Goodman's Fields (3) - Mansell Street, and Goodman's Yard
see also Goodman's Fields (1) and Goodman's Fields (2)

The west side of Mansell Street transferred from Tower Hamlets to the City of London following a 1994 ward boundary review, but remains in the parish up to Alie Street, as the parish boundary map right shows. Before the review, the boundary ran through some premises, whose tenants paid split rates to both authorities. [Far right is Weller's 1868 map, showing in red the railway viaducts.] Sites now in the City but within our parish include Mansell Street has a diverse residential and commercial history, including of Jewish settlement - the Jews' Temporary Shelter had its last local home here. The respected early 20th century Jewish journalist Lucien Wolf said wistfully (and how accurately?) of the community around Mansell, Leman and Great Prescot Streets, that a century earlier, until things changed after the Napoleonic Wars, were happy days for the London Jewry ... rich and poor lived within a stone's throw of each other, and the poor were not very poor, and the rich were not proud.

The architectural writer Giles Worsley (no relation of Dr Lucy Worsley) wrote'Witnesses to the City's Wealth: the Plight of nos.57-59 Mansell Street' in Country Life 179 (1986), which is worth quoting in full as tribute to his work (he died prematurely ten years later) and by way of background:

The East End of London must once have had some of the finest domestic architecture in London, but, outside Spitalfields, little of it remains. Before the advent of the railways, the city was home as well as workplace for many of the richest men in the country, and their hosues must have been as imposing as most of those built by the aristocracy in the West End. But whereas the West End houses always remained fashionable, and so have survived, the East End houses sank into the depths of poverty in the 19th century, and have almost all been replaced by offices or warehouses. It is particularly important, therefore, that two of the finest mid-18th-century houses in London, nos.57-59 Mansell Street, just north of the Tower, should be saved. [Right, today - not his original illustrations]

Mansell Street was laid out by the Leman family, a typical example of how a cadet branch of a gentry family came to London, made its fortune in trade, produced a sheriff and Lord Mayor of London, bought land in the country, first as an investment and then as a seat, became high sheriffs and MPs in the country, and eventually gave up all direct links with the City to return to being country gentlemen. Sir John Leman, who was the first to make his fortune in the City, was Lord Mayor in 1616. Among the land he bought was the manor of Barnes or Goodmansfields on the eastern outskirts of London. Childless, he left the bulk of his estate, including his London property, to his youngest nephew William, who was made a baronet in 1665 and increased his share of Goodmansfields by marrying Rebecca Prescot.

It was probably his son, the second Sir William, who died in 1701, who first laid out Goodmansfields, including Mansell Street. The exact date when he did so is unclear, hut it must have been between 1682, when William Morgan's map shows Goodmansfields undeveloped, and 1700, when Morden, Lea and Browne's map shows it covered with housing. Just outside the City boundaries, on a bread street that had not then been extended at its two ends to become the busy thoroughfare it is today,. Mansell Street must have attracted some rich tenants; certainly, many of the building plots were much wider than usual.

One of the original double-fronted houses is known from a 19th-century photograph in the National Monuments Record. Six bays wide with the end bays projecting forward as at Schoenberg House in Pall Mall, it has a considerable dignity. By the 1740s, however, its wooden modillion cornice, hipped roof, flush sash windows and projecting closets must have seemed very old-fashioned. According to Neve's Builder's Dictionary of 1736: 'Few houses ... last longer than the ground lease' [ed: a remark also quoted by Summerson]. This was the fate of the houses on the site of nos.57-59 Mansell Street. The original building lease was probably only 42 years, the old houses were torn down, and new, grander buildings took their place. They were not the only new houses in the street. In 1924 the Geffrye Museum received some very fine contemporary panelling from 63 Mansell Street, which was then being demolished. Highly architectural, with an elaborate cornice, it is the only other relic of the street's great days. Nos. 57-59 Mansell Street are exceptional in the elaboration of their façades. London terrace-houses, even the grandest, are normally very plain, and became more so as the 18th century progressed, The Mansell Street façades represent a trait often associated with City merchants' houses, being both rather old-fashioned in design compared to the West End, and more exuberant in their use of architectural motifs. The two houses were originally almost identical, but the years have taken their toll. Heavy stone piers, originally supported by iron railings, immediately distinguish them, setting them back from the street as if in their own courtyard. Behind the central piers lies the doorcase, with freestanding Doric columns supporting a broken pediment in front of a rusticated archway. The doorway is so wide that it needs double doors. The central bay breaks forward to emphasise the centre of the house, which is further distinguished by the stone architraves of the windows, and by the stone panels above and below the windows. One of these panels lies, in a distinctly Mannerist fashion, within the broken pediment of the doorcase, so that the areas of the window and the door interpenetrate. The ends of the houses are marked by a vertical band of channelled masonry, each floor is distinguished by an increasingly emphatic string-course, culminating in the cornice, and the windows are emphasised by stone keystones.

