Leonardo Royal Hotel Tower Bridge, 45 Prescot Street

2008–10, hotel on the site of seventeen late 17th-century houses

Prescot Street - an historical introduction
Contributed by Survey of London on Aug. 3, 2020

Prescot Street was laid out across what had been garden grounds around 1680 as part of Sir William Leman’s development of his Goodman’s Fields estate. Chamber Street was contemporary, but Prescot Street was more important as the southern side of the large quadrangle otherwise formed by Mansell Street, Alie Street and Leman Street. Taking its name from Leman’s mother, Rebecca, née Prescot, it was solidly built up in 1685–9 with terraces of houses, nearly all of them put up by William Chapman working under Sir Thomas Chamber. The street was ‘spacious and regular Built’.1

Prescot Street’s first houses, thirty-eight on the south side and thirty-four on the north, were nearly all of equivalent size, by and large single-fronted, double-pile and of three storeys, with attics and basements behind shallow forecourts. The street was tree lined and there were substantial back gardens on both sides, along with access to the Tenter Ground from the west end of the north side.

Prescot Street was unusual, remarkable even, as an early instance of the application of house numbering, as was noted in 1708: ‘instead of signs, the houses here are distinguished by numbers, as the staircases in the Inns of Court and Chancery’.2 Continuous from the south-east clockwise to the north-east, this numbering was presumably applied to help to provide differentiation in long rows of similar houses. It has been suggested that settlers from the continent, in particular Sephardi Jews, lay behind this, but that seems unlikely. Neither Mansell Street nor Leman Street, similarly settled but with more big houses and less regular, was so treated, and the Jewish population appears anyway not to have been large until after 1708. Numbering notwithstanding, some buildings were also identified by signs, for example in 1719, No. 25 (later No. 29) was also the ‘Blew Flowerpots’.3 Inevitably perhaps, the numerical sequence was undermined. A mansion at the centre of the south side was adapted in 1741 to be the London Infirmary, which thereafter spread to adjoining houses and, after its move to Whitechapel Road as the London Hospital, was followed from 1758 in its former Prescot Street premises by the Magdalen Hospital for penitent prostitutes. After that institution’s removal to Southwark in 1772, nine houses were built on the hospital’s site in 1778–81 and named Magdalen Row, a separately numbered address. The whole street was renumbered in 1869, removing this and other incoherence. Often called Great Prescott Street since the eighteenth century, to differentiate it from Little Prescot(t) Street which ran south from its west end until Mansell Street was extended in 1905–7, it reverted to its original moniker in 1937.4

Prescot Street fell out of favour as a desirable address, but only gradually. By the beginning of the nineteenth century there was much domestic industry and warehouses, factories and workshops went up on the private gardens. The presence of the London and Blackwall Railway to the south from 1840 accelerated change in this direction. A strongly Jewish character was maintained, shifting from Sephardi dominance to Ashkenazi by the end of the century following east European immigration, with related social, welfare and education initiatives. Whitechapel County Court was a major institutional presence on the south side from 1859 and further east English Martyrs’ Roman Catholic Church replaced more houses in 1873–6, connecting Prescot Street to a large and predominantly poor Irish-immigrant population living around Royal Mint Street. In 1885 the street was described as a ‘quiet thoroughfare {where} the houses are chiefly tenanted by business people and lodging-house keepers’.5

By this time tailoring was widespread and the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) had begun to expand from Leman Street to domination of Prescot Street’s east end through the twentieth century. Second World War bomb damage was substantial, especially on the north side, and Prescot Street struggled to recover. Cleared sites were not again fully built up until 2010. Having been made one-way, Prescot Street has latterly been dominated by fast-moving traffic. Recent bulky office and hotel blocks reinforce a sense of placelessness. There is respite, even delight, to be had in the south side’s two eighteenth-century houses, the polychromatic former County Court, the boldly lettered Princess of Prussia public house, CWS brick Expressionism, and the Gothic certitude of English Martyrs’ Church. But few pedestrians linger.


In June 1682 Sir William Leman granted John Price sixty-two-and-a-half year leases of six plots on Prescot Street, four south and two north. Price borrowed heavily (£6,000) from Sir Thomas Chamber, who caused Price to be arrested for non-payment of interest in early 1683. Chamber thereby or otherwise came by 1684 to have possession of virtually all the land fronting Prescot Street. The east end of the north side was part of a separate large parcel fronting Leman Street that was demised to John Hooper in August 1682. He sublet the corner plot to Thomas Cole and John Hanscombe, a brewer, in June 1683. Within a year they had put up six houses, four on Prescot Street, one at the corner and one on Leman Street. The east end of Prescot Street’s south side was also separately developed.6

Chamber proceeded to develop the street, working from west to east. His method, which proved controversial, is described in Bills of Complaint to Chancery that while not impartial seem credible. In February 1684/5 Chamber ‘hired’ William Chapman, a carpenter and ‘master builder’, described variously as of Whitechapel and London, to build ten houses on a 198-foot frontage on Prescot Street’s north side immediately east of the passageway into the Tenter Ground (later Nos 44–53). Chapman, otherwise obscure, had in July 1684 undertaken to build some houses on the Old Artillery Ground in Spitalfields in leases from Nicholas Barbon and John Parsons.7

Chamber allegedly promised Chapman that he would supply ‘all moneys needfull’ to get the houses built, and undertook to help him sell the houses or to buy them himself to permit Chapman to continue building, assuring him that he would be ‘a great gainer’ and would ‘secure to himself a very good Estate’.8 Thus drawn in, Chapman borrowed £1,800 from Chamber at six per cent interest and built the ten houses. The loan, it seems, was no more than enough to get the carcasses up. Chamber is said to have refused to countenance any further loan unless the houses were reassigned to him. Chapman had to acquiesce and then to take on the additional building of ‘shops’, presumably workshops or other outbuildings in gardens, to accommodate the particular trades of Chamber’s lessees. Chapman spent about £1,400 more than he had borrowed from Chamber, yet the house rents went to Chamber.

Chapman, in debt and said to be ‘a man easie to be wrought upon’,9 was inveigled in September 1685 to take on a second parcel, a 100-foot frontage at the west end of Prescot’s Street’s south side (the site of Nos 32–33 and other houses that formerly stood further west). He built five houses here, for the buying back of which Chamber promised him land in Shadwell and £500. The rents thus went to Chamber, but the payment did not materialise. Even so, Chapman was prevailed on to take an adjoining parcel to the east, 198-foot of frontage (later Nos 22–31) for ten more houses. Chamber lent another £1,800 but Chapman spent more than £3,000, including on further additional ‘shops’. Gullibility aside, it seems that Chapman was in so deep that he could not escape.

Onwards he ploughed, evidently building efficiently, but falling ever deeper into Chamber’s trap. He next took on the rest of Prescot Street’s north side, a 396-foot frontage for twenty houses (later Nos 54–71), abutting Cole and Hanscombe’s property to the east. He also returned to the south side, building along another 396-foot frontage (later Nos 5–21). Further loans of £7,200 were followed by Chapman spending £13,000, yet again ceding the rents to Chamber. Finally, Chamber obliged Chapman, who had also been insinuated into building on Chamber Street, to build one more house on the south side of Prescot Street. All this was complete by 1689 when through this ‘extraordinary way of proceeding’ Chapman unsurprisingly found himself indebted to many tradesmen. Chamber agreed to settle his debts in exchange for a general release and discharge, to which Chapman agreed, ‘ashamed and afraid’.10 Chapman signed, Chamber reneged, and Chapman absconded, seeking sanctuary in Whitefriars. Chapman’s creditors, led by John Butcher, a timber supplier owed £1,500, sought bankruptcy proceedings, and were paid off by Chamber, though £7,000 remained due to Chapman’s estate. Butcher found Chapman who by 1692 had assigned him his Prescot Street and related interests. Chamber died that year, his son Thomas Chambers inheriting, and Butcher died in 1695, his suit against Chambers pursued thereafter by his widow, Elizabeth, who died in 1697, and other executors. Its outcome is not known.

