History

Outside view of Pickwick Hall

The buildings that now line Bedford Place were constructed in 1802-03 on the site of Bedford House that was demolished two years earlier.

Bedford House was built and named Southampton House for Thomas Wriothesley, 4th. Earl of Southampton in the early 1660's, just before the Great Fire that destroyed much of the City of London a mile to the East in 1666. In 1734, Southampton House was bought by the Duke of Bedford - a substantial landowner in this area - and renamed Bedford House.

Even in the mid-eighteenth century, Bedford House was on the limit of London (City of Westminster) and overlooked parkland and farmland: Rocque's map of 1762 shows Bedford House and its neighbour to the West, Montague House (now the site of the British Museum) to have been bordered on their North sides by Lambs Conduit Fields and other farmland with remotely-scattered farms and country houses. However, urban development followed quickly and by 1835 the land had been built upon from Bedford Place to Euston Road (previously called New Road). Rocque's map referred to above and Cross's New Plan of 1835 are in the entrance hall of Pickwick Hall.