Goodman's Fields (2)   Prescot Street ~ Leman Street ~ Rupert & Lambeth Streets ~ Chamber Street
for background to the whole area see Goodman's Fields (1); for Mansell Street see Goodman's Fields (3); see also Magdalen Hospital.

Prescot Street (originally Great Prescot(t) Street)
runs between Mansell Street to the west to Leman Street to the east. It is named for Rebecca Prescott, wife of William Leman.

The north side of Prescot Street was the site of an archaeological evaluation in 2006 and a dig in 2008, prior to the building of a hotel [left, towards South Tenter Street] - see here for details, including video diaries and material about the significance of the site. It formed part of what is known as the East London Roman cemetery. In 1678 numerous Roman funeral urns and lachrymatories, with bars and silver money had been found here. It may have been linked with the sixth legion of the Roman army, for in 1787 a stone 15" x 12" x3" was found with the inscription [right]:
Ditches, three burials and a range of pits were uncovered, together with some glass (described in vol.12 of the London Archaeologist). Several 15th century pits were recorded, including a rubbish pit 10m across with leather and other organic remains, inlucing 'poulaine' shoes and leatherworking waste. Later remains dated from the 18th century housing development.

As it was developed for good-quality housing, it became one of the earliest London streets to have numbered buildings, rather than signs (from 1708) - perhaps copying the practice of the staircases of the Inns of Court. An early resident, before he moved to Soho Square, was the 'rough old admiral' Sir Cloudesley Shovel. The current Pevsner characterises the street today [left, looking west] as ragged with insignificant commercial permises and flashy offices muscling in on older fabric. As noted below, a number of buildings (including some since demolished) were listed at Grade 2 in 1973. Also left are two distinctive bollards from the street (see here for a comprehensive website on London street bollards); right are Victorian watercolours of the front and rear of no.43.

From around 1870-90 there was a synagogue in the street, and from 1857-80 the Jewish Widows' Home Asylum was at no.67 before moving to Hackney. In the early 20th century the Association for the Protection of Women and Girls ran a refuge for young girls arriving in London and at risk from pimps and procurers. See above and here for more details of Jewish welfare agencies in the area.  Bonn's Kosher Hotel was at no.12 - left is a lavish wedding menu of 1892. Bonn's Matzos was taken over by Rakusens in the 1970s (more details here). Right  is Prescot Street in 1935, looking eastwards.

South side today
Nos.1 & 9 were developed in Art Deco [Pevnser specifies 'Amsterdam School'] style in the 1930-33 by L.G. Ekins, architect of the Co-operative Wholesale Society [on which see below], and used by the Co-op Bank; they are Grade 2 listed buildings. J.C. Blair's carving over the doorway of no.1 symbolises CWS principles - two individuals shaking hands beneath a hive of bees where the bees gain benefits from mutual co-operation [see below on the wheatsheaf, another Co-op symbol]. Formerly offices, in 1999 no.1 was converted into 150 luxury flats (winning awards). In July 2008 some corporate directorates of Barts and the London moved into no.9 (103,500 sq ft) - bringing them full circle. Other CWS headquarters in Leman Street are described below.

No.15 [right] is the neat and narrow [Pevsner] Princess of Prussia public house, built around 1880. Princess Anna Amalia (1723-87) was a gifted musician, whose sister married the Crown Prince of Sweden.

Next door, at no.16, was Whitechapel County Court, a 4-storey Italianate building, modelled on a  Florentine or Pisan town house or small palace, with arched windows, detached columns and a heavy dentil cornice, designed in 1857-8 by Charles Reeves & Lewis G. Butcher (showing an early Ruskin influence): Reeves was the surveyor of county courts, and some of his drawings are at the National Archives. It combines features of 19th century police stations with those of commercial and industrial Victorian buildings; it was listed in 1973. (See here for the history of magistrates' courts in the area.) After the court moved, it was used as government offices, and is now the acclaimed Café Spice Namasté with a noted Parsi chef from Goa, Cyrus Todiwala OBE, who makes regular tv appearances. [Building left in 1938 and today, plus interior].