The only unusually large house, on the south side towards the middle, pertained initially to Chamber and then to his widow, Elizabeth, and his son. Chambers’ Rents was an address on the street’s north side near its east end that had disappeared by 1740.11

Early social character

Prescot Street’s new houses attracted affluent householders, people whose standings have left them comparatively well documented. In 1693–4 those assessed as taxable included eight captains, three doctors, an eminent mathematician (John Colson), a sugar refiner (Joseph Bagnall), and Joseph Desarvado, certainly wealthy and probably a Sephardi Jew. Seafarers, merchants and immigrants gave Prescot Street global connections.

Goodman’s Fields in general was above all a maritime and mercantile place. Naval officers and East India Company captains were numerous from the outset, whether as established residents or short-term lodgers. Naval connections would have been encouraged not just by the accessibility of the Thames, but more particularly by proximity to the Royal Navy Victualling Yard at what later became the site of the Royal Mint. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell had a house on Prescot Street in 1692 when his daughter Elizabeth was born. He had probably departed by 1694 from when his principal residence was in Crayford. Vice-Admiral Robert Dorrell, who commanded HMS _Saint Andrew _at the Battle of Beachy Head in 1690, had a house on the south side of Prescot Street, but he too soon departed.

The captains of 1693–4 included Humphry Sanders (d. 1726), in the middle of the north side, and Joseph Brooks, Jasper Hicks and Thomas Marshall, from east to west on the south side. Naval captains in the first years of the eighteenth century included Henry Lumley and Samuel Whitaker, followed in later decades by John Pelley, Richard Johnson, Daniel Lindsey, Joseph John, Thomas Debuke, Joseph Stone, Charles Wilson, and a Captain Perryman. Trade with the Caribbean in the 1730s and 1750s can be linked to Prescot Street captains through William Reynolds, Humphrey Brent, and John Clarke. Captain Allwright, a commander in the West African or Guinea (slave) trade, was resident in 1750, and Captain Isaac Ross, present in the 1760s, had connections with the Gambia, Senegal, and Nova Scotia.12

Contemporaries on the street’s south side in the 1760s included captains Roderick Wilson, Thomas Mangles, Robert Young, George Gould, and Daniel Anderson (d. 1781), who had a house here from the 1730s. Captain James Young (1717–1789) was resident on the north side before engagements in the Caribbean during the American War of Independence. Others included Captain Brewer, a commander in the Italian ‘Leghorn’ trade in the 1760s, John Sivall, a Tripoli merchant in the 1770s, and Captain Thomas Molloy, who traded with Quebec in the 1780s.13

The accessibility of the port also attracted residents directly employed therein, including Nathaniel Fowler (d. 1741), a collector of duties in the 1730s, and Joseph Fisher, ‘Head Cutter’ at the Victualling Yard in the 1740s. Denham Skeet, an accountant to the Navy’s Victualling Board at the Tower of London, lived on Prescot Street’s south side from 1738 to 1745 and on the north side to 1749. His son, also Denham Skeet (b. 1742), became a wealthy lawyer in Bath. William Russell (d. 1769), a British-born naval officer, was the comptroller or collector of customs in Savannah, Georgia, from 1757. When he returned to England in 1768 to attempt to recover from illness, it was to a house on Prescot Street.14

Numerous other residents who identified primarily as merchants with overseas interests perhaps seldom or never left terra firma. James Edmundson, a South Sea Company and Royal African Company director, lived at the west end of Prescot Street’s south side from 1708 into the 1720s. William Dawson (d. 1760) and John Alford (d. 1765), also South Sea Company investors, were long- standing residents, for at least twenty and forty years respectively. Edmund Boddicoat (d. 1761), a City merchant and an accountant to the East India Company, married Mary Cross (or Cruz), who lived on the street’s north side, and took a lease of a building, possibly a warehouse, at the west end of the south side from the 1740s.15

Eighteenth-century Prescot Street was, as has been said, ‘much affected by opulent Jews’.16 Mercantile Sephardi families of Portuguese and Spanish descent chose to live on the street, mainly after 1710, some escaping the Inquisition, others arriving via the Netherlands. These included the da Costa Villa Reals, and the Moses Pereros. Others of note, including widows, were Hannah Peria, Sarah de Prado Mendes (d. 1752), David Bueno de Mesquita, Nunes Brandon, and Moses Gomes Sera. Later eighteenth century Jewish residents included Isaac Mendes Belisario, Hananel Mendes da Costa, Abraham de Paz, David da Silva, John Sequiera and Isaac Sequeira junior, Isaac Bernal, and, in Magdalen Row, Abraham Goldsmid, Solomon de Mendes and George Capadosa.17

