Bedford Avenue, WC1B

Place Name

Like Bedford Square and Bedford Place, this street is named after the dukes of Bedford, on whose land it was built. This area appears on John Rocque’s map of 1746 as marshy fields with a stream running through it, though to its south, many of the streets and squares the district is famous for today had already been laid out. Gertrude Leveson-Gower (February 15, 1715 – July 1, 1794), the widow of the 4th Duke of Bedford, and her grandson Francis Russell, were the main instigators in the residential development of Bloomsbury, laying out Bedford Square and many of its surrounding streets, in the late-18thCentury and early-19thCentury. Donald Olsen in Town Planning in London explains this “inaugurated the systematic transformation of the pastures of northern Bloomsbury into a restricted upper-middle class suburb.” The street appears laid out though unnamed on Horwood’s plan of 1792-9. It is an unnamed yard on Ordnance Survey maps published around the end of the 19thCentury, and was so-named at some point in the early-20thCentury. Much of the area is still owned by the Bedfords, whose name lives on in over 70 street names across London.




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