Oxendon Street, W1D

Road in/near Soho, existing between 1675 and now

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Road · Soho · W1D ·

Oxendon Street, after Sir Henry Oxendon, husband of Mary Baker, daughter of Robert Baker who built the former Piccadilly House nearby.

Panton Street and Oxendon Street stand on the site of the close of land marked on the plan of 1585 as Scavengers Close. The area of Scavengers Close was three acres, but discrepancies in measurements were of frequent occurrence at this date.

Scavengers Close was bought by Henry VIII from the Mercers’ Company and described in a list of the "Kynges new purchest landes" as "iii acres of pasture in a close ny to the muse" in the tenure of Thomas Wood.

The plan of 1585 shows a building marked "Gynnpowder howse" in the north-west corner and three other small buildings, one of which may have been the conduit referred to in various deeds. In 1619 Richard Wilson, a descendant of Thomas, sold extensive property in the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields to Robert Baker, whose widow, together with her daughter Mary and her son-in-law, Henry Oxenden, in 1637 granted a 32 years’ lease of "a messuage, a cookhouse, a tennis court and 4 acres of ground" there to Simon Osbaldeston.

In 1631 Osbaldeston had obtained through his patron, Philip Herbert, Lord Chamberlain, a royal grant to keep Spring Garden and its bowling green. The public were forbidden to go there in 1634 and Osbaldeston, in order to make up for this loss of income, opened a similar establishment near the Mews, which included not only the "ordinary" and tennis court mentioned in his lease, but was also "made to entertain gamesters and bowlers at an excessive rate." The place came to be known alternatively as Piccadilly House (from its position at the end of Piccadilly) or Shaver’s Hall (probably in reference to Osbaldeston’s having served as "gentleman barber" to the Lord Chamberlain). In 1640–1 Shaver’s Hall was taken over by Captain Geares. Both Hall and tennis court were built of brick - the latter had a tiled roof.

In 1669 Shaver’s Hall was bought by Thomas Panton, succinctly described by the Dictionary of National Biography as a "gambler". who devised an urban plan. Sir Christopher Wren reported that "by opening a new street from the Hay-markett into Leicester-fields" Panton’s scheme would "ease in some measure the great passage of the Strand, and will cure the noysomness of that part," and recommended that a licence to build be granted provided that the houses were built of brick "with sufficient scantlings, good paving in the streets, and sufficient sewers and conveighances for the water." Panton Street first appears in the ratebooks in 1674 and Oxendon Street, named after Baker’s son-in-law, in 1675. Panton was also responsible for the erection of houses on the east side of the Haymarket at this time.

Oxendon Street was, according to Strype, "a good, open, well built, and inhabited Street"; with "a Chapel of Ease, called, The Tabernacle" on the west side. This chapel, which lay to the east of Coventry House, was built by Richard Baxter. The chapel was opened in 1676 but, in the words of the then Vicar of St. Martin’s: "Mr. Baxter being disturbed in his Meeting House in Oxenden Street by the King’s drums, which Mr. Secretary Coventry caused to be beat under the windows, made an offer of letting it to the parish of St. Martin’s at the rent of £40 a year. His Lordship hearing of it said he liked it well, and thereupon Mr. Baxter came to him himself, and upon his proposing the same thing to him, he acquainted the Vestry, and they took it upon those terms."

The chapel was fitted up for Church of England services at the expense of the pewholders, and it was maintained as a daughter church of St. Martin’s until the completion of the new church in 1726, though in 1684 when St. James’s was constituted a parish church it was thought that the extra chapel would prove superfluous.

Main source: Search | British History Online
Further citations and sources




Soho is a world-famous area of the City of Westminster and part of the West End of London.

The name "Soho" first appears in the 17th century. Most authorities believe that the name derives from a former hunting cry. James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, used "soho" as a rallying call for his men at the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685, half a century after the name was first used for this area of London. The Soho name has been imitated by other entertainment and restaurant districts such as Soho, Hong Kong; Soho, Málaga; SOHO, Beijing; SoHo (South of Horton), London, Ontario, Canada; and Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. SoHo, Manhattan, gets its name from its location SOuth of HOuston Street, but is also a reference to London’s Soho.

Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation as a base for the sex industry in addition to its night life and its location for the headquarters of leading film companies. Since the 1980s, the area has undergone considerable gentrification. It is now predominantly a fashionable district of upmarket restaurants and media offices, with only a small remnant of sex industry venues.

Soho is a small, multicultural area of central London; a home to industry, commerce, culture and entertainment, as well as a residential area for both rich and poor. It has clubs, including the former Chinawhite nightclub; public houses; bars; restaurants; a few sex shops scattered amongst them; and late-night coffee shops that give the streets an "open-all-night" feel at the weekends. Record shops cluster in the area around Berwick Street, with shops such as Phonica, Sister Ray and Reckless Records.
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