History of 7 Carlisle Street

Carlisle Street, established in around 1865, gets its name from the mansion built in the mid 1680’s on the site of what is now Nos. 10–12, at the west end of the street. It was occupied from 1725 to 1752 by the Countess of Carlisle and her genteel residency of this property attracted a number of wealthy habitants and military officers until its decline in the 1800s.

Carlisle street 1865

Carlisle Street in 1936. Courtesy of British History Online

Carlisle House went through many evolutions, becoming first a fencing school where both the Prince of Wales and the future George III were schooled in ‘arms and manners’. After the school was closed, the building was separated into apartments for creatives, with a Masonic lodge in the ballroom. The house was sadly destroyed in WWII and eventually replaced with office buildings. Of the original buildings on Carlisle Street, just numbers 4-6 remain, with 16, 17 and 19 remaining from the 18th Century.

Carlisle House Fencing School

Carlisle House Fencing School. Courtesy of Isabellegoddard.com

The original building on the site of number 7 has now been replaced with a modern building. In the late 1950s the building became home to the left-wing in the form of the Partisan Coffee House. Established by historian and intellectual Raphael Samuel and his Oxford University group following the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the coffee house attracted students, writers and actors including: John Hurt, Rod Stewart and Sir Michael Redgrave. Above the coffee house were the library and private offices of the New Left. Sadly the penniless clientele were unable to support the business and the Partisan Coffee Shop was forced to close in 1962.

Raphael Samuel

Raphael Samuel. Courtesy of Spitalfieldslife.com

Next door, number 6 Carlisle Street has had a great number of businesses since its construction in the 1680s. It has been home to a hatter, a wig-maker, a seller of lamp-glasses, a briner (who preserved meat by salting), a lace-maker, a firm of solicitors, various tailors, a domestic service agency, a goldsmith, an ivory-turner, a dancing academy, a stationer, a film production company and a firm of architects. Today the building is home to satirical magazine ‘Private Eye.’ The most famous resident of number 6 was John Christopher Smith, Georg Frideric Handel’s friend and business manager, who died in the house four years after the great composer.

John Christopher Smith

John Christopher Smith. Courtesy of the BBC

The east end of Carlisle Street meets Soho Square, once named King’s Square, after Charles II, whose statue stands in the centre of the gardens. Today it has become a hub for media organisations including: the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification), 20th Century Fox, Dolby Europe Ltd and See Tickets.

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