Bloomsbury Street, WC1A

Place Name

This street was built in the early 18thCentury by Henry Plumbtree, of Nottingham, and was originally called Plumptre Street. John Styrpe in 1720 describes it as “a new built Street, with pretty good Houses”. Other spellings included Plumbtre Street, Plumtree Street and Plum Street. It ran north from today’s High Holborn and ended just short of Great Russell Street. It was extended as part of a Victorian slum clearance scheme, when it was renamed, and today forms part of the A400 between Charing Cross and Archway in North London. The name Bloomsbury derives from Norman landowner William de Blemond (or Blemund) who acquired an estate roughly corresponding to the modern district in 1201. Earlier forms include Blemondisberi – literally the bury, or manor, of Blemond. Gillian Bebbington in London Street Names says the family took their name from a large mansion near Cornhill owned by de Blemond’s brother, an Anglo-Norman City merchant called Gervase, Belmont meaning Corn Hill. Though it has also been suggested that the name comes from the area of Blemont in France. Either way, in the early 14thCentury, Edward III acquired the estate, and gave it to the Carthusian monks of the London Charterhouse, who held it until 1545, when Henry VIII seized it as part of his land grab against the church. The king gave it to the Earl of Southampton whose descendants and heirs starting developing the area, building Bloomsbury Square (first called Southampton Square), the first open space in London to be designated a Square, and Southampton House, in the early 1660s. 



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