York Place


Goodgle Map :York Place/ York Buildings
Goodgle Map :York Place/ York Buildings


York Place, in accordance with Google maps, is the site of the “York Buildings” and is in close proximity to numerous venerated edifices.  It neighbors the dynamic Charing Cross Station, scenic Victoria Embankment, the esteemed National Gallery and the most illustrious religious building in all of England, Westminster Abby.  This exquisite expanse, as per Booth Online Achieves, consists of both middle-class and well-to-do residents.  Further research on the topic in British History Online, in the article entitled “Hungerford Market and the site of Charing Cross Railway Station” espouses the notion that in 1670 the York Buildings Waterworks Company took possession of the York Buildings.  By this time streets such as Hungerford Lane and Villiers Street; situated adjacent to York Place, were purchased by the New Hungerford Market Company and were recognized as a prominent marketplace for fish.  The surrounding area was subsequently purchased by the Charing Cross Railway Company and afterward converted into Charing Cross Station(“Hungerford Market and the site of Charing Cross Railway Station”, British History Online).  The Victorian Embankment, a series of eight formal botanical gardens was located behind the York Buildings. Located along the north ridge of the Thames River this reclaimed ridge was dedicated to the public, as a means of escaping the chaos and ills of the overcrowded city (“Victorian Embankment” –British Histories Online).

Google Map: York Place, Victorian Embankment, National Gallery, Charging Cross Station
Google Map: York Place, Victorian Embankment, National Gallery, Charing Cross Station

York Place Booth

The York Buildings, situated behind York Place and intersecting at Duke and Buckingham Streets was strategically designed and erected with the intent of providing the burgeoning populous with a thoroughly modern infrastructure; one that supplied an abundance of water and efficiently removed toxic waste (“Victorian Embankment” –British Histories Online).

York Watergate and York Buildings Waterworks in 1795
York Watergate and York Buildings Waterworks in 1795

York Place is the location of the shared studio of Mr. Oakley and Frank Jermyn and doubles as the place where Frank works as an engraver (Levy, 89).  Lucy and Frank journey to his studio with the intentions of photographing his “drapery” (Levy, 96-97). From “morning till night” over the next several days the women busy themselves, at the studio, by taking extensive photographs of the drapery as personally requested by Mr. Oakley (Levy, 98).  This passage indicates to the reader that Mr. Oakley and Frank were enlightened.  By hiring the two sisters, seemingly social rarities, the gentlemen pay homage to the women and prove themselves to be progressive thinkers. Subsequently, before sending his work to the Royal Academy Frank invites the sisters, Darrell and Lord Watergate to his studio in York Place to inspect his engravings.   (Levy, 113-6). According to The Romance of A Shop, footnotes denote that the Royal Academy had been relocated to the National Gallery’s East Wing in 1868 (Levy, 133).   Again, this information indicates to the reader that the sister’s abilities are treasured by men who are like-minded artists. Following Frank’s party, Lord Watergate and Darrell stay in York Place.  During their time together Lord Watergate ponders whether the sisters will agree to honor him by preparing informative slides as an accompaniment to his lectures to be presented at the Royal Institution (Levy, 117).  This augments the sister’s competence as scholarly women who possess both an astute sense for business and a keen awareness of art.  In this way, the sisters are free to explore their freedoms by going outside of the boundaries of their shop and beyond the confines of their neighborhood.  Amy Levy’s  The Romance of A Shop critiques the rigid mores of Victorian London and explores the challenges embodied within this unyielding social system.




Works Cited


“Charles Booth Online Archive.” Charles Booth Online Archive. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.


Levy, Amy, and Susan David Bernstein. The Romance of a Shop. Peterborough, Ont.:Broadview, 2006. Print.


‘Plate 31: York Watergate and York Buildings Waterworks in 1795.’ Survey of London: Volume18, St Martin-in-The-Fields II: the Strand. Ed. G H Gater and E P Wheeler. London:London County Council, 1937. 31. British History Online. Web. 16 December 2015.http://www.british-history

“Victorian Art Institutions: Academies, Schools, Galleries.” Victorian Art Institutions: Academies, Schools, Galleries. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.
“York Buildings,’ in Survey of London: Volume 18, St Martin-in-The-Fields II: the Strand, ed. GH Gater and E P Wheeler (London: London County Council, 1937), 81-83, accessedDecember 16, 2015, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol18/pt2/pp81-83

Charing Cross: The Center of the City

Charing Cross

While Charing Cross is not exactly the central point of The Sherlock Holmes story The Man with a Twisted Lip, it is (as some would say) the central point in London and specifically refers to a junction of interconnecting streets. Here, the Strand, Whitehall, The Mall, Cockspur Street, and a few other smaller roads all flow into a roundabout that is located due south of Trafalgar Square. If you were to look at a zoomed out map (like the one seen below), this roundabout seems to be the geographical center of London and though the center could refer to many locations around the same area, it stands to be said that Charing Cross is has been used as a primary indicator of how far one is from the city since the early 1600s. For example, if you were to live in Brighton, one would measure the distance between the two cities by each’s midpoint: London’s being Charing Cross. In fact, because it was so central, coaches could be taken from here to many major cities in England such as Brighton in the south, Dover in the east, Cambridge in the north, and Bath in the west.

Charing Cross modern

As indicated by the Booth Poverty Archive, Charing Cross and the surrounding area is primarily middle class with few wealthy citizens and fewer in the low class. Because of this I assumed that the primary type of criminal activity would be petty larceny—those without money coming to take from those with—but I forgot about the main purpose for Charing Cross: the roadway. I have seen murder and theft time and time again but this was the first time I ever saw any accounts of vehicular manslaughter. Interestingly enough, some were deemed guilty and some were not even though I could not figure out why.

In the Sherlock Holmes story we read, the duo was out in the country (in an area called Lee) and Watson makes a note that they have already been through three other counties. Later on, Sherlock says: “I think, Watson, that you are now standing in the presence of one of the most absolute fools in Europe. I deserve to be kicked from here to Charing Cross.” This is the only mention of Charing Cross in the story, however it explains the importance of location. According to himself, Sherlock’s stupidity should send him walking straight back to London—referred to by its geographical center because they are out in the country.