Famous Houses and Literary Shrines of London

Famous Houses and Literary Shrines of London

Arthur St. John Adcock
Arthur St. John Adcock

Author: Adcock, Arthur St. John, 1864-1930
Literary landmarks — England — London
London (England) — Intellectual life
English — Homes and haunts — England — London
Artists — Homes and haunts — England — London
Famous Houses and Literary Shrines of London





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Nothing could well be deader or emptier than an unoccupied house of whose former inhabitants we have no knowledge; and it is impossible to take a real interest in a house now occupied by strangers, even though it was aforetime the residence of some famous man, unless we are acquainted with that man’s personality, and know what he thought and did and said whilst he was living there. I have attempted to do little more than supply that information here as the complement of my brother’s drawings, and to this end have been less concerned to give my own descriptions and opinions than to bring together opinions and descriptions that were written by such famous residents themselves or by guests and visitors who saw and knew them. As far as possible I have quoted from contemporary Diaries and Memoirs, especially from letters that were written in or to these houses, or from Journals that their tenants kept whilst they dwelt there, supplementing all this with a narrative of incidents and events that might help to recreate the life and recapture the atmosphere that belonged to such places in the days that have made them memorable. Whenever I have adventured into any general biography, or expressed any personal opinion, it has been merely with the object of adding so much of history and character as would serve to fill in the outline of a man’s portrait, give it a sufficient fulness and colour of life, and throw into clear relief the space of time that he passed in some particular house that can still be seen in a London street.
I think I have throughout made due acknowledgment to the authors of various volumes of Recollections and Table Talk from which I have drawn anecdotes and pen-portraits, and I should like to mention at the outset that for biographical facts and much else I have been particularly indebted to such books as Elwin and Courthope’s edition of the Poems and Letters of Pope; Austin Dobson’s William Hogarth, and H. B. Wheatley’s Hogarth’s London; Boswell’s Johnson, of course, and Forster’s Lives of Goldsmith and of Dickens; Gilchrist’s Life of Blake; Leslie’s and Holmes’s Lives of Constable; Arthur B. Chamberlain’s George Romney; Lord Houghton’s Life and Letters of Keats, and Buxton Forman’s Complete Works of John Keats; Leigh Hunt’s Autobiography; De Quincey’s English Opium Eater; Hogg’s and Peacock’s Memoirs of Shelley; Carew Hazlitt’s Memoirs of Hazlitt; Blackman’s Life of Day; Byron’s Journals and Letters, and Lewis Bettany’s useful compilation from them, The Confessions of Lord Byron; Lockhart’s Life of Scott, and Scott’s Journal; Talfourd’s and Ainger’s Lives of Lamb, and Lamb’s Letters; Walter Jerrold’s Life of Thomas Hood; Cross’s Life of George Eliot; Sir William Armstrong’s Life of Turner, and Lewis Hind’s Turner’s Golden Visions; Joseph Knight’s Rossetti; Froude’s Thomas Carlyle, and W. H. Wylie’s Carlyle, The Man and His Books; Allingham’s Diary; E. R. and J. Pennell’s Life of Whistler; Trollope’s Thackeray, and Lady Thackeray Ritchie’s prefaces to the Centenary Edition of Thackeray’s works.
A. St. J. A.



I. Some Celebrated Cockneys 1
II. Shakespeare in London 10
III. Where Pope stayed at Battersea 26
IV. Hogarth 36
V. Goldsmith, Reynolds, and some of their Circle 52
VI. Homes and Haunts of Johnson and Boswell 89
VII. Blake and Flaxman 118
VIII. A Hampstead Group 140
IX. Round about Soho again 167
X. A Philosopher, Two Poets, and a Novelist 187
XI. Charles Lamb 207
XII. St. John’s Wood and Wimbledon 233
XIII. Chelsea Memories 255
XIV. Thackeray 296
XV. Dickens 314
XVI. Conclusion 328



Dr. Johnson Frontispiece
From an engraving by T. Trotter after a drawing from life
John Milton Facing p. 4
From a miniature by Faithorne
William Shakespeare 16
From an engraving by Scriven after the Chandos portrait
Alexander Pope 33
From an engraving by J. Posselwhite after the picture by Hudson
Oliver Goldsmith 81
After a drawing by Sir Joshua Reynolds
Sir Joshua Reynolds 96
From an engraving after his own portrait
James Boswell 102
From an engraving by W. Hall after a sketch by Lawrence
John Keats 144
From a drawing by W. Hilton
Thomas de Quincey 176
From an engraving by W. H. Moore
Lord Byron 193
From a painting by Thomas Phillips, R.A.
Charles Lamb 224
From the painting by William Hazlitt
Thomas Hood 241
From an engraving by W. H. Smith
Thomas Carlyle 280
From a painting by Sir John Millais
W. M. Thackeray 305
From a pencil sketch by Count D’Orsay
Charles Dickens 320
From a black and white drawing by Baughiet, 1858
Robert Browning 338
From a photograph



St. Saviour’s, Southwark Cathedral xvi
The Gateway, Middle Temple 6
Chaucer’s Tomb, Westminster Abbey 8
Jerusalem Chamber, Westminster Abbey 11
St. Olave’s Churchyard, Silver Street 17
Bartholomew Close, Smithfield 21
The Last Bulk Shop, Clare Market 25
Pope’s House, Battersea 29
Pope, Mawson’s Row, Chiswick 37
Sir James Thornhill, 75 Dean Street 42
Hogarth’s House, Chiswick 45
The Bay Window, Hogarth’s House 49
Sir Isaac Newton’s House, St. Martin’s Street, W.C. 53
Sir Joshua Reynolds’s House, Great Newport Street 57
The Staircase, 47 Leicester Square 59
Sir Benjamin West’s House, Newman Street 61
Gainsborough’s House, Pall Mall 65
Sheridan’s House, Savile Row 69
Pump Court, Temple 73
Richardson’s House, North End, Fulham 75
Goldsmith’s House, Canonbury 77
2 Brick Court, The Temple 83
Stairs up to Second Floor, 2 Brick Court 85
Goldsmith’s Grave 87
Entrance to Staple Inn 91
Dr. Johnson’s House, Gough Square 99
Johnson’s Corner, “The Cheshire Cheese” 107
Where Boswell first met Johnson 111
Boswell’s House, Great Queen Street 115
Blake’s House, Soho 121
Blake, 23 Hercules Road 125
Blake’s House, South Moulton Street 127
Flaxman’s House, Buckingham Street, Euston Road 137
Romney’s House, Hampstead 141
Constable, Charlotte Street 145
Joanna Baillie, Windmill Hill, Hampstead 147
Stanfield’s House, Hampstead 151
“The Upper Flask,” from the Bowling Green 153
Keats’ House, Hampstead 157
Constable’s House, Hampstead 161
George du Maurier’s Grave, Hampstead 165
De Quincey’s House, Soho 171
Shelley’s House, Poland Street, W. 175
Shelley, Marchmont Street 179
Hazlitt’s House, Frith Street 183
Thomas Day, 36 Wellclose Square 189
Byron, 4 Bennet Street, St. James’s 195
Coleridge, Addison Bridge Place 201
Will’s Coffee House, Russell Street 217
Lamb, Colebrooke Row 219
Lamb’s Cottage, Edmonton 229
Tom Hood’s House, St. John’s Wood 237
Charles Dibdin, 34 Arlington Road 243
George Eliot, Wimbledon Park 247
George Eliot’s House, Chelsea 251
Queen’s House, Cheyne Walk 257
Whistler, 96 Cheyne Walk 263
Turner’s House, Cheyne Walk 269
Carlyle, Ampton Street 277
Carlyle’s House, Cheyne Row 283
Leigh Hunt’s House, Chelsea 289
Leigh Hunt, 16 Rowan Road, Hammersmith 295
The Charterhouse, from the Square 297
Thackeray’s House, Kensington 301
Lamb Building, Temple, from the Cloisters 307
Dickens, Johnson Street, Camden Town 315
Dickens’s House, Doughty Street 319
Thurloe’s Lodgings, 24 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn 329
Captain Marryat, Duke Street, St. James’s 333
Benjamin Franklin’s House, Craven Street 335
Cruikshank, 263 Hampstead Road 337
George Morland, “The Bull Inn,” Highgate 339
Rogers, St. James’s Place, from Green Park 341
Borrow’s House, Hereford Square 345





You cannot stir the ground of London anywhere but straightway it flowers into romance. Read the inscriptions on the crumbling tombs of our early merchant princes and adventurers in some of the old City churches, and it glimmers upon you that if ever the history of London’s commercial rise and progress gets adequately written it will read like a series of stories out of the Arabian Nights. Think what dashing and magnificent figures, what tales of dark plottings, fierce warfare, and glorious heroisms must brighten and darken the pages of any political history of London; and even more glamorous, more intensely and humanly alive, would be a social history of London, beginning perhaps in those days of the fourteenth century when Langland was living in Cornhill and writing his Vision of Piers Plowman, or farther back still, in Richard the First’s time, when that fine spirit, the first of English demagogues, William Fitzosbert, was haranguing the folkmoot in St. Paul’s Churchyard, urging them to resist the tyrannic taxations of the Lord Mayor and his Court of wealthy Aldermen—a passion for justice that brought him into such danger that he and certain of his friends had to seek sanctuary, and barricaded themselves in Bow Church. The church was fired by order of a bishop who had no sympathy with reformers, and Fitzosbert and his friends, breaking out through the flames, were stabbed and struck down in Cheapside, hustled to the Tower, hastily tried and sentenced, dragged out by the heels through the streets, and hanged at Smithfield. I have always thought this would make a good, live starting-point, and had I but world enough and time I would sooner write that history than anything else.
No need to hunt after topics when you are writing about London; they come to you. The air is full of them. The very names of the streets are cabalistic words. Once you know London, myriads of great spirits may be called from the vasty deep by sight or sound of such names as Fleet Street, Strand, Whitehall, Drury Lane, The Temple, Newgate Street, Aldersgate, Lombard Street, Cloth Fair, Paternoster Row, Holborn, Bishopsgate, and a hundred others. You have only to walk into Whitefriars Street and see “Hanging-sword Alley” inscribed on the wall of a court at the top of a narrow flight of steps, and all Alsatia rises again around you, as Ilion rose like a mist to the music of Apollo’s playing. Loiter along Cornhill in the right mood and Thomas Archer’s house shall rebuild itself for you at the corner of Pope’s Head Alley, where he started the first English newspaper in 1603, and you will wonder why nobody writes a full history of London journalism.
As for literary London—every other street you traverse is haunted with memories of poets, novelists, and men of letters, and it is some of the obscurest of these associations that are the most curiously fascinating. I have a vivid, youthful remembrance of a tumble-down, red-tiled shop near the end of Leathersellers’ Buildings which I satisfied myself was the identical place in which Robert Bloomfield worked as a shoemaker’s assistant; Devereux Court still retains something of the Grecian Coffee-house that used to be frequented by Addison and Steele, but I knew the Court first, and am still drawn to it most, as the site of that vanished Tom’s Coff

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