Among many other merchants on Prescot Street, corn factors were well represented. Richard Pyott and John Owen were at the east end of the north side from 1741. A neighbour had been John Farrer (d. 1741), whose son, Thomas Farrer, continued on Prescot Street and supplied corn to the Navy in the 1770s. (Sir) Claude Scott had at least three addresses on the south side from 1769. Other Prescot Street corn factors in the later eighteenth century included John Willes, a partner of Scott’s, John Giles, Robert Wilson, John Prest, and Joseph Boggis, who was at 4 Magdalen Row (later No. 19) from about 1788 to 1822.18

Joseph Threlkeld, a silk thrower, was in a house on the English Martyrs’ site from the 1730s and John Bailey, a silk factor, was in another on the County Court site from 1749. There were many local sugarhouses, but after Bagnall few sugar refiners made Prescot Street a base. John Christian Suhring was an exception in the 1770s.19

There were also residents from learned professions. John Colson, an eminent mathematician and astronomer, had the street’s largest house, originally Sir Thomas Chamber’s, on the south side in the 1690s. Opposite were Dr Samuel Montague, Dr Joseph Taylor and Dr Richard Franks. Angel Carmey (d. 1765), a coin dealer who was to become a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, lived at the west end of the south side in the 1730s. Small private schools were numerous. Colson boarded pupils and more formal academies followed. One of the earliest identified belonged to the Rev. James Barclay, a lexicographer best known for his Complete and Universal English Dictionary of 1774, who used his house on the site of 1 Magdalen Row for teaching from 1749 to 1753.20

Magistrates who lived on Prescot Street included (Sir) Clifford William Phillips in the late 1730s (see below), William Quarrill in the 1760s and ’70s, and, in the 1790s, the Rev. Dr Henry Reynett (d. 1810), who sat in judgment at the Whitechapel Police Office established on Lambeth Street after 1792.21

Religious controversy was doubtless common on Prescot Street. Substantial Jewish and poor Irish Catholic local populations aside, several sometimes schismatic variants of Nonconformity were locally based. One documented incident illustrates another kind of tension. In 1717, the Rev. Richard Welton (1671/2–1726), the nonjuring and therefore former rector of St Mary Matfelon, gathered a congregation, reportedly 300 in number, in an unidentified Prescot Street house, meeting on winter evenings to avoid detection. A collective refusal to take oaths of loyalty to George I left participants open to the charge of ‘popish recusancy’. Welton’s possessions were seized to pay a fine, the congregation dispersed, and Welton fell ill.22

The building trades were also represented. William Simon Youd lived from 1735 until 1753 in the house that survives as No. 30, possibly having rebuilt it. John Murray, a carpenter, was on the County Court site from the 1770s, owning other houses nearby, and James Thomas Dent, another carpenter, lived on the north side up to his death in 1795 when he held houses on both sides of Prescot Street, and many more in the City.23

Prescot Street was principally residential, but not entirely. From early on there were public houses and other places of resort or entertainment. In 1703 John Tutchin’s Observator noted a new playhouse ‘in the passage by the Ship Tavern betwixt Prescot and Chambers-street’.24 The playhouse seems otherwise undocumented; in an otherwise satirical passage, it might have been invention. The passage was perhaps what later became Magdalen Passage. The Ship did exist, lying close to the Golden Ball on Prescot Street, from where in 1706 one P. Bartlett sold ‘cures for ruptures and weaknesses in human bodies’.25 A cockpit was noted in 1712, and the Black Boy, Mr Dizimew’s Coffee House, and the Sign of the Five Clogs, all named in the 1710s, were likely on or near the Leman Street corners.26

Incursions of industry shifted character, as on Leman Street and Mansell Street, but Prescot Street sustained pleasant and respectable domestic qualities for longer. An advertisement in 1777 claimed it to be ‘one of the genteelest streets at the East End of the City’.27 Yet the large new houses of Magdalen Row proved difficult to let around 1780. Prescot Street declined in status after 1800, though it remained a convenient address for merchants well beyond.