No.21 (and adjacent properties) was the site of the 24-bed London Infirmary for sick and diseased manufacturers, seamen in the merchant service and their wives and families from 1741. The house was rented from Sir William Leman at 24 guineas a year; it expanded to five houses, and included a mortuary, a herb garret (for drying and storing medicinal herbs) and a cold bath (since its first physician was a devotee of therapeutic bathing). In 1757 it moved to its present site at Mount Field, Whitechapel Road as the London Hospital. (The excellent Barts and The London website provides much more detail about this and other hospital sites, and there is an fascinating museum at the former St Philip's Church, Newark Street behind the main hospital buildings.) The Prescot Street site was then let in 1758 to the Magdalen Hospital on a 7-year lease. (Magdalen Passage, running through its former site - right - is a reminder.)

When this in turn moved, the premises were used for various purposes, eventually becoming the offices of the National Cigar & Tobacco Workers Union - reflecting a local trade: see, for example, here and here. The Friendly Society of Operative Tobacconists was established as a craft union in 1834, becoming the United Tobacconists' Society in 1836 and the United Kingdom Operative Tobacconists' Society in 1881; membership was widened in 1925, as a result of a 1918 conference, to include all tobacco workers - including women, who by World War II formed the majority of membership; it disaffilated from the TUC in 1926 over poaching allegations, but rejoined in 1941. In 1946 it merged with the National Cigar and Tobacco Workers' Union, and in 1986 became part of TASS - the Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Section - and two years later of MSF - the Management, Science & Finance Union.

Damaged in the Blitz, the buildings stood derelict until the 1970s, when they were demolished to make way for the present structure, built in 1988 with 50,000 ft² of office space on six floors for Abbey National Bank, later Santander - it became a call centre for 600 staff. Their lease expired on 24 December 2012, and the freehold was acquired by the Royal College of Psychiatrists which, having outgrown 17 Belgrave Square in the West End and already running some of its activities in East London (including Standon House, 21 Mansell Street), needed premises to bring all its work together on one site. They moved onto the site in the autumn of 2013 - details here - and we welcome them and wish them well in their new home!

The houses at nos. 23, 24, 25 and 30 were listed Grade II in 1973. No.23, a 4-storey plus basement yellow brick house with a handsome doorcase, railings and steps, is the only survivor of the 1770s redevelopment of the Leman estate; no.30 is from the early 19th century (staircase left).

No.24 was a Victorian Tudor house, and had been the Convent of Mary Immaculate (shown in 1969, next to no.23); no.25, with rounded doorframe, was next door (stairwell right).  Both were demolished, and replaced by a block built as Juno Court, 24-26 (far right - brashly unpleasant, says Pevsner), which is now London City Premier Inn.The sisters remain active in the area.

English Martyrs Roman Catholic Church was built in 1875 to designs by Pugin on the site of a former sawmill; it was listed in 1982.

North side today
No.46 is the 5-star Grange Tower Bridge Hotel [left].

No.66, on the corner of Leman Street, is Kingsfield House, with 113,000
ft² of office space on eight floors [right]; the current Pevsner describes it as gargantuan Postmodern offices in the Stirling vein with pink and beige striped cladding and a curved corner tower.

Little Prescot Street
was the continuation of Mansell Street, running from the western end of Great Prescot Street to Rosemary Lane/Royal Mint Street; its original name was Rosemary Branch Alley. From 1730 to 1855 it was the home of an old-established Baptist congregation, described in detail here.

Crime was rife, including against children. In 1755 Elizabeth Souther, a beggar, took a 7-year-old girl into a 'house of office' [outdoor privy] on Rosemary Branch Alley and stole her stays, which she pawned for one shilling. Souther professed she was stupefied in liquor and knew nothing of it. Rictor Norton in ch.10 of The Georgian Underworld quotes from The Triumph of Wit, a 'canting dictionary' whose classification of  beggars includes paillards or clapperdogeons who, from infancy, counterfeit lameness, making their legs, arms and hands appear to be sore, and very nauseous, with cream and blood, butter and soap, ointment and corrosives, and sometimes by putting on counterfeit lame legs, and false wither’d arms, making horrible wry faces, and setting off their story of being shot, burnt, scalded, perished with the evil, and the like, with a lamentable voice ... mumpers - genteel beggars, who begged alms from travellers at inns and street corners, or by knocking at doors; and baudy baskets, women who wandered the streets with a basket under their arm and a child, pretending to sell toys and trifles, and so beg or steal, as they see occasion, and find opportunity.

