The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4

Allen, Thomas

1827

The Royal Institution

The Royal Institution for the encouragment of improvements in Arts and Manufactures, is situated the east side of . This admirable institution originated in the year , and was afterwards incorporated by royal charter, under the name and title of

The Royal Institution of Great

Britain

,

for the

diffusion of knowledge, and facilitating the general introduction of useful mechanical improvements.

The members consist of different classes: proprietors, life-subscribers, and annual subscribers. The institution is governed by a committee of members, who are elected by the proprietors: for years; for years; and for year.

The exterior of the building is perfectly plain; double windows barricade the front of the house, and thus keep out the cold in winter, and the heat in summer. There is a very spacious and elegant lecture-room, designed by Mr. Webster, with another of less size. There are also a library, a news-room, and a converzatione-room. In the news-room, besides all the morning and evening papers, the monthly and other periodical publications are regularly taken in, both English, French, and German.

Here are several professors, who read lectures on natural history, chemistry, the arts, &c.

Clarges house stood on the site of the present street of that name, which, with and Half-moon-street, lead to May-fields. This part was originally called Brook-fields; and when the ancient fair, granted by Edward I. to St. James' hospital, ceased, on account of the dissolution of that hospital, and the increase of buildings, the fair was removed to Brook-field, and assumed the name of May-fair.

Of the origin of the name, as applied to this place, we have the following account:

May fair was held annually for

fourteen

days on the north of the present Half-moon-street,

Piccadilly

; and commenced on May day. After the suppression of this fair, the fields were rapidly covered with new buildings, which are far too numerous to particularize, or indeed the many beautiful streets that contain them.

A paragraph in the London Journal of , says,

364

 

The ground on which May-fair formerly stood is marked out for a large square, and several fine streets and houses are built upon it.

The duke of Grafton and the earl of Grantham purchased all the waste ground at the upper end of Albemarle and Dover streets, in , for gardens; and a road there, leading to May-fair, was turned another way.

This fair was productive of such disorders, that, in the year , the following presentment was made to the grand jury of , for the body of the county of Middlesex:

That being sensible of their duty to make presentment of such matters and things as were public enormities and inconveniences, and being encouraged by example of the worthy magistracy of the city of London, in their late proceedings against Bartholomew-fair, did present, as a public nuisance and inconvenience, the yearly riotous and tumultuous assembly, in a place called Brook-field, in the parish of

St. Martin's

in the fields, in this county, called Mayfair. In which place many loose, idle, and disorderly persons did rendezvous, and draw and allure young persons, servants, and others, to meet there, to game, and commit lewdness and disorderly practices, to the great corruption and debauchery of their virtue and morals; and in which many and great riots, tumults, breaches of the peace, open and notorious lewdness, and murder itself had been committed; and were like to be committed again, if not prevented by some wise and prudent method: and for that the said fair being so near her majesty's royal person and government; by seditious and unreasonable men; taking thereby occasion to execute their most wicked and treasonable designs. Wherefore, and because the said fair, as it was then used, both actually was, and had so fatal a tendency to the corruption of her majesty's subjects, violation of her peace, and the danger of her person; they humbly conceived it worthy the care of those in power and authority to rectify the same, &c.

The consequence was that the fair was abolished for that time; but having been revived, the place was covered with booths, temporary theatres, and every incitement to low pleasure; but it received its final dissolution during the reign of George II. when a riot having commenced, a peace officer was killed in endeavouring to quell it.

Curzon chapel, , now occupies part of the site of this once gay scene of riot and merriment. It is a plain brick edifice with projecting porches. The interior is plain, and has a gallery round sides with a neat organ. The whole is at present under repair. Opposite is a neat but small mansion of the Ionic order, formerly the residence of Stuart Wortley, esq.

has now lost almost all its popularity, market having rendered it almost useless: it is still,

365

however, a trifling repository for butchers' meat, vegetables, and poultry.

, , and Hamilton-street, are the only avenues of consequence till we come to Hyde-park corner.

, a long street, leads from the top of , near Tyburn turnpike, to Hyde-park corner, . It is a noble street, built only on the eastern side; the other fronting Hyde-park.

In is

 
 
Footnotes:

[] October, 1828.

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 Title Page
 Dedication
CHAPTER I: Site, local divisions, and government of the City of Westminster; history of the Abbey; Coronation Ceremonies; and lists of the Abbots and Deans
CHAPTER II: Westminster Abbey, and Description of the Tombs and Monuments
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of St. Margaret's Parish
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of St. John's Parish, Westminster
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Westminster
CHAPTER VI: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. James, Westminster
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Anne, Westminster
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Mary-le-strand
CHAPTER X: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. Clement Danes
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of the parish of st. George, Hanover Square
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of the Precinct of the Savoy
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of the Inns of Court
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of the Precincts of the Charter-house and Ely Place, and the Liberty of the Rolls
 CHAPTER XV: Historical Notices of the Borough of Southwark
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Olave, Southwark
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of the parish of St. John, Southwark
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. George's, Southwark
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of St. Saviour's Parish
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of the parist of Christ-church in the County of Surrey
 CHAPTER XXII: A List of the Principal Books, &c that have been published in Illustration of the Antiquities, History, Topography, and other subjects treated of in this Work
 Addenda et Corrigienda
 Postscript