  1. Edward Hatton, A New View of London, vol.1, 1708, p.65 

  2. Hatton, New View, p.65 

  3. Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 10 Jan 1719, p.7: Jewish Chronicle (JC), 13 Aug 1886, p.10; 10 June 1898, p.23 

  4. Metropolitan Board of Works Minutes, 7 May 1869, p.550: Post Office Directories (POD) 

  5. Daily Telegraph, 28 Jan 1885, p.5 

  6. London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), MDR1715/2/32: The National Archives (TNA), C5/148/42; C7/58/2; C10/225/21; C10/544/6 

  7. TNA, C5/148/42: F. H. W. Sheppard (ed.), Survey of London, vol.27: Spitalfields and Mile End New Town, 1957, p.32 

  8. TNA, C5/187/11 

  9. TNA, C5/148/42 

  10. TNA, C5/148/42 

  11. TNA, C5/148/42; C5/187/11; PROB11/427/101; PROB11/439/23: British History Online, Four Shillings in the Pound Assessments, 1693–4 (4s£): LMA, Land Tax Returns (LT);  Ancestry: Barts Health Archives (BHA), RLHLH/A/5/1: 23 Jan 1745, p.264 

  12. 4s£: LT: Ancestry: The National Archives (TNA), C5/148/42; PROB11/607/176; T1/487/217-221; ADM106/1203/74: Daily Post, 6 Jan 1739, p.1: London Evening Post, 27–29 Nov 1739, p.2: Read’s Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 18 Aug 1750; Derby Mercury, 17 Aug 1753: 3decks.pbworks.com/w/page/913050/Battle%20of%20Beachy%20Head 

  13. LT: TNA, PROB11/1075/86: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) sub James Young: General Evening Post, 21–23 May 1771, p.5: Middlesex Journal, 23–25 May 1771, p.1: London Gazette, 22–25 Aug 1778, p.4: Daily Advertiser, 1 Jan 1783, p.1 

  14. LT: TNA, PROB11/712/389; PROB11/947/20; T1/468/242-243: London Evening Post, 15–18 Aug 1741, p.3; 6–8 Oct 1748, p.4: R. S. Neale, Bath, 1680–1850, 1981, p.243: The Court and City Regist_er, 1751, p.186: Douglas Hamilton, ‘Private enterprise and public service: Naval contracting in the Caribbean, 1720–50’, _Journal for Maritime Research, vol.6/1, 2004, pp.37–64 (p.62): Christian Buchet, The British Navy, Economy and Society in the Seven Years War, 2013, p.107: K. H. Ledward (ed.), Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations: vol.10, 1754–1758, 1933, pp.54–62: K. H. Ledward (ed.), Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations: vol.11, 1759–1763, 1935, pp.171–81: P. S. Flippin, ‘The Royal Government in Georgia, 1752–1776: IV. The Financial System and Administration’, Georgia Historical Quarterly, vol.9/3, 1925, pp.187–245 

  15. LT: TNA, PROB11/856/507; PROB11/908/314: Ancestry: London Chronicle, 3 Oct 1761, p.7 

  16. JC, 10 April 1874, p.22 

  17. 4s£: LT: Ancestry: LMA, LMA/4521/A/03/02/001/019: TNA, PROB11/796/305: London Evening Post, 8–10 Nov 1744, p.1: Bingley’s Journal, 17 Nov 1770, p.2 

  18. LT: TNA, ADM106/1197/229; PROB11/716/45: Ancestry: LMA, CLC/B/192/F/001/MS11936/381/589952: General Advertiser, 5 Feb 1749, p.3: Morning Advertiser, 16–19 Feb 1750, p.3 

  19. LT: Ancestry: Daily Advertiser, 26 July 1777, p.2: Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, 18 Aug 1777, p.3 