Today the two houses lie empty. Both have suffered terribly, no.57 having lost its ground-floor windows, no.59 its doorcase, ferns grow from the façades, and the brickwork pf the parapet is perilous. Internally little remains of the latter, but the former still retains most of its staircase and the panelling round the external walls, although the internal partitions have gone.

In January last year, the architects Treherne and Norman, Preston and Partners presented a planning application for the redevelopment of 57-59 Mansell Street and the neighbouring buildings. In their scheme, which had been under discussion with Tower Hamlets Council since 1982, only the façades of the two houses were to be preserved. When the framework of the scheme with the application for outline change of use was submitted, it was rejected by the council. Among other objections, the developers were told that they would have to retain the structure as well as the façades of the houses. The developers have lodged and appeal, believing the rejection to be unreasonable. They would prefer, however, to continue informal negotiations to produce a scheme that would be acceptable to both parties without the expense of an appeal. Tower Hamlets, anxious to preserve the houses, will accept their conversion into offices. Treherne and Norman have indicated that they are prepared to restore them. However, they feel that the resulting expense would be viable only if the rest of their scheme were accepted, and that to do so the council's requirements for the site, in particular over the provision of light industrial space, would have to be relaxed.

Developers and council are therefore agreed that the houses and their interiors can and should be saved. Careful conversion into offices is the only feasible way in which this can be done. The problem is to agree a formula for the whole site which would make this possible. The wealth of the 18th-century aristocracy has left its architectural mark throughout London and the country. Little remains, however, to remind us that the real wealth of Georgian England derived from trade. Nos. 57-59 Mansell Street are lone witnesses to the City's wealth, and for this reason they are among the most important surviving early 18th-century domestic buildings in London. They cannot be left to rot for want of a suitable scheme.

The two long-established firms described below give 57 Mansell Street as their factory address in the mid-19th century, but this is probably complicated by street re-numbering: at various times Farrow and Jackson are also listed at no.91, and S. & H. Harris at no.27. In 1891, the streets and courts to the west of Mansell Street were Haydon Square, Fives Court, Swan Street and Court, Griggs Court, Enoch Court and Sugarloaf Court.

Farrow and Jackson, suppliers to the brewing trade

The company was established in 1798 (and incorporated a century later), making its name with wood, and later metal, wine bins to Farrow's designs - their older wine-racks are now 'collectables' for contemporary kitchens.  Left is an advertisement from 1868. Their premises were at 18,17 & 16 Great Tower Street [where their head office remained], 1 Harp Lane, and their factory at 57 & 58 Mansell St - left on Goad's 1887 insurance map - with a West End branch in Haymarket. Later addresses were 24 Eastminster and 91 Mansell Street, and 41-43 Prescot Street; there was also a branch in Paris.

