Esoteric London

No. 86: New Oxford Street, WC1

Posted in Crime and Punishment, Pubs by esotericlondon on June 28, 2010

Looking west along Oxford Street from The Paramount Club at the top of Centre Point, New Oxford Street, London, Wc1. Photo © Roger Dean 2009

Old and New London, Volume 3 – Walter Thornbury, 1878:

When criminals ceased to be executed at Smithfield, or, as some say, at a much earlier date, a gallows was set up near the northwest corner of the wall of [St.Giles’] hospital; and it soon became a regular custom to present every malefactor, as he passed the hospital gate in the fatal cart on his way to the gallows, with a glass of ale. When the hospital was dissolved, the custom was still kept up; and there is scarcely an execution at ‘Tyburn Tree’, recorded in the Newgate Calendar, in which the fact is not mentioned that the culprit called at a public-house en route for a parting draught.

The memory of this last drink given to criminals on their way is still preserved by Bowl Yard or Alley, on the south side of the High Street, “over against Dyott Street, now George Street;” and Parton, in his History of the Parish, published in 1822, makes mention of a public-house bearing the sign of ‘The Bowl’, which stood between the end of St. Giles’s High Street, and Hog Lane. The Bowl would appear to have been succeeded by the Angel, or to have had a rival in that inn. At all events, in 1873, the City Press reported that another memorial of ancient London was about to pass away, namely, the Angel Inn, at St. Giles’s, the ‘half-way house’ on the road to Tyburn—the house at which Jack Ketch and the criminal who was about to expiate his offence on the scaffold were wont to stop on their way to the gallows for a last glass. Mr. W. T. Purkiss, the proprietor, however, was prevailed upon to stay the work of demolition for a time.

[Centre Point stands opposite St. Giles in the Fields, built upon the site of the old leper hospital of St. Giles. Oxford Street traces the route from St.Giles to the gallows at Tyburn – i.e., Marble Arch. R.D.]

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  1. […] more on Centre Point see post No. 86 and No. 361. R.D. Share this:StumbleUponDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]


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