  20. 4s£: LT: TNA, C5/148/42; PROB11/914/467: Thomas Pownell, ‘Observations on a Crystal Vase in the possession of the Earl of Bessborough’, Archeologia, vol.7, 1783, p.179: ODNB sub _Barclay: _General Advertiser, 13 Feb 1750, p.2 

  21. Hampshire Chronicle, 6 Aug 1792, p.1: True Briton, 3 April 1800, p.4; Gentleman’s Magazine, vol.68/1, June 1798, p.535: Kentish Gazette, 26 June 1810, p.2: Star (London), 2 July 1810, p.4 

  22. Weekly Packet, 9–16 Nov 1717, p.2; 28 Dec–4 Jan 1718, p.2: Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 7 Dec 1717, p.5; 21 Dec 1717, p.4 

  23. TNA, PROB11/1250/155:Morning Post, 14 March 1795, p.4: LMA, COL/CHD/FR/02/0859–66; CLC/B/192/F/001/MS11936/334/514333 

  24. As quoted by James Peller Malcolm, Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London During the Eighteenth Century, etc, 1810, p.315 

  25. Review of the State of the English Nation, 18 Oct 1706, p.4: Post Boy, 30 Aug 1709, p.2 

  26. Daily Courant, 20 Oct 1711, p.2; 27 May 1713, p.2: Original Weekly Journal, 17–24 Aug 1717, p.6; 26 April–3 May 1718, p.5: Malcolm, Anecdotes, p.312 

  27. Daily Advertiser, 13 Nov 1777, p.1 

Leonardo Royal Hotel Tower Bridge, 45 Prescot Street and earlier houses on its site
Contributed by Survey of London on Aug. 4, 2020

A large hotel of 2008–10 occupies the site of seventeen houses (45–61 Prescot Street). With origins in the late 1680s and much altered thereafter, sometimes rebuilt, these stood until the Second World War when most were damaged beyond repair by bombing. Generally of three storeys and attics over basements, gabled to the rear, sometimes raised a storey, refronted or stuccoed, the older buildings were described when investigated in the 1920s as having two- room, rear-staircase plans and staircases with straight strings, turned balusters and square newels. Typical of Prescot Street, these houses were substantial and well occupied, though none were so grand as the mansions on Leman Street, Alie Street and Mansell Street. The terrace was set back behind railed forecourts, with long gardens backing onto the Tenter Ground. By 1777 Edward Hawkins was the freeholder.1

In 1773, the first house from the west, later No. 45, had been improved with marble chimneypieces, panelling and wallpaper. From the 1850s, the Jewish National Friendly Association for the Manufacture of Passover Bread took this as its headquarters, sharing the building with the Motza Association, founded in the 1880s to ‘destroy the virtual monopoly of the bakers’.2 No. 45 was rebuilt in 1899 to designs by Hyman Henry Collins, architect, for use as lodgings by the Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and Women. Joseph Pyke paid for this in memory of his wife. Opened by Lady Rothschild in 1900, Sara Pyke House accommodated 236 ‘respectable’ Jewish girls and continued up to the Second World War. Bombs fell to either side in the Blitz, but No. 45 survived in splendid isolation and rag-trade use until the 1980s.3

No. 46 was also wholly rebuilt, with four storeys and a pedimental gable, probably around 1870 by and for Daniel James Knight, a builder. Nos 47 to 61 remained broad-fronted houses of the 1680s, with façades variously stuccoed, rebuilt and raised. Elizabeth Price died in 1780 leaving her household furniture at No. 56 with around 100 pots of greenhouse plants, perhaps in a rear glasshouse. The effects of Levy Solomon, next door at No. 55, had been sold in 1774, including ‘about 300 cards of very curious India shells, sorted, an exceeding brilliant garnet solitaire earrings and egret, set in silver, gilt, and an elegant chariot with harness for a pair of horses’.4  The occupants of Nos 54–56 in 1790 were representative of late eighteenth-century Prescot Street: Robert Wright, an engraver and gunmaker; Abraham Depaz, a merchant; and Robert Bygrave, a corn factor. By the 1840s, No. 56 was held by Samuel Pyke, a ‘black lead pencil maker’, later a sponge dealer. Two of his seven daughters, Clara and Ellen Pyke, ran a well-regarded ladies’ school from the house. By the late nineteenth century most of the houses at Nos 47–61 had gained substantial back warehouses or factories of several storeys. Nos 54–58 ended up in use by tailors and clothiers, Henry Friedlander rebuilding behind No. 56 in 1911.5

