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East of Bloomsbury, Part 5: Regent and Argyle Squares

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

This is the fifth part of a walking tour following a Pevsner Perambulation in part of Bloomsbury, London; the previous part is here. See the introduction for fuller details; page references are to the Pevsner Buildings of England series volume London 4: North.


Regent Square

Regent Square

We start at Regent Square, entering the gardens in the centre.
The large terrace on the south side (Nos 1-17) is the only one remaining from the original development of the square in around 1829. The last three to the left are set slightly forward and are all that remains of the original houses in Sidmouth St (Nos 51-55).

51-55 Sidmouth St

51-55 Sidmouth St


United Reformed Church, Regent Sq

United Reformed Church, Regent Sq

To the right is the United Reformed Church (originally Presbyterian), which now goes by the trendy name of Lumen. The complex occupies the corner with Wakefield Street. This is a outwardly plain brick modern building of 1965 replacing its bomb-damaged Victorian Gothic predecessor; judging from pictures this was a major wartime loss.


Regent Square, NW corner

Regent Square, NW corner

Turning around to view the opposite (north) side of the square we see postwar redevelopment. To the left and in front of us are former LCC flats of c. 1958, and at the right hand end is the more modern St Peter’s Court. As its name suggests it replaced a redundant church of the same name (originally by the Inwoods of 1820s, with Greek portico similar in style to St Pancras by the same builders and damaged during the war). Notices in the square give an account of some of its history and residents.

Regent Square, NE corner

Regent Square, NE corner


Holy Cross church

Holy Cross church, Cromer St

We leave Regent Square by the NW corner between the LCC flats which brings us through to Cromer Street beside Holy Cross church. This brick towerless building was built in the Early English style in 1887 by Joseph Peacock (see p255) and is hard to photograph in summer! I have never found it open except for services.


Cromer Street, White Heather House

Cromer Street, White Heather House

We turn right on Cromer Street and go along as far as necessary to look at the flats on both sides of the road, which show the development of council housing from the thirties to the fifties. The first few blocks on the left hand (North) side are early St Pancras Borough Council housing dating from either side of the war, White Heather House serving as an example. By contrast the right hand side consists of nine blocks of flats placed at right angles to the street built 1949-51 and refurbished 1996 so they look newer than they are. Four more are on the north side.

Cromer Street, S side

Cromer Street, South side


Tankerton Street

Tankerton Street

We now retrace our steps along Cromer Street to look at some earlier public housing erected by the East End Dwellings Company. The streets on the right are each filled by single developments of flats which although cramped must have been a vast improvement on what they replaced. Tankerton Street, of 1893, is an example (2nd street on the Right).


Tonbridge House, Tonbridge Street

Tonbridge House, Tonbridge Street

We continue to Tonbridge St (opposite Holy Cross church) which we turn into. Tonbridge House on the left hand side is slightly newer (1904) and more spacious, having been built by the LCC. The original sign remains.

Tonbridge House sign

Sign on Tonbridge House, Tonbridge Street


Argyle School

Argyle School, Tonbridge Street

Continuing along Tonbridge Street, Argyle School (see p.263) a little further along on the right hand side, a good example of a Board school slightly hidden from the road by a brick wall.


Argyle Street

Argyle Street

We turn right just before the school and cut through the alleyway into Argyle Street. This is the most complete of a block of a few streets centred around Argyle Square developed in the 1820s, in this case from 1826.

We continue straight on in Argyle Square itself on the left, which has terraces on three sides (many of them now hotels) and a small garden and a basketball court in the centre. This was developed slightly later than the surrounding streets, in the 1840s.

Argyle Square

Argyle Square


Crestfield Street

Crestfield Street

The other streets are more mixed, with original terraces interspersed with newer infill. Crestfield Street and Birkenhead Street both date from 1826 extend the long sides of the square the north (the left as we approach) and St Chad’s Street (from 1827 onwards), forms the continuation of the north side.

Birkenhead Street

Birkenhead Street


St Chad's Street

St Chad’s Street

We continue along St Chad’s Street to the main road at the end, which is Gray’s Inn Road and where the next section of the tour continues.

A further post will continue the tour.