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

Sussex Place


sussex placen to regent's park
Sussex Place near Regent’s Park


According to Charles Booth Online Archive, Sussex Place was considered both an upper-middle and upper-class setting.  Regrettably, there are few historical records denoting its’ illustrious historical past.  Sussex Place is advantageously situated on the outskirts of Regent’s Park.  Regent’s Park is renowned as the site of the Royal Botanic Society’s Gardens, the Zoological Garden, and the Toxophilite Society Grounds (Charles Booth Online Archive).  In 1760, Cambridge established one of the first Botanic Gardens in the world; however, it is not the site of Regent’s Park.  Furthermore, Regent’s Park held possession of the Toxophilite Society Grounds, a prestigious archery club made famous by the Prince of Wales and King George IV of England in 1780 (British History Online, “Sport, ancient and modern: Pastimes” ).

Sussex Place

With this information in mind, Regent’s Park and Sussex Place were bothlikely occupied by the elite highbrow of the day.  In contrast, the sisters of The Romance of A Shop by author Amy Levy, are young and gifted middle-class, socially independent women and proven to be astute in managing a photography studio.  Incongruous to their proven record, women as owners and managers of businesses were not credited as being highly reputable.  This outmoded mindset causes Fanny to state in chapter one, “[n]eed it come to that- to open a shop?” (Levy, 54).

The Artist at the Flower-Shows: Bewitched! (an incident at the Royal Botanic Society’s Garden, Regent’s Park). Artist: George Housman Thomas. Engraver: H. Harral. Wood-engraving


Sussex Place to the left and Regent’s Park

Gertrude travels to the Watergate home, independent of a chaperone and “has no difficulty in finding Sussex Place.” She has been summoned to take the disease photo of Lord Watergate’s late wife in the practice known as “postmortem photography” (Levy, 85-87).  Her public presence in London and her increased knowledge of urban life and surroundings enables her to find her way (86). She astutely goes on to describe the Watergate home as being “located mid-way between the terrace” and as having a “white curve of houses with columns, the cupolas, and the railed-in space of garden that fronted the Park” which vastly contrast her mourning gown and boots (86).

The significance of this inimitable location in the novel is socially relevant.  Author Amy Levy superficially makes an argument that society views Flâneur, educated and independent women, as being socially inappropriate.  Paradoxically, Levy underscores the significance of society placing emphasis on marriage and forewarns women that if they are “consumed” by men, they will surely die. Lady Watergate, as reflected upon by the sisters, died of “consumption” and her demise is compared to the departure of Phyllis. Similarly, Lady Watergate was a new woman like Phyllis. Lady Watergate is not viewed as being fully appreciative of her husband’s attention and his accomplishments.  The depraved Phyllis mingles with married men and attempts a romantic tryst.  Society seemingly is punishing both women for their “consumption” which can be defined as being consumed with being socially independent, obsessed with men and personal beauty.  Phyllis dies an artistic death; however she is not immortalized. Lady Watergate experiences a slow and painful demise. Nevertheless, she is memorialized with a beautiful picture.  (Levy, 84). For this reason, Phyllis narcissistically declares “what perfect features she has. Mrs. Maryon told us she was wicked, didn’t she? But I don’t know that it matters about being good when you care as beautiful as all that” (Levy, 88).







Works citied


“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.


‘Sport, ancient and modern: Pastimes.’ A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton. Ed. William Page. London: Victoria County History, 1911. 283-292. British History Online. Web. 14 December 2015. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol2/pp283-292.


“The Artist at the Flower-Shows: Bewitched! (an Incident at the Royal Botanic Society’s Garden, Regent’s Park)” by George Housman Thomas(1824–68).” “The Artist at the Flower-Shows: Bewitched! (an Incident at the Royal Botanic Society’s Garden, Regent’s Park)” by George Housman Thomas(1824–68). Web. 16 Dec. 2015.



‘The University of Cambridge: The Botanic Garden.’ A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge. Ed. J P C Roach. London: Victoria County History, 1959. 324-325. British History Online. Web. 15 December 2015.

Russell & Allen (Old Bond Street)

Russell & Allen appears in Amy Levy’s The Romance of a Shop on page 79, as an elite dressmaker and supply shop where Constance, as a newly engaged women, tries on a ball dress. (pg. 79)

Unfortunately, while looking for more information on Russell & Allen’s shop, including what the storefront may have looked like, I could find no surviving images, as it would appear the store disappeared sometime in the late 1890s to early 1900s. The most information I could find on the store came from the footnotes on page 79 of The Romance of a Shop: “Messrs. Russell and Allen, Old Bond Street, London, W.” was an exclusive dress designer and supplier shop, according to photographs on the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum.” (pg. 79)

However, I did manage to find photos of preserved clothing that were made and sold via Russell & Allen’s shop, courtesy of the Victoria & Albert museum website.

Screenshot (38)

It’s clear to see that Russell & Allen made many high quality outfits, and it’s interesting that Amy Levy chose to include Constance’s engagement with the fact that she is trying a dress there. Perhaps she meant to express that Constance would only spend the money required for a Russell & Allen dress for an extremely special occasion, such as an engagement.

