Torrington Place, WC1E

Place Name

When it was first laid out, at the end of the 18thCentury, this was called Francis Street, presumably after Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford whose family had acquired the land from the Duke of Newcastle in 1772. The section of it, between Gower Street and Torrington Square, was renamed Torrington Place in the 1830s to commemorate the earlier marriage of Georgiana Byng, daughter of the 4th Viscount Torrington and local landowner John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, in 1768. The UCL Bloomsbury Project suggests it is Georgiana herself after who the street is named, while Shiela Fairfield in The Streets of London suggests it is her father, George Byng, 4th Viscount Torrington. In any case, it was first laid out around about the time of the marriage. The Torrington viscountcy had been created in 1721 for Sir George Byng, 1st Baronet, the statesman and Royal Navy officer who in 1708 had risen to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet. His somewhat (perhaps unfairly) less distinguished son, Admiral John Byng, is remembered for being the last of his rank to be court-martialled and executed by firing squad in 1757 for having failed to relieve a besieged British garrison in the Battle of Minorca during the Seven Years’ War. The Russells already owned large swathes of Bloomsbury when they acquired and started building on this farmland along the boundary between the former parishes of St Giles and St Pancras. Its development was slow. In January 1938, the whole street was renamed Torrington Place.

 

 

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