Monday 7 August 2023

George Scharf and St Martin's Lane.

George Scharf (1788 - 1860) and St Martin's Lane 1.

This post is published in order to give some idea of the feel of the St Martin's Lane area of Westminster in the time of Roubiliac. Although the earliest drawing by Scharf is dated 1817, these (mostly) sketches illustrate the area inhabited by many of the artistic community in the mid 18th century.

It is also an excuse to publicise the works of Scharf  of which there are over 1000 in the British Museum - many have been digitalised and are available on line, but many still remain to be posted.

 I was originally inspired by Peter Jackson's excellent book - George Scharf''s London: Sketches and Watercolours of a Changing City, 1820-50 pub. 1987. - which I have owned for many years. Easily and cheaply obtained on line and highly recommended to anyone interested in London just before the dawn of photography. 

There several other artists who should also be remembered - particularly Hosmer Shepherd, John Phillips Emslie (1839 - 1913), John Crowther(1837 - 1902).

London, of course, underwent constant change, but pockets of early buildings remained, until much of it was swept away with the building of Trafalgar Square, its northern tributary of Charing Cross Road, and the demolition around the environs of St Martins in the Fields and the West end of the Strand.

There still exists several early 18th century buildings still existing on the East side of St Martin's Lane and in several of the courts between St Martin's Lane and Bedfordbury, but most have been swept away.

Scharf lived at 3 St. Martin's Lane, from 1817-30 and recorded the many changes before his lodging  above the shop of Mrs Mary Hicks 3, St Martin's Lane were also demolished in 1830.

A Trade card in Heal Collection  of circa 1800 (Heal Collection British Museum,59.79) advertises "J. Hicks Engraver...Music, Titles, Cards, Bills of Parcels, &c."

Subsequently Scharf and his fwife and two boys moved to 14 Francis Street, Tottenham Court Road, London, where he lived  from 1830 -1848 and then to 1 Torrington Square, 1848-1856.

Images here mostly from the British Museum.


The 1755 Map for Stow's Survey.

15 is Peters Court.

17 St Martins Court.


South End of St Martins Lane Horwood's Map 1799.


The resolution isn't great but this plan shows the individual buildings at the lower end of St Martins Lane, before demolition and the creation of Trafalgar square.

Scharfs home above Mrs Hicks shop is the third house on the East side from the corner of St Martins Lane and the Strand.


View from St Martin's Graveyard.


William Henry Hunt (1790 - 1864).

Yale Centre for British Art.


St Martin's Lane looking North, 1825. 

George Scharf.

For an excellent and comprehensive look at  Moons woodworking plane makers of Frontier Court, off the West side of St Martins Lane, Westminster.

View of the West side of St Martins Lane looking North - opposite St Martin's in the Field.1825

The view from the front door of the Scharf residence.

The Barn public house and the houses on the west side were accessed from the Kings Mews behind

Solomon's Goldsmiths on the left.

Image British Museum.


St Martin's Lane - JT Wilson.

This is a 19th Century copy of about 1880 of  the Scharf drawing above or of a finished watercolour.

The costumes of the figures appear later.

Wall advert for the Panorama of Edinburgh on the West side - and on the East side the sign of the Barn and Calvert's beer.

All these buildings had been demolished by 1830.


View looking West from the steps of St Martin's in the Field 1827.

- the houses in the drawing above have been demolished and those on the right are the rear of the South side of Dukes Court which are propped up.

In the distance on the left is the new Royal College of Physicians and on the right is the William Kent designed  building of the King's Mews.


The West side of  the Southern end of St Martins Lane. 1826.

Opposite the Scharf residence at 3 St Martin's Lane above the Hicks shop.

Demolition has started on the houses backing onto the Kings Mews.

The Entrance to the Golden Cross Coach Office, between 146 Moon's Tool Warehouse and 145 Shepherds shop.

 Three doors further up is the entrance to Hayward and Nixons Yard.

No 147, Moyses bakers on the left.

Image courtesy British Museum.

A later drawing copied from an original of 1829.

This is a continuation south from the above drawing.

The Corner with Charing Cross on West Side, at the bottom of St Martin's Lane.

Moyes Bakers on the right.

Northumberland House in the background.

Image used with the kind permission London Picture Archive.


Mc Nabs Apothecary.

The third house from the left in the above drawing.

Three doors up from the corner with Charing Cross.

Opposite the Scharf residence at no 3.

Image courtesy British Museum.


The bottom of St Martin's Lane.dated August 1830.

Purse's House is on the corner with the Strand.

Jagger's Coffee House at no 2.

Scharf's Lodgings at Hicks is nearly completely demolished.

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