According to the Charles Booth Poverty Map, Russell & Allen, located on Old Bond Street, was surrounded by middle-class and upper middle-class dwellings, which seems obvious since Russell & Allen was a very expensive store. Only the upper middle class could afford to shop there, or have custom-made outfits made there. Even today, Old Bond Street is home to many expensive stores housing designer artifacts, such as Gucci outfits, who supply goods to the British Royal Family.


The only crime I could find being committed in the vicinity of Russell & Allen was a case of fraud, in which the defendant was found guilty. A man by the name of Adolf Beck appears to have tried to trade stolen jewelry for forged checks, one of which was made out to Russell & Allen.


Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 10 December 2015), February 1896, trial of ADOLF BECK, Unlawfully (t18960224-277).

Booth, Charles. “Old Bond Street.” Charles Booth Online Archive. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

“Bond Street.” Shops and Art Galleries in New Bond Street and Old Bond Street, London. Street Sensation, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. <http://www.streetsensation.co.uk/mayfair/bs_intro.htm>.

“Wedding Dress: Russell & Allen.” Victoria & Albert. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. <http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O166864/wedding-dress-russell-allen/>.
Levy, Amy. The Romance of a Shop. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview, 2006. Print.


Baker Street Station

Present in Amy Levy’s The Romance of a Shop for only a brief period of time, Baker Street Station is where the Lorimer sisters part after a day spent shopping and walking around in the area of Baker Street. Phyllis in particular actually goes underground into the station, while Gertrude boards an omnibus above ground outside of the Station. (pg. 80) In reality, the Baker Street tube station is one of the oldest surviving stations in the London Underground, and still transports people to this day. Baker Street Station, because of its proximity to the famed 221b Baker Street of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series, is also currently decorated with Sherlock Holmes artwork, to celebrate the area’s perhaps most famed (although fictional) resident.

According to the Charles Booth Poverty Map, the area of Baker Street Station is colored red, meaning the area is mostly middle-class, which makes sense as tourist attractions such as Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum are located nearby. However, on the 1898-99 map, it’s interesting to note that there is also a spot of dark blue, where Booth has it marked as “very poor, chronic want.” The area over which this poverty lies is marked as St. Cyprian’s Church, which makes me think the church may have been housing destitute and/or homeless individuals out of charity, and it is possible the church could certainly afford to do so because of the middle-class area it is located in.

Screenshot (36)

On the Old Bailey Proceedings website, Baker Street Station, while seemingly in a well-to-do area, also seems like a prime spot for thievery to occur. A man was pick-pocketed of his watch outside Baker Street Station, but this seems to be the most intense crime that took place at the station. To add to Baker Street Station’s reputation of being in a well-to-do area, the alleged pick-pocketer was later declared “Not guilty.”


Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 10 December 2015), August 1886, trial of IKE KENNEDY (70) (t18860803-848).

Pinchen, Liz. “Sherlock Holmes Tiles At Baker Street Tube Station.” Fine Art America. 20 Mar. 2011. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

Booth, Charles. “Baker Street Station.” Charles Booth Online Archive. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

Levy, Amy. The Romance of a Shop. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview, 2006. Print.

“Prime Metro Properties.” The History Of Baker Street. Web. 10 Dec. 2015. <http://www.primemetro.co.uk/Content/About-Prime-Metro/The-History-Of-Baker-Street-.aspx>.

Waterloo Place in “The Romance of a Shop.”

In Amy Levy’s novel The Romance of a Shop, Waterloo Place is mentioned when talking about The Waterloo Gazette, a newspaper created in the area. Although the women in the story do not visit Waterloo Place, Gertrude turns down an interview with the magazine about her family’s photography shop and her career in general. The text also states, however, that later on “some unauthorised person wrote a little account of the Lorimers’ studio in one of the society papers…” (Levy 135)

Screenshot (2)

As it is clear to see from the map above, courtesy of the London OS Town Plan, Waterloo Place is surrounded by a plethora of clubs, most likely meeting places for upper class citizens, and is also populated by war monuments and artistic statues, including a memorial to commemorate the Crimean War. One of the clubs visible on the map, the Athenaeum Club, was a clubhouse for gentlemen of the upper middle class, who enjoyed the arts, science, and were known for their artistic accomplishments. It was only in 2002 that the club, which still operates to this day, began to admit female members.


According to the Charles Booth Poverty Map as well, it is obvious that Waterloo Square is in a very wealthy area of London, as if the various sculptures and clubs in the area are not proof enough. On Booth’s charts, both red and orange represent middle class and upper middle class establishments being present, and the overwhelming amount of both colors suggest that Waterloo Place was in the center of a very affluent area. Its close proximity to Piccadilly Circus and the Royal Academy of the Arts also backs up this claim. However, it is interesting to note that on the left side of St. James Square, there is a row of blue dwellings, which indicates that was a smattering of poor families living in the area as well.

Works Cited

Levy, Amy. The Romance of a Shop. Ed. Susan David Bernstein. Canada: Broadview Editions, 2006. p. 135. Print.

Charles Booth Online Archive. Booth Poverty Map and Modern Map. Web. 30 October 2015.  http://booth.lse.ac.uk/cgi-bin/do.pl?sub=view_booth_and_barth&args=529583,180350,1,large,0

London – OS Town Plan 1893-6. Web. 30 October 2015. https://mapsengine.google.com/07550989709782409818-08328807677136535917-4/mapview/?authuser=0