London, 15 Queen Street, Cheapside

John Wood lived and worked ‘at ye Angel & Scales ye corner of Queen Street in Watling Street, London’.  In this engraving of St Antholin, looking East down Watling Street, his shop is shown on the left side, with a horse and cart outside.
 
In the 18th century Queen Street ran due south from Cheapside to Three Cranes Wharf and the ferry to Bankside, replaced in 1819 by Southwark Bridge.  Watling Street ran due East from St Pauls Cathedral, becoming  Budge Row at St Antholin’s, and then Cannon Street on its route to Aldgate.
 
The Wood’s premises were at the junction of two very busy London thoroughfares, an excellent place from which to trade.
 
In John Horwood’s map of 1799 shown on the right, the Wood’s premises are marked in red .
 
Ownership and Occupation of 15 Queen Street
 
I5 Queen Street was owned by the Drapers’ Company, discovered from a 1764 plan of the next door property, No. 14, let to a Mr Verdier by the Mercers' Company.
 
A hand written note in the Drapers’ calendar states that this property was bequested to the Company by William Parker in 1576.  It was burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666, and none of the earliest deeds have survived.
 
The earliest surviving records show the demise of the ‘Messuage at West Corner of Soper Lane in Watling Street’ to John Osborne for 48 years from Christmas 1625, and then an assignment by Joseph Taylor to Ambrose Davenport on 10th February 1667/8.
 
On 26th November 1669 a lease was granted to John Davenport for 61 years from Lady Day, the house then being described as ‘the Toft at South East Corner of Soper Lane alias Queen Street in Watling Street’.
 
On 1st August 1737 a lease was taken by Thomas Moor for 31 years, from Michaelmas 1737 until Michaelmas 1768.  The Drapers’ Company do not have any record of a sub-tenancy, so we assume that John Wood was such, as he was first assessed for Land Tax in Queen Street in 1742.
 
John Wood died in 1765, and Thomas Goulding, his successor and son-in-law, clearly mindful that the lease would run out in three years' time, negotiated new terms well in advance, as the Court of Assistants minute, dated 4th June 1766, reads:-
 
'Agreed with Thomas Goulding to Grant him a Lease of a Messuage on the West Side of Watling Street for twenty one years wanting eleven days from the tenth day of October 1768 when the subsisting Lease to Thomas Moore will Expire such new Lease to be made at the Rent of seven pounds for the first year wanting eleven days and at the clear yearly Rent of seven pounds for the last Twenty years of the said term free of all Taxes and Deductions under the covenants now usual in the Company's leases and also under a covenant from the said Thomas Goulding to lay out the sum of one hundred pounds at the last before or within the first year of the said term under the Inspection and Direction of John Gorham the Company's Surveyor in such lasting and substantial repairs and improvements of the said messuage as are mentioned in the Estimate thereof prepared by the said John Gorham and in other repairs of the premises which Lease is ordered to be sealed accordingly.'
 
Thomas Goulding died in 1776 at the age of only 34, and by the time the lease ended Richard Wood owned the business.  On 20th March 1787 he was granted a lease was for 21 years from 1789.  He was listed in Kents Directory of 1794.
 
'Mr Richard Wood tenant of a house in Watling Street and Queen Street held under a Lease thereof granted to Thomas Goulding which expires at Michaelmas 1789 Attended the Court and proposed to take a new Lease thereof And after treaty thereon it was agreed to grant him a new Lease thereof for 21 years from Michaelmas 1789 at the clear yearly rent of eight pounds He the said Richard Wood covenanting to put the whole of the said premises into good and substantial repair before or within the space of one year next after the commencement of the term to insure the premises from Fire and to enter the usual convenants in the Company's Leases And it is ordered that this Company's Seal be affixed to a Lease to the said Richard Wood agreeable to the said Agreement.'
 
In 1809 Richard Wood rented the adjoining premises, as on 10th January the Drapers’ record a Conveyance by Release from The Executors of the late Samuel Rogers to Richard Wood to uses etc of a house No 58 Watling Street.
 
A year later the Queen Street lease was again renewed, but this time for only a very short period.
 
At a meeting of the Court held on 8th March 1810 it was agreed that Richard Wood could renew his lease 'for two years from Michaelmas next at the nett yearly rent of £30 under and subject to the same covenants and agreements as are contained in the present Lease to keep the premises in repair and at the expiration of the two years to leave the premises and pay such dilapidations as he would be liable to if he left the premises at Michaelmas next'.
 
However his plans to move did not seem to come to fruition, for on 15th April 1813 he took a further year:
 
'Mr Richard Wood occupying tenant of a house the corner of Watling Street and Queen Street attends this Court and agrees to continue Tenant thereof for one year from Michaelmas next to the Michaelmas next ensuing and so on from year to year at the nett yearly rent of £30 over and above the Land tax and all other taxes and outgoings whatsoever except the Landlords property tax in respect of the said Rent and he the said Richard Wood keeping the same premises including the foundation, party and other walls and main Timbers in thorough and substantial repair in all things at his own costs and charges and so delivering them up in such repair, and keeping the said premises insured against loss by fire for so much money as can be reasonably insured thereon in one of the public Insurance Offices in London or Westminster and depositing the policy with the Company.'
 
It seems as if the Woods moved to Smithfield in 1814, probably because 7 West Smithfield had been vacated following the bankruptcy of William Williams in 1810.
 
The Drapers’ Company Calendar and minutes show that in 1822 the site was leased to a George Priest for redevelopment.
 
The site was eventually sold to Commercial Union in 1929, and is now occupied by Aldermary House 15 – 20 Queen Street London EC4N 1TX.
 
Thanks to Penelope Fussell, Archivist of the Drapers’ Company, for most of the above information.
 

 
London, 15 Queen Street, Cheapside

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