The Polygon

Block in/near Somers Town, existed between 1784 and 1894

 HOME  ·  ARTICLE  MAP  STREETS  BLOG 
(51.53105 -0.13289) 

The Polygon

MAP YEAR:1750180018301860190019502020Remove markers
Block · * · NW1 ·
July
2
2017

The Polygon was a housing estate, a Georgian building with 15 sides and three storeys that contained 32 houses.

In 1784, the first housing was built at the Polygon, Clarendon Square, amid fields, brick works and market gardens on the northern fringes of London. The area appears to have initially appealed to middle-class people fleeing the French Revolution.

Clarendon Square occupied the site formerly covered by the barracks of the Life Guards.

Two of the most famous residents of the Polygon were William Godwin and his wife Mary Wollstonecraft, who died giving birth to Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Another former Polygoner was Charles Dickens, who lived at No 17 in the 1820s shortly after his father, John Dickens, was released from debtors prison. Dickens later made the Polygon a home for his ’Bleak House’ character Harold Skimpole, and he in turn may well have been modelled on Godwin. As late as 1832, Somers Town was full of artists

The Polygon deteriorated socially as the surrounding land was subsequently sold off in smaller lots for cheaper housing, especially after the start of construction in the 1830s of the railway lines into Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross. In this period the area housed a large transient population of labourers and the population density of the area soared. By the late 19th century most of the houses were in multiple occupation, and overcrowding was severe with whole families sometimes living in one room, as confirmed by the social surveys of Charles Booth and Irene Barclay.

It was demolished in the 1890s, by which time Somers Town had become a cheap and run-down neighbourhood, almost entirely because of its location next to Euston station - built in the 1830s.

The site of the Polygon is now occupied by a block of council flats called Oakshott Court, which features a commemorative plaque for Wollstonecraft.


Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence


The Polygon, Somers Town in 1850.

The Polygon, Somers Town in 1850.
User unknown/public domain

NEARBY LOCATIONS OF NOTE
Ossulston Estate The Ossulston Estate is a multi-storey council estate built by the London County Council in Somers Town between 1927 and 1931.
Regent’s Park Estate The Regent’s Park Estate is a large housing estate in the London Borough of Camden.
Rhodes Farm Rhodes Farm was situated on Hampstead Road.
Somers Town Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.
St. James Gardens St. James Gardens were used as a burial ground between 1790 and 1853.