The 1898 centenary catalogue [left] was re-published (edited by Bernard M Watney) to mark their bicentenary. This shows a wide diversity of goods, including their patent corkscrew and ceramic wine bottle labels (including most, but not all, of those displayed above right). By 1914 they were described as mechanical engineers and manufacturers of wine bins and cellar requisites for the brewing, mineral water and refrigerating trade with a staff of 80. A 1938 advertisement [right] shows a 'rotary pyramid machine' for aerating bottled water - used in the Royal Navy, and will be found convenient for Country Houses, Shooting Quarters, etc. The company diversified into many kinds of modern equipment in partnership with other providers, and is now described as Wine and Spirit Merchants and General Engineers, Manufacturers of Iron Wine Bins, Cellar and Bar Fittings, Bottle Wax, Tapps etc., Mineral Water and Beer Carbonating Machinery, Brewers' and Bottlers' requisites, American iced drinks and bar appliances etc.

Samuel and Henry Harris - and a Bahamas connection

S. & H. Harris manufactured a wide range of blackings, polishes and pastes, especially for leatherware (including some products for women equestrians). They were well-established by the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851 at which they exhibited. One senior staff member in the following years was Alfred Hennel Covernton (1836-1901) whose family had emigrated to Canada when he was a child; he returned to England around 1861, and spent the rest of his working life with the firm, as a blacking and polish manufacturer, living in Highbury Park, Aberdeen Park and latterly Lewisham. (The firm itself later had premises in north London.) Right: no.2 Black Harness Oil and Coach & Gig Harness Liquid.

Their 'black but beautiful' logo [left] may raise eyebrows today, but is a biblical reference (I am black, but comely - Song of Solomon 1.5, AV) and also a reminder of the fact that the Harris family had strong links with the Bahamas. Sir George David Harris JP (1827-1902, latterly of Inverness Terrace) had been a member of the Colonial Parliament of the Bahamas, and in 1854 married Eliza Margaret, daughter of the Hon. Henry Adderley (b. Long Island 1803, d. London 1875; his wife Mary Ann Perpall was from a Minorcan family which had relocated to Nassau, 'New Providence' - as it then was). Henry and his son Augustus John (1835-1905) were merchants and politicians in the Bahamas. The Harrises exported their products to the region, and in 1861, from 27 Mansell Street, wrote to Earl Russell (then Foreign Secretary, later Prime Minister):

My Lord,
We beg most respectfully to approach your Lordship.
It has been our practice ever since the establishment of mail steam-ship communication between New York and Nassau, Bahamas, to ship general merchandize from London to New York for re-shipment to Nassau. Our consignments by the two last mail steamers from London, amounting to some thousand pounds in value, have been, and we believe still are, detained in New York by order of the Government of the United States, who refuse to allow them to be sent to their destination unless bonds are given that, after arriving at Nassau, the goods shall not be re-shipped to the Confederate States.We feel both ourselves and our correspondents at Nassau deeply aggrieved by this interdict, which appears to us tyrannical and unreasonable: for we affirm that when goods are sold in an open market, the vendor cannot possibly be called upon to be answerable for their final destination.
It is quite true that before the departure of our property, it was rumoured that the Government of the United States might possibly prevent the transhipment there of goods intended for Nassau, New Providence. But this was made known to us only after many of the goods in question were actually on board the steamer. We further assure your Lordship that we immediately examined our orders, and kept back every article which was at all likely of being destined for the Southern States, and were careful to forward only such goods as are commonly ordered for the Nassau market, and consumed in the port of Nassau and surrounding British Possessions.After all these precautions not to trench on the regulations of the United States, we find that, to the great loss and annoyance of the Nassau storekeepers and ourselves, our goods now lie impounded at New York.
With the utmost respect we entreat your Lordship's protection and interference in this matter. Should the remedy lie within your Lordship's province, we have the fullest confidence that we shall obtain immediate redress. Should there appear difficulties in the way, then, with equal respect and solicitude. we beg your Lordship kindly to point out to us our surest legal method of redress.
We have, &c. (signed) S. AND H. HARRIS

