sobota, 10 marca 2018

Tolkiens' houses in London found (?)

St John Street today and the area where number 145 was located.
Some houses may come from the Regency times. We should check it!

Thanks to my last stay in London (March 2018) I could visit The Museum of London and I went to see Saint John Street. Thanks to the Museum I could buy the Horwood's Plan of London from 1813. Thanks to my walk along Saint John Street I could see places connected with the early Tolkiens in the capital of the UK, connected with J.R.R. Tolkien's ancestors. Thanks to Horwood's Plan of London I realized that today's numbers of Saint John Street differ from the numbers from the beginning of the nineteenth century.

From early documents and address books we know that John Benjamin Tolkien (b. 1752 in Gdańsk/Danzig, d. 1819 in London) lived in an ancient parish Clerkenwell (see map below). His adresses were: White Lion Street (1799) and 145 Saint John Street (1808). We also know that his business "Gravel & Tolkien" (clock- and watchmakers) was at 49 Saint John Street.

A plan of Clerkenwell in London by James Tyrer, 1805
Clerkenwell has historically been associated with radicalism, from the Lollards in the 16th century, the Chartists in the 19th century and communists in the early 20th century. John Benjamin Tolkien ("The Older") belonged to the radical Christian movement called Countess of Huntingdon Connection (see here). There was also a Freemasonic temple there (and I suppose that the Tolkiens were not only Christian non-conformists, but also the Freemasons).

Looking at Horwood's map I realized that today's numeration is different from that of the 1800s. And new hope emerged that the house where J. R. R. Tolkien's grandfather was born still existed. I have found these two localizations (see also the lower map with the non-comformist Spa Fields Chapel where the Tolkiens attended the services and St James Anglican church where they had to baptize children and marry their wives):

Two addresses of John Benjamin Tolkien (1752 Gdańsk – 1819 London)
At 145 Saint John Street his grandson, John Benjamin Tolkien (1807–1896) was born 
Places important to J. B. Tolkien: (1) Spa Fields Chapel, (2) St James Church,
(3) 49 St John Street, (4) 145 St John Street
I wonder which numbers from Horwood's map belonged to which existing house – if one of them (for instance the one on the right signed yellow) was 145 Saint John Street? Maybe you can help me? Maybe you know a book or a website with old and new numeration? It would be great to find the house where three generations of J. R. R. Tolkien's ancestors lived in London. Please, send me your comments and guesses.

For whole Horwood's map see here.

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