NEARBY STREETS
Aldenham Street, NW1 Aldenham Street – Richard Platt, 16th century brewer and local landowner, gave land for the endowment of Aldenham School, Hertfordshire.
Ampthill Square, NW1 Ampthill Square is a name which has existed in two different time periods.
Barclay Street, NW1 Barclay Street led from Aldenham Street northwards to Medburn Street.
Barnby Street, NW1 Barnby Street is a street in Camden Town.
Beatty Street, NW1 Beatty Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Bidborough Street, WC1H Bidborough Street is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
Bridgeway Street, NW1 Bridgeway Street is a street in Camden Town.
Brill Place, NW1 Brill Place is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Cardington Street, NW1 Cardington Street is a rare London street in that it closed for good as late as 2017.
Centa Housebirkenhead Street, WC1H Centa Housebirkenhead Street is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
Chalton Street, NW1 Chalton Street was formerly Charlton Street.
Charrington Street, NW1 Charrington Street runs south to north and is a continuation of Ossulston Street.
Chenies Place, NW1 Chenies Place is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Christopher Place, NW1 Christopher Place is a street in Camden Town.
Church Way, NW1 Church Way is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Churchway, NW1 Churchway is a street in Camden Town.
Coach Road, N1C Coach Road is a road in the N1C postcode area
Cobourg Street, NW1 Cobourg Street is a street in Camden Town.
Cooper’s Lane, NW1 Cooper’s Lane is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Cranleigh Street, NW1 Cranleigh Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Crowndale Road, NW1 Crowndale Road was at first called Fig Lane and then Gloucester Place.
Denton Street, N1C Denton Street disappeared under the construction of St Pancras station.
Doric Way, NW1 Doric Way is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Doric Way, NW1 Doric Way is a street in Camden Town.
Drummond Crescent, NW1 Drummond Crescent is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Duke’s Road, WC1H This is a street in the WC1H postcode area
Dukes Road, WC1H Dukes Road is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
Elstree Street, N1C Elstree Street once laid off of St Pancras Road.
Euston Road, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Euston Square, NW1 This is a street in the NW1 postcode area
Eversholt Street, NW1 Eversholt Street is a street in Camden Town.
Everton Buildings, NW1 Everton Buildings is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Flaxman Terrace, NW1 Flaxman Terrace is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Flaxman Terrace, WC1H Flaxman Terrace is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
Floor, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
George Mews, NW1 George Mews is a street in Camden Town.
Godwin Court, NW1 Godwin Court is a street in Camden Town.
Goldington Crescent, NW1 Goldington Crescent is a street in Camden Town.
Goldington Street, NW1 Goldington Street is a street in Camden Town.
Goods Way, N1C Goods Way runs from Pancras Road to York Way.
Grafton Place, NW1 Grafton Place is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Granby Terrace, NW1 Granby Terrace is a street in Camden Town.
Gridiron Building, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Hamilton House, WC1H Residential block
Hampden Close, NW1 Hampden Close is a street in Camden Town.
Hampstead Road, NW1 Hampstead Road connects the Euston Road with Camden.
Harrington Square, NW1 Harrington Square is a street in Camden Town.
Harrington Street, NW1 Harrington Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Hastings Street, WC1H Hastings Street is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
Judd Street, NW1 This is a street in the NW1 postcode area
Kings Cross, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Lancing Street, NW1 Lancing Street is a street in Camden Town.
Lidlington Place, NW1 Lidlington Place is a street in Camden Town.
Mabledon Place, WC1H Mabledon Place is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
Mayford, NW1 Mayford is a street in Camden Town.
Medburn Street, NW1 Medburn Street is named after a farm between Elstree and Radlett in Hertfordshire.
Midland Road, N1C Midland Road is a road in the N1C postcode area
Midland Road, NW1 Midland Road is a street in Camden Town.
Mornington Cresent, NW1 Mornington Cresent was named after Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington.
Netley Street, NW1 Netley Street is a street in Camden Town.
Oakley Square, NW1 Oakley Square is a street in Camden Town.
Oakshott Court, NW1 Oakshott Court is a road in the NW1 postcode area
One Kings Cross, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
One Pancras Square, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Ossulston Street, NW1 Ossulston Street is a street in Camden Town.
Pancras Road, N1C Pancras Road is a road in the N1C postcode area
Pancras Road, NW1 Pancras Road is a street in Camden Town.
Pancras Square, N1C This is a street in the N1C postcode area
Penryn Street, NW1 Penryn Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Perry Street, N1C Perry Street was buried by St Pancras station.
Phoenix Road, NW1 Phoenix Road is a street in Camden Town.
Polygon Road, NW1 Polygon Road is a street in Camden Town.
Prince Of Wales Passage, NW1 Prince Of Wales Passage is a street in Camden Town.
Prince Regent Mews, NW1 Prince Regent Mews is a street in Camden Town.
Purchese Street, NW1 Purchese Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Sandwich House, WC1H Residential block
Seymour House, NW1 Residential block
Sinclair House, WC1H Residential block
Smith Street, N1C Smith Street was buried under St Pancras station.
Somers Close, NW1 Somers Close is a road in the NW1 postcode area
St. Philip’s Way, N1 A street within the N1C postcode
Stanhope Parade, NW1 Stanhope Parade is a street in Camden Town.
Stanhope Street, NW1 Stanhope Street is a street in Camden Town.
Starcross Street, NW1 Starcross Street is a street in Camden Town.
Thanet Street, WC1H Thanet Street is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
The Circle, N1C The Circle is a road in the N1C postcode area
The Gridiron, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Unity Mews, NW1 Unity Mews is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Varndell Street, NW1 Varndell Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Watford Street, NW1 Watford Street was cleared away in the 1860s to make way to St Pancras station.
Werrington Street, NW1 Werrington Street is a street in Camden Town.
Whittlebury Street, NW1 Whittlebury Street once laid to the west of Euston station.
William Road, NW1 William Road is a street in Camden Town.
William Street, NW1 William Street appears on the 1860 map west of Hampstead Road.
Wilsted Street, NW1 Wilsted Street was the original name for the lower end of Ossulston Street.


