Henrietta Street, WC2E

Place Name

Henrietta Maria (November 25, 1609 – September 10, 1669) was the wife of Charles I, the reigning king when this street was built for the 4th Earl of Bedford in 1631. She was mother of two monarchs, Charles II and James II and VII. The youngest daughter of Henry IV of France, Henrietta Maria was brought up Roman Catholic, something which made her unpopular in fiercely protestant England, and it meant she was prohibited from being crowned in a Church of England service. As such she never had a coronation. After Charles I was executed in 1649 she fled back to France, where she settled in Paris until the Restoration of Charles II. Samuel Pepys recorded her return to England and was unimpressed. He found her “a very little plain old woman, and nothing more in her presence in any respect nor garb than any ordinary woman”. As to how this road got its name, it was down to a judicious bit of toadying by Bedford who had gone against Charles I’s edict that there should be no new development within the capital. Having gone against the royal proclamation he was threatened with a writ by the highest court in the land, the Star Chamber, the judicial arm of the King’s Council. Bedford managed to get special dispensation to develop his Soho estate upon which he tactfully dedicated a number of streets to the monarch and his family. Among the others were: King Street after Charles I himself, Charles Street (today, Wellington Street) and James Street which were named after the infant princes. The earl also built the square at Covent Garden that same year employing Inigo Jones as his architect.




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