Lant Street, SE1

The area around Lant Street was once known as The Mint. It was a slum area until as late as the 19th century but also a ’liberty’ with privileges for debtors until The Mint in Southwark Act (1722) removed these rights.

Much earlier, Suffolk House to the north had been the residence of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. It was exchanged by Henry VIII, the king giving the Duke of Suffolk in return the house of the Bishop of Norwich in St Martin’s-in-the-Fields. Suffolk House then took the name of Southwark Place and a mint was established here for the king’s use.

Later, Queen Mary I gave the mansion to Nicholas Heath, Archbishop of York. Archbishop Heath sold the premises, which were partly pulled down and many small cottages being built on the site. This estate devolved to the Lant family and Queen Anne empowered Thomas Lant to let leases for 51 years. In 1773 it was advertised to be let as seventeen acres, on which were 400 houses, with a rental of £1000 per annum. Lant Street may date form this period.

Charles Dickens lodged here in 1824 whilst his father was in the Marshalsea Prison and close by is the historic St George the Martyr church, where the Dickens character Little Dorrit was married in the eponymous book. The Marshalsea prison was located just north of the southeast end of Lant Street.

Sir Joseph Lyons was born at 50 Lant Street in 1847. Lyons went on to own the Lyons Corner Houses, a chain of tea shops established in 1887.

Much of the area became derelict as a result of air raid damage during World War II

In 1902, a small public open space, known as Little Dorrit’s Playground was established. North of Lant Street is Little Dorrit’s Court.

Leave a Reply