Somers Town

Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.

Historically, the name Somers Town was used for the larger triangular area between the Pancras, Hampstead, and Euston Roads, but it is now taken to mean the rough rectangle bounded by Pancras Road, Euston Road and Eversholt Street.

Somers Town was named after Charles Cocks, 1st Baron Somers (1725–1806). The area was originally granted by William III to John Somers (1651–1716), Lord Chancellor and Baron Somers of Evesham.

In the mid 1750s the New Road was established to bypass the congestion of London; Somers Town lay immediately north of this east-west toll road. In 1784, the first housing was built at the Polygon amid fields, brick works and market gardens on the northern fringes of London. The site of the Polygon is now occupied by a block of council flats called Oakshott Court.

The Polygon deteriorated socially as the surrounding land was subsequently sold off in smaller lots for cheaper housing, especially after the start of construction in the 1830s of the railway lines into Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross. In this period the area housed a large transient population of labourers and the population density of the area soared. By the late 19th century most of the houses were in multiple occupation, and overcrowding was severe with whole families sometimes living in one room, as confirmed by the social surveys of Charles Booth and Irene Barclay.

When St Luke’s Church, near King’s Cross, was demolished to make way for the construction of the Midland Railway St Pancras Station and its Midland Grand Hotel, the estimated twelve thousand inhabitants of Somers Town at that time were deprived of that place of worship, as the church building was re-erected in Kentish Town. In 1868 the lace merchant and philanthropist George Moore funded a new church, known as Christ Church, and an associated school in Chalton Street with an entrance in Ossulston Street. The school accommodated about six hundred children. Christ Church and the adjacent school were destroyed in a World War II bombing raid and no trace remains today, the site being occupied by a children’s play area and sports court.

Improvement of the slum housing conditions, amongst the worst in the capital, was first undertaken by St Pancras Council in 1906 at Goldington Buildings, at the junction of Pancras Road and Royal College Street, and continued on a larger scale by the St Pancras House Improvement Society (subsequently the St Pancras & Humanist Housing Association, the present owner of Goldington Buildings) which was established in 1924. Further social housing was built by the London County Council, which began construction of the Ossulston Estate in 1927. There remains a small number of older Grade 2 listed properties, mostly Georgian terraced houses.

During the early 1970s the neighbourhood comprising GLC-owned housing in Charrington, Penryn, Platt and Medburn Streets was a centre for the squatting movement.

In the 1980s, some council tenants took advantage of the ’right to buy’ scheme and bought their homes at a substantial discount. Later they moved away from the area. The consequence was an influx of young semi-professional people, resulting in a changing population.

Major construction work along the eastern side of Somers Town was completed in 2008, to allow for the Eurostar trains to arrive at the refurbished St Pancras Station. This involved the excavation of part of the St Pancras Old Churchyard, the human remains being re-interred at St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in East Finchley.

Land at Brill Place, previously earmarked for later phases of the British Library development, became available when the library expansion was cancelled and was used as site offices for the HS1 terminal development and partly to allow for excavation of a tunnel for the new Thameslink station. It was then acquired as the site for the Francis Crick Institute (formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation), a major medical research institute.


LOCAL PHOTOS
Mornington Road
TUM image id: 2353
The British Library
TUM image id: 1482066417
The Polygon, Somers Town in 1850.
TUM image id: 1499354315
Goods Way - old sign
TUM image id: 1526241892
St. James Gardens
Credit: Google
TUM image id: 1530005129
Print-friendly version of this page