Great Marlborough Street

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Liberty store on Great Marlborough Street

Great Marlborough Street is a thoroughfare in Soho, Central London. It runs east of Regent Street towards Noel Street.

The street was named after John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and laid out around 1704. It was a fashionable address in the 18th century, but its character changed to commercial and retail use by the end of the 19th. Marlborough Street Magistrates Court was one of the most important magistrates court in London.


The road is about 0.2 miles (0.32 km) long from end to end. At its western end it joins Regent Street and runs east, crossing Kingly Street, Argyll Street, Carnaby Street, and Poland Street. At its eastern end, it becomes Noel Street.[1]

The nearest tube station is Oxford Circus to the northwest.[1]


The street was named after John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, commander of the English Army who won the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, shortly before construction started.[2] Initially the street was a fashionable address; in 1714 John Macky said it "surpasses anything that is called a street" and praised its architecture.[2]

Out of one hundred peers summoned before the King in 1716, five lived in Great Marlborough Street, including Richard Lumley, 1st Earl of Scarbrough at No. 12.[2] For a time in the 18th century, the street was the main London residence of Lord Nelson.[3] During the 19th century, various professionals such as architects and scientists were living in Great Marlborough Street. Thomas Hardwick lived here between 1815-25, as did Charles Darwin between 1837-8.[2]

A number of pubs have been based on Great Marlborough Street for centuries. The Coach and Horses at No. 1 and the Marlborough Head at Nos. 37-38 were both established around 1739.[2]

A police station was established on Great Marlborough Street in 1793. This led to the establishment of Marlborough Street Magistrates Court at No. 20-21 in the early 19th century.[2] William Ewart Gladstone gave evidence against a blackmailer who claimed Gladstone had frequented prostitutes in Leicester Square, while Oscar Wilde was tried for sodomy here in 1895. In the late 1960s, a number of rock stars, including The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones, stood trial on drugs offences. Richards was tried here again in 1973 for possession of heroin and owning unlicensed firearms, but miraculously was only fined £205 (now £2,236). John Lennon and Yoko Ono were tried for obscenity here in 1970.[4]

The London College of Music were based at No. 47 Great Marlborough Street from 1896 to 1990.[2]

The department store Liberty's in on the corner of Great Marlborough Street and Regent Street.[2] The founder, Arthur Lasenby Liberty, was unable to expand or modernise the existing shop front due to Crown planning restrictions, so he bought numerous properties on Great Marlborough Street in 1925, and rebuilt them in a Mock Tudor design as an extension of the store.[5]

The street inspired the name of one of Philip Morris' most famous brands,[6] Marlboro (launched in 1924, but originally sold as Marlborough from 1885),[7] because one of their original cigarettes factory used to be located on the street from 1881 onwards.[8]

Modern usage[edit]

Great Marlborough Street is the location of the Tudor wing of Liberty's department store, a few foreign language bookshops, offices and the back entrance to Marks and Spencer's Oxford Street branch. The European Headquarters of Sony Computer Entertainment (PlayStation) and London Studios are also located on the street as was the London College of Music until that institution relocated to Ealing in west London in 1991, being replaced in 1995 by the London College of Beauty Therapy.

Great Marlborough Street is shown on the British Monopoly board as "Marlborough Street". This is as a result of the square being named after Marlborough Street Magistrates Court; the other two orange property squares on the board are Bow Street (named after the Bow Street Runners) and Vine Street (named after the Vine Street Police Station), completing a set based around police and law.[9]

Notable past occupants[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Great Marlborough Street to Great Marlborough Street". Google Maps. Retrieved 29 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Weinreb et al 2008, p. 342.
  3. ^ Moore 2003, p. 141.
  4. ^ Moore 2003, pp. 145-6.
  5. ^ Moore 2003, p. 143.
  6. ^ "Marlboro cigarettes – name origin of the brand". 1 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  7. ^ "History of Philip Morris". 1987. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  8. ^ Kluger, Richard (1997). Ashes to Ashes: America's Hundred-Year Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris. Vintage Books. p. 50. ISBN 0-375-70036-6. 
  9. ^ Moore 2003, pp. 133,135.