Two houses at Nos 60–61 were refurbished or rebuilt in the 1760s for John Coverly (d. 1778), an attorney, as one large house with four ground-floor parlours, six bedrooms, two kitchens and a large brick office and a three- stall stable to the rear. Isaac Bernal, a West India merchant, was resident here by 1787. He had a fractious relationship with the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue at Bevis Marks, and in retirement fell into debt after lending £40,000 to an Irish nobleman. He ended up in the Fleet, his house having been raided by bailiffs who removed his wife’s jewels and ‘his favourite peacocks’.6 The big house was redivided or rebuilt as two around 1815 when two vacant houses adjoining east were cleared to form St Mark’s Street (see p.xx). No. 61 on the new corner came to be occupied by Dutch diamond merchants, Morris Van Praugh by the 1840s, and Morris Barend Gomperts in the 1870s.7

Bomb damage resulted in the clearance of most of the buildings between Mansell Street and St Mark Street. A handful of sheds were erected in the post-war years and the rest of the vacant site was used as a car park.8

Proposals for a large hotel on the north side of Prescot Street were advanced in 2005 by City North Group PLC, locally active developers, with New Hall Properties Ltd. A year later Grange Hotels, a luxury-hotel group founded by Harpal, Raj and Tony Matharu, brothers, gained planning permission for a hotel of up to sixteen storeys with 252 bedrooms and 120 apartments, a health club, and a conference centre, all to designs by Buchanan Associates. This was built as the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in 2008–10. It has three main blocks. Those of fifteen storeys to the east and eight to the centre opened as a 250-room hotel. The twelve-storey western block was the 120 serviced apartments. Lower levels accommodate restaurants, the health club, conference centre, and parking. The undemonstrative exterior presents large planes of cream brickwork, somewhat broken up by silver and grey metal panels and louvres. A low glazed conservatory to Prescot Street lights the extensive basements. The property was acquired by the Fattal Hotel Group in 2019 and renamed Leonardo Royal Hotel Tower Bridge, advertising 370 bedrooms.9

  1. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London, vol.5: East London, 1930, p.99: London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), LMA/4673/D/01/004/002 

  2. Jewish Chronicle (JC), 25 March 1853, p.200; 10 Jan 1879, p.2; 25 Jan 1884, p.4; 4 April 1884, p.13: Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, 9 Jan 1773, p.2: Daily Advertiser, 22 January 1773, p.4: Post Office Directories (POD) 

  3. JC, 15 July 1898, p.11; 4 May 1900, p.9: 18 July 1902, p.10: POD: LMA, District Surveyors Returns (DSR): jewishmuseum.org.uk/2019/12/04/exploring- the-anti-trafficking-movement-in-twentieth-century- london/ Historic England Archives, EAW021447: surveyoflondon.org/map/feature/1300/detail/# 

  4. Daily Advertiser, 2 Dec 1774, p.4: Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, 31 Oct 1780, p.4 

  5. JC, 22 Sept 1854, p.48; 24 Jan 1896, p.8: London Daily News, 22 May 1863, p.8; 8 March 1887, p.8: East London Observer, 13 July 1878, p.5: LMA, Land Tax Returns (LT); DSR: POD: Census: Ordnance Survey maps (OS) 

  6. James Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, 1875, p.210: Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, 25 Dec 1778, p.8: LMA, LT; LMA/4673/D/01/004/002: JC, 10 April 1874, p.22 

  7. Richard Horwood's maps of London, 1792–1819: Census: POD 

  8. OS: Tower Hamlets planning applications online (THP) 

  9. THP: Google Street View: www.leonardo-hotels.com/press-releases/the- fattal-hotel-group-entres-central-london-market-with-the-addition-of-four- hotels: www.leonardo- hotels.com/leonardo-royal-hotel-london-tower-bridge 

Looking north east, August 2017
Contributed by Derek Kendall

The old rag and bone merchant's house
Contributed by danny