style to which they had become accustomed. This house was originally built in 1763.
The Gardiners lived near the Cheapeside area of London, in Gracechurch Street.
Here again from Horwood’s plan is a section of the area for you.
On the key to this map this area is situated in the area marked number 15.
This was a long way east from fashionable and smart Mayfair. As you can see, it was in the City of London- the commercial heart of the city, then as now.
Gracechurch street (I do hope you can make it out,) runs diagonally from square “c”, north eastwards to the junction of Cornhill and Leadnehall Street: Cheapside, as I again hope you can make out, runs into Cornhill by the Bank of England (marked “Bank” on the map.
Here is a picture of Cheapside in the mid 18th century, to give you some impression of the bustling commercial area it was.
Here is a description of Cheapside from The London Encyclopedia edited by Ben Weinrebb and Christopher Hibbert:
The chief market place of medieval London. “Ceap” or “chepe” was the old English word for market….
In 1720 Strype said “Cheapside was a very spacious street adorned with lofty buildings, well inhabited by Goldsmiths linen drapers and haberdashers and other great dealers”.
Until the middle of the 19th century it rivaled the West End as a shopping centre.
Here is a description of Gracechurch Street, again from The London Encyclopedia:
Named after the vanished St Benet Grass Church. The corn and hay market of medieval London was held in the street.
So I hope you can see that in character the two districts were very different.
Gracechurch Street consisted of mostly commercial premises and was in the old commercial heart of the city: Grosvenor Street in Mayfair was new, fashionable and smart made up primarily of residential houses of great wealth and luxury with many aristocratic and rich residents.
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