Great Queen Street

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Great Queen Street, looking east. Freemasons' Hall is visible on the right. Great Queen Street.jpg
Great Queen Street, looking east. Freemasons' Hall is visible on the right.

Great Queen Street is a street in the West End of central London in England. It is a continuation of Long Acre from Drury Lane to Kingsway. It runs from 1 to 44 along the north side, east to west, and 45 to about 80 along the south side, west to east. The street straddles and connects the Covent Garden and Holborn districts and is in the London Borough of Camden. It is numbered B402.

West End of London Area of Central London, England

The West End of London refers to a distinct region of Central London, west of the City of London and north of the River Thames, in which many of the city's major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings and entertainment venues, including West End theatres, are concentrated.

Central London innermost part of London, England

Central London is the innermost part of London, in the United Kingdom, spanning several boroughs. Over time, a number of definitions have been used to define the scope of central London for statistics, urban planning and local government. Its characteristics are understood to include a high density built environment, high land values, an elevated daytime population and a concentration of regionally, nationally and internationally significant organisations and facilities.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Contents

Early history

The street was called "Queen Street" from around 1605–9, and "Great Queen Street" from around 1670. [1]

In 1646 William Newton was given permission to build fourteen large houses, each with a forty-foot frontage, on the south side of the street. Although he did not build all the houses himself, selling on some the plots, they were constructed to a uniform design, in a classical style, with Ionic pilasters rising through two storeys from the first floor to the eaves. [2] The regular design of the houses proved influential. According to John Summerson they "laid down the canon which put an end to gabled individualism, and provided a discipline for London's streets which was to endure for two hundred years." [3]

Ionic order Order of classical architecture characterized by the use of volutes in the capital and a base moulding on the columns

The Ionic order forms one of the three classical orders of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian. There are two lesser orders: the Tuscan, and the rich variant of Corinthian called the composite order, both added by 16th-century Italian architectural writers, based on Roman practice. Of the three canonic orders, the Ionic order has the narrowest columns.

Pilaster decorative architectural element giving the appearance of a supporting column

The pilaster is an architectural element in classical architecture used to give the appearance of a supporting column and to articulate an extent of wall, with only an ornamental function. It consists of a flat surface raised from the main wall surface, usually treated as though it were a column, with a capital at the top, plinth (base) at the bottom, and the various other elements. In contrast to a pilaster, an engaged column or buttress can support the structure of a wall and roof above.

John Summerson British architectural historian

Sir John Newenham Summerson was one of the leading British architectural historians of the 20th century.

In 1710, the Great Queen Street Academy was founded here with Godfrey Kneller as its first governor. [4]

Godfrey Kneller painter from Germany active in the United Kingdom

Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1st Baronet, was the leading portrait painter in England during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and was court painter to English and British monarchs from Charles II to George I. His major works include The Chinese Convert ; a series of four portraits of Isaac Newton painted at various junctures of the latter's life; a series of ten reigning European monarchs, including King Louis XIV of France; over 40 "kit-cat portraits" of members of the Kit-Cat Club; and ten "beauties" of the court of William III, to match a similar series of ten beauties of the court of Charles II painted by his predecessor as court painter, Sir Peter Lely.

Masonic connections

Roughly half of the south side is occupied by Freemasons' Hall, the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England. The first English Grand Lodge was founded in 1717, which explains the dates on the top of the current building. Their first buildings on this site were replaced in 1860 by the architect Frederick Pepys Cockerell. However, this is the third Freemasons' Hall, which was built by international subscriptions in 192733 as a Masonic Peace Memorial after the Great War. It is a grade II listed building, and the only Art Deco building in London that is unaltered and still used for its original purpose. There are 29 meeting rooms and the 1,000 seat Grand Temple, which, with the Library and Museum are open to the public with hourly guided tours.

Freemasons Hall, London building in Camden and headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England

Freemasons' Hall in London is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England, as well as being a meeting place for many Masonic Lodges in the London area. It is located in Great Queen Street between Holborn and Covent Garden and has been a Masonic meeting place since 1775. There have been three Masonic buildings on the site, with the current incarnation being opened in 1933..

United Grand Lodge of England Grand Lodge in England

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is the governing body for the majority of freemasons within England and Wales along with lodges in other, predominantly ex-British Empire and Commonwealth, countries outside the United Kingdom. It claims to be the oldest Grand Lodge in the world, by descent from the first Grand Lodge formed by four Lodges meeting in the Goose & Gridiron Tavern, London on St John's Day, 24 June 1717. Together with the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the Grand Lodge of Ireland they are often referred to, by their members, as "the home Grand Lodges" or "the Home Constitutions".

Frederick Pepys Cockerell was a British architect. He was the second son of Charles Robert Cockerell, also an architect, whose favour for French architecture and sculpture in architecture was a major influence on Frederick.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is also located in Freemasons' Hall. The MCF comprises four former charities: The Freemasons' Grand Charity, a grant-making charity, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI), which operated 17 care homes for Freemasons and their dependents, the Royal Masonic Trust for Boys and Girls, which provided education for the children of Freemasons; and the Masonic Samaritan Fund, providing medical care and support. The MCF took over the activities of the four charities in 2016.

In 1775 the Freemasons' Tavern stood at 6165, now the hotel and "New Connaught Rooms". Like the original Tavern, the hotel is used by the public as well as by Freemasons for their receptions and dinners: the "New Connaught Rooms" are frequently used for exhibitions, business meetings and award ceremonies. There are conflicting stories about the founding in 1863 of the Football Association to set down the rules of the game. The existing pub "The Freemasons Arms" on Long Acre is sometimes said to be the site of this event, but other sources say it was the "Freemason’s Tavern" where the New Connaught Rooms now stand.

Freemasons Tavern

The Freemasons' Tavern was established in 1775 at 61-65 Great Queen Street in the West End of London. It served as a meeting place for a variety of notable organisations from the eighteenth century until it was demolished to make way for the Connaught Hotel in 1909.

The Football Association governing body of association football in England

The Football Association (FA) is the governing body of association football in England, the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in its territory.

There is a pub called "The Prince of Wales" at 45 Great Queen Street, presumably named after the future George IV who was the Grand Master of the Freemasons in 1809.

The north side of the road is also partly occupied by Masonic regalia shops, Masonic charities and administrative offices. At numbers 19–21 is the premises of the regalia manufacturer Toye, Kenning & Spencer, which has been located at this address since acquiring the rival manufacturer George Kenning in 1956. At 23 is another shop where Masonic regalia is sold. At 30–31 is the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, a charity that provides for the education of orphaned children of Masons.

Residents and businesses

At 72 is the Kingsway Hall Hotel.

At 31 Great Queen Street lived James Basire, a member of the Society of Antiquaries who took on William Blake as an apprentice in 1772. Between 1837 and 1840, the painter Richard Dadd lived in Great Queen Street while studying at the Royal Academy. Shanks and Co. ran their well-known coachbuilding business at 70–71 Great Queen Street from the 1850s, becoming F & R Shanks in 1860. The business moved out of Great Queen Street around 1905. The Shanks coachworks was located in 'New Yard'; this land was sold to the Freemasons around 1920 to build the Freemasons' Hall. [5]

From 1882 to 1959 the Novelty Theatre (later renamed the Great Queen Street Theatre and the Kingsway Theatre) was on Great Queen Street.

At 5658 lived James Boswell, lawyer, diarist and author.

Camden benches outside Freemasons' Hall in Great Queen Street Freemasons' Hall, London - Camden benches.jpg
Camden benches outside Freemasons' Hall in Great Queen Street

Opposite Freemason's Hall was one of the "feature sites" for the Camden bench when it was first introduced. [6]

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Covent Garden district in London, England

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References

  1. W. Edward Riley and Sir Laurence Gomme (editors) (1914). "Great Queen Street (general)". Survey of London: volume 5: St Giles-in-the-Fields, pt II. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  2. Summerson, John (1970). Architecture in Britain, 1530 to 1830. Pelican History of Art. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 163–4.
  3. Summerson, John (1962). Georgian London. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. p. 34.
  4. Richard H. Saunders, John Smibert: Colonial America's First Portrait Painter, Yale University Press 1995.
  5. Shanks Coachmakers
  6. "Camden Bench". Factory Furniture. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.

Coordinates: 51°30′56″N0°07′16″W / 51.51556°N 0.12111°W / 51.51556; -0.12111