Vernon Place, WC1B

Place Name

Elizabeth Vernon (January 11, 1572 – November 23, 1655) was the mistress and later wife of local landowner Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. Vernon had been one of Elizabeth I’s chief ladies-in-waiting before becoming pregnant; upon finding out, the queen, most annoyed to discover that affairs were conducted at court without her knowledge, had the two locked up in Fleet prison, and after they were released they were never received by her again. After the couple married in 1598 Vernon became the Countess of Southampton. They went on to have several more children, one of whom was Thomas, the 4th and final earl of Southampton, whose daughter Rachel married William, Lord Russell, the Duke of Bedford in 1669, after which Bloomsbury transferred into the ownership of the Russell family who already held Covent Garden. Today the street is part of the A40, and a continuation east of Bloomsbury Way, however when it was first laid out, by 1720, along the lines of the 13thCentury Blemund’s dyke, it was called Hart Street and ran between Museum Street (then, Queen Street) and Southampton Row (then, King Street). By the time the 1895 Ordnance Survey map was published its eastern section had been renamed Vernon Place. Its location made it an increasingly important route for traffic, though this had been controlled for many years by the Russell family’s policy of restricting through traffic. Donald Olsen in London Town Planning, says “The Bedford office was generally successful in keeping bus and tram lines off its residential streets. For a long time the estate was able to exclude omnibuses from Hart Street”. The rest of Hart Street was renamed Bloomsbury Way in the 1930s and is now, rather ironically, a major route for through traffic.



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