In 1868 Henry and Augustus Adderley invested in the London and Westminster Bank, using the Harris address as their London contact. Augustus became a member of the Legislative Council of the Bahama Islands, a royal commissioner, and an executive commissioner for the West Indian Islands. In 1884 he bought The Hermitage from his father-in-law William Henry Hall, and in 1886 he bought Salt Cay (now Blue Lagoon Island, a major tourist attraction) for £105 from Charles King Harmon, later Governor of Cyprus, who had purchased it from the Crown for £35. (Adderley sold it six years for £145 to two Americans, but their farming venture failed and in 1902 it was sold again, to Abraham Van Winkle for £135.) The paddle steamer Scotia, renamed Fanny and Jenny, was also registered in Augustus' name, having been rescued from salvage. Augustus became a KCMG in 1886. In 1883, for the International Fisheries Exhibition, he wrote a paper The Fisheries of the Bahamas, which includes these comments about sponge fishing (see here for local sponge traders half a century later):

[The vessels] coast along the banks and reefs where the water is shallow and [the sponges] are brought to the surface by hooked poles. The day's catch is spread out on the deck so as to kill the mass of animal life ...Then the spongers go ashore and build a pen or 'crawl' of stakes close to the water's edge, so that the action of the tide may wash away the black covering ...The sponges are strung upon small palmetto strips, when they are taken to Nassau to be sold in the sponge market. On the conclusion of the sale the sponges are taken to the packing yard where they are sorted, clipped, soaked in tubs of lime-water, and spread out to dry. They are then pressed by machinery into bales, containing 100 pounds, and in this state are shipped to either England or the United States.

Sir Augustus Adderley married Letitia Anne Hall, and their home (where his daughter's husband the artist Frederick Beaumont had a studio) was in Douro Place, Kensington. Sir George David Harris' son was Sir Henry Percy Harris KBE (1856-1941), a barrister and JP who chaired the London County Council in 1907-08 and was MP for Paddington South from 1910-22. His home was in Gloucester Terrace; he was a freemason [right - painting by William Orpen, from the Guildhall Art Gallery].

What lay behind this 1870 advertisement in The Lancet?
An efficient Out-door Assistant is required for a Country practice. Diploma not absolutely essential, provided testimonials are otherwise satisfactory. Liberal salary given. -
Address, C, care of S. and H. Harris, 27 Mansell-street, Goodman's-fields, London

A peculating paymaster
Noah Edward Lewis (Levi), alias Knight, c1760-1830, having travelled in Germany and France (where he was suspected of being a British agent during the Napoleonic Wars), was appointed in 1805 a Paymaster in the 8th Royal Veteran Battalion, and took the tenancy of 21 Mansell Street at a rent of £2 10s., listed two years later at this address as merchant.  He was later based at Fort Cumberland and Green Terrace, Kingston Cross in Hampshire. In 1812 he was acquitted of conspiracy to defraud one Edward Gibson of £5,000 (possibly using the alias 'Knight') while his co-defendants Augustus and William Whitaker were convicted. But the following year he was court-martialled for embezzling moneys drawn between 1807-12, including 'bar, baggage and forage money' for the expedition of three companies of the battalion to Heligoland - ‘more or less’ £2280 2s 6½d (of which for some reason he was excused £160), and dismissed from the service; in 1814 he was in the King's Bench Prison. He re-surfaced some years later, living at Melina Place, Westminster Road, giving evidence against the integrity of Sir Thomas Champneys in 1823, and acting as accountant for a bankrupt jeweller. He married Frances (Fanny) - they had at least six children, one of whom (Catherine) was baptized as a Roman Catholic; after his death Fanny lived at Woburn Place, Russell Square with Sophia, another of their daughters, until her death in 1850.

Bankruptcies, a partnership dissolved, contributions made....

Today: 83-85 Mansell Street (and its neighbour)
is one of more attractive office blocks in the area, described by Catherine Slessor in the Architectural Review as a technological coup de théâtre and by the current Pevsner as like a draught of pure water. Completed in 1990, Elana Keats & Associates were the main designers and John Winter & Associates the architects.  Built as a speculative commercial sceme providing 35,000 ft² of office space on seven floors, it is based on an exposed reinforced concrete frame, making pioneering use of a glazing system for double-skinned commercial buildings that is now commonplace today. In 1991 it won the RIBA National Award, the British Steel Award and the CSD Minerva Award. Next door at no.87, on the corner, is the grandiosely-titled Londinium Tower [right], 84 apartments plus commercial space, a Wetherspoon's pub Goodman's Fields at street level, and an underground car park, by David Wood Architects.