The National Archives hold wills from residents of the street - John Stockley in 1753, Solomon Solomon (or Solomons), fine drawer, in 1814, and John McLern or McLean, mariner, in 1837; and Sun Alliance records include the insurance of Timothy Adshead of 4 Rosemary Branch Alley, tailor & salesman. in 1813. There were Jewish residents -  for example, Betsy (Beilah) Isaacs, born 1790 - and also Germans: in 1796 James Riggs was acquitted at the Old Bailey of violent theft from Maria Dummert, whose husband was a journeyman farrier working with her German father in Little Prescot Street. He was accused of stealing her money box (which bore the inscription I love too well to kiss and tell) - at a cheesemonger's shop between her house in Gowers Walk and father's in Little Prescot Street. Seven good character references, including an elder of the India warehouses, were called.

Dodsley's Annual Register for 1803 recorded
March 10 - A terrible fire broke out in the night at a cooperage, in Rosemary-branch-alley, Rosemary-lane, which consumed the whole of the premises, and also Branch's cloaths exchange, consisting of about 12 houses, chiefly built of wood, and inhabited by piece-brokers. The fire raged with great furyfor more than one hours, through the want of water. Happily no lives were lost.

Piece brokers were dealers in cloth, especially remnants. The elegantly-inscribed registers of St Botolph Aldgate record children and young people (some from workhouses) for whom they arranged apprenticeships, including Mary Ann Evans, aged 14, placed in 1805 with Elizabeth Dishington, widow of 4 Rosemary Branch Alley, as a piece broker till 21 or day of Marriage, for a fee of £2 plus a further £2 2s at the Expiration of Six Weeks from the date of the Indenture.

Hillatt & Martin, printers at no.13, were publishers of broadside ballads in the first half of the 19th century, and some examples are shown here: nautical songs, such as The Arethusa, The Minute Gun at Sea, Then farewell, my trim-built wherry and Phoebe and her dark-eyed sailor; bawdy songs about Queen Victoria's coronation - The Maiden Queen and Rigs & Sprees of the Coronation (1837); tragi-comic ditties, some in 'Cockney dialect' replacing 'v' with 'w' and adding/subtracting the letter 'h', such as All round my hat (to the tune 'Poor little Fisherman's Boy'), Poll and my partner Joe, Pleasures of Matrimony, and the curious Sarah Gale's Lament (to the tune 'Death of Parker'), concerned with James Greenacre in the Murder of Hannah Brown (December 1856). In 1855 they distributed a skit (song plus text) on The New General Sunday Trading Bill, with Sir A. A....'s resolutions. (This bill, to restrict Sunday trading, was introduced by Lord Grosvenor, and occasioned riots in Hyde Park; 'Sir A.A' was Sir Andrew Agnew, a Sabbatarian with whom Charles Dickens crossed swords.)

Right is a drawing, c1880, by John Philipps Emslie, of 7, 6 and 5 Little Prescot Street, backing onto Royal Mint Street, showing that a few wooden houses remained, as well as grander properties.

lemanstreetLeman Street (formerly Red Lion Street) - see also 1921 Street Directory
'Leman' is an old term for a mistress or lover, which may be the reason why some local people pronounce it 'Lemon', and it is so spelt on some old maps, although as explained here the name comes from Sir John Leman. In 1831 the Garrick Theatre was built in the street - see here for details of earlier local theatres - which was demolished in 1891, and the police station (previously a few doors away) was rebuilt on the site. Right is a 'fireproof' sugar refinery of 1850 - see here for the background to this. The continued German presence in the vicinity - with churches in Alie Street and Hooper Square - is shown by the two early 20th century postcards, the first of a 'Christian Home for German Artisans' at 88-90 (later a German YMCA), the second of a private hotel at 114. The mix of domestic and industrial premises continued apace, and is explored in more detail here (in relation to the 1921 street directory).

Up to 1892,13 Hooper Square, off Leman Street, was the base of a firm of bookbinders, Flude & Skelt, until 1878 a partnership between James William Flude, Joseph Birch and George Skelt in Great Prescot Street. The Skelt family, originally local shoemakers, were prominent in the printing of toy theatre sheets - left.

The Eastern Dispensary was set up in Great Alie Street in 1782 by a group of doctors (including the Quaker physician and anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Knowles, who died in 1786 from a fever caught from a patient), with the Duke of Wellington as President. It moved to new premises in Leman Street [now 19A] in 1858 [right]. It closed in 1940 because of wartime difficulties, and in 1944 the building was leased to the Jewish Hospital Committee; the Charity Commission refused transfer to the London Hospital, so assets were transferred to the Marie Celeste Samaritan Society in 1952. Since 1998 the building has been a pub and dining room. A 1787 booklet about the Dispensary sold a few years ago for £1350!

There are several listed buildings in the street. Left are five images of no.66, a brown brick 4-storey house of about 1760, with attic added later, at various periods of its existence:
[1] & [2] exterior and interior in 1910, when it was Manor House Working Men's Home (it may have served a similar function for some years previously: in 1888 John Wood, of this address, a chemist and widower, died at Whitechapel workhouse of contusions);
in dereliction in 1964 - it was listed Grade 2 in 1973, forming a group with nos.60-70 (noting its wood doorcase with plain Ionic columns, pulvinated frieze and bracketed cornice with pediment, semi-circular fanlight, archivolt with key and moulded impost blocks);
today (with attic removed), now the premises of New Holbud Ship Management Ltd; and
[5] its doorway.

Two other Grade 2 listed buildings [right] are no.137 with a late 18th/early 19th century façade [at one time the manager's office of the London,Tilbury & Southend Railway's nearby goods depot, and now the Red Chilli curry club], and no.141 with vestiges of an early 18th century façade [which was a mosque for a time, and is now an Indian restaurant]; the Brown Bear was in between at no.139.

In 1887 the Co-operative Wholesale Society opened the grand headquarters of its London operations on the corner of Leman Street and Hooper Street [three views left], a seven-storey structure in brick, granite and Portland stone incorporating a suga
r warehouse and a prominent clock tower, designed by J.F. Goodey of Colchester, a CWS committee member about whom little is known. Right is the CWS wheatsheaf logo, Labor and wait, carved on the building. The wheatsheaf [like the bee, above] was a symbol of co-operation - one stalk cannot stand alone - and is found in various forms on Co-op buildings up and down the land; the American spelling 'labor' was deliberately used to show solidarity with those fighting slavery in America, drawing on the final words of the poem 'A Psalm of Life' by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82): Let us, then, be up and doing, / With a heart for any fate; / Still achieving, still pursuing, / Learn to labor and wait. (The words also provided the chorus of a contemporary temperance song.)

An earlier building on the site, including a tea warehouse and the delegates' meeting room, was seriously damaged by fire on 30 December 1885 (reported to the authorities by an unemployed man's wife, which earned her a sovereign). £28,000 was recovered in insurance, and quarterly meetings were held at Toynbee Hall, by permission of the Revd Samuel Barnett, until the new premises were constructed. More details about the building can be found in the 1913 Jubilee History of the CWS. A short 16mm CWS information film, shot in 1931, Rose of the Orient, shows the growing and picking of tea in Sri Lanka, the Leman Street warehouse, and how to make a perfect cuppa!  Now a Grade 2 listed building, known as the Sugar House, 99 Leman Street, it has been converted into luxury apartments.

