B/W print; Leicester Square: the opening ceremony, London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company, 2 Jul 1874
Leicester Square: the opening ceremony and the unveiling of the Shakespeare Memorial designed by James Knowles, July 2, 1874; showing the north-east side of the Square. Aerial shot showing the crowded Square amidst the celebrations of the day. In the background of the shot are various buildings, including a Turkish baths in the middle of the shot.
Simple name : B/w print
Date : 2 Jul 1874
Collection : Photographs
Reference number : 1999/2844
Associated person :
Reproduced in :
Charles White series
Leicester Square, Westminster, WC2
London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company : 2 Jul 1874
Content text :
Building: Library & Newspaper Office 19
Original number :
LEICESTER SQUARE: THE OPENING CEREMONY AND THE UNVEILING OF THE SHAKESPEARE MEMORIAL, JULY 2, 1874: SHOWING THE NORTH-EAST SIDE OF THE SQUARE.
The Shakespeare Memorial is the subject of unkind criticism. It is, however, the only public monument in London to Shakespeare (alone), and, moreover, the position, in the centre of theatreland, is appropriate. The London actors and actresses might do worse than inaugurate a movement for the decoration of the monument with flowers on St George's Day. Designed by James Knowles, the statue and basin were executed by Signor Fontana; the statue being a copy of the one by Scheemakers in the Abbey.
In the 'seventies Leicester Square, by reason of its many foreign hotels and shops, had a far more Continental aspect than it has to-day. The Sabloniere, on the left-hand corner, was formerly the Hotel de Provence, the original Sabloniere being on the south-east corner of the Square, on the site now occupied by the School. It is said that Hogarth's studio was the billiard-room of the hotel.
Note Cavour's and the Turkish Baths, both are features of the Square to-day (1923).
Photograph is an enlargement of a stereoscopic slide by the London Stereoscopic Co. Supplied Feb, 1923.
This square is so called after Leicester House, which was built about 1634 by Robert Sidney, Viscount Lisle and 2nd Earl of Leicester. The mansion stood on the north side, and the surname and titles of the Sidneys are borne to-day by the streets adjacent to its site. In the early part of the XVIIIth Century, Leicester House was occupied by the Prince of Wales, afterwards George II, and subsequently by his son, Frederick Prince of Wales, the father of George III. It was demolished in 1790. The square was laid out about the time that the mansion was built; the south side, however, not being completed until 1671.
Originally Leicester Square was a good-class residential place, and such it continued to be during the XVIIIth Century and the early years of the XIXth Century. The garden was then properly tended and had a neat appearance, although sadly disfigured by an ugly statue of George I. Later a decline set in; shops, hotels, and taverns superseded the private residences, and the garden became neglected. In 1851, by arrangement with the Tulk family, who then owned the property, the garden was leased by Wyld, who erected here the buildings to house his Great Globe of the World, which attraction continued in Leicester Square until 1861. After the removal of the Globe, the condition of the square became worse than ever. The statue of George I was made a cockshy (nought but the horse was left when the square was eventually re-laid out as a garden); street strollers gave displays here; one enterprising person set up a telescope (after the style of the one at Westminster Bridge); advertisement hoardings were erected, and altogether Leicester Square became just about as bad an eyesore as could be found in London.
In 1865 the Metropolitan Board of Works prepared a scheme for making the square a market. This was quashed by opposition. The Board then went to Parliament with a Bill to acquire the square and convert it into a public garden, to be invested in the Board. Before this Bill - the Leicester Square Act, 1874 - was passed, however, the square was purchased by Albert Grant (afterwards Baron Grant), MP for Kidderminster, who re-formed the garden, adorned it with statues, and made it over to the Metropolitan Board of Works as a garden for the enjoyment and pleasure of the public for ever.
- London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company