West side today
On an island site at 1 Portsoken Street is the 10-storey block Lloyds Chambers - left - with nearly 200,000 ft² of office space, completed in the early 1980s (it has changed hands several times, most recently being bought by a US/Chinese consortium). The site was then in Tower Hamlets, who made it a condition of planning permission that some residential accommodation was built, so Marlyn Lodge, 50 small flats (many on short term lets) were built by Wimpey in 1983 on a site adjoining the former railway goods yard.

Further along Mansell Street, an estate built by the Guinness Trust (now Guinness Partnership Group) comprises 249 housing units in three blocks, of which Guinness Court is the largest, with sheltered housing in Iveagh Court [front and rear - before the Green Box was added - left]. Little Somerset Street (outside the parish) runs off Mansell Street towards Aldgate bus station. It has two pubs - the Still and Star and no.1 and the Duke of Somerset at no.15. At nos.14-16 is the Green Box Community Centre (run by Toynbee Hall) and Portsoken Health Centre (a branch of the City Wellbeing Practice on Cannon Street Road): two shipping containers craned onto the site in a single day in 2007 by the Corporation of London [external and internal views right]. See here for another surgery and centre constructed in similar fashion.

Part of Ibex House, 42-47 Minories, lies within the parish. This H-shaped office block by architects Fuller, Hall and Foulsham of 1935-37 (renovated 1994) is said to be the largest surviving example of Streamline Moderne, a form of Art Deco used for many Odeon cinemas and the Daily Express building in Manchester. At the time it had the longest continuous glass curtain walls in the country. It is now Grade 2 listed. [Two views right, plus a 1937 advertisement]

Goodman's Yard
Today Goodman's Yard is merely a street (A1211) between Minories and Mansell Street, and a nondescript part of the one-way traffic system. Goad's 1887 insurance map of the area shows the impact of the railways on this area. Right are Mansell Street / Goodman's Yard in 1977 and today (a Travelodge - converted from an office block - squeezed between Goodman's Yard and Chamber Street, hard up against the railway: as shown, buses on the 'heritage' 15 route park alongside); far right are still-visible scars from the Blitz. Here are some 'snapshots' of its earlier history. The eastern half lies within our parish, following the old City boundary.

There was a glasshouse here before 1641, owned by Sir Bevis Thelwell and leased to others (more details here); it made bottles, and white and green glasses - in 1661 they provided glassware for the newly-founded Royal Society. The City boundary, shown by a chain line in Ogilby and Morgan's post-Fire of London map of 1676 as skirting the glasshouse (which may not be entirely accurate) - left - demonstrates how dangerous processes were excluded from the City limits, as with the Gunmakers. Detail from Roque's 1746 map  - right - also shows the boundary. It was later a soap factory.

Three 17th century farthing and halfpenny trade tokens show the range of local activity (here are more examples):

THOMAS  NORRIS  AT YE = Two carbines crossed  ¼
IN  GOODMANS  YARD = T. A. N. 1667

WILLIAM  PRESCOTT AT YE = A sugar-loaf ½

HONEST  NED  SPENCER  AT YE = A roll of tobacco ½

In 1675 was published
News from Goodman's Yard in the Mineries, Or, A Full and True Relation of a Most Horrid Murder: Committed by One Elizabeth Lillyman, who Stabbed Her Own Husband William Lillyman in the Left Pap, Neer the Nipple, with a Shoo-maker's Knife, Upon the 22 of June Instant, 1675, Whereof He Suddenly Died: for which Inhumane Fact She is Committed to Newgate, There to Remain Till Her Tryal at the Next Sessions : Being by the Coroners Jury Found Guilty of Petty Treason

According to Ivimey, there was an early Baptist chapel in Goodman's Yard. Laurence Wise, who had been the Anglican minister of Aldgate during the civil wars, became a Baptist and was ejected, and imprisoned at Newgate in 1682. Friends raised £50 to free him. His name is linked with that of William (Hercules) Collins - together with three others they appeared before Charles II to plead for liberty of conscience for dissenters, so he was a learned man. He died in 1692, aged about seventy.

