Boswell Court, WC1N

Place Name

Edward Boswell was a 17thCentury bricklayer from St Giles-in-the-Fields and a churchwarden of that neighbouring parish. Both Boswell Court and the adjoining Boswell Street were part of his successful speculative building projects at the end of the 18thCentury, a period of rapid residential development in the district of Bloomsbury, large swathes of the area remaining fields up until that time. Boswell had a contract for work on St George’s, Bloomsbury, which had been commissioned by an Act of Parliament in 1711 with the purpose of furnishing the capital and its rapidly growing conurbation with 50 new churches. Its Commissioners realised that, due to the rapid development of Bloomsbury during the 17th and early 18th centuries, the area (until then part of the parish of St-Giles-in-the-Fields) needed to be split off and given a parish church of its own. They appointed Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil and former assistant of Sir Christopher Wren, to design and build St George’s which was the sixth and last of his London churches. It’s a story picked up by Peter Ackroyd in his work of fiction, Hawksmoor. Upon Boswell’s death in about 1728, his estate passed to Mr John Collin, a carpenter from near the new church in Bloomsbury. Speaking of Boswell Street, David Hayes in East of Bloomsbury says it was built in the 1690s around the site of Devonshire House. It’s likely the Court was built at the same time, appearing on a 1746 map. Unlike its namesake however, which was at first called Devonshire Street after a 17thCentury house in the area, this has always been known as Boswell Court. Devonshire Street was renamed in 1927 after Boswell Court.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *