Greek Street

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Greek Street
Hogarthgiles.jpg
Hogarth's Noon from Four Times of the Day, showing the church in the background
Former name(s) Hogs Lane
Length 0.2 mi[1] (0.3 km)
Postal code W1
Location Soho, London
north end Soho Square
south end A401 A401 road

Greek Street is a street in Soho, London, leading south from Soho Square to Shaftesbury Avenue. The street is famous for its restaurants and cosmopolitan nature.

History[edit]

It is thought to take its name from a Greek Church, which was built in 1677 in adjacent Crown Street, now part of the west side of Charing Cross Road. The church is depicted in William Hogarth's 'Noon' from Four Times of the Day.[2]

Although the street has several houses from the 18th century and earlier, it is mainly 19th century in appearance.

No. 1 Greek Street is the House of St Barnabas, built in 1746. In 1811, it became the offices of the Westminster Commissioner for Works for Sewers. This is where Chief Engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette started to work on the construction of the London sewage system. By 1862 the house was taken over by The House of Charity, which was established in 1846 to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people. Charles Dickens used the house and gardens as a model for the London lodgings of Dr Manette and Lucy in A Tale of Two Cities.[3][4]

In the mid-eighteenth century, no. 9 was the location of the Turk's Head Tavern where a well-known lodge of Freemasons met. The Ancient Grand Lodge of England was organized there on 17 July 1751.[5]

The Coach & Horses pub (also known as Norman's), famous for the rudeness of its former landlord Norman Balon, is at no. 29, at the corner with Romilly Street. The fortnightly editorial lunch of Private Eye is held in the Coach and Horses. There has been a public house of that name on the site since the 1720s. There has been a public house known as Pillars of Hercules at no. 7 since 1733.

No. 47 is known for providing temporary lodgings for famed Venetian adventurer and author Giacomo Casanova in 1764. The noted Victorian sheet music lithographer Alfred Concanen was living at No. 66 with his wife and children in 1861.

No. 49, on the west side of Greek Street, was the home of the legendary folk music club, Les Cousins.

In the southern part of the street (past Old Compton Street), no. 28 is the site of Maison Bertaux, a renowned French pâtisserie, founded in 1871. Owned by sisters Michele and Tania Wade, it is known as headquarters for the artist Martin Firrell. The upstairs tea room shows work by comedian and artist Noel Fielding and members of Icelandic band Sigur Rós among others. It is also the home of the The Maison Bertaux Theatre Club, which performs within the tiny confines of the shop.[6]

The street forms the setting for the 1930 film Greek Street, directed by Sinclair Hill and starring Sari Maritza and William Freshman.

In the Gangster film "Villain" (1971) the crime lord Vic Dakin (Richard Burton) recommends Greek Street as a source of prostitution. "Try the Manhattan Club in Greek Street... lot of 'sunburnt' girls there... for twenty quid they'll do anything... enjoy yourself!"

Former Occupants[edit]

Present day[edit]

Greek Street is known for its selection of restaurants and cafes which currently include a Hungarian restaurant (The Gay Hussar at No. 2), an oriental organic vegetarian restaurant, a Thai restaurant, a pizzeria, a traditional Chinese restaurant, an Italian restaurant and a Moroccan and Lebanese restaurant. There is also a gallery, a whisky shop, several bars and Reflex, a managed office provider.[7][not in citation given] At number 48 is the Michelin-starred L'Escargot restaurant. There are also several "walk-ups" (providers of legal prostitution) along the street.[citation needed]

The street crosses Manette Street, Bateman Street, Old Compton Street and Romilly Street.

Current Occupants[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Driving directions to Greek St". Google. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Sheppard, F. H. W. "Survey of London Volumes 33 and 34". English Heritage.  - although some sources claim the church is St Giles in the Fields
  3. ^ The Informal Education Homepage
  4. ^ House of St Barnabas
  5. ^ Coil, Henry Wilson: "Ancient Grand Lodge of England," pg. 237. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, publ. 1961, 1996, Macoy Publ. Co., Richmond, Va.
  6. ^ WCitie Destinations Guide
  7. ^ "Soho and Chinatown, London - map, shops, bars, restaurants". Street Sensation. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′50″N 0°07′51″W / 51.5139°N 0.1308°W / 51.5139; -0.1308