In 1710 various 'loyal societies' - precursors of modern day insurance companies - published, both from an office at the Red-Lyon near Goodman's Yard, and from the office of the Good and Friendly Society, in Mansell Street between Haydon-Yard and the Vinegar-House, proposals for insurance on the birth of children, and on marriage.

As always, there were bankruptcies (coyly listed in the journals  as B**KR**TS) - for example, in 1761 William Ricards late of Goodman's-yard near Goodman's-fields, John Scott now or late of East Smithfield and Robert Newcome, late of Mansel-street, Goodman's-fields, coal merchants, lightermen, dealers and chapmen and co-partners. (Elsewhere Ricards listed as glassmaker) - see others above.

The glasshouse became Jesse Russell's soap and tallow factory: right is a contribution he made to discussions in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Arts in 1797 on the value and properties of Indian fossil alkali. In the previous year at the Old Bailey Robert Raw, aged 36, was convicted of stealing 9lb of tallow, value 5s., and two pieces of wood, value 5s., from Mr Mashiter's wharf; Russell attested that the tallow was his, and the wood belonged to a cask of imported pearl-ash and had his mark on it. Raw was sentenced to be Publickly whipped 150 yards upon the quays, and confined six months in the House of Correction. In 1803 Russell served as a special juror for the King's Bench trial of John Peltier for a libel on Napoleon Buonaparté, First Consul of the French Republic. He was a benefactor and guardian for life of the Asylum, or House of Refuge for Orphan Girls in Lambeth - far right.

The Committee Appointed to Inquire into the State of Mendicity and Vagrancy in the Metropolis and its Neighbourhood, which reported to the House of Commons in 1816, received information communicated by 'three members of a Society instituted for Benevolent Purposes' including in Goodman's-yard, Minories, six beggars affecting blindness; having listed other local venues, they noted that If each beggar does not procure at least 6s. per day, they are considered very bad at their business.

Pigot's 1824 Metropolitan Guide states that there was an 'Irish Free School' in Goodman's Yard, and a report to the House of Commons a few years later states that the East London Irish School had 140 male and 120 female pupils, and was partly supported by subscriptions and partly by payments from the children. (it listed other schools in the parish of St Botolph Aldgate, including those that 'appertain to Israelites'.) At that time Irish Court was a turning off Glasshouse Yard, going from Goodman's Yard. Elsewhere it is listed as the East London English and Irish Schools, founded 1817.

In a legal case of 1832, Edward and Eliza Cock of Goodman's Yard were charged on the testimony of their own 12-year old son (a pupil at Aldgate Charity School) and others, of having burked Elizabeth Welsh, aged 84, who had taken up residence with them: she drank some coffee after dinner, became drowsy, fell asleep, and was then strangled by Eliza. Her body was concealed in the cellar, and the next night was taken in a sack and sold at one of the hospitals.

Railway viaducts completely changed the scene. Left is a technical account of the lattice bridge over Prescott Street and Goodman's Yard, carrying the Haydon Square extension of the London & North Eastern Railway. Built on a curve, the report says it does not appear to have been designed with as much care as might have been desirable, but goes on to give some calculations. Left is also a ticket for the collection of goods from Goodman's Yard depot - for the London and South Western Railway! There were many outings for staff of the Goodman's Yard staff (which became part of the Great Eastern Railway); for example, the Great Eastern Railway Magazine of 1922 (the year before it became part of the LNER) reported a staff outing when a party of about 50 travelled by the 12.25 p.m. train from Liverpool Street to Yarmouth. Dinner and supper were served at the Garibaldi Hotel. On Sunday morning a drive to Ormesby Broad was arranged, returning to Yarmouth for dinner. The depot was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War.

«« Goodman's Fields 1  |  «« Goodman's Fields 2

Homepage | About Us | Services & Events | Church & Churchyard | History
Newsletters & Sermons | Contacts, Links & Registers | Giving | Picture Gallery | Site Map