The large red-brick complex on the corner of Leman and Alie Streets was developed in the 1970s, on the site of the engine sheds of the Southend Railway, as a computer, interbank cheque clearing and IT development centre for National Westminster Bank, with an extension added in the 1990s. The 'campus' also included buildings at 75 [first right] and 135 Leman Street (Eastgate House, second right), linked by
a bridge; for a time it had its own pub, The Long Bar (originally signed as 'Management Services Division'). NatWest was taken over by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2000 and the computer mainframes went elsewhere.

Demolition and re-development of the site began in 2006 to create Berkeley Homes' City Quarter, and is ongoing: here are visualisations of the project. The painting of the demolition [above]  is © Joanna Moore, 'The Town Mouse'. The site is one of Tower Hamlet's strategic allocations - left is the draft development plan (under the Local Development Framework) - CAB 051/112. Right is Leman Street in the 1930s (looking south); in 1963, from the top by Aldgate East station; the junction of Leman and Cable Streets some years later; and, at the other end of the street, a Roman Catholic procession in the 1960s; see here for a link to a site with many other historical pictures of Roman Catholic events in the area.

Rupert & Lambeth Streets
lay to the east of Leman Street, both running from Hooper Square to Alie Street - right are Roque's map of 1746 and Weller's of 1868 before the construction of the goods yard between Lambeth Street and Backchurch Lane, resulting in the relocation of Gower's Walk Free School to Rupert Street. In the 18th century Rupert Street had housed a number of sugar refineries - see here for details. The Whitechapel 'public office' (police station and magistrates' court) was in Lambeth Street.

'Urinary deceptions'
The Medical & Physical Journal 1804 (Letter II, 'Of Quacks and Empiricism'), tells this curious tale of a one-time resident of Rupert Street:
Dr. Mayersbach, near Schweinfurth, in Germany ... came to London in November, 1773; and from his subsequent success, he must have possessed strong radical powers. Every other scheme that was suggested to his inventive mind having failed, he offered himself to Angelo, who then kept a riding school, but was not accepted, as his diminutive size rendered him unsuitable for an equestrian posture-master. About this period (1773) he became acquainted by an introductory letter from Mr. Bresener, his brother-in-law, with his countryman, Dr. Griffenberg, before his reputation was totally blasted by his voluptuous services to Lord Baltimore; and it was agreed between them, that Griffenberg should initiate Mayersbach into his urinary deceptions, for which a share of the profits should be given given to the tutor, and which the great success of that pupil was enabled amply to confer; but which was probably withdrawn when Mayersbach became himself a professed adept; at least, so I was informed by Griffenberg and his wife: part of the engagement, indeed, extended to the latter, provided she should survive her husband, which really happened. The agreement, so far as it respected the widow, is literally translated from the original:
Whereas Dr. J.T. Griffenberg has, with extraordinary kindness, shewn me the secrets of his profession, and thereby put me in a situation to earn my bread as a doctor, and to succeed in his practice, if I should survive him; I shall ever consider myself hound by duty aud gratitude to respect the said Dr. Griffenberg as my parent, and always most punctually to fulfil his will. I swear before Almighty God, by my soul and salvation, that if in the providence of the Most High, I should survive the said Dr. Griffenberg, that I will always respect his widow; and, as a testimony of my gratitude, give unto her during, her life, six shilliugs a week out of my earnings; in confirmation of which, I hereunto subscribe my name,

At the time that Dr Mayersbach first came under the tuition of Dr Griffenberg, he did not know one article of medicine, nor the treatment of one disease, when he published the following quack bill:
Doctor Van Mayersbach is arrived from Prague, and intends to remain here some time; he begs leave to recommend himself to the respectable public, to be honoured with their confidence, by which he will prove that he understands the use of medicine, and cures all inward and outward diseases. He tells every person, by his uncommon knowledge of urine, not only their diseases, but likewise how to cure them.

The two first patients he had were, one with the itch, and the other with a cough, and he was obliged to place them in another room, till he could receive a message from his master how to proceed. It would have hence been a remuneration which gratitude demanded, independently of written documents, to have relieved the widow; which, however, he absolutely refused, at a time when it was said that his income was at least five thousand pounds a year.

Let it however be recorded to Dr. Mayersbach's honour, that in 1773, when lie lived in Rupert-street, Goodman's Fields, his wife, after a tedious illness, which proved fatal, had been attended by Johan Toennius, apothecary in Mansell-street; and on application to Mayersbach in 1776, he faithfully discharged the expence of attendance which her illness had occasioned.
As Mayersbach was totally ignorant of medicines, certain pills, powders, and drops, with directions to give them, under certain circumstances, were sent to him; and these he administered discretionally. As he got a little more fledged, he attempted a loftier flight, and even ventured to handle edged tools;  but in consequence of their indiscriminate use, many serious effects succeeded, which were formally communicated to a board of the Royal College of Physicians, when it was archly observed by one of the board, that the charges merited investigation in the criminal courts of law; and thus the business ended with a laugh at the gentleman who presented these charges, for his ignorance in imagining that the College of Physicians ever did a wise act; or, in any instance, ever promoted medical science science.

Mayersbach's reputation continued for some months in the most elevated degree. As a water doctor in the metropolis must be supposed to know more than the water doctors in the country, the devotees to deception flocked to town, or sent up their vials by the stages, and the urinary traffic of the country was transferred to London; and thus the German impostor, who, a few months before could not cure the itch, monopolized the most lucrative professional business in Europe. Among his patients he could claim a Harrington, a Hawke, and even a Garrick ....

In 1777 the Monthly Review, or Literary Journal (vol 55) told Dr Toennius' side of the story - how Mayerbach was lodging with a shoemaker, pleading poverty, claiming to be seeking employment with a starch-maker, and declaring himself to be totally unacquainted with medicine - so he took no fee until he learnt of his reputation. The report - right - also claims that he treated animals, declaring in one case, after inspecting a cow's urine, that the party had been too free with the ladies of the town. Mayersbach
quit London after exposure, but returned within a year and was again successful; he died soon afterwards.

John's Court joined Rupert and Lambeth Streets, and a school maked Little Alie Street Secondary School' was show n here for a time. Christopher Court ran off Lambeth Street. There was  a public house, The Crown, at 14 Rupert Street (
renamed Goodman Street in the 20th century, prior to the 1970s redevelopment of the whole area into the National Westminster Bank's Goodman's Fields 'campus').

chamberstreetis south of Prescot Street, running alongside and underneath the railway from Leman Street to Goodman's Yard; it was included in Charles Booth's 1888 survey. Today at its western end is a Travelodge, and Barneys Seafood, the last remaining fish wholesaler with roots near Billingsgate Market, whose factory shop sells jellied eels and other traditional East End fare (lots of good recipes on their site). The former Swallows Gardens (a 'Ripper site') runs through their premises [right]. At the eastern end of the street is contemporary housing development - example far right. It is hoped that development proposals for the Royal Mint Street site will include community facilities in the railway arches and basements, accessed from Chamber Street.

On the corner of Leman and Chamber Streets were the Imperial Warehouses [left in 1970, with its contemporary replacement, an office block at no.120], base for various businesses over the years. In the latter years of the 19th century it housed the duty-paid stores of the United Kingdom Tea Company, whose head office was at 21 Mincing Lane. Their imaginative advertisements of the 1890s have been much-studied for their semiotic significance: they include Samuel Pepys (who wrote in 1660 I did send for a cup of Tea [a China drink]), Britannia, and [right] Dr Livingstone, and a ponytailed Mandarin, all drinking tea, showing it both as a patriotically English and an exotic activity. A teapot bearing the company logo, and a model railway wagon, are also shown. In 1889 a clerk, who had a key to the warehouse, was convicted of stealing 110lb. of tea over a 3-week period, to which he claimed he was entitled in lieu of unpaid wages. in 1898 William Dunham Ltd, operating from these premises, went bust. In the 20th century, British American Belts Ltd occupied 8-12 Imperial Warehouses; latterly described as plastic goods manufacturers, the company was dissolved in 1969. (The freehold of nos.2,4 and 6 was registered by D. and A. Marks, of 60 Leman